The population of those individuals that were adults during the holocaust and during the independence/nakba is decreasing rapidly. Those born in 1932 or earlier were young adults during some point of the holocaust (12 years old in 1945). They are at least 79 years old now. For those that experienced the Israeli idependence/Palestinian nakba, they are 76 now.
A twelve year old may be conscious of some of the issues that were going on. Most eighteen year-olds are still barely politically conscious. Relative to the holocaust, an 18-year old in 1945 would have been born in 1927 (84 years old now), a 25-year-old in 1945 would have been born in 1920 (90 years old now).
So, we are in the period in which we can’t hear of the reality of the period first hand, but only second and third hand in story, and repetition of story, and repetition of repetition of story.
We can hear of the reality through scholarship, and that informs us considerably, but doesn’t convey the experience of the time, it tells us of some objective milestones, references, stimuli.
When so much scholarship on Israel/Palestine is of the nature of propaganda, of intended reactions as primary reference, more than open inquiry, we don’t really know.
We are in the land of mythology already, in the land of Balkan like invocations of events that occurred 30 generations before we were born.
The difference between the dependability of story two generations hence and thirty generations hence is considerable. At least, my mother can know her grandmother’s stories and convey them to her grandchildren, maybe even great-grandchildren, but that is second-hand, and still only of what she could discern from a stressed and limited perspective.
The uber-Zionist American kids that one sees volunteering for West Bank duty in heroic self-adulation is based on mythology, on a story, not an experience. It is based on what they were told, not what they saw and reasoned, certainly not what they concluded after skeptically reviewing their own experience. The young Israeli patriot parroting declarations of legal precedent and continuity of authority based on the 1921 San Remo agreement of dissolution of Ottoman territory as authoritatively binding today without modification, is based on mythology.
The 19 year old Palestinian storming the Israeli border in Lebanon declaring his right to return to HIS home in Haifa, is based on mythology, story, incomplete study if any.
The assertions are not entirely untrue, but they are not known. They are believed, gambled on, and like many gambles are done excessively, intoxicated, risking all.
People are told, “Put your all into the struggle. Don’t hold anything of personal security or interest back. That would be selfish. Honor your grandparents’ memory by continuing their struggle.”
But, their struggle is past. Conditions have changed. Possibilities have changed. The world has changed.
Justice, democracy, morality, is in the present, NOT in the past, and definitely not in the mythic past.
The eyes of a human being facing you, willingly smiling, potentially smiling, is the present. The scowl that a hateful myth invokes is the denial of the present.
It is a manifestation of the freedom to never be free.
Myths enliven us. Good ones give us meaning and determination and the tools for kindness.
And myths enslave us. Bad ones give us fear, prejudices, and compel us to live in the past, denying the present, denying our responsibility on the planet, denying God even currently co-creating in denying the present.
Even if our experience was not the heightened trauma of the holocaust, or the nakba, our own present honest experience is equally as critical to the future of the planet and our relations as those marking periods.
What we make of this moment, this era, is it. Any boycott of the present in deference to the mythic, means that the more important event of currently healing the planet and our part of it, might not occur.
THESE are the mythic times. Humbly mythical.