31 October 2010

The struggle for justice

"Clemenceau's struggle for justice as the foundation of the state certainly embraced the restoration of equal rights to the Jews. In an age, however, of class struggle on the one hand and rampant jingoism on the other, it would have remained a political abstraction had it not been conceived, at the same time, in actual terms of the oppressed fighting their oppressors. Clemenceau was one of the few true friends of modern Jewry has known just because he recognized and proclaimed before the world that Jews were one of the oppressed peoples of Europe. The antisemite tends to see in the Jewish parvenu an upstart pariah; consequently in every huckster he fears a Rothschild and in every shnorrer a parvenu. But Clemenceau, in his consuming passion for justice, still saw the Rothschilds as members of a downtrodden people. His anguish over the national misfortune of France opened his eyes and his heart even to those 'unfortunates, who pose as leaders of their people and promptly leave them in the lurch,' to those cowed and subdued elements who, in their ignorance, weakness and fear, have been so much bedazzled by admiration of the stronger as to exclude them from partnership in any active struggle and who are able to 'rush to the aid of the winner 'only when the battle has been won." (The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt, 1994; page 118). 
If we replace the word 'justice' with the phrase 'justice as deservedness' we have an apt characterization of the present day struggle in which Israel is engaged as between the pull to exile versus the glory of homeland. 

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