Sept. 15, 2006
Lesson of spirit bears
The spirit bears that have enlivened Vancouver's cityscape were
recently defaced with graffiti consisting of Stars of David intertwined
with swastikas. This abominable act, taking place at a time when
another Jewish school in Montreal was being firebombed, is presumably
a statement by a few deranged Canadians on the Israeli-Arab conflict.
The swastika/Magen David juxtaposition is a particularly common
one. There is a certain glee critics of Israel take in equating
the Jewish state with the Nazi Third Reich. It is a heartless and
despicable comparison, and it is by no means limited to extremists.
It is an accusation that has been heard repeatedly over the last
several years even among mainstream Canadian activists and publications.
Just go online to the organs of the Canadian and international left
and see the popularity of this monstrous declaration.
But what is it about this hot poker in the eye of Jewish experience
that holds such delight for those who detest Israel?
It is a confirmation of contemporary cynicism that the victims,
given the chance, will become the victimizers; the oppressed, the
oppressor. Perhaps it grants some absolution to citizens of an exploitative
society to know that, if the tables were turned, others would do
unto us as we are doing unto them.
The Israeli-Arab conflict is infinitely more complex than many people
allow and our identification of exploiter-exploited is probably
exactly incorrect. Moreover, the use of Israel as an archetype for
our societal or individual ills is no different from centuries of
Jewish scapegoating. In short, the equation of the swastika with
the Star of David reveals far more about those who use the comparison
than it does about us.