The one who has mercy on those who are cruel will inevitably end up being cruel to the merciful. (Kohelet Rabba 7:17)
Can you imagine the wanton insenstivity of someone who views the burial of a young man as a pretext for airing her neurotic anxieties about her relationship to Judaism, Zionism, and her shmuck of a husband? True, if she had waited at least a week, the story would not have been current. But as when attorney Joseph Welch challenged Joseph McCarthy after attempting character assassination on yet another one of his “Communist” targets, Welsh eternlized the moment calling McCarthy out by saying:
Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness… Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?
Ms. Benedikt were your feelings so important for us to know? So critical that you need to assault the sacrifice that thirty thousand people regarded important enough to take a day to pay their respects?, Just because, he understood, as you can’t seem to that, he was surrounded by family– many of whom he can now never meet.
Hannah Arendt, philosopher and, paramour to the Nazi-sympathizing philospher Martin Heidegger, had some uncharitable things to say about the victims of the Nazi Holocaust and their complicity in their own death. Among them, was her suggestion that Jewish passivity contributed significantly to their own demise. Rather than challenge that premise, Gershom Scholem the noteworthy scholar of Kabbalah, wondered, “Where was the Ahavat Yisrael?” But Hannah, a little compassion?
Sorry for my venting, but my real point is in regard to the comments that followed her fecal piece of treacle. People are so self-involved with justifying their personal conflicts regarding Israel that the feelings of grieving parents aren’t even considered for a second. For some reason, their narcissitic pre-occupations eclipse any concern for what parents, friends, and other relatives have lost. Are we so desperate to justify our feelings that we don’t think for a moment about the suffering of fellow human beings, even if you have conflicted feelings regarding the Zionist entity? Is the angst regarding civilian losses in Gaza so immediate that Mr. and Mrs. Steinberg be damned, we need to have my disturbed voice echo the funeral chant El Malei Rachamim?
These are all thoughtless, self asorbed cruel people who don’t consider how they might feel if they suffered, God forbid, such a horrific loss. Would Benedikt wish to hear that her sister should be blamed for living in Israel, and that Lord Balfour conributed to her demise? Might she want people to wait a bit, giving her time to absorb her loss? Instead, she drags people into her pathetic world while Max’s parents sit shiva in a Jerusalem hotel room. Worse yet, the comments of her fellow travelers jump on the bandwagon applauding her for echoing the way they are feeling.
We know there is such a thing as identity politics, but there is also validation politics where the airing of feelings, and being conflicted becomes so all encompassing that nothing exists outside the realm of ones self–often in the name of compassion for all. Hannah Arendt stated that she belonged to the Jewish people, but she did not love them more than anyone else. For this, Scholem quit corresponding with her.
As for me:
Dear Mr. and Mrs Steinberg,
Your loss is so staggering that I hope the love demonstrated by the people of Israel gave you some small comfort. Please ignore the static of those like Alison Benedikt, and know that as I am writing this, I feel one sixitieth of your pain, and may you be consoled with all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, and have no cause to know more sorrow.