Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Antisemitism, Inglourious Basterds, and Hate Crimes

Honestly, I don’t like Thanksgiving, I know, sacrilege but the holiday has always seemed so hard on my patients and frankly it isn't a blast for me, either, sitting around the table for hours.  Tough on the back. And I eat more and more and more, which I realize is the point, but still.  

This one was wonderful. in fact I don’t remember a better one in decades. FD and I enjoyed it pretty much because we hadn’t seen this branch of the tree in six months, which is a long time not to see your kids and grandkids if you have a relatively functional family. I know that during Covid folks have had it worse. 

In Chicago few people mask anymore, I don't, yet I sported an ugly white N-95 in the airport and on the plane to avoid the triple threat, Covid, flu, and RSD. As predicted the airport was MOBBED Sunday night, crazy full of over-stuffed humans ready-to-get-home. Exhausted, wide-eyed, very well behaved children pointed to puppies in purses. 


Over the weekend my son brought up the movie Inglourious Basterds, which I had never seen but found on Delta’s entertainment interface. Too long to finish, but still worth the time, Christoph Waltz is absolutely chilling as a Jew hunter colonel in France doing his Nazi thing, eliminating Jews from Europe, seeking out those hiding places. I believe that here in America there may be like-minded people, still, like the fictional colonel's, adults who want to do this, rid the world of the people who brought you all of the following and much, much more

Brought to you by Jews--a very, very, very short list:   

the polio vaccine, antibiotics, first Big Bang Theory and quantum physics, gasoline fueled cars (Sigfried Marcus), the cardiac pacemaker, ballpoint pens, fertilizer, color photography, the film industry, condoms (yes, condoms), the first reactors for NASA rockets, remote control pacemakers, the first laser, LED technology, Duracells, videotape, no, most of us don’t use that anymore but we did play the first videogames on the first Jewish conceived/developed game consoles, USB memory (an Israeli company, ScanDisk), microprocessors to prevent our computers from overheating, Facebook, WhatsApp, GettyImages, Nivea cream (that one is important), Heineken’s beer yeast formula, Mattel and Toys “R” Us, Sears, Macy’s, Marks & Spenser, the first Mercedes-Benz cars, Estee Lauder, Revlon, Faberge, Helen Rubinstein, Ralph Lauren, Haagen Dazs, Dunkin’ Donuts, Proust, Kafka, Joseph Roth, Arthur Miller, Saul Bellow, Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Kubrick, Spielberg, the Coen brothers and hundreds more, Mahler, Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, Mark Knofler, Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, Amy Winehouse, Billy Joel, hundreds of Nobel prizes, the creation of the Pulitzer Prize, UNICEF, the NBA, the AHL (American Hockey League), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 written by Rene Cassin, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and of course, Marvel. 

Feel free to add contributions in the comments. 

I didn't scratch the surface when we talk about the Yiddin. But enough about stuff we take for granted, i.e, all the good that most everyone gives and wants to give, let's get back to hate and violence. 


Inglourious Basterds  (spelling intentional) is arguably Quentin Tarantino’s most popular film. Apropos of something, perhaps, Mr. Tarantino is not Jewish but did marry in and lives in Israel. His popular 2009 film is a fictional alternative to historically correct events in World War II. Many of the main characters in the film are based upon real people. Not Brad Pitt, who leads an American squadron of scalping (literally) Nazi hunters. His band of basterds terrify Hitler, the Germans. 

A lovely scene, that..

Brad Pitt as a Nazi hunter


It is a violent film which means I covered my eyes during violent scenes making it hard to read closed captions. But that behavior, trauma avoidance, is worth 20 of exposure therapy when you're me. (Although I spend a good chunk of my life teaching exposure therapy). But not to have bloody flashbacks, that is the key for me watching film. And really, who doesn’t love a good war movie? I do. 


The story behind Tarantino's alternative script, the true one, is that there did exist vigilante Jewish volunteers during the war, men who sought out Nazis to torture and kill them. A secret British intelligence unit, X-Troop (like X-Men, hmm, which came first?) organized D-Day. Volunteers for X-Troop had already experienced the horrors of antisemitism in Europe and they didn't intend to let the Nazis win the war.  X-Troop soldiers did not glorify themselves with nicknames like Bear Jew in the movie, Bear Jew is memorable for mercilessly beating a Nazi to death with a bat (I only saw the first blow and still I think about it. In the war, not the alternative, fighters with no claim to fame at all did request to be dropped over enemy lines from airplanes to carry out their missions of vengeance. 

Tarantino had plenty of history to draw upon. The movie took 10 years to make.  (Read Quinn Hough at ScreenRant for more).


Which brings me to why I am writing about this now, other than I saw the film on an 8" x 6" screen on an airplane, a perk of Delta. Yay Delta for finding good films.  

The date November 9-10, 1938 marks a stepping up of the regime of terror against the Jews, Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. In those terrifying, horrifying 24-hours the Nazis smashed storefronts of Jewish owners, violently stormed Jewish homes, and ransacked synagogues. We call this a POGROM in my parts.

The day to commemorate that, a German pogrom, a day set aside to never forget it, always precedes Thanksgiving. 

Kristallnacht pogrom, the Aron Kodesh

Kristallnacht pogrom a terrorist attack

The world watched, certainly heard, about how what the Nazis did, how they planned extermination of an entire people. The world said nothing. We didn’t have Twitter. 



From the Anti-defamation League: 

In 2021, ADL counted a total of 2,717 antisemitic incidents across the U.S. This represents a 34 percent increase from the 2,026 incidents recorded in 2020 and is the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979. 


Not in every neighborhood, not in every city, not yet, but antisemitism is revving up in many a Jewish local. We want to think that it is the squeaky wheel that gets the press and that this is a very tiny group of Ungrateful Idiots, but it isn’t so small, and negative attitudes freely expressed on campuses across the nation about Israel on campus have added to anti-Jewish sentiment in America. (I am not good at debate so when anyone tells me that Israel should be more open to Palestinians freely living/visiting Israel proper, I tell them that in Gaza, where they chose to live, which they destroyed to create a military zone instead of the thriving agricultural economy it was when they 'occupied' it as their own (I was there. Gaza was gorgeous and rich, lush with vegetation, thriving), children are taught that the only good Jew is a dead Jew. This sounds so familiar. Never forget. Children are taught this message in school, earlier even. It is in the mothers milk, we say. Do we grant visas to seekers who say that the only good American is a dead American? I don't know, actually, but think not.


This blog is not about politics but it is about the seeds of fear and appropriate caution versus panic. When we hear stories like I'm about to tell you, true stories, Jews grieve immediately and some of us panic. We have children in Israel. We have children in the army. But this is life in Israel. In the back of the mind there is anticipatory anxiety, rational, the mind waiting for the next explosion, 

(1) November 23, 2022, terrorists exploded bombs (nails in a backpack I think I read). Two buses at two different bus stops in Jerusalem killed at least one teen, Aryeh Schupak, 16 years old, of Canadian-Israeli citizenship, leaving 22 injured. 

Aryeh Schupak

Soldiers in Jerusalem following a terrorist attack


(2) Yesterday: A female IDF soldier in her 20s was struck by a car at the Migron-Kochav Yaakov intersection in the West Bank in a terror attack on Tuesday morning.  The alleged attacker: identified as 45-year-old Rani Mamoun Faiz Abu Ali from Beitounia. Married and the father of five children, he had an Israeli work permit and was employed at the Rami Levy supermarket at the Sha’ar Binyamin industrial zone.


So we have that to put a damper on our happiness, the relentless hatred of cousins. 

But back to antisemitism in America, the home of freedom and free speech, and a good deal of hate, too. Psychologically people who are down, depressed, desperate and hopeless find that hate feels okay, The negative thinking summons the negativity emotion to leave the brain, come out of the mouth. Look, look what I am doing. Thoughts in my brain, a bit on the negative side, coming out of my mouth via my keyboard. Do I feel better? A little. I want antisemitism to be out of the closet. I want people to know that there are haters and these people have to be stopped, put behind bars when they commit hate crimes. That is the purpose of this post. Writing, like this is not a crime. Swastikas on synagogues are a whole other level.

But back to hate. Hating others, hating the self, is a sign of a negative affective state. We talk in therapy about hate and how it doesn’t change anything, only makes the hater feel worse, ultimately because it is not a positive identity, being a hater. Unfortunately, those who are spewing antisemitism so they can bring themselves up by putting other people down, are not getting psych consults. They are just out there creatively spewing hate just like the Nazis did in the twentieth century.


Camaraderie in depression, camaraderie in failure, violent goal-oriented behavior directed towards a target that has everything they do not.  


Will there be a time—in my lifetime— I can’t help but wonder— when strong, young, Jewish men, men who already have weapons (what do you think, Jews don’t carry?) will see the need to use them here in America? Will we be forming cells like Inglorious Basterds, like those we see in the movies? 


Because Never Again really does mean Never Again



1 comment:

Cheryl Gowin said...

A very serious topic for Thanksgiving It does make one think

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