Growing up Jewish in a small Quebec town at a time when an ultramontane clergy dominated social and religious life, I experienced my share of anti-Semitic hatred. Restricted from visiting certain beaches and playgrounds, regularly ambushed on the way to school by kids screaming anti-Jewish taunts and slurs (the obscenity of choice was maudit juif, “damned Jew”), arrested once for defending myself against a gang of attackers, thus contributing, no doubt, to what is now known as the “cycle of violence” — to mention only a few such incidents — I learned firsthand what it means to be a Jew. Obviously, it was not like trying to survive in Lithuania or Germany, but it was a revelation nonetheless.
I recall one episode in which I was not personally involved but which was the most vividly instructive of all. Several times a year professional wrestlers from Montreal would visit the village sports center and regale us with flying jets of sweat, bellows, grunts, and body slams. On one such occasion, a masked behemoth was pitted against a lesser opponent wearing blue and white trunks embellished with the Star of David. It didn’t take long before this substitute Jew was brutally demolished to the cheers and hoots of an appreciative crowd. The coup de grâce came when the methodical tormentor, after having thoroughly administered a vicious beating, scooped up a handful of sawdust from the floor of the arena and rubbed it into his victim’s eyes. The blinded “Jew” staggered about the ring, arms flailing, crying out to the Jewish god — Aidez-moi, Seigneur, “Help me, Lord.” After a minute or so of histrionic misery, he was clutched by the hair, driven head first into the ringpost, and then hurled through the ropes unto the ground several feet below. A team of assistants appeared and carried him out on a stretcher, surrounded by a gesticulating mob.
It all seemed real then and I was young enough to be horrified by what I had just witnessed. It was only much later that I recognized this staged event as the symbolic equivalent of a blinded people mauled and battered into a state of insensibility. Worse, I began to wonder whether a people finding itself in the ring of near-universal opprobrium, or at least a significant proportion of them, were not busily engaged rubbing sand into their own eyes, so as not to see what was demonstrably happening to them. And I am no less horrified now than I was as a young spectator at a fake wrestling match.
What is there to be done? I have read that Israel has recently made a major breakthrough in radiation monitoring technology. The Environmental Protection Ministry has announced that it will be deploying a new detection system that will enable continuous real-time monitoring of radiation hazards from cellular antennas, establishing the country as a world leader in the field. A similar device to detect the harmful radiation from bad ideas that damage the capacity of Jews and Israelis to resist ideological contamination would be even more welcome. Perhaps the requisite apparatus is already in place, only not fully activated. It’s called “the mind.”
Israel is a threatened nation, not only because it is surrounded by enemies who would like nothing better than to drive its people into the sea, but because it is increasingly regarded and treated in the international arena as a pariah state, vilified in the media, subject to boycotts, falsely condemned as an apartheid regime, its officials tarred as war criminals. We know the drill now: first comes the pummeling, then the expulsion from the ring. Listen to the rantings of presidential advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski or read the blatant fabrications of professor John Mearsheimer, co-author of The Israel Lobby, among innumerable other influential and surreptitious antisemites, if there is any doubt about the intention to delegitimize Israel — and Jews.