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Conspiracy Theory

Ever since they shot Kennedy, the words “conspiracy theory” attach themselves to every major historical incident. Even “They shot Kennedy” epitomizes that very essence, the proverbial “they” you know, the guys who are responsible for everything that does not get done or is moved out of place.

Even in the grocery store, when something is not on the shelf and the clerk tells me, “They must have moved it to another part of the store,” I feel like asking, “Who is ‘they’? The guy who shot Kennedy?’

Conspiracies did not begin in 1963. The first real recorded conspiracy, at least that I am aware of, happened more than 3,500 years ago, when a group of brothers conspired to sell a sibling into slavery and cover it up with an elaborate scheme to say that his disappearance was but a terrible accident involving a wild animal.

Maybe from that point on, we have become skeptics, having been the descendants of either the plotters or the victim, unless of course we descend from the tribe of Binyomin. But even as we wandered through the desert, we were skeptics. “Why did Hashem bring us to this desert? In order to kill us through famine or thirst?”

It seems that the Yidden never bought the argument, “No! Hashem brought you through the desert in order to get you to Eretz Yisroel. It was supposed to take eleven days. You messed up. You sinned. You are now meandering for forty years, and no, my dear people, deserts do not have much food or water.”

But no. We did not think like that. We looked upon the entire episode as a plot. It was a trick in order to get us to starve and die in the desert.

American history is rife with conspiracy theorists, some of whom have been proven right, be it on a ball field during the 1919 World Series or in a hotel suite named Watergate back in the ‘70s. And did we really land on the moon in 1969? Did aliens land in area 51? I assume that what we were told is the correct and factual analysis, but that Jewish skepticism does indeed lurk in the back of this suspicious mind. One thing I do know is that throughout history, Jews have been the targets of conspiracy theories. It was the Jew who allegedly controlled the economy, poisoned the wells, and influenced war and peace – from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the fact that the Jews planned and orchestrated 9/11 in order to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, how many Israelis were in the Twin Towers that morning? 

Of course we have been on the other end of the speculation as well, and if I might say so myself, throughout our recent history, whether it was the overt apathy toward our brethren during World War II or the unbalanced and inequitable assessment of Israel vis-à-vis her neighbors in recent governmental attitudes, something is very suspicious.

The most recent banning of flights into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport because of a stray missile certainly raised eyebrows. Indeed, coming after the shoot-down of the Malaysian plane in Ukraine, there could be reason to be more vigilant, but to me it clearly seemed like the FAA was encouraged by the government itself to make sure that Israel gets a bit of pressure to ensure the cessation of rocket fire by negotiating a ceasefire, something it seems the Americans have no clue how to accomplish.

Although sources close to the real deciders in the US government adamantly deny that the White House or administration had anything to do with the matter, and that it was totally an FAA decision, I tend to be skeptical. Maybe it’s a bit of deserved bias about this administration, or maybe it’s a new view of the world ever since the president’s overt disrespect and blatant bias of Bibi and an underlying yet apparent frustration with Israel’s tough stances.

I am curious if those of us who question Mr. Obama’s birthplace and wonder if he really was born in the state of Hawaii or Kenya are not fond of his healthcare plan as well. Maybe dislike leads to conspiracy theories.

What I do know is that we, as Jews, have a right to be paranoid. We have been the victims of collusion since time immemorial, from the time that Moav and Midyan teamed up against us to the years when France and Germany, two sworn enemies, somehow were able to collude quite harmoniously during the Vichy regime when it came to the Jews.

Back in 1939, a Viennese Jew desperate to leave Europe entered a travel agent’s office and pleaded, “I want to buy a steamship ticket.” The clerk looked at him indifferently and asked, “Where would you like to go?”

The fellow had no idea and asked, “May I look at your globe, please?” The Jew started examining the globe. Every time he suggested a country, the agent raised an objection. “This one is not admitting any more Jews.” “This country needs a visa and five forms of documentation.” “This one needs you to be earning $50,000.” “The waiting list to get into that country is seven years.”

Wherever the Jew pointed, the agent had another disappointing response.

Finally, the Jew looked up. “Pardon me,” he said. “Maybe you have a different globe?”

There is an old saying, “Just because everyone hates me doesn’t mean I’m paranoid.” I think that the rule that Eisav is sonei l’Yaakov comes as the antecedent of another expression, one that we recite yearly in the Haggadah: shebechol dor vador omdim aleinu lechaloseinu.

Every generation has a conspiracy. They stand in the plural. Not one nation, but a conglomerate of colluders. Some political, some military, some terroristic. But they stand, together, for one goal: to wipe us out.

Some say it overtly, others say it snidely, and others would like to say it politically. But it is part of the story of our history.

What they do not know is that there is a force that is greater than them all.

VeHakadosh Boruch Hu matzileinu miyodom.