Star Wars, The Holocaust, and the Wild West
This is going to be a confused jumble of thoughts, because the last two days have been a confusing jumble.
Yesterday, my Facebook feed was filled with people commenting and sharing links and photos about the special day of the year. Only for some people, that was the annual Star Wars Day ("May the Fourth be with you"), whereas for others, it was Holocaust Day.
I really don't mean to sound moralizing or patronizing. I must be honest; to my shame, I must admit that I probably feel more connected to Star Wars than to the Holocaust. But it was striking to see how, generally speaking, people in Israel are so much more connected to events of genuine national importance.
Star Wars itself can be loosely described as trying to teach about the dangers of fascism, with the most recent movie, The Force Awakens, being blatant in its equating the evil First Order with the Nazis. Still, while I watched The Force Awakens, and I enjoyed it immensely, there was one scene that bothered me intensely. Action movies are a lot of fun, even when there is a high body count (and sometimes because of the high body count). But The Force Awakens portrayed what I think must be by far the greatest loss of life in any movie ever, with the First Order destroying an entire planetary system - many millions, even billions, of lives. And yet, that act took up just a few seconds of screen time, showed a few scared faces, played a few sad notes of music, and then the action and fun rolled on. Have we really reached a point where a story can portray such staggering loss of life in so casual a manner?
Meanwhile, if secular culture is utterly desensitized to the magnitude of holocausts, the same is true at the other end of religious spectrum. Just a few hundred yards down the road from my neighborhood in Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph is the Wild West, a.k.a. Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet. The last few days have been full of rioting, over several "causes" - the screening of a kosher movie for women by one chassidic group, the arrival of the police to attend to a wife being battered, the arrest of a young man in the Auerbach faction for avoiding military service under the guise of being in yeshivah but who was actually partying away. The police, and civilian civil guard volunteers, are screamed at as being "Nazis". That's an epithet that I haven't heard leveled at Jews since - well, since the last municipal elections. (It should be noted that most of the charedim in that neighborhood despise the rioters. However, the charedim in that neighborhood, and even in Aleph, are not willing to make any kind of public demonstration or denunciation against them.)
I hope and pray that people get a proper perspective the easy way, via education, rather than the hard way.