Mila 18 is a fictional account of the Warsaw Uprising, in which a small number of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto fought off the Germans for a surprisingly long time. The book is a good read, but not great literature. Philosophical issues such as collaboration and the prudence of armed resistance are explored through the conflicts between the characters before the uprising. The German determination to exterminate the Jews, even at the cost of undermining their war effort, is made horrifyingly clear. The willingness of Christian Poland, including the Catholic Church, to not only stand idly by, but also actively turn Jews over to the Germans, is also evident. The characters are well-drawn, but you do not live among them as in John Hersey’s novel The Wall. A novel about such an event should be overwheming, but Mila 18 did not reach those heights. Nevertheless, the book was hardly a waste of time or money; it was a good read.
Reading Mila 18 does provide a convenient excuse to re-read The Wall, which is one of my favorite novels of all time. But I should probably read a historical account of the Warsaw Uprising first. Any suggestions?
The right of Jews to defend themselves against those who wish to slaughter them is, sadly, no less relevant today than it was in Nazi Germany. The face of the enemy may no longer be the deluded Aryan Master Race, but the threat is the same. For our government to preach forebearance to the Israelis in the face of suicide bombers killing innocent civilians on an almost daily basis is an insult to all people who value their own lives. It is hypocricy in its worst form, particularly after 9/11.
My only hope is that GW is trying to calm down the area until he can neutralize Israel’s greatest threat — Iraq — who likely has weapons of mass destruction. (My understanding is that we need a few months to restock our supplies of weapons for a war with Iraq.) As Andrew Sullivan notes, the Arab states may be gearing up for another war on Israel. Although Israel could certainly kick all their primitive asses back to long before the stone age, the death toll may be terribly high if someone uses nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons against Israel. By knocking out Saddam, we largely eliminate that risk. Additionally, the Arab states may not be so eager to get their asses kicked again without the promise to weapons of mass destruction. And they may not want the US to join the fight either. In any case, I just hope Bush isn’t really cruising down the morally indefensible path of appeasement.