(RNS) Can there be a Nobel Prize for distortion of history?
And, if so, can I nominate UNESCO?
Because it would win — hands down.
The U.N.’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has approved a resolution that basically says that Jews have no ties to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.
The resolution effectively de-Judaizes the most sacred sites of the Jewish people. It denies Jewish history, Jewish memory, Christian memory — and, for that matter, Muslim memory as well.
Does this sound familiar?
It should, because UNESCO is gaslighting the Jews.
What is gaslighting? The term comes from the play “Gas Light.” It is a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting his or her own memory, perception and sanity.
Gaslighting most often happens in relationships between men and women. It is a classic sign of a disparity in — and abuse of — power. The perpetrators are almost always men.
Gaslighting is the new war against the Jews.
You see, the Jews aren’t going anywhere. History has shown that, thank you very much. Neither is Israel. There are no military victories against the Jewish people, and no wars of physical extermination.
So, here is the new front: Let’s wage war on Jewish history.
Or, to be totally grim and graphic about this: We cannot gas the Jews. But we can gaslight the Jews.
We can gaslight the Jews by denying them the basic facts of their history. As Daniel Jonah Goldhagen has written, so much of contemporary anti-Semitism is, in fact, “denialism.”
- Israel as a legitimate state.
- Jerusalem is its capital.
- The Holocaust ( the central premise behind Deborah Lipstadt’s book/movie Denial).
- Jesus’ Jewish origin. This is a historically “venerable” form of Jewish gaslighting. Nazi theologians believed Jesus was, in fact, an Aryan. Contemporary white supremacists are more than happy to perpetuate that gross inaccuracy. Some Palestinian Christians believe that Jesus was a Palestinian, rather than Jewish — because, after all, he lived in the region that the Romans had designated as Palestine.
- Jewish peoplehood. Jews are not “only” a religion.
- Anti-Semitism as a bona fide category of hatred.
How can this happen? How can people believe such distortions of commonly accepted history?
Because truth don’t mean squat anymore.
Cultural conservatives love to blame the left for this trend — in which we have gone from moral relativism to historical relativism.
But we now see that the war against truth has many soldiers, who wear many uniforms.
Look at the presidential campaign, with its almost daily dosage of lies. The truth is what I say it is — and if I say it loudly enough, people will believe it. About 80 years ago, we called this sort of thing “the big lie.”
So, this guy says that the Holocaust never occurred.
And that one says that President Obama founded ISIS.
People just make stuff up. And the problem is — they can.
But there is a second reason for this phenomenon.
Remember the war against the Jews? We can’t kill them off.
But we can deny their history — and, just like powerful, sadistic men when they gaslight the vulnerable women in their lives — we can try to make them crazy.
We Jews are good at madness. The late Elie Wiesel practically celebrated it. As one obituary put it:
For Wiesel, madness was not insanity. It was rather the willingness, often in the face of incredible odds, to stand up for human dignity no matter what one’s national identity, racial heritage or sexual orientation might be.
The great Hasidic master, Reb Nachman of Breslov, told the following story.
The king’s star gazer saw that the grain harvested that year was tainted. Anyone who would eat from it would became insane.
“What can we do?” said the king. “If we don’t eat, we will starve.”
“Perhaps,” said the star gazer, “we should set aside enough grain for ourselves. At least that way we could maintain our sanity.”
The king replied, “If everyone behaves one way and we behave differently, they will think that we are the ones who are crazy.”
“Rather,” said the king, “I suggest that we, too, eat from the crop, like everyone else. However, to remind ourselves that we are not normal, we will make a mark on our foreheads. Even if we are insane, whenever we look at each other, we will remember that we are insane!”
The Jews are not insane.
But anti-Semitism sure as hell is a version of insanity — a perverse, pathological and yet ultimately willful misreading of history.
It is the grand obsession with the Jews — what Adam Garfinkle wisely called the madness of Jewcentricity.
When I was in seventh grade, and I was falsely accused of doing something by the rest of the class, the teacher would sometimes ask me: “Mr. Salkin, is it really possible that everyone is wrong, and that you are right?”
It was. And it still is.
The world is wrong, and the Jews are right.
(Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and writes the “Martini Judaism” blog for RNS)