When I moved to Israel in 1967 right after the Six Day War, I became aware of a cultural sensitivity far removed from the consciousness of the people of Texas, where I grew up.
Very soon, I noticed that literally all Israelis were hypersensitive to any criticism of Israel. Immediately, the first words on their lips seemed to be “anti-Semitism.” It was a knee-jerk reaction from politicians, pundits and the man on the street whether they were conservatives, religious or liberals.
No wonder! 1967 was only a mere 22 years after 6,000,000 Jews were massacred in a way that had never been seen before since the beginning of time. Whole families, communities and even towns were utterly wiped out. There was hardly an Ashkenazi Jew (whose family had come from Europe or Russia) who hadn’t lost close relatives in that Holocaust.
My first language teacher, Yona, introduced me to her husband, who was one of 10% of Jews from Poland who made it out alive by hiding in forests for three years while the Nazis murdered 1.9 million Polish Jews.
I learned that many Ashkenazi Jews of Israel would not think of purchasing a German car, or anything German, for that matter. Even though the mother tongue of German Jews who escaped the war was naturally German, they could not bear the thought of speaking in German or even hearing anyone speak it.
The trauma of the Holocaust survivors who made their way to Israel was passed down to their children, and even their children’s children. This was the case whether parents talked about the war or not – and many would not utter one word of the unspeakable hell they experienced.
Today in Israel, even though the intense trauma has somewhat diminished, and few survivors of the Holocaust are left, the Jewish people of Israel are still extremely attuned to the threat of anti-Semitism.
Even though the United Nations has been unable to agree on a description of anti-Semitism, Israeli Jews know exactly what it is. It is Jew-hatred.
by Shira Sorko-Ram