The World Upside Down

May 8, 2009

4 min read


Just when you thought it can't get more perverse, a PBS series suggests moral equivalence between the Nazis and the Allies.

When President Bush spoke in the Knesset recently, he reiterated the long-standing commitment of America to Israel. He linked the countries in goals and ideologies and suggested that in the fight against terror, Israel is not alone. The 300 million citizens of the United States stand with her. Israel and America have long shared similar world views.

On September 11, 2001, Israel and American had something new to share -- the pain and fear of terrorism.

It seems that it is not only the positive vision that unites us but some negative and tragic experiences as well. With the PBS' television presentation of "The War of the World" we now have another, also unwelcome, bond -- the sense of being in a world that has been turned upside down.

We have watched through the years as acts of terror are described as struggles for freedom, as nations have boycotted and condemned the victims instead of the perpetrators, as out and out lies have been promulgated as truths ,as pictures of mercilessly beaten yeshiva boys have been captioned with a description of Jews murdering Arabs.

We have listened and watched in amazement and horror. We have torn our hair out in frustration. From the British journalist who saw the "green line" years ago and blamed the Jews for grabbing the most fertile and lush part of the country (need I remind everyone it was green because we had worked the land?) to the fabrications of massacres in Jenin, it hasn't stopped.

Each lie makes an impact. Those who don't know better believe them. The cumulative effect is destructive and devastating. And our own psyche takes a blow with each new distortion.

Even the Russian liberation of Auschwitz is impugned.

With The War of the World, thinking Americans now have a taste of our pain (not something I wished on anyone). Here is a series that suggest moral equivalence (sound familiar?) between the Nazis and the Allies, that attempts to rob those who fought the good fight against Hitler of the nobility of their cause.

Even the Russian liberation of Auschwitz is impugned -- because of the murders committed by Stalin. If you are scratching your head in puzzlement, you are not alone.

Unfortunately these types of presentations have an impact. Younger generations who don't know better may be fooled. Their respect for their parents and grandparents, for their country, may be diminished.

As Jews we are, unfortunately, used to these calumnies; we have some ability to dismiss them. Although not without a price.

Americans aren't used to it yet. Our defenses aren't as developed. And it's scary to see this type of revisionism granted credibility. It bodes ill for the future.

How do we respond to a world gone mad? To a world where truths are turned on their heads and lies cloaked in intellectual argument?

The first line of defense is a rigorous probing to determine the truth (although few will take the time and trouble). This requires a healthy skepticism and a willingness to look beneath the surface and read between the lines.

The second line is to strengthen our ability to stand up for our convictions -- for our countries and our people -- immune to peer pressure and propaganda.

And the third is trust in the Almighty, belief in the coming of the Messiah. We look forward to a world where tearing out our hair will no longer be necessary, because the truth will be revealed and clear. We know that this confusion and fog is only temporary. We know that this is a world of illusion and that a better day is promised.

The days seem to be getting darker. Dishonesty, perversion of truth, outright lies, seem to dominate. There is no clarity; but there is hope. For the darker it gets, the sooner the day will come. I guess in some way I'm glad about this PBS special. In a world where the Allied victory in World War II can be morally impugned, where the valiant soldiers can now be vilified and condemned, where a distorted and false perspective can achieve prominence, then dawn must be on the horizon.

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