This is an op-ed that was published in the print edition of the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende a few months ago. It was not available online until a few days ago when Jeppe Juhl himself uploaded it to the online paper 180 Grader as a protest against one of the editor’s [Lars Pilegaard] obvious lack of knowledge about what is going on in our times.
Jeppe Juhl is a journalist and former editor. In 1989 he received the greatest prize a Danish journalist can get, the Cavling Prize. He won it for digging up a whole range of disproportions related to the administration of the Copenhagen Municipality. He has worked for several media outlets, including TV3, Kanal 5 and Ekstra Bladet.
I cannot hope to do Juhl’s op-ed full justice here. It is brilliant in Danish. I have done my best in translating the piece but I bear no illusions about living up to the quality of the original. But less is definitely also worth spending time on when the point of departure is of such a high standard.
The op-ed can be found here.
Here is TB’s translation:
Dear Ali- - - - - - - - -
By Jeppe Juhl
Foreword by the author:
This op-ed is dedicated the anti-Zionist Lars Pilegaard [an associate of the Danish editor Ole Birk Olesen who can best be described as a Danish equivalent of Charles Johnson — translator] and uploaded to 180 Grader in an boundlessly naïve hope that moral relativists and other blinded souls will soon begin to understand that massive anti-Semitism have again emerged in our latitudes, and that criticism of Islam has nothing to do with racism.
The Goldstone Report about the alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza is just a cover for the decisive and indisputable fact that the very core reason for the miserable conditions in the Middle East is a suppressed and inherited hatred towards Jews in the Muslim world, which the Western world dares not address.
The fact that a naïve South African Jewish lawyer has been exploited as a figurehead for another round of demonization of the Israeli nation in the UN should not come as a surprise. Not even for the least well-informed. The Goldstone Report about the war in Gaza is a political perversion on which I will waste no more time. It is a symptom of the sad — and unfortunately empirically indisputable fact — that there exists widespread anti-Semitism in the Western World. In claims more than fulfilling Orwell’s’ notion of ‘newspeak’, these openly anti-Semitic Muslim countries and their Third World collaborators try — in all kinds of insufferable and easily seen-through ways — to transform night to day. If you skip all the intermediate results and current accounts, there is only one way forward as I see it: to address the root of evil — the thorough and deeply founded anti Semitism in the Muslim world. That is why I have written this open letter to the taxi driver Ali, who dropped me off in the middle of the highway when he overheard a conversation I had in my mobile phone, which made him realize that he was driving with a… Jew.
You don’t know me. And I don’t know you. One thing, however, I sadly do know for certain. The chance that you feel a deep, personal and heartfelt hate towards me is a statistical fact. Chances are that you and your brothers also would try to disable me if we ran in to each other on Nørrebrogade. And what is worse: you would be proud of your deed. Your friends, your family, and all of your acquaintances would back you up when you were summoned before the judge in court to receive your mild sentence. They would salute you as a hero while the judge presented to you your punishment, and your status in the open and pleasant Danish prison would be strong.
You see, Ali, I am a Jew. I do not have the characteristic curls, I do not wear a skullcap, and I have only been in synagogue six times since my Bar Mitzvah 36 years ago. Actually, I am not even a member of Mosaic Faith Community, but that is also completely irrelevant since you would hate me anyway.
Even though I no longer believe in the tooth fairy, Zeus, or Xualiltihocp as I believe in Yahweh. Even the thought of the non-historical Jew, Moses, receiving the stone tablets on Mount Sinai after migrating from Egypt — where the Jews never were — is as ridiculous and absurd for me as is the story of Jesus walking on water and raising the dead, or as the pedophile Mohammed taking to the sky on a white horse with wings. But it would not matter. You would still hate me. Because I am a Jew.
But Jewish I am. Nobody can take that away from me. Actually I am proud of my Jewish roots and of all the fabulous things that Jews have contributed throughout human evolution. Incredibly proud. Once in a while in an embarrassing way on the verge of being outright ridiculous. And then I am in other respects Danish. I write explicitly not ‘in other respects also Danish’. For me there exists no demarcation line. There are no religious, ethnic, cultural or emotional barriers between my Jewish background and the simple fact that I am as Danish as can be. And actually I am proud of being Danish. Incredibly proud. Once in a while in an embarrassing way on the verge of being outright ridiculous.
My family’s story is one of inconceivable sufferings: About pogroms, persecution, and lack of basic rights in an anti-Semitic Eastern Europe. It is a story of systematic scorn, mockery, and ridiculing, about desperate flight, about concentration camps and about survival. The story ends beautifully. With total assimilation in one of the best countries on the face of the earth. Beautiful and wonderful Dannevang [Denmark — translator].
My grandparents came here to create a better life, and by hard labor and love for the country that received them, they succeeded. There was no hate in Denmark. Only the deepest respect and an enormous amount of gratitude which is perhaps best symbolized by reciting the end replica of the Jewish divine service in the synagogue in Krystalgade: “God save the Queen and our native country Denmark…”
Yes, Ali. I am a Jew. I have a strong Jewish identity and I am a great supporter of the state of Israel with all the rational nuances upon which a thinking individual should build his personal views. Of course you do not like Israel, for which I cannot blame you and which I will return to in a moment. But there is another and much more important and fundamental difference between you and me — besides our view on Israel and our different points of origin: I do not hate you. On the contrary I wish you a long and rich life in peace and tolerance. Why in the world should I wish anything else? My reason to write you, Ali, is deeply personal. You see, I have almost completely given up the idea of dialogue. Dialogue requires two parts. Both parts being willing to listen. Dialogue demands will. Dialogue demands empathy and ability to listen to things that hurt. I must admit that I believe that this exercise is a complete waste of time, but for the benefit of you and those of like mind I will use what little doubt is left.
I will now ask you — and Frank Aaen, Torben Lund and Mogens Lykketoft [all MPs who have been very critical of Israel — translator] and all your other Danish friends — to follow me in a mysterious experiment. This experiment demands that we all clean our insides of prejudicial notions. Together we will wash the table clean. Completely clean!
Forget the bombardments in Gaza for a moment. Yes, I know it’s hard, but it is a precondition for this experiment. Forget the illegal Israeli settlements and the outright unintelligent attitude towards war and proportionality. Forget how the allies dropped bombs on the citizens of Dresden and Hamburg during the Second World War. Forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Forget the moral relativism which saturates an action-paralyzed and indifferent Europe. Completely ignore the meaningless UN. Forget that the mightiest state on earth with one corner of its mouth initiates aggressive wars in the name of democracy while with the other it cooperates with the worst Islamists of them all: the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. who use billions of dollars to poison Muslim youth in perverse madrassas around the world. Let sixty years with a complete absence of historical perspective, objective and factual distortions about backgrounds and causes of the unfortunate conflict in the Middle East rest for a second. Let us all ignore the obvious fact that it is a dangerous illusion to project western moral notions and rational thought upon movements which operate in an irrational world where life in the hereafter is more important than life in the present. Let us all forget what we think we know about the conflict.
I do that right now: I erase from my mind my certain knowledge that you and your brothers have been brought up in an environment with a systematic lie and a hate of such enormous dimensions that all hope of peace for many generations to come is in vain. That the lie becomes the truth just by repeating it again and again. That evil men who preach murder, darkness and medieval values exploit you and your younger brothers. That you have almost no chance of escaping this perverse spiral. That hopelessness, repression, and poverty logically force you into the arms of these men from the darkest of ages. That your religion has never had, and will never find, the enlightenment which is the embryo of a free life. That democracy is not the immediate solution for a bankrupt civilization. I force myself right now to clinically erase from my mind the obvious fact that you and your brothers in Gaza and in the Arab world are the unhappy victims of cynical despots, who rightly fear Islamism more than The West does. I repress the fact that you and your brothers have been exploited as political pawns in a prolonged, perverse, and opportunistic political game founded in religious and inherited anti-Semitism. I forget my fear about Iran developing a nuclear capability; repress the horror scenario which logically can only lead to a preventive and catastrophic intervention from the Israeli side. I ignore the rage that rises in my heart when moral equivalence between what is demanded from Israel stands in such sharp contrast to what is demanded of everybody else. I erase, here and now, my firm conviction that what is believed to be Israel’s fight is also the fight of The West. I use everything in my power to repress my negative view of the illegal settlements and my contempt for the religiously motivated mechanisms that constitute the biggest problem of them all: the division of Jerusalem as a utopia. I forget your hatred. I close my ears to the message from Hamas: “We, the Muslims, love death as much as the Jews love life”. I am purifying my mind.
It is pure now. Is yours?
Now we will both dig deep. All the way down into the substance which in mysterious ways defines us as human beings. Each of us should now ask himself the simple question: Do I want peace?
When you have reached your answer I will ask you: Do Hamas and Hezbollah?