When we go about our daily routines, we are helped by rules or certainties that remain fixed even throughout our hard and chaotic lives. Our sense of order in the universe does not remove anguish, but provides a context in which to deal with it. For instance, we might get mugged, but we know the police will at least try to capture the thief. We also might get cancer, but we know that family and friends will try to comfort us and a doctor will try to heal us. Even with life’s difficulties, we believe that there are some constants.
Despite our best attempts to draw assurance from our understanding of the world and the rules of human behavior, we are sometimes thrown off. This truth reminds me of a scene from the movie, The Matrix. In this movie, the heroes are able to travel into a virtual world in order to fight the villains. This virtual world has rules. Sometimes, the heroes are killed, but there is a sense of security created by knowing and following the rules of the virtual world. But this changes. In one scene, the good guys are walking up the stairs in a building. Neo, the savior, has a bout of deja vu. It is then explained that the Matrix, or the rules of the universe, has changed. Panic breaks out, because every rule that they took for granted has been altered. The changing of the rules of the Matrix nearly lead to the death of another hero, Morpheus.
This internal psychological panic created by the alteration of the rules of the universe, or Matrix, is the only way I can describe my reaction to recent news concerning Israel, and the Jews in general. All the known laws have changed and yesterday’s certainties no longer exist.
This year there were several stories concerning high profile expressions of anti-Semitism. Any one of these incidents would be sufficient to cause concern. We had the story of U.S National Security Advisor James Jones, who thought it opportune to tell a Jewish joke for the media during an official press conference. Then there was Helen Thomas, who told the Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine.” And this week we had Oliver Stone accusing Jews of running the media.
It is not earth shattering that these incidents have occurred. Actions like these will probably always arise. What does “shake your foundations” is the ho-hum acceptance by the public at large. The best evidence of this is the quality of apologies that these three gave after making anti-Semitic attacks. I have seen four-year-olds give a more contrite “excuse me” after burping at the table, then I have saw from Jones, Thomas, and Stone.