Yoni Leviatan
How to be Jewish: Be good. The end.

America is Playing with Fire

© Can Stock Photo / natanaelginting
© Can Stock Photo / natanaelginting

America has been on this new road in history for almost 3 years now. Europe started however many years earlier and is that much further ahead.

In Europe it was a slow, steady stream with short bursts that amplified it. There was no sharp turning point with Europe’s reawakening.

America is just an awakening.

Europe is always reawakening.

Why do they always appear so surprised by it?

The road isn’t really new. It’s been there for ages. It’s the passengers travelling on it for the first time who are new. This is the first time we’re talking about America this way. It’s distressing. Not only to Americans, and not only to Jews.

All of humanity is freaking out about this road, because nobody has gone down it before with such advanced technology fueling rapidly increasing anti-Semitism mixing with over 325 million people getting angrier and more divided, while granting all of them a basic civil liberty to have access to just as many guns as there are people.

For two decades, all the Jews living on the other side of the pond have been increasingly worried about the situation in Europe for the same reasons Jews in America are now worried (minus the guns). Whether it’s the record number of Jews leaving France, or the almost 40% of Jews seriously considering leaving England if an unapologetic, anti-Semitic leader takes power in the next election, Jews in Europe are taking this seriously.

They learned. They see it every day. Many days it spits in their face. They are not taking chances this time.

Jews in Europe are taking this seriously.

For Jews who know Israel, the current situation in America is a sad reminder of what Israel suffered in the mid-1990s. For Jews who don’t know, it is the most shocking scene you can ever imagine taking place in the Jewish State of Israel.

Venomously heated political divisions between both sides of the Jewish populace – Jews, it was only Jews – mirroring the same problems America is having today, minus the free-flowing guns mixing with way too much anti-Semitism, spread instantly like wildfire through social media, reaching idyllic Jewish communities named Squirrel Hill and Parkland.

Has anyone given thought to the role technology will play in anti-Semitism in 2018?

During the 2016 election campaign and beyond, the entire American Jewish community was terrorized for weeks with sudden bomb scares – 90% of which came from an Israeli teenager on the spectrum who knew way more about technology than any teenager should know.

Maybe we should put age limits on other things in society besides a free-flowing natural herb which calms people down?

ISRAEL IN THE 90s

Everything happening in America right now already happened in Israel 25 years ago, peaking (not ending) when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the most mourned of Israel’s founding fathers, was taken too early from his people at the most critical juncture towards peace with the Palestinians ever reached in their history. Rabin is Israel’s Thomas Jefferson with the military credentials of Eisenhower, only he earned them with the toughness of Patton as a commander of the elite Palmach strike force during the 1948 War of Independence.

The picture below shows General Rabin as IDF Chief of Staff (right), with Defense Minister Moshe Dayan (center), touring the old city of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. For the Jewish people – who from 70 CE have fervently prayed for the opportunity to pray once again at the Wailing Wall, ever since they were kicked out of Jerusalem the last time – this is the most religiously significant event to happen in two millennia. Yitzhak Rabin is the man who put Jerusalem back in Jewish hands for the first time in almost 2,000 years since the destruction of the Second Temple.

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It made no difference. No matter how much he had sacrificed for the country, how legendary a general he was, or how right-wing he was – and he was really right-wing, right up until he wasn’t – when he tried to make peace and shook hands with Arafat on the White House lawn, he ended up getting shot in the head by an Orthodox Jewish Israeli who played god in the heart of Israel’s most famous town square.

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You cannot over-dramatize this moment in Israel’s history. This is by far the most dramatic moment in Israel’s history that didn’t involve anyone who wasn’t Jewish. The memorial in the picture above is the spot where Rabin was murdered, a few streets from where my father grew up with his family who lived there for 40 years. I myself lived a short walk away for about 5 years until I moved from the area not long ago. During that time, I would pass this spot at least once a week if not more.

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Today it’s called Kikar Rabin (Rabin Square), but up until his murder it was called Kikar Malchey Yisrael (Kings of Israel Square). You still hear Tel Avivians from older generations call it that purely out of habit. It’s the proverbial town square, mythologized in American history as the ultimate symbol of democratic deliberation by the citizens and their leaders.

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The town square of Tel Aviv faces the side of Ha’iriyah (the municipality). It lights up in different colors to celebrate victories for the home team, or to commemorate tragedies far away by honoring them with their flag. This picture below is from September 15, 2001, when some 40,000 Israelis came to Kikar Rabin to mourn for America after 9/11.

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Kikar Rabin is where the most important rallies are organized, the happiest celebrations are thrown and the largest demonstrations are held. It’s the only town square that every other town in Israel has been to. It’s where all the emotions of the country are expressed by the people who come to both protest and party, whatever the occasion calls for.

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On November 4, 2018, Israel will commemorate 23 years since Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered in the democratic state of Israel’s most famous town square, named for the Kings of Israel, which he was at the time. Rabin had just finished headlining a peace rally with Shimon Peres, who was his partner in negotiating the Oslo Peace Accords with Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat.

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All three of them received the Nobel Peace Prize that year, but the legendary Israeli general who was now fighting for peace was soon gunned down by one of his own people. Yigal Amir thought he was doing good by serving his god, and couldn’t live with the thought of giving back land that was biblically promised to the Jews.

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So he took the biblical law into his own hands – and used a modern age handgun to enforce it.

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Take a break and watch the video below. More commentary follows.

(AMERICANS: If you don’t know this story well, or you’ve never seen video of Israel in the 90s – PLEASE WATCH)

ISRAEL TODAY

Israel still has the problem that it had in the 90s. It’s the same problem all of the world is currently having, only in Israel the sides are not nearly as equal anymore since it already dealt with this stuff in the 90s. They know when the problem started, and they know how it got so bad, but there’s not much they can do about it at this point.

It’s too late because TOO MANY PEOPLE THINK ALIKE.

There’s NOT ENOUGH OPPOSITION to keep the POLITICIANS from being CORRUPT.

The only solution now is to bring more people. Israel needs more people.

MORE PEOPLE WHO ARE HONEST.

Even when they had their own state IT DID NOT END WELL for Israel’s Jews either. THIS kind of BEHAVIOR IN SOCIETY has NEVER ENDED WELL, especially FOR JEWS.

Even when they were living all alone, huddled together safely in Israel, it DID NOT END WELL.

EVEN FOR ISRAEL’S JEWS.

It’s not enough to be Jewish, YOU HAVE TO BE A DEMOCRACY.

One without the other is not going to be practical.

There wasn’t even anti-Semitism to worry about.

AMERICA TODAY

America has it easier. It doesn’t need to worry about being Jewish. It’s free to concentrate 100% on democracy. Honest people all over the world are rooting for America to concentrate 100% on democracy every day.

It’s good to have stability, but not too much stability, or you’ll always have to fight hard for every change or freedom of choice. There’s nothing wrong with political divisions in a healthy and happy democracy, as long as those divisions are given a healthy outlet for expression. Otherwise people will have too many emotions and not enough outlets, or not enough to keep them busy from seeking more outlets.

The economy is going well at the moment. It will not always go well. At some point there will be more angry unemployed people walking around with guns. The last thing a Jew should want to see right now is angry people with nothing to do blaming them for Israel while holding a gun.

Nobody should expect millions of people in any country to all think the same way – if they do, keep an eye out. Educate them about Israel. Educate them how not all Jews are Israeli, or responsible for Israel’s actions, or even like Israel to begin with. Some Jews actually hate it. Tell them this, whether you feel that way or not, so people understand that not all Jews feel the same way about Israel.

American Jewry must immediately begin educating all of America about the difference between being Jewish and being Israeli. This is a critical difference that very few non-Jews fully understand. It’s why all the politicians courting Jewish votes talk about nothing but Israel. For Israel, this is great. For American Jewry, this is disaster. Do not let them do it.

Do not let them hate Israel either, even if you do yourself. This is much worse a disaster if the previous point doesn’t sink in. The goal is not to support or defame Israel, which is a personal decision for those who care. But in terms of security: the former should be done publicly, the latter in private. The goal is to detach the concept of Israel from the concept of being Jewish – without antagonizing Israel-hatred – so angry people with guns clearly understand American Jews are not blood-sucking Israelis.

Any personal feelings for Israel, or passion for domestic politics, must take a back seat to security for American Jewry right now. Do not let anyone get away with conflating the words “Jew” and “Israeli” – on either side.

For many, this next advice will not be heeded, but for those who are wise enough to put security before politics: Do not join either side. Why do Jews always feel they need to take a side? Sometimes it’s ok to sit one of the big ones out.

All over the world, Jews are fighting with other Jews about politics online. Everyone believes when they’re typing away their thoughts as they’re venting their emotions, nobly trying to save the world from whatever it is that is taking over, surely all this passion being transferred through the screen is having a persuasive effect on the other side.

It is not. Have you ever changed your mind because someone convinced you on social media? What makes you think you convinced anyone either?

Other people all over the world can see when avatars engage in online hatred and divisions with a bunch of names ending in Burg, Man and Sachs. Nobody is checking to see which Jew is from America and which Jew is from Israel, which Jew is from France and which Jew is from Russia. All they see are Jewish names, so all they see are Jews.

With this aspect in particular it’s not even coming from malicious intent. It’s simply a product of the new world we live in. A world that gives great power to every individual, including angry people who hate Israel/Jews, which of all the minorities in America is the one getting hit hardest – because it is the only one getting hit from both sides.

Jews are the only minority which has taken both sides prominently. This is not good. This will not end well.

Yet still, Jews are continuing to aggravate both sides.

PLAYING WITH FIRE

Every Jewish soul has woken up to the times we are living in. Many Jews were already woke. All Jews are awake now. Not just in America. All over the world. Because we’re talking about America. There’s nowhere left to go that it hasn’t already been to.

Now that it’s happening even in America, everyone on the planet is paying attention to what this means for them. As we’ve already seen for thousands of years, history’s most impactful events usually involve the Jews. That’s not a religious statement. It’s an historically accurate one. From biblical times to modernity with many stops in between.

Ideas are a powerful thing, and if you promote them well enough, you can make a lot of people believe in something, regardless of its validity. Like guns and religion, ideologies can be used for good or for evil, so you’ve got to know what you’re dealing with.

All of them are playing with fire.

Israel in the 90s is America today. Evenly split and divided, with incitement for incivility, which is turning quickly into violence because people are starting to believe this is the best idea around. Even the leaders are now starting to promote it on both sides.

Both sides.

The current leadership on both sides have aggravated the populace to a dangerous point, and instead of figuring out how to dial down the anger and hatred that is targeting millions of people – people just like the first daughter – they are still trying to aggravate it more. Even Jews who are the target are still trying. It is a very dangerous game to get hundreds of millions of people so angry at each other – to win a midterm election – when there are just as many guns as there are people.

No one is thinking rationally in any of these political fights in the world. (Actually, some are thinking very rationally, but they’re not on your side.) You simply cannot rile so many people up to such a high level without them needing to release and channel their emotions to a target of some kind. Many times that target is Jews, for one reason or another.

They always have reasons. Logical reasons. For 2,000 years they had many logically good reasons, none of which had to with Israel. Any Diaspora Jew who thinks they can rationalize Israel-hatred away from Jew-hatred does not understand how anti-Semitism works. It is not a rational ideology. Social media does not make it easier to rationalize. Neither do extremely heated political divisions or free-flowing access to unlimited guns.

Why don’t more people see the danger in this situation?

I know some do.

Why isn’t it more?

About the Author
Yoni Leviatan is a British-born, American-raised, Israeli-blooded musician, content producer, brand strategist, presenter and political analyst who loves to think out loud. Especially about Israel. Originally from Coral Springs, Florida, Yoni has been living in Tel Aviv since 2009, returning to the land of his parents and grandparents and ancestors before them. He has a BA in Criminology from the University of Florida and an MA in Political Science & Political Communication from Tel Aviv University. Click to watch his videos. Click to hear his music.
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