In its determination to probe the Israeli psyche to a hermetic degree, The Times has a report up about young Israelis getting tattoos on their arms to commemorate the numbers their ancestors got in Auschwitz. The piece ends in Jerusalem with a comment by Doron Diamant, 40, after he got a number tattoo to remember his ancestor Yosef.
“This is the reason [the tattoo artist] sits here, this tattoo and what this number represents,” Mr. Diamant said. “We got the country because of these people.”
The statement recalled a controversy 3 years ago. Obama in the late-lamented Cairo speech:
America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust.
This upset neocon David Frum, a leading proponent of the Iraq war, who wrote:
About Israel’s origins, the President said: “The aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied” — that is, as he proceeded to explain, in the history of the Nazi Holocaust.
Jews could tell him that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland in Zion long antedates the horror of 1933-45. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its cunning,” is a verse far less obscure than the story of Isra and at least a thousand years older. Worse, the President’s mention of the Nazi Holocaust as justification for the Jewish state invites the unanswered question, “Why should Arabs and Muslims surrender land because of a German crime?”
Re the hermeticism of the Times piece, Jodi Rudoren interviewed “10 tattooed descendants… [who] wanted to live the mantra ‘Never forget'”. And yes, she also questioned the impulse:
Arguments rage about whether that approach trivializes symbols long held as sacred and whether the primary message should be about the importance of a self-reliant Jewish state in preventing a future genocide or a more universal one about racism and tolerance.
But then she let it drop; and the phrase in the headline, “Their Skin Says ‘Never Forget'” captures the mood of the piece. Ten interviews– and interviews are hard work. Is it really the business of the Times to be exploring the Israeli psyche in such a respectful manner when this society is becoming a pariah nation because of its unending occupation? One of these young tattoo-eds got it after a trip to Auschwitz in Poland. Yoav Shamir showed how these trips were used to indoctrinate the view that the world wants to kill Jews. I wish the Times readers could have heard about that.