An activist Israeli politician challenges his native country to be more than just the progeny of the Shoah and to chart a renewed course as a light unto the nations—to be an Israel in which Hitler’s ghost is finally exorcised.
In his assured and provocative polemic, Burg sees obsession with The Six Million as a burden. Genocide is a human crime not confined to Nazism, he reminds us. The Holocaust may represent civilization’s nadir, but it must no longer be the sole event in Jewish collective memory that dictates policy, education, private anxiety or public discourse. Selectively reviewing history, the author notes that the Yishuv, the settlement that became Israel, was not overly concerned with the Jews of Europe before World War II ended. Participants in the Warsaw uprising are humanity’s heroes, he states, not just those of Zionism. Burg sees a hubristic turning point for Israel during the 1960s in both the Six-Day War and the trial of Adolf Eichmann, whom he maintains should have been indicted and tried by an international tribunal. Supplied in that connection are minutes of a cabinet meeting attended by the author’s father, at that time a member of the Knesset. (The author served as that organization’s speaker from 1999 to 2003.) “Israel must leave Auschwitz,” Burg writes, “because Auschwitz is a mental prison.” Now, with the Middle East still embroiled in a contest of violence, he proposes that the Law of Return, which maintains Israel as the Jewish state, be reconsidered. It is time, he asserts, to establish a “World Religion Organization,” part of his audacious prescription for utopia in the Holy Land and across the world. Many of Burg’s co-religionists will view this highly improbable fix with alarm.
A sharp, appropriately tendentious lecture with much wisdom, a bestseller in Israel and worthy of global consideration.