Commentary: Bash Evil in Every Generation, But Don't Bash
Innocent Children and Grandchildren
- Frank J. Leavitt, Ph.D.
Chairman, The Centre for International Bioethics
Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 13 (2003), 168.
In the days when many Jewish
people lived in Eastern Europe, an elderly Jew was returning home from morning
prayer. A goy (the Hebrew and Yiddish
word for the natives of the countries of our exile) accosted him and started to
beat him up. The frail old man could barely manage to cover his face against
the blows. But he managed to ask: "I never did anything to you. Why are
you beating me?"
"Because you killed
Jesus", the goy replied.
"But that was hundreds of
years ago," explained the old man.
The goy thought for a moment and then responded: "But I just
heard about it this morning."
I heard this story from my father
when I was a child.
I am not an expert on the history
of World War II. So I am not in a position to debate the tales of Japanese
atrocities that I read about. But even if these tales are unexaggerated, I do
not understand why today's Japanese should have to suffer for it. The war ended
almost sixty years ago. How many
of the war generation are still alive anyway? Didn't they suffer enough from
the American bombings? Much of the
bombing - especially Nagasaki - was intended only to punish and not for any
professional military purpose.
Don't think that racism against
the Japanese does not exist. I
have heard such racist remarks even from people who practice Japanese martial
arts. Nobuko Macer told me that when she was a student in Germany people threw
stones at her for being Japanese.
I have also learnt from several
persons that there are many continuing contributions from Japan to China. For
example, in 2001 the Japanese
government agreed to give the Chinese two untied loans for the Guangzhou Baiyun
International Airport Project and the Hubei Duojia Chemical Fiber Project
totaling 43,800 million yen and 7,260 million yen, respectively (1). An
"untied loan" does not require the purchase of goods or services in
Japan (2). The untied loans are part of a Japanese programme to help developing
countries, including China (3). The Japanese are quite quiet about their aid to
China. Recently there was a story about Japan's agreement to pay 100 million
yen to victims of last month's leak of mustard gas from barrels abandoned in
China by the Imperial Japanese Army. (4) One gets the impression that most of
the information about Japanese restitution to China is scattered around without
having been collected in a prominent manner. This is typical of Japanese modesty.
Rather than this endless discussion on something which happened sixty years
ago, maybe somebody should write a book about what the Japanese are doing to
help people, and what the Japanese role is in China's economic miracle.
I do not deny the existence of
evil. There is evil in every generation. Much has been forgotten. I once read
material about the Spanish Inquisition that made the Nazi holocaust look like a
kindergarten. When I planned my first trip to Europe, my mother made me promise
not to visit Spain. This was because of a Jewish prohibition against returning
there, after what the Spanish did to us. But nobody encourages hatred of the
Spanish any more. A few years ago, Israeli rabbis met with Spanish leaders in a
formal ceremony canceling the prohibition. In this spirit, it is time to put
the criticism of the Japanese within limits.
The major problem with harping on
past evils is that it takes up energy which ought to be devoted to fighting the
global evils which exist in our own generation. This should be clear and should
need no explanation.
1)http://www.jbic.go.jp/autocontents/english/news/2001/000022/ Accessed 9 September 2003.
2) Kato M. Personal communication.3
Accessed 9 September 2003.
4) Japan Times 3 September 2003.
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