Jewish World Review May 3, 2002 / 21 Iyar, 5761
Lewis A. Fein
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- Consider this column the final footnote beneath a series of photographs, a collection of haunting images within a grand album. Images of departed Jews, proud individuals taken from life by ordinary (and typically inhuman) circumstances and delivered to death by extraordinary (and incomprehensibly evil) political creations. Images of steadfast stoicism, people too proud or dignified to smile - common people and uncommonly gigantic heroes too simple to treat modern portraiture with a wide display of gum and enamel. And, within this album, within this dust-covered directory - between pictures of Anne Frank and Daniel Pearl, with text by Elie Wiesel - is the past's ultimate warning to modern Jewry: forsake us with moral relativism and we will die; ignore us with falsely balanced treatment and the world will suffer.
Thus, we must envision a world without Jews, or one where - because the global population of Jews would diminish rapidly - Judaism is totally insignificant. For a world without Jews is politically, culturally and religiously poorer. Such a world is not simply devoid of Einstein or Spinoza, as if individual scientific or philosophic enrichment is a byproduct of blood. Rather, such a world is spiritually barren, because Christianity - a great faith descended from, quite literally, the blood of one Jew - is now bereft of all Jews.
Such a world represents the erasure of tradition, love and godly direction; as if political tyrants and historical revisionists had applied bold coats of correction fluid before each word of Hebrew and every dietary restriction. Such a world of empty temples and abundant graves is simply an invitation for additional terror, where murderous mobs may use ancient scrolls for wallpaper and sacred pews for furniture. In the end, this world - a nihilistic nightmare, really - is the ultimate result of two phenomena: indifference and moral relativism.
It is the indifference of civilized society - of English lords and French writers - toward Jewish suffering that threatens all free peoples. For a quickened pace or lowered gaze can never deny the very real flames that currently engulf European Jewry, nor the terror that awaits mindful Christians: that the Holy Cross is the next victim after the incineration of the Magen David; that the death of one great religion foretells the end of another; that drawn curtains before the failed exodus of thousands mean closed borders during the attempted escape of millions; that Jews and Christians must stand together.
Yet, this indifference also mutates into a more dangerous brand of moral relativism. It is this moral relativism that excuses murderous violence, dictating that - because the history of Jewish suffering is so long and sordid - surely international anti-Semitism must have some justification. And, because we live in an era of moral ambiguity, hatred now enjoys equal time - even as innocents die and good people (of all religions) struggle for acceptance.
This moral relativism is even more troubling, because it represents a total abdication of leadership - nothing less than cultural appeasement against an intellectual and physical enemy. Appeasement born of comfort, not fear. The kind of balanced treatment that preaches caution. The very same caution that - when delivered before segregated blacks, isolated Jews or oppressed peoples everywhere - says: Wait. For whom? For how long? And to what end?
No, the Jewish people can no longer wait. They can no longer wait as terrorism threatens their religious identity and physical security. They can no longer wait for heroic leaders, while flawed politicians embrace the enemy of convenience. They can no longer wait for good people to perform righteous deeds, while evil men willingly execute terrible injustice.
We can no longer wait.