A World War II Veteran
I am 90 years old. I have lived through much. My parents were immigrants from post-World War I Europe. Following the Crash of 1929 we were very poor. Our country was awash in poverty, and anti-Semitism was widespread. When I was about ten years old, my father, who had been a front line combat infantry officer in the Austro-Hungarian army told me, “If anyone asks, you tell them you are a Jew, and you are proud of it.”
In 1943 I volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corps and was accepted as an air cadet. Only 18 years old, I understood what war meant and felt I might not survive.
Today I live and welcome each day but today I am not proud to be a Jew. I also am not proud to be an American. I see our country and the Jewish state of Israel, whom we blindly support, murdering women and children as remorselessly as the Germans did in the war I served in. They had their rationale, and we and Israel have ours. The two are not entirely dissimilar. We are supplying the munitions and equipment and the Israelis are supplying the propaganda and the delivery systems.
The average age in Gaza is 17. Over three quarters of the population in Gaza is under the age of 23. Eighty (80%) percent of the 2000+ deaths in the latest “war” are young women and children. I have seen pictures of what the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, describes as “telegenic victims,” little girls and boys without legs, arms, or with terrible wounds in the face and body that they will carry through life. I have seen the films of bombed-out Gaza in 2014 that look shockingly similar to the Warsaw Ghetto after the Germans destroyed it in 1943. (Of course, the Nazi genocidal intent to destroy all Jews everywhere was far worse, and I lost family members in that Holocaust.)
I was once proud to be a Jew and an American. Being Jewish meant that our history of oppression made us understand and feel sympathy for all of humanity. Today I see Jewish Americans who have never suffered themselves, except for minor problems, blindly believing US-Israeli propaganda that makes Israel with the seventh largest military capability in the world the victim while Hamas in Gaza is pictured as the aggressor.
I have always felt that the three years of my youth in World War II were spent in a necessary cause. In three years we changed the world for the better. Not perfect but certainly better. And at home it was a great time for our country and for our citizens. Progressive ideas and legislation flourished in both political parties that enhanced the common good of the citizens. Now we live in a country that is not only dedicated to perpetual war with the world but in contravention to the good of its own people. It is a country that suppresses public protests with militarized police forces that look like the German SS when in their military gear.
I feel I am one of the last Jews standing and the others who blindly rationalize and support our perpetual wars and the atrocities of Israel are the “self-hating” Jews who Anna Freud described as “identifying with the aggressor.”
11 thoughts on “I Have Traveled to the Mountain and Now I Am Looking Over the Precipice”
Reblogged this on Vox Populi.
Please identify author of this powerful piece.
Hello Mr. Engel: This is a response from the author of the article:
I am a very ordinary guy. I have read Voltaire and I follow the advice to Candide to “tend your own garden.” I have also read Ecclesiastes that “all is vanity and vexation,” which is pretty much what Buddha also said.
I have a very good life now that I can appreciate because I had a very hard life as a youth. I never want to forget my suffering and that of all people.
I firmly believe that one learns more from failures and suffering than from success. One can only learn to have ‘hubris’ from success. That is something that younger Americans don’t seem to understand. It isn’t their fault that they don’t understand. My generation’s war and the political policies of the “New Deal” of FDR gave us a fairer and peaceful world that has led those who grew up later to believe that the ‘good life’ is part of the natural order.
The politicians and their moneyed masters have worked for the last 60 years to destroy that special American social contract that worked so well for our people. Can we go back?
WW II veteran
A powerful and moving article. Thanks for posting this.
Dear Bill, I read this post and cried. Thank you for writing it. Thank you for being such a wonderful human being, “a Man” as the Greeks would say. I have been so lucky to have known you. I’ll share the post with friends. Litsa
Thank you for this brave post. To be upfront about my own perspective: I call myself a quasi-Jew. My paternal grandfather was Jewish; he fled Romania in the late 19th or early 20th Century. I strongly suspect I therefore have distant relatives who perished in the Nazi Holocaust in Europe, though I’ll never know their names. I, myself, was raised to be a freethinker on matters of religion and I reject the Judaic/Christian/Islamic tradition.
I think it needs to be added that while you were in the US military, American Jews were excluded from, or given quota-based access to, American institutions, including country clubs and some (most?) of the top universities. The utterly WASP-dominated Establishment discouraged Jews trying to flee the Holocaust from immigrating to these shores. This was certainly an element in US support for establishing a “Jewish homeland” in the region of Palestine, then being “benignly governed” by Britain. That regime was set up by force of arms and Arab resentment started simmering. And look where the region stands almost 70 years later. Under the slogan “Never again!” Israel now, with involuntary assistance from US taxpayers, operates as a rogue, pariah nation. It was Apartheid South Africa’s only open supporter in the UN. Jews, how can you explain that disgrace away?!?!? How did the horrific wrong of the European Holocaust come to “justify” the brutal repression of the Palestinians? Two huge wrongs suddenly equal a right? A system of Apartheid has essentially been established for Palestinians. “Your papers, please!” As happened eventually in the Warsaw Ghetto, oppression breeds resistance.
As I have commented before, the American politicians who are the loudest public supporters of Israeli policies are precisely those most likely, behind closed doors, to complain about “Those lousy k*kes, they control all the money, the media” and on and on. Hopefully we’ve progressed to the point where only a minority of them still believe that Jews have tails and horns and drink the blood of freshly abducted and slaughtered Christian children!! But perhaps I’m giving them too much credit! This too, I would think, should give pause for consideration. American Jews, do you really want to be the bedfellows of these cretins?? Since this is starting to sound dangerously like a manifesto (!), I will stop right here.
Hi Greg: You just reminded me of something that happened when I taught a course on the Holocaust last spring. I had a Jewish student who was asked by another student, “Where are your horns?” when she identified herself as being Jewish. (This didn’t happen in my class; it was a story shared by the student.)
It’s hard to believe that someone made it to college and yet that person still believes that a Jewish person has horns. The persistence of negative stereotypes is a bane of human existence. That, and intolerance driven by ignorance and prejudice.
Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
“I have always felt that the three years of my youth in World War II were spent in a necessary cause. In three years we changed the world for the better. Not perfect but certainly better. And at home it was a great time for our country and for our citizens. Progressive ideas and legislation flourished in both political parties that enhanced the common good of the citizens. Now we live in a country that is not only dedicated to perpetual war with the world but in contravention to the good of its own people. It is a country that suppresses public protests with militarized police forces that look like the German SS when in their military gear.” – A World War II Veteran.
WW II Veteran,
Thank you for sharing your profound wisdom acquired through your long life experience, and making a real, good difference by sharing your truth. There is a sense that unassailable solutions to the decades-old Israel-Palestine issue will be included in your future writing; a sense of anticipation that is likely shared by the many who greatly appreciate your wisdom.
Thank you, sir.
Jerry. Thank you for your kind comments. I have no “solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian situation other than to say that it is not “our” problem. I have relatives in Israel and I feel that Israeli citizens, just as our citizens must control their own government.
We and the Israeli citizenry should, by now, be able to see how much damage the US has done in the Middle East by allowing the Saudi and Israeli governments to influence our mid east interventionist policies aimed at protecting those two sovereign states. The area is in shambles because of American intervention stretching from Libya through Egypt to Iraq, Syria and Iran. Everything we touch turns into death and destruction and having not learned by our Middle East catastrophes we are doing it it again in Ukraine. You, I , and all Americans must turn our eyes inward and taking our country back from the ideologues intent on empire building under the pretext of helping these countries.
Thank you for your thoughtful anger. Sometimes anger is valuable as energy that fuels creative problem solving, otherwise it’s just a destructive waste. Tragically there is a higher proportion of the latter at the moment. It’s easy to rail against what is — much harder to get focused and work at making the world a better place.