Monday, April 15, 2024 -
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Theatre of the absurd

The more information we have, the stupider we get, it seems. Back when I worked in academia, specifically on international relations websites, this was a hot topic. The internet was providing society with a plethora of information — that was new back then. What was lacking was context, i.e., knowledge.

Back then, Twitter had just launched. Social media was new. What we already identified as a major issue has now exploded. The idiocy gutter has replaced Al Gore’s information superhighway. We are living with its repercussions.

More than any other event, the Israel-Hamas war has revealed how ignorant people are, which itself wouldn’t be a problem. Why should everyone be knowledgeable about a complicated conflict that most are not connected to? The issue is that these ignorant people express their misinformed views with 100% certainty, and loudly. Because they have information, they are under the misapprehension that they understand what’s going on.

Example: Not knowing that “Palestine” was the name given to Judea by the Romans in order to remove the region’s Jewish identity following major rebellions. Fast forward to 2023. It’s clear that the Roman Empire succeeded with Israel’s detractors. Oh, the irony: Palestine is technically a colonial moniker.

I’m not a nativist nor do I believe that only “indigenous” people either deserve to live in or have an authentic connection to any country. Having been an immigrant myself, it would be the ultimate hypocrisy. I’m also wary of how the term indigenous has been weaponized in our increasingly toxic political discourse. But if we’re using the term, to deny the Jewish people’s connection to the land of Israel is both anti-Semitic and idiotic. Not only has our faith for 3,000 years held Jerusalem at the center of our religious life, but tons (literally) of archaeological evidence evinces the Jewish people’s connection to the land.

Last week, I came across an interactive map on My Jewish Learning that identifies the modern-day sites of battles fought by the Maccabees against the Syrian-Greeks over 2,000 years ago.

It brought home the absurdity of many today who deny Jewish people’s connection to Israel. We are celebrating a holiday marking the reconquest of our temple in Jerusalem and defending our Jewish identity, while the ignorant haters say that Jews are settler-colonialists with no tangible connection to the Holy Land.

I’m not sure if even Samuel Beckett could have conceived of such a farce.

In fact, I had to laugh when I saw a video of Cori Bush — one of the most vociferously anti-Israel congresspeople — at an anti-Israel “ceasefire now” menorah lighting. She posted it, oh so proudly, not realizing, apparently, that the menorah overtly celebrates Jewish endurance in Israel.

Just as the theatre of the absurd served to highlight the vacuousness of humanity when meaning is removed from our lives, the theatre of the absurd we’re watching in real time reveals what people become when they are driven by hatred of Jews. But it’s far from funny. It’s unbelievably ugly with real world consequences for Jews.

Shana Goldberg may be reached at [email protected]

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