We can be heroes just for one day.
– David Bowie, Heroes
I started in this fight even before I knew I was in it. My mother was a gentile Zionist. I absorbed it from her. An existential power drove me to get involved and protect the Jewish people and their homeland of Israel, whatever that meant. I was young, in my early teens. What did I know?
At the start of the movie they would all be well dressed and beautiful. They lived in exquisite apartments with well appointed rooms. But they were herded toward a Ghetto. What was a Ghetto? Why were they going there?
Later on in the film they would be starving, half naked, desperate and living in an overcrowded square mile of the city. Dead bodies would line the streets. Children, barely alive, rummaged through trash bins. Mothers in rags begged for food. Wheelbarrows carried the emaciated and lifeless bodies through the streets. It all seemed so normalized by then. The banality of evil.
They boarded trains. Mothers, fathers & children carrying one small suitcase, confused, frightened. A line of Gestapo using dogs to herd and separate the crowds. Wailing in pain and terror as they journeyed to what would be certain death in the camps.
There was nowhere else to go. Trusting the host countries had not worked, it had led to millions being murdered.
Finally the League of Nations and later the United Nations had reconstituted the Jewish Homeland. Now there was a safe place to go. The one and only Jewish homeland. The indigenous land of the Jewish people.
This is what we’re fighting for. The one and only homeland of the Jewish people. I’m older now, I understand.