National Identity

It is a tide populists and racists (same) will not be able to stop. History, reality is against them. Global economy, the internet, social media, transportation and climate change will mix up the planet population and no wall will stop it.

I just came from our family reunion and want to share some thoughts.

It was great as it have been for many years.

But I thought of it in the light of current events in our country.

A populist President

The rise of hate, intolerance, isolationism.

Anti-immigration policies, growing divisions in American society.

Family reunion

Meeting relatives that came from different parts of the country

I look around

Old and young

White, Asian, Hispanic

Jews, Christians, atheists

Straight, gay, lesbian,transgender

Big, loud, joyful, friendly crowd.

Talking, playing games, eating and drinking.

Enjoying time together

So free, open, uninhibited.

And I thought about our country

Not the country we came from – the soviet Union

No. It was never OUR country.

I thought about America.

The country where all these people are accepted as equals.

I am watching young people

They don’t see skin color, sexual orientation

They don’t see race or religion

None of this matters.

They see each other.

They see relatives, friends.

This is America I thought, real America.

This is America that accepted us…Russian Jewish refugees.

This is America where we feel free.

Our new home, real home.

Home we did not have before.

Home for our children and grandchildren

I want it to be the America that we came to.

To raise our family, to build a new life.

I want it to be “America the beautiful”, the beacon of the world.

The shiny city on the hill.

And I thought about current events, the face of America under the current regime.

Who are we? How do you define an American?

What is America’s national identity?

I am looking at my relatives, my friends.

Americans.

The microcosm of the world.

America is exceptional because it represents the World.

And it is beautiful, it shows the way, the future for humanity.

It is young, energetic, colorful, open.

And we need to do all we can to keep it this way.

To not allow the dark, rigid and hateful side of America to take ower.

New populism and preservation of identity.

There is a wave of populism washing over the world. From the Philippines to Brazil, from Hungary to US, populists got into power on promises to save their country’s national identity.

But let’s take a look at history. Great civilizations, powerful empires. Where are they? Check the history of any nation. For how long does any nation exist in its present form, language? Babylonians, Philistines, Incas, Mayans – where are they?

Nothing is forever. The world is changing, population moves around. The Earth is changing constantly. Societies are changing and people move. And that is how it should be.

As many as half of the world’s 7,000 languages are expected to be extinct by the end of this century; it is estimated that one language dies out every 14 days. Endangered languages, much like endangered species of plants or animals, are on the brink of extinction. Apr 15, 2013 https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/List_of_extinct_languages

And it is inevitable as the world becomes smaller. What race, what nationality is America, Canada, Australia? How about the EU?

It is a tide populists and racists (same) will not be able to stop. History, reality is against them. Global economy, the internet, social media, transportation and climate change will mix up the planet population and no wall will stop it.

So let’s embrace it. The brave new world. Children are born without hate. Children don’t know races, religious differences. Children do not have preconceptions. We adults teach our children. And then they go into the world. And many discard these biases, these preconceptions. They, our children, accept the world, accept each other without hate and bias. They, the new generation, will build the better world.

I hope.

They will lead.

Fine People

Fascists, they look like regular folks,

Just like us.

Fine people marching: “Jews will not
replace us”.

Pittsburgh, PA, synagogue massacre.

Not important, just one crazy person.

White supremacy is on the rise.

“There are some fine people there.” Trump August 15, 2017 press-conference after Charlottesville, VA events.

Nazis marching in Charlottesville. “Jews will not replace us”.

Some “very fine people”: marchers with torches, swastikas, “Jews will not replace us”.

Fine people.

And I remember images:

Nazis marching in Germany.

With torches and swastikas.

Regular, everyday German boys,

Fine people,

Sons, daughters, husbands,

Church-goers.

Regular forlks.

And I am sure some Jews were saying at the time:

“There are some fine people among them,

We know some of them.”

It will pass.

After all, there are some fine people there.

Holocaust

How could it happen?

Fascists, they look like regular folks,

Just like us.

Fine people marching: “Jews will not replace us”.

Pittsburgh, PA, synagogue massacre.

Not important, just one crazy person.

White supremacy is on the rise.

But in Charlottesville they just wanted to protect their dear confederate monument.

It’s part of history, so dear to white supremacists’ and white nationalists’ hearts.

Marching with torches and swastikas, “Jews will not replace us”.

Kristallnacht

Kristallnacht

Concentration camps,

Holocaust.

Europe in ruins.

Millions dead.

There were some fine people among

Nazis…family people, regular guys,

Just like us,

FINE PEOPLE.

And Jewish Trump supporters agreed.

MAGA

THE 4TH REICH.

Here it begins… The rise of stupid in America. Donald Trump, the new Fuhrer! A scary thought I was born after the War but I’ve read history, the rise of the Nazis. The mob angry at the world, the mob full of poisonous hate. Ready to follow the “leader” The Somebody who will point to the enemy, the culprit, the source of all the problems

Presidency
Hail Drumpf!

Here it begins…

The rise of stupid in America.

Donald Trump, the new Fuhrer!

A scary thought

I was born after the War but I’ve read history, the rise of the Nazis.

The mob angry at the world, the mob full of poisonous hate.

Ready to follow the “leader”

The Somebody who will point to the enemy, the culprit, the source of all the problems

These outsiders who are responsible for the suffering of the “great people” of this great country

Bigots of America support Trump
Drumpf and KKK

Hail Hitler

Hail Trump

History is about to repeat itself

Another country, same mentality

The mob is the same throughout the ages

He, the Leader is promising to make America great again!

And who are the supporters of this new “great leader?”

Who is going to make America “great again”?

The Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, all denominations of bigots and misguided or just ignorant middle class schmucks.

These useful idiots are not interested in the details of Trump’s plan on how to “rebuild America”

These rednecks, Trump followers, will not know how to build bridges and space ships.

They don’t know nor are they willing to invent, research, use science or any of the “smart” liberal things.

They are anti-smart, anti-education, anti-intellectuals.

A Superior race.

It is a mob, my friends.

And the mob does not have intelligence or reasoning or compassion.

The mob is soulless, mindless, a cruel organism that can do one thing: follow the leader.

It kills, exterminates, destroys, builds concentration camps.

Remember the Third Reich?

I am thinking about all of this and it is hard to believe.

Hard to believe that it can happen again.

But I know it can. People have not changed.

Not at all.

This sinking feeling, this dark and cold fog creeps up inside me

Fascism is alive in the world.

It was just waiting for the right moment to take over power, to rise again

And now is this moment, the moment it has been waiting for.

The world is rapidly changing around us.

Rapid technological changes, global economy,

A disintegrating Republican party, the anti-intellectual culture promoting ignorance

The Trump moment.

And I want to ask Trump and his supporters: what does the phrase mean, the Greatness of America?

The good old time of slavery, no women rights, among many other “perks”

You cannot invent and build. You destroy.

Just like Muslim terrorists you are promising to annihilate.

Some rich Jews support Trump
Trump Supporter.

And lastly to these Jews that support Trump.

I don’t know your motivations but, to me, it is a nasty way to commit suicide.

And murder.  Jews for Hitler.

Because by voting for Trump, you are subjecting the whole world to grave danger,

In conclusion I have to say that I am ashamed, embarrassed for our country

This great democracy…dissolving into fascism.

Old Movies.

While watching old movies
I am cursed with knowledge.
I know what lies ahead
And cold sadness of this knowledge envelopes me
Makes it hard to watch
I know what awaits them
I know the future

Watching old movies
I wonder what the future holds.

I know the future

I know what awaits them.

While watching old movies

I am cursed with knowledge.

I know what lies ahead

And the cold sadness of this knowledge envelops me

Makes it hard to watch

I know what awaits them

I know the future.

I don’t want this knowledge

It hurts

People in old movies

They laugh and cry, they love and hate

Not knowing

And that is how it should be

I don’t like watching old movies

Old movies forcing me to know the future

By knowing the past

The human history

Short breaks of happiness

Between long dark stretches of tragedies and despair

The human history

Full of violence, death and destruction

I don’t like watching old movies

I know what awaits them

Misery, violence and death

But the thought comes to me

What the future holds?

I know it is wrong

I should not ask this

We should not, we cannot know

So we can live

And yet I wonder

I know the past

Just live in the moment we are told

The past is gone

And the future unknown

But the past lives in me

The past is talking to me

About the future

All human suffering

The inhumane brutality and hatred

With a short respite of peace

And how quickly people forget

To live in the moment

Maybe that is how we humans survive

By forgetting

We want so much to be happy

But humanity gets reckless

Again

And suffering returns again

As if punishing us for forgetting

Tragic dilemma

It is so painful to remember

And yet we should not forget

We have to remember the past

In order to have the future

Children of the genocide
What the future holds

I watch old movies.

The Weight of the World is on My Shoulders

How do we respond, understand the world in turmoil? Why antisemitism is on the rise?
Numerous global crises threatening our very existence.

the Middle East crisis.
Weight of the world

The weight of the world is on my shoulders

Every soul separated from its body

Every man killed it battle

Every child, every woman, every innocent that died

Died for no reason

I die with them

So much misery in the world

Injustice, murder, senseless wars

Crimes for no reason

No reason other than anger

Vicious ignorance

Limitless greed

Killers in name of Islam
Doing God’s duty

Vindictive and ruthless despots ruling over the ignorant

Ignorant trying to fill the void

The void of an empty senseless life

They created this vindictive ruthless and jealous god.

This god, this small and mean creation of human sins and ignorance

The vengeful god created in the image of the lowest common denominator of humanity

In his name the “believers” are committing unspeakable crimes

The weight of the world is on my shoulders

Killing fields in the Middle East

Israel surrounded by the alien world of the blood-thirsty killers of the Dark Ages

Dictator of Russia.
The Emperor Putin

Russia this forever drunk, unpredictable, tragic and talented nation

Russia forever ruled by demonic scary despots

Russia willingly submitting to every King, Emperor and communist psychopath

And now Putin, a power hungry maniac

The weight of the world is on my shoulders

The pain of the world is in my heart

I am a Jew

Jewish guilt – maybe that is the reason?

Guilt for all human crimes and tragedies

And the world, this big hostile and unfair world

The world hates the Jews and is afraid of us

Jewish fate
An ancient tribe

Afraid of us – a small ancient tribe of tragic and brilliant people

Antisemitism is rising, again

A sign of the dark times coming.

And we Jews are here to fulfill the tragic task

We are here to warn the world by our sacrifice

To warn of coming disaster

And maybe, just maybe, this is the reason that we Jews are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.

And we are the first to be crushed by it.

We Jews are always the first to meet the coming evil forces.

But not the last. The evil will not stop.

The pain of the world is in my heart

Not by choice, not by my choice.

I am a Jew, a chosen one.

Chosen to carry the the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Letter from a GULAG Camp in Vikhorevka. New Year, 1955, Night

Although last year was so full of happy hopes of reunion; hopes that the new year we will be together, but the time is not here yet, I guess. In reality, the time came a long time ago, but we were not successful yet in proving my innocence, although it is like proving the obvious that 2+2 is 4.

Catching up with the Present
Older than my father

By my father Isaac Kagan http://mapcarta.com/28444892

Dear Riva and kids,

Family
Better times

The first page of the new calendar 1955 is open already.

Despite the accepted rules for good wishes at the end of the letter, I start my New Year’s letter exactly with these.

Let this new year be the year of happy reunion, happy family life!

It’s really time now for it. (It is long overdue.)

Although last year was so full of happy hopes of reunion; hopes that in the new year we will be together, but the time is not here yet, I guess. In reality, the time came a long time ago, but we were not successful yet in proving my innocence, although it is like proving the obvious that 2+2 is 4.

So far, the time stretches as in the past. My head is heavy from all kind of thoughts, assumptions, dreams.

The letter from GULAG
1951. Our family before the arrest of my father

Only in my dreams at night, there are happy moments that I am finally home, next to my dear family. Everybody together, you my dear wife Riva, my dear children, myself, walking on the streets of Bobruysk, in the center – prematurely gray-haired father and mother, on each side – kids. People smile at us, friends, relatives. My happy little son, shows me his school. And suddenly, seeing his teacher he says whispering – “This is my teacher.” People say about my daughter – ” How good she is, how lovely she looks.”

The blood pulses faster in my temples from such thoughts, and I feel endless happiness.

It is evening, home, everybody is here. The whole family is together at night. My son is sitting at the table and doing his homework. My good “old lady” Riva is fixing some cloth.

Grandma is busy in the kitchen. I am next to my dear wife reading a book to her aloud, combining pleasure with necessity. How wonderful everything is around me! Every corner of the house, every piece in the house has this sense of a warm feeling of family, the feeling is so warm, so joyous, we should live like that for thousands of years.

But… somebody knocked. I open my eyes, was this a dream? How fleeting was the dream!

I am forcing myself to close my eyes – come back, come back my sweet, happy dream. What a wonderful feeling I had 2 minutes ago, how good I felt!

Before freedom
!955

Baba Riva
Mom 1998

But I cannot fell asleep again. And again different thoughts are taking over me. I start to dream, try to continue my dream. But my heart is heavier and heavier, I feel harsh reality – my dear house, my dear family is far away, a thousand kilometers from here.

New Year night is here. What is awaiting me, what paths, what kind of life?

I am telling myself with trepidation: “My health, the most important thing, please do not let me down, help me to see my beloved wife, my dear children, my relatives and close friends.”…

My dear friend, New Year, please bring health and happiness to all of us, to all who are close to my heart, let our dream of aaast reunion become true.

Be healthy my dear!

Big kisses. Your Isaac.

Letter From the Gulag

I decided to publish this letter that my father wrote to me from Siberia where he spent 5 years accused of Cosmopolitism during the Stalin era. He was fully rehabilitated after Stalin’s death and came home in 1956. He passed away in 1958. I was eleven at that time. I hope that after reading this letter you will understand why my father embraced the revolution. Every society where all the wealth is concentrated in a very few hands is prone to disorder, violence and revolution.

The letter from GULAG
1951. Our family before the arrest of my father

I decided to publish this letter that my father wrote to me from Siberia where he spent 5 years accused of Cosmopolitism during the Stalin era.  He was fully rehabilitated after Stalin’s death and came home in 1956.  He passed away in 1958.  I was eleven at that time.  I hope that after reading this letter you will understand why my father embraced the revolution.  Every society where all the wealth is concentrated in a very few hands is prone to disorder, violence and revolution.

January 12, 1955

My dear son!

Although I have not received an answer from you on my first letter, I decided to write you a second letter.  I am not upset that you did not answer me on my first letter.  I know that you are very busy:  you get up at 9 a.m., you have to get dressed, put shoes on, wash yourself, eat breakfast and then do your homework while your head is still clear.  And of course how can you miss playing outdoors in fresh air?  It is all important.  In no time you need to go to school.  There are other things to do after school:  wash your hands, eat dinner and of course play outside.  And then again homework – reading, writing, arithmetic.  And mama is always there watching that everything is done good, neat, clean.  And what about reading fairy tales?  You need time for all these things.  Days are not long enough.  How can I be upset, my dear son, knowing all of these?  Of course, not.

When you will grow up, then you will understand a lot, and how good, nice and warm your father feels reading tiny letters from his beloved first grade son.

To tell you the truth, at your age I did not read or write in Russian.  It was not my fault.  There was no school, especially for poor people.  Nobody could afford to pay for education.  Our family was big, we were poor.  Your grandfather (my father) was a very sick man, and your grandmother (my mother) was sick.  Of course, they worked but it was not enough.  Times were very tough – it was before the revolution (before 1917), then it was civil war, destruction.  Your teacher probably talked about it.

I remember, when I was little, there was no bread in the house.  It happened very often- so what should you do?  So I took a little sack and went to the fields (after harvesting) to gather rye, wheat, oats and barley spikelets.  I used to put a sack on my neck, walk barefoot on harvested field and look here and there for the remains of the spikelets.  The straw was spiky and they would prick my feet, it hurt, my feet bled, but I had to collect spikelets as much as I could.  Because my family wanted to eat, my smaller brothers were asking for bread.  Before dusk I would have my sack full, then same on the second day and the third.  We would dry the spikelets on the stove, beat them to get grains, and to my mother’s great joy would take the grain to the mill.  Finally I carried flour home.  My mother, my good and dear mother bakes bread.  Oh, the smell of fresh bread!  How tasty the bread is when there is not enough of it!  You take a piece and in a moment it is all gone.

We needed potatoes, but there was no money.  What can be done?  So, my mother would take our cloth, and she and I would go to the nearest village to exchange cloth for potatoes.  You can survive without cloth, you still can use the old one, the ripped one.  One day later, after exchanging cloth for potatotes we were going home.  Good people gave us a horse and buggy.  I was the driver, but when we were passing a corner of one of the houses, the buggy turned to the side of the house, and my mom got caught in between the buggy and the house.  There was 1000 pounds of potatoes.  Her head was pressed to the house at her temple.  How could I, so little, turn the buggy?  What should I do?  Mama made hard, terrible moans.  I was so scared, I screamed suddenly so loud – “mama, dear mama”, with such horror, that the horse got scared and with all her force dragged the buggy in the opposite direction from my mother.  I ran to my mom, her tired face was pale blue, there were tears in her eyes.  I hugged her very tight, started to kiss her and begged her “mama, dear mama, please live, live”.  She looked at me, and probably saw my very scared face washed with my tears, and started to calm me.  I still remember this accident, I will probably never forget it.

My dear son, your father had a tough childhood.  Very difficult.  I am trying to remember all my childhood years and cannot come up with a happy moment.  Like a dark night.

Then after the Revolution when the Soviets came, our life changed.  I went to school and the sun started to shine for poor people. But I will write about it next time, how I wound up at school and so on.  I am sending you my picture.

Study well, my dear and beloved son, listen to adults, do not upset your mother and grandmother.  I love you very, very much and kiss you.  Kiss your mother for me many times.

Your father, Isaac.

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Four out of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.” http://finance.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-4-5-us-face-175906005.html

Never Again

I have to write it. Another conflict between Gaza Palestinians and Israel. Rockets have been falling on Israel since Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Rockets that target the civilian population. It is the duty of any government to protect its citizens. My fellow Americans: Please imagine rockets falling on your land. On your towns, businesses, schools and homes. What would you do? What would you demand our Government to do?

I have to write it.

Another conflict between Gaza Palestinians and Israel.

Rocket s are falling on Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv

Rockets have been falling on Israel since Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza.

Rockets that target the civilian population.

It is the duty of any government to protect its citizens.

My fellow Americans:  Please imagine rockets falling on your land. 

On your towns, businesses, schools and homes.

What would you do? 

Bomb shelter
Bomb shelter

What would you demand our Government to do?

The Fate of Jewish people. 

Tragic and enlightening;

Sad and brilliant;

A past replete with unspeakable horrors and triumphs of the human spirit;

A future full of hopelessness and hope;

Sorrow and happiness.

An incredible story of a small tribe that, for reasons unknown, is unique among human civilization.

These are a people whose contributions to humanity supersedes its numbers. 

Antisemitism
Pogroms

These are the people who gave the world the Bible.

Jews survived, while the mighty Roman Empire is long gone.

Jews survived the Spanish Inquisition and Russian pogroms.

We Jews were forced from Israel, our homeland, a thousand years ago, and yet we managed to survive and to preserve our unique identity.

Russian and European antisemitism and the Holocaust are just the latest tragedies for us Jews.

Our people have contributed so much to this hostile and cruel stepmother-world that refuses to accept us.

And yet we survived.

Survived,  wandering in the hope of finding a home, a permanent home, a country that will accept us Jews.

And not finding it. 

Nazi occupation
Marked

And being hated and persecuted again and again.

Local populations continually resentful of our ability to excel and succeed in spite of hostilities.

Yet there was always hope.

Hope that maybe, finally, Jews will be accepted as equals among other peoples.

And again and again, hopes destroyed, the tragedy reoccurs, lives lost.

And we start again.

Homeless and desperate and hoping, again, to find a home.

Always hopeful and always remembering our ancient home, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem that is sacred for every Jew.

The only home we ever had. 

Albert Einstein, a Jew
A Jew

The home that Jewish people were forced to abandon, but where our hearts have remained forever linked to Israel, to Jerusalem.

“Next year in Jerusalem”…

How hard it is to put into words how we Jews feel about Israel.

Thousands of years of persecutions, wandering without a homeland at the mercy of strangers in strange lands.

Thousands of years, trying to adapt, to become one of them, doing our best to excel.

To finally settle down, to stay.  Our children were born there and felt at home in this, our land.

And every time the tragedy, the forceful reminder,  the realization – we Jews do not belong. 

Charlie Chaplin. Sad and brilliant

Expelled once again.

But we survived as people, we kept our unique identity:

Sad and brilliant and an immortal tribe.

There is no country on Earth where Jews feel at home.

Except Israel, the only Jewish state. 

The state that was created in the place of our birth.

After the Holocaust.

The land of our fathers which a guilty world allowed Jews to come back to. 

After the Holocaust. Never again
After the Holocaust.

“Never Again”…

Never again will we be defenseless against the world.

We will defend this land.

Never again will survivors of the Holocaust let their enemies slaughter us.

Never again!

And again rockets are falling.

And our enemies rejoice, determined to finally annihilate us.

But not anymore. Not again!

We have our own country now.

We are not defenseless anymore. 

Jew will defend their only homeland
IDF soldiers.

Jews will defend the ancient land of their forefathers.

A little enclave of the 21st century surrounded by the 7th century mortal enemies.

This land is the worst place on Earth for a Jewish homeland.

This land is the only Jewish homeland

And Jews around the world are tied to Israel by the umbilical cord of spirituality, love, hope and safety.

Jews know that Israel will accept them, Israel’s children, unconditionally.

No matter how much we love the countries we live in, there is a special spiritual connection to Israel, the only fatherland.

And Jews will defend it from a hostile and unfair world.

There is this eternal, unshakable optimism.

We just outlived our enemies through thousands of years, and we will survive again.

Because unlike our enemies, we love Life, not death.

But never again will we be defenseless.

Violence and Peace
Palestinians celebrate “victory” while Israelis celebrate peace.