Dan Margalit: The writing was on the wall

Perhaps words can’t physically kill the body, but they certainly do kill. They kill the cultural and democratic national norms that obligate us to honor the memory of the Holocaust.

By Dan Margalit

 

There is no way of knowing who spray-painted shockingly offensive slogans on the walls of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial on Monday, but the style of the writing suggests that it was particularly radical members of the decidedly anti-Zionist extremist ultra-Orthodox public. Conceivably, someone could have written “thank you, Hitler” and criticized Israel’s ultra-Orthodox just to divert suspicion away from themselves, as Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau has speculated, but for now, the suspicion stands until proven otherwise.

Dan Margalit

Dan Margalit

One should hope that the police will make use of the advanced technological tools at their disposal, along with its network of informants, and apprehend the culprits. The police will bring the suspect to court, and he will probably hide his face, and if he is a minor the bleeding hearts’ law will be enacted and his name will be under a gag order and his family will be spared the shame. What then?

I can already divine what the culprit’s defense attorney will say: The perpetrator of this hate graffiti was misunderstood by his parents and was a victim of an education system that doesn’t really educate and that a psychiatrist should be brought in on his behalf — and the whole thing will end in a minor sentence. Perhaps he will be sentenced to participate in four Yad Vashem lectures. If the judge is particularly stern, maybe he’ll be sentenced to seven lectures. The memory of the Holocaust will not only have been desecrated by the graffiti, but also by the verdict.

But more important than bringing the culprit to justice is the public response to the Yad Vashem vandalism. The horrific incident, which included — in the Jewish state! — a thank you to Hitler for exterminating the Zionists, was relegated within hours to remote headlines in the leading websites. By evening, the news had been pushed to the sidelines. Responses to the event replaced the shocking photos.

That is the sad truth about the general sense among the public. It wasn’t really a surprise. It was as though something like this was almost expected, in this form or another, if not today then tomorrow. The post-Zionist postmodernist era has crossed and torn and erased boundaries, and that is natural, but no new lines have been agreed upon, as Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said. No boundaries, no lines, no fences.

Boundaries aren’t forever, but as history progresses they are redrawn along new routes. Not in Israel in 2012, though, and apparently not in the West either. The situation where “every man does that which is right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6) does not only apply to crimes against fellow humans, it also applies to crimes committed by a society that allows people to behave this way.

This phenomenon has been apparent for several years now. Words can’t kill? Perhaps they can’t physically kill the body, but they certainly do kill. They kill the cultural and democratic national norms that obligate us to honor the memory of the Holocaust.

View the original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=2043

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