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comment by mk
mk  ·  2530 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Elie Wiessel, the "Messenger of Mankind" died this weekend.

    I find it extremely disquieting; a great Jew dies and all you can think of is Palestine.

That's not true at all. What troubled me has nothing to do with Palestine. What troubled me is that when a human is degraded and abused to the point that Wiesel was, what remains is not simply a message that it should not happen to any human under any circumstances ever again. I don't fault Wiesel. He is only human. What troubles me is human nature. That was the only time I have been able to hear someone speak first hand about genocide.

This has nothing to do with Jewish people. Many Chinese would have a very difficult time feeling the same kind of empathy if Japanese came under oppression as opposed to some other people. This is a problem of human nature and our inability to reserve 'us' for when we speak of all of humanity.

What troubles me is that there seems to be an asterisk on our ability to view all human beings with compassion and mutual respect. I probably suffer from the same, although I haven't ever been put to the test. I don't expect that I would pass it as much as I would like to think that I could.

Don't get me wrong, the world needs as many Elie Wiesel's as it can get. But I read Night, and it made me want to cry for what people can do, and for what people have endured. Listening to him speak made me sad for another reason.

user-inactivated  ·  2530 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I see. That is more in line with what I know about you.

However, the rest of my point is that the world has, for the most part, sided with Palestine over Israel, despite history and common sense. In this instance it has everything to do with Jewish people: I'm sure Elie Wiesel would have had no trouble viewing Palestinians with respect -- indeed, what you cite notwithstanding, he spoke of them thus at least a few times -- but I'm equally sure he desired compassion and respect from them first. So it goes.

Perhaps I am as blinded as everyone else. I find it hard to lay any sort of blame at the feet of Wiesel or the Jewish people. They have repeatedly earned, in blood, our respect and sorrow.

mk  ·  2530 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I find it hard to lay any sort of blame at the feet of Wiesel or the Jewish people. They have repeatedly earned, in blood, our respect and sorrow.

I am mostly Polish, and I have been told that a significant number of Jewish Poles converted at one time or another to Catholicism, some to avoid persecution. For all I know, my Jewish ancestors suffered for their religious heritage.

If so, am I or am I not able to identify with their suffering?

Wiesel earned our respect and sorrow for what he faced. IMHO, one should be judged by what he or she faces and their own response. Of course, what one's ancestor's faced is likely to still exist, but there is an important distinction between inheriting adversity, and inheriting the respect from how one's ancestor's faced it. Each generation must be judged independently for their actions, as there is no choice in what we inherit. It means that we can move forward, it means that we can empathize, and it means that we can forgive.

user-inactivated  ·  2530 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Each generation must be judged independently for their actions

I understand what you're saying, but I don't think I could ever name a situation in which it was that cut and dry. Historical context just matters too much.