Friday, July 03, 2009

The Defiant Dilemma: I have probably seen every Holocaust film known to man and last night I saw yet another by recommendation entitled "Defiance." Based on a true story, it is about a group of Jews in Beylorus who actually lived in the forest in 1941 for 2 years trying to evade capture by the Nazis and the Nazis often Polish and other helpers. It is thrilling, captivating, gut wrenching and the truth of it makes it all the more so. It has a bit of a positive end although you would NOT think so leading up to it, of course. Along with the "Boy in the Stripped Pajamas", and a taped History Channel entitled "The Nazi Scrapbook" (a documentary about a photo book found in a drawer and sent to the Holocaust Museum") are three of the most excellent films/documentary specifically about this subject I have seen.

The Holocaust is MY yardstick for all that I believe and it is the heart of my feeling about the Jewish people. It is MORE much more than about religious belief of which I have little but it is its moral, survival, ethical, political essence that grabs me. It pierces my heart like nothing else can. It is why I used to hold Israel to a higher standard because we are a people whose history has been saturated with sadness and onslaught. We have been plagued, hunted, tortured, crushed and slaughtered during the past 2000 years and ultimately the object of the greatest mass murder humanity has ever seen bar none. It has EVERYTHING to teach and yet it has NOTHING to teach as man does what he does again and again and again all over the world.

Every time I see another film about the Holocaust I wax staggered by the ENORMITY of it. My eyes do not want to believe what I see and I go to bed feeling guilty that I sleep warm, am fed well and have survived in comfort. I am chilled by the fact that had all my grandparents stayed where they were they could have been among those Jews who ran through the forest in spring, summer, winter and fall just to survive and IF they did not they would have been killed in concentration camps. It is a testament to man's yearning to survive and be free and it extends to all people everywhere. It is again when I dissect the politics that is Israel I can see WHY the Jewish heart is so brutal in determination never to let that happen again AND YET I cannot understand HOW in VIEW of what happened some can run roughshod over those sometimes innocent next door. THAT is my cerebral conundrum with which I cannot come to terms.

We all look at life through our own lens but the Jewish life is, in my opinion, like no other. Suffering is NOT limited to the Jew, certainly, but a Jewish life throughout the centuries could never find a home and could simply never just be. The Holocaust MUST be a ruler -- a moral prism -- by which everyone measures his capacity for good and evil and what behavior is permissible and what is not. It is MY eternal dilemma of conscience. I recommend this film if you haven't seen it because it gives life to the meaning of the ultimate catastrophe in ways which no other film I can remember has. It should have universal meaning for us all.