The New Republic Online: Pilgrims’ Progress

A joint pilgrimage to Auschwitz by Israeli Jews, Christians and Muslims:

Inevitably, there are tensions. When a Christian Arab woman reads aloud a poem asking how God could have allowed “the people you chose” to be murdered, other Arabs are outraged at her seeming identification with Judaism. And, in coming here together, we all take emotional risks. For the Arab participants, who have been attacked by their own media as traitors, conceding the enormity of their enemy’s tragedy risks diminishing their own. For Jews, coming to the place that teaches us the necessity of power, together with Arabs who threaten that power, risks weakening our will to fight for survival. The result of our mutual risk-taking is an exchange of sensibilities. Jews acknowledge that Auschwitz isn’t just a Jewish but a universal wound, while our Arab partners discover Jewish outrage. “Where was the world?” they demand. And, with unintended irony, “Why didn’t the Jews fight back?” Referring to the Nazis, a Bedouin social worker invokes that old Jewish curse, “Y’mach shmam” (“may their names be blotted out”), as if he were from Brooklyn.

Well worth the entire read.

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