Whether we believe in full retribution in the afterlife or in the constancy of “Karma”, or whether we are rationalistic and atheistic, we know that at the end of the day wickedness only gives rise to wickedness, and that moral ugliness comes with a high price.
I am addressing these issues here and now especially given the “price tag” phenomenon displayed by morally corrupt Jews, but also to criticize the indifferent majority in general and our leaders in particular, who reconcile themselves with their silence to the injustices of our moral ugliness and the high prices we all pay for it.
We are seeing dozens of cases of violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinians: Olive groves are being uprooted, property is being vandalized, and mosques and cemeteries are being desecrated. Numerous such acts are being perpetrated against an innocent, helpless public (this is the logic of the “price tag” policy) yet the state is barely investigating them and rarely brings the culprits to justice.
Recently, a mosque was torched in Tuba Zangaria, tombstones were vandalized at Muslim and Christian cemeteries in Jaffa, and leftist and human rights protestors were savagely attacked – yet the police are complacent and remain “on the fence.” On the other hand, in the angry protest held by victims of the mosque arson, the police showed great diligence and disproportional violence against demonstrators, as if they were not Israeli citizens, but rather, rioters and enemies in occupied lands.
Talking of ugly Jews is only possible and significant when talking mostly of beautiful Jews. Recently I spoke with a human rights activist from South Africa who shared with me his great appreciation to Jews, who constituted a majority in the struggle for the equality of blacks and democracy. Similarly, American Jews constituted a significant factor, much beyond their relative numbers, in the fight for social justice, equality between genders, and equal status for African-Americans.
We Jews justifiably take pride in our moral tradition, which repeatedly emphasizes that we shall treat the non-Jews amongst us equally and that we do everything we can to ensure that the honor and image of any person will not be undermined because of their status or weakness, certainly in respect to the weakest members of society – foreigners, orphans and widows.
This is morally, principally proper and it also adheres to the principles of mutuality and utilitarianism: After all, we were slaves in Egypt, and also persecuted and oppressed by many nations of the world.
These days we would do well to learn something from two moral champions, in other nations, and the way they coped with difficult, terrible days. The French Albert Camus, who was said to be Europe’s conscience during its dark days, and urged us not to despair or cave in to the complexities of reality and make do with sitting on the fence, but rather, choose justice in order to remain faithful to man and to the world.
Similarly, some years later, Martin Luther King, from his jail cell in Birmingham, declared that “segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality” and that we must oppose, using non-violent means, any regime whose policy contradicts universal moral laws.
One pays a high price for evil: Perpetuating the occupation, accepting the reality of apartheid, religious and nationalistic thuggery, contempt for those who demand fraternity and compassion, the trampling of human rights and seclusion of those who are different, patronizing others, the abuse of foreign workers, turning our back to the poor, discriminating against minorities and violently repressing the objectors have become the trademarks of current-day Israel.
There is apparently no divine or natural law that guarantees that the righteous would live well while the wicked suffer, yet us human beings and civilized beings are familiar with many examples and have great understanding of the terrible price of human ugliness. When getting used to wickedness, blindness spreads and we no longer identify evil. It is much harder to regain our senses and shun it. Yet it’s appropriate and better and possible to be beautiful Jews.
Professor Nimrod Aloni heads the Institute for Educational Thought at the seminar Hakibbutzim Teachers College
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