I continue to be dumb-founded by my fellow Jews. Sadly, this bewilderment does not extend to the non-Jewish world that finds a way to condemn anything that either supports Israel or seeks to defend Jews from anti-Antisemitism.
One has to be blind and deaf not to take seriously the exponential increase in Jew hatred, whether it be cloaked in the fiction of anti-Zionism or diminished by law enforcement, politicians and the world press shying away from declaring criminal behavior as terroristic or hate-driven.
Examples of these may be seen in how the media reported: (1) the attack at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City was mysteriously random, until the mayor announced that the establishment had been targeted by Black Hebrew extremists whose leaders had called for violence against Jews; (2) the murder of US military personnel in Pensacola by a Saudi Arabian “student” as a “lone wolf”, until investigation uncovered proof that the perpetrator had been viewing mass murder films with other Saudi Arabians on the base and had posted anti-American and anti-Israel sentiments over the internet; (3) the retaliation by Israel on targets in Syria and Gaza reported the deaths and injuries of the strikes, while not mentioning that hundreds of rockets had first rained down on numerous civilian targets; and, literally hundreds of violent acts against persons and property which, until the evidence is overwhelming, are not characterized as manifestations of Antisemitism. Most hypocritically, foreign leaders, the United Nations, politicians and college professors insist that anti-Zionism is to be viewed separate and distinct from Antisemitism.
In the last three years, President Trump (whether you love or hate that he won the 2016 election, or are turned off by many of his ill-conceived tweets) has advanced the cause of Israel and defended Jews, in overt acts that should clearly validate his campaign rhetoric that he would be the greatest friend Israel ever had.
Despite acts of Congress authorizing the official recognition of Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel and the moving of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an unbroken chain of Presidents, both Republican and Democrat, refused to do so. Faced with criticism from within and outside, President Trump did both. Promising to nullify the Iran Deal, President Trump backed out of it and reinstated severe sanctions after each demonstration by Iran that it was proceeding with its nuclear agenda and supporting terror throughout the region. Finally, after more than 50 years, President Trump recognized that the Golan Heights were part of Israel’s sovereignty. More recently, President Trump declared that the settlements in Judea and Samaria were not illegal, occupied territories.
Two days ago, confirming that the rise in Antisemitism in the United States and around the world was alarming and unacceptable, President Trump with the stroke of his pen signed an Executive Order, putting federally-funded programs, institutions, colleges and universities on notice that funding could be withheld if Antisemitism was not condemned and prohibited, or if pro-Israel or pro-Jewish speakers were squashed and dis-invited in favor of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel voices. In doing so, he said that such conduct could be found to be violative of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. In so doing, the President adopted the working definition of Antisemitism adopted on May 26, 2016, by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which states, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of Antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” Citing expressly the BDS movement, the President stated that such infringements directed against Israel will be viewed as discriminatory and unlawful.
As a “reward” for his efforts on behalf of Israel and Jews, much of the response to President Trump has been that he remains a white supremacist, irrationally charged with fomenting Antisemitism by provoking extreme reactions, and that each action he takes is merely manipulative of his re-election aspirations to benefit himself.
The broadest attack against President Trump’s most recent Executive Order comes from Jews who want to deny that they may be discriminated against under the prohibition of acts aimed at persons or groups having a common national origin. They insist, especially if they are loosely affiliated or have totally assimilated, that Judaism is a religion, and that Jews are not part of a national identity.
But the reality is that, before all the exiles and expulsions, Jews had a homeland, their own Land that was granted to them by G-d. The cry, Am Yisroel Chai, calls out to the nation, the peoples that are the descendants of Israel, which name was given to Jacob in this week’s parsha, Vayishlach. Tragically, so many Jews refused to leave Europe when the handwriting was on the wall, and went to their deaths, because they lived under the delusion that they were Germans, Poles, French, etc., and that their Judaism was simply a faith or an accident of birth, but did not define them. We Jews cannot make that fatal mistake again.
As a Torah teacher, I have often asked my students, teens and adults, whether they consider themselves to be American Jews or Jewish Americans. Having been an English major, I point out that the adjective that modifies the noun is merely descriptive. Therefore, to say one is a Jewish American is to state that one’s nationality is American, and one is only incidentally Jewish. But, one who seeks himself or herself as an American Jew, recognizes that his “nationality” is that of a Jew and, because he was born and/or lives in America, the adjective that differentiates him from others who emigrated to these shores and became U.S. citizens is the descriptive identity of a country of origin. This distinction is not one that disavows loyalty and patriotism to America; on the contrary, it envelops the American experience without eradicating the fact that the achdus, the eternal unity of the Jewish people, is the ideal, the vision of Creation.
Instead of seeing each of these bold acts by the President of the United States as courageous morality needed to combat a hatred that we had believed was blotted out with the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allies, the pernicious sustainability of Antisemitism greets us in every corner of the world virtually on a daily basis.
If it were just the radical jihadists that were inventing euphemisms to justify violence and hatred against Jews, it might be handled by an overwhelming unity of opposition, politically, economically and morally. But, old enemies, whom we have in post-war times counted as “friends” (e.g., France & Germany) vote against Israel, harbor terrorists, elect leaders who openly hate Israel, and protest loudly when Israel seeks to defend itself. Here, at least one Jewish cable news anchor condemned Israel’s Iron Dome as causing a “disproportionate” number of casualties by fending off rocket attacks while dealing crippling blows to the aggressors who unleashed their violence against civilian populations throughout Israel.
Our young people, who go to college in order to obtain knowledge through degrees that will advance their dreams and ambitions, are the victims of college professors, hate-filled curricula that call Israel an apartheid police state, deny the Holocaust, and seek to rewrite history. This piece will not address (for lack of space) how such virulent and intentional misinformation and propaganda simultaneously seek to kill God, the American flag, the Constitution and the most basic institutions of society.
When facts and circumstances are passed through a prism of bias, the “truth” or “reality” that emerges is nothing less than the stirring up of Antisemitism, which if unchecked, may, God forbid, make the world so numb, so silent in the face of increasing violence, that another Holocaust may come upon us, dwarfing the horrors one, with technology and weapons far more effective at destruction and annihilation. Antisemitism is real. It is here and it is getting worse. We must applaud any act, word or gesture that attacks this cancer among us. We must speak with one voice, the voice that our Torah declares to be the “Voice of Yaakov”, and with the pride of being Am Yisroel.
So — take off those glasses that cause you to see through the prism of bias and SEE clearly, hear clearly, know clearly. We are Jews — one People, one Nation — we are presently dispersed and this has been our plight for thousands of years. As Jacob said to his brother, Esau, in this week’s torah portion, garti — I was a sojourner during my years with Lavan. Our forefathers knew that they were sojourners so long as they did not dwell uninterruptedly in the Land of Israel. The very word, Ivri, used by Abraham and later by his great-grandson, Joseph, when he came before the Pharoah, means “other side”. While we are to be a light unto the nations, i.e., the transmitters of ethical monotheism, we live among the (then) 70 nations, but are ivrim, Hebrews.
The sooner we get that, the sooner we see that each affirming act by President Trump or any world leader that embraces the sovereignty of Israel and the right to life and liberty for all Jews is one that furthers G-d’s Creation, the sooner will the “Voice of Jacob” finally prevail over the “Hand of Esau”, or any other enemy that seeks to destroy us.
ADDENDUM: Yesterday, a glimmer of light shone through the increasing darkness of worldwide Antisemitism. The UK gave Boris Johnson its mandate and, in doing so, rejected the ideology of Jeremy Corbyn, whose blatant Antisemitism, I believe did much to sink his dreams of becoming the Prime Minister. Bravo to Voters of Conscience.