Where the virulent anti-Semites lurk

My mother was born in Palestine in 1938. As a Jew born in Palestine, her birth certificate states that she was Palestinian, like all the Jews living in Palestine.  When she was a child, the medical establishment was “treating” ringworm (gazezet in Hebrew) with very strong doses of radiation to the head, and my mother was subjected to this “treatment”. It seems they were doing this as a preventative measure, as well as a “treatment”, and that this same method of dealing with ringworm was being used in some other countries, including the United States.

A documentary: The Ringworm Children, was made on this subject in which it is imputed that in the 1950s, this method of treating/preventing ringworm was routinely administered to Sephardi Jewish children who were migrating with their families mainly from North Africa – especially from Morocco. In adulthood, those subjected to this treatment developed brain tumours and many died before their time. It is presented in the video as something that only Sephardi children were subjected to, and as belonging to some sinister eugenics programme on the part of the Ashkenazi leaders against the Sephardi population.

And here on the internet, under the Youtube video, in the comments section, congregate some of the most virulent anti-Semites, spitting out and unleashing their toxic hatred, their venomous vitriol, towards Israel and Ashkenazi Jews.  Referring to a “Zionist”-perpetrated “holocaust” against the Sephardi population.  (Of course, the North African Jews who came to Israel were also Zionist.)   Google the term “radiation for ringworm” and a plethora of horribly extreme anti-Semitic posts appear for pages and pages.  I cannot believe for a second that these virulent racists, with their “reverse-speak” and projection – their predilection for labeling Jews as “Nazis” – have even the tiniest particle of concern about the Sephardi Jews in the video, any more than they have concern for Palestinian Arabs who are their main excuse for being overtly anti-Semitic in the guise of anti-Zionism.

I added a comment explaining that my mother had been subjected to this “treatment” by the Israeli medical establishment as a young child, and that she was Ashkenazi. That she developed recurring brain tumours in adulthood (the first one was diagnosed when she was about 34), and died at the age of 44.

It is very unlikely that she could have been mistaken for a Moroccan Jew, or for a newcomer – Sephardi or otherwise. Her parents migrated to Palestine some time in the second decade of the 1900s from Russia and Poland. While many Ashkenzi Jews can be  dark with black hair, my mother was so fair that her skin went pink in the sun. Her eyes were lightish blue. Her parents were well entrenched in Palestinian – then Israeli – society, and her mother drove trucks for the British during WWII. They would not have allowed her to receive any treatment they considered to be discriminatory or harmful. I have not yet found out the numbers of Ashkenazi children treated in this way for ringworm in Palestine/Israel in the 1940s/1950s, but I don’t see how it is possible that my mother should have been the only Ashkenazi child to have been subjected to this “treatment”.  However, I have come across numbers of Ashkenazi children who were irradiated for ringworm in the USA by an American Jewish insurance company, OSE, who:

“…radiated the heads of 27,000 Ashkenazi Jewish children who arrived in New York from Eastern Europe during the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1940s, about 4,500 Ashkenazi children who arrived were found to have ringworm, and about 2,500 were treated with radiation by OSE.”

http://www.jpost.com/Health-and-Sci-Tech/Health/BGU-medical-historian-seeks-1940s-irradiation-victims-in-US

My words in the comments section under the YouTube video explaining that my Ashkenazi mother had been subjected to the same treatment as a child, seemed to cause some consternation amongst the virulently anti-Semitic internet community who had attached themselves to this video, and who upheld it as “evidence” of Israeli “apartheid”.  On the internet, words such as “genocide” and “Nazi” are attached to “Ashkenazi” in relation to the gazezet affair.  But the information about my mother had put a spanner in the works, it seems, and my comment seemed to stem the flow of vitriol somewhat.  I received a couple of responses. One seemed quite innocent. He wanted some clarification on the circumstances surrounding my mother’s subjection to this “treatment”, and I responded.  But something did not feel right.  You could almost feel the hatred pulsating from that internet page.  I performed an internet search on “Gunther” – one of the people who had responded to my comment. He was a member of a group which looked shockingly anti-Semitic – hard-core Nazi in fact. I deleted my response to his comment and reported it to the CST, which deals with anti-Semitism in the UK.  After a while, I decided to delete my comment altogether. Why would I place myself right in the cauldron where virulent anti-Semites congregate? Anti-Semitism is something I would travel far to get away from!

Yet, it seems that wherever you have Jews criticising Jews, Jewish Israelis or diaspora Jews criticising Israel, Jews or Israeli Jews expounding theories which can be taken as challenging Zionism, Jews who are inverted anti-Semites (for wherever there is racism, there is also inverted racism), there you will find the virulent anti-Semites, or even the non-virulent anti-Semites, congregating!  Anti-Semites love a self-hating Jew; they love a Jew who will criticise other Jews, or Israel.  (Did they love Otto Weininger, the Austrian philosopher (1880-1903) who, being Jewish, as a consequence of his own anti-Semitic philosophy, committed suicide?)  Israelis who criticize Israel feel entitled to express as much anger, outrage, discontent, opposition to their government’s policies and actions as any citizen of any country may feel entitled to do about her/his country. They don’t necessarily realise they are providing fodder to fatten the collective hatred of these virulent anti-Semites. Or that their words are being used to substantiate a claim that their country is illegitimate and not entitled to even exist!  A claim which I do not believe is made about any other country in the world, no matter what the circumstances under which it was founded.

I’m not aware of any other kind of racism working in this way. Do racist bigots love people of colour who will speak against other people of colour? Do they congregate around people of colour who are inverted racists? I don’t think so. Anti-Semitic hatred shares much with other racisms, but also takes on forms which seem not to apply to other racisms, such as the desecration of Jewish cemeteries.

I think this wish of anti-Semites to “align” themselves with Jews who criticise Jews/Israel, along with expressing Jew-hatred in the guise of anti-Zionism, is a post-holocaust phenomenon.  In the aftermath of the holocaust, it is not PC to openly express anti-Semitism.  Therefore anti-Semites – who exist even in places where there are no Jews! – have some very crude tactics for unblocking the path to their urge to express their powerful and irrational hatred. For example:
(i) Holocaust denial. If the memory of the Holocaust is blocking the path to openly anti-Semitic expression, then by denying it, minimising it, or trying to erase it from history, one can then hope to open up the path to, and validate such expression.
(ii) Alignment with a Jew who, as above, criticises other Jews or Israel, again in the hope to validate their hatred.

It appears, then, that what anti-Semites feel the need to do, which they don’t apparently feel the need of in respect to other racisms, is to validate their racism, to avoid being labeled as the anti-Semites that they are; to avoid being labeled as the Nazis some of them are – a label they wish to project on Jews – perhaps in some cases in a wish to cancel out the Nazi guilt.

That is not to say that everyone who adopts a position of anti-Zionism is therefore necessarily anti-Semitic. But that is a subject for another blog.

What the Israeli medical establishment did to my mother and other children subjected to these massive doses of radiation to the head, and the consequences to these people and their families, were terrible. It was not known what the consequences would ultimately be. Radiation was not understood at that time as it is today.  Nevertheless, it was terrible.  As was its negligent and criminal use without the understanding of the long-term consequences; without deep research into what had already been discovered, but not disseminated into a wider awareness, about radiation’s destructive potential – therefore the experimental nature of its use on children.  The ruined lives…. dreams turned into nightmares.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringworm_affair_%28Israel%29

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Someone commented on this post, utterly flabbergasted that I was “defending” Israel and thus manifesting “unconditional love” for Israel, after what “it had done” to my mother.  I was quite taken aback by such a response, which missed the entire point of my article.   For this reason, and and also because I did not want to attract virulent anti-Semites eager to find out where their ilk were congregating, I made this post private until I felt inclined to address this point, and long after.

So there are 3 main issues here:  firstly:  who exactly “did this” to my mother?  I do not think it was Israel that “did this” to my mother.  It was not the land of Israel.  It was not the general population of Israel – she, after all, was part of Israel – a “sabra” – the term in use for an Israeli-born Jew.  And my mother certainly loved Israel, belonged there, and always longed to return.  She was quintessentially Israeli.  It was part of the medical establishment, and certain government ministers at the time that irradiated and damaged her previously perfectly healthy brain when she was a young child.  Was the USA implicated as is strongly implied in the film?  I am not sure of the extent to which my mother may have made an association between the “treatment” she was subjected to and her brain tumours, and it was something she experienced solitarily – unaware that others who had undergone the same “treatment” were suffering similar fates.

The second issue relating to the reaction to my post is:  would the same question be asked of other countries whose children received the same treatment?  The 30,000 children treated in the early 1950s in Portugal?  The 50,000 children treated in Serbia?  The 27,000 children treated in Eastern Europe?  Would someone be amazed that a Portuguese person, or a Serbian could love their countries?  That it was these countries that “irradiated” their children?

Would the same reaction be evoked in relation to other toxic “medical” experimental treatments?  In Britain, for example, I have enormous gratitude towards my mother that while she was pregnant with me, she refused to take any medication whatsoever for any pain or discomfort – not even an aspirin.  This was the time when the Thalidomide drug was being routinely administered to pregnant women for morning sickness, with subsequent devastating consequences.  In the States and in Britain, pharmaceutical companies cooperate with the psychiatric profession, motivated entirely by the maximization of profits, in creating an artificial ever-increasing market for powerful mind-altering, mind-disabling drugs which are zealously administered to millions of adults and children which can and often do have fatal consequences.

Would it be said that Britain “did this” to children born with Thalidomide-induced deformities?  Would it be said that the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, or any other country, “did this” to those children and adults whose lives are ruined or ended from psychiatric drugs?

The third issue relates to Buddhist ethics;  practising Buddhists try to cultivate equal loving kindness for all of humanity, whether towards our immediate family, whether it is towards someone we have very little to do with, or whether the person is our worst enemy.  Someone who is enlightened will be understood to have achieved this, while others will ideally aspire to achieve this (or perhaps aspire to this aspiration!)  According to this ideal – it is irrelevant whether or not the person who has suffered such damaging treatment is one’s mother or not;  one’s concern would be just as great whoever the sufferer may be.

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My final word is directed towards any virulent anti-Semites, who found their way to this post in a quest to discover where others of your kind lurk.  What I have to say to you is:  “Shove orf!  Or else I’ll butt you with my horns!”

What is(n’t) this thing called love?

Residents of Holy Isle - 2 wild foals

Residents of Holy Isle – 2 wild foals

“You don’t know what love is

Til you’ve learned the meaning of the blues….”

I recently went on a retreat on the Holy Isle, off the Isle of Arran, with Tibetan Lama Rimpoche Yeshe.  On a couple of evenings, volunteers on the island held a “discussion meeting” – a topic for discussion was decided upon, and we were to discuss the nature of the subject, from the heart, while remaining in the present!

On one of these occasions, the subjects decided upon – since a number were thrown up – were love, and false perception or delusion.  Being “in love”, for example, is an example of false perception or delusion:  the object of love can do no wrong.  (Although can we ever truly perceive a person?  Or anything?  Is perception always distortion stemming from the perceiving mind?)  Being “in love” may consist of attachment rather than love, and may incorporate obsession, dependency, and other unhealthy mind-states.  From a Buddhist viewpoint, attachment or clinging is one of the most harmful states of mind:  harmful to oneself, and harmful to the person to whom one is clinging.  However, most unenlightened human beings do not seem to know how to love without attachment.

This can manifest in an infinite variety of ways – some relatively imperceptible, others more extreme:  parents clinging to their (even grown-up) children – not allowing them to live their own lives… breaking up relationships.  Closet gay people can cling to their straight marriages – forcing their spouses to unknowingly live a lie.  (Thus, the consequences of homophobia can harm straight as well as gay people, as any phobia harms the phobic.  And that is not to say that only straight people are capable of homophobia, by any means!  But I digress……)

Someone had proclaimed, earlier, when Lama Yeshe was leaving the Island, “I love you, Lama Yeshe”, so the question arose whether this was love, or gratitude, or love mixed in with gratitude.

Someone posed the question as to whether love and compassion were the same thing.  I suggested that it would help to discover this by looking at whether the love we feel for living beings is the same as love we may have for inanimate objects.  Somebody reacted strongly to this. “Why do we need to know?”” she demanded.  I pointed out that this could help us to know whether love and compassion are the same.  “Why do we need to know?” she reiterated.  Because we are examining the nature of love.  And therefore we need to look at what isn’t love.  “Why?”  (In her place, at her age, I might have pointed out helpfully that bananas are not love!  Donkeys are not love!)  Because we are trying to find the essence of love. “Why?”  She couldn’t relate to what I was saying, she explained later.

Perhaps I was not discussing from the heart, but was entrenched in the old habit of academic debate.  And assuming that we were all engaged in the pursuit – probably also academic – of the essence of a concept, and the meaning of a word. Of what practical use is it to know the difference between love and compassion?  How does it affect our lives to know the difference.  Do we indeed need to know?  And another interesting question:  can love exist without compassion, and can there be compassion without love?  I can anticipate what the young challenger at the discussion meeting would have responded with:  “Why do we need to know?”!

I can think of at least one practical application:  I love my guitars, for example.  (Which is in fact attachment – or maybe something a little more complicated.  It is not just that I can produce music with them, sing with them – as I could do that with other guitars which might have a more beautiful sound.  It is that I have imbued them with value because of their link with my personal history and personal relationships – but that is also not all it is, since I may not have imbued other objects linked with my history and relationships with the same value.  And here, I seem to be closer to an analytical enquiry, rather than an enquiry from the heart!)  But if I felt compassion for my guitars, I think that might give cause for concern!  This, I think, is one reason why it might be important to know the difference between love and compassion!  I think compassion is something that arises in the face of suffering, and inanimate objects can’t suffer.

Science fiction, however, is crossing this boundary:  we are presented with robots modeled perfectly on the human form (externally), which are capable of loving, and which have feelings which can be hurt.  And the result is that the consumer’s compassion is aroused by a convincing portrayal of such emotions.  Is the consumer then projecting her/his emotions on the inanimate object?  Or is it that humans can create objects which then take on lives of their own, developing in their own way, beyond the control of their manufacturers?  So far, this is confined within the realms of science fiction.

It is also problematic to use the word “inanimate” in relation to robots which mimic life, or even in relation to guitars, which can respond so beautifully to a musician’s fingers, which have individual quirkiness, and which “die” if they remain unplayed for too long.

Holy Isle - looking onto Isle of Arran

The Holy Isle – looking onto the Isle of Arran