The Unforgotten Past
By Justin Amler
I saw a movie last night called Woman in Gold. It was about a robbery. And it was about a memory. And it was about the past. And it was about the future.
It was about a painting, but really it was about a life – many lives. Lives that were stolen by the Nazis in an attempt to eradicate history and replace it with a new version. It was also about the efforts to keep that history hidden and forgotten. But ultimately it failed. And it failed because, despite all the efforts of states and institutions, and despite the resistance of organizations and lobbies, and despite the bureaucracy of societies and committees, there are some things that cannot be so easily erased and so quickly forgotten.
When it comes to Israel and the Jews, there is a worldwide attempt to eradicate something that was once there removing the past and replacing it with a new, approved version – a version that those in certain sectors of society can nod approvingly while patting themselves on the back at how progressive they are.
They sip on the finest chardonnay from the valleys of France and continue to preach to Israel about human rights, while ignoring the fact that France bans the rights of Muslim women to wear the burqa. And while the ministers of Denmark take pride in their civil rights, they nevertheless ban the religious rights of Jews and Muslims to practice their halal and kashrut (kosher) laws.
Copyright © Nati Shohat
And while the White House continues to push for Israel to split apart, and applauds the decision of the American Supreme court which effectively says Jerusalem is not Israel, they casually walk by the portrait of Moses which hangs over the gallery doors of the House Chambers in Washington, oblivious to the fact that while he led the Jews home, they want to push the Jews out of their homes.
And as we plough onwards towards the future of this brave new world, we will not forget our past despite the efforts of others who implore us to. Because… it’s a part of who we are. Truth, like life, will always find a way. Despite the blankets of lies that is thrown upon us in the hope of snuffing out the fire than burns in our bellies, that passion we feel will continue to burn.
And even though the efforts continue and even grow to make us an illegitimate people in an illegitimate land, we don’t forget our history – our truth. A truth that saw King David proclaim Jerusalem as our capital 2800 years before Washington became America’s capital. A reality that saw the Jewish people enjoying their capital city 2100 years before Londoners did the same.
So while the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer hung silently in the Belvedere Palace for decades, its name having been changed to Woman in Gold to hide its Jewish roots, the world moved on, but not for Adele. Adele watched as she was stolen from her home. And she watched as the eyes of evil studied her in some twisted form of admiration. And she watched as the Nazi empire fell around her, still staring out at the ever changing world. And she watched as the day came so many years later when she was once again reunited with her family, having been reclaimed by her niece – a niece who didn’t forget.
And like the famous portrait, the Jewish people also don’t forget. They don’t forget their history and where they come from. And while the world may change, the Jewish memory remains unscathed. And ultimately, those who make it their life work to destroy the Jewish people through their campaign of lies will find that while they may win some battles and they may even win some kind of false legitimacy, ultimately, they will be defeated.
Because, like the portrait of Adele, the Jewish people and their memory will ultimately and always be united.
Justin Amler is a South African born, Melbourne based columnist who has lived in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and is currently working in the Information Technology industry. He is a regular contributor to international publications, including the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel. Justin is also a valued Israel Forever blogger, writing about his connection to the Jewish state. You can reach Justin on Twitter, Facebook and through Google+.