Many thoughtful Jews, inside and outside Israel, debate philosophical issues about the entire basis on which the state, and especially such a government as that of Mr Netanyahu, conducts its policies. French historian Esther Benbassa has just published a notable book called Suffering As Identity. She argues that Jews must look to the future rather than the past and cease to define their world view in terms of the Holocaust, ruthlessly politicised since the 1950s.
“How can Israel base an entire national identity on the genocide,” she asks, “and bind its youth to this history of suffering, which turns peace with the country’s neighbours into an increasingly abstract notion?
“Do Israelis have the right to speak in the name of those who died in the genocide? Have [the dead] ever approved of the use that some make of their tragic destiny, bending it to the service of nationalist aspirations at the expense of the Palestinians, who are in no way responsible for the catastrophe that befell the European Jews?”
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