Richard Kronenfeld
Adult Ba'al Teshuvah Ph.D. Physicist

Between Chanukah and Purim Part I

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Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, I’m possible!”

Audrey Hepburn, actress, quoted in Mind Body and Soul supplement, The Jewish Press, November 25, 2022

Parshas Shemos, which describes the Egyptian persecution of the Israelites, both physical and cultural by means of slavery, is commonly read after Chanukah, that is to say, between Chanukah and Purim. This timing is especially significant this year, as world Jewry finds itself caught in a vise between two groups of enemies: the Left, which seeks to destroy us spiritually, as did the Seleucid Greeks, aided by Jewish Hellenists, at the time of Chanukah, and the Islamists, led by Iran, the modern-day successor state to Persia, who seek to destroy us physically. (Incidentally, it isn’t just the Jews who are in Iran’s sights: The Islamic Republic has announced that it is sending two warships to the Panama Canal, an aggressive challenge to what they see as a toothless United States.)

To see how critical the situation has become, first, Iran has made no secret of its plans to destroy the state of Israel and has declared war, so to speak, on Jews worldwide. Sadly, our present administration is empowering that war. In addition to the removal of sanctions and the $1.3 billion released to Iran by the JCPOA, much of it smuggled in the form of cash strapped to pallets on American aircraft, it is embarrassing to see our government practically groveling before the mullahs, desperate to sign a sequel agreement that will further ease Iran’s path to nuclear weapons.

As harmful as these policies are, the spiritual threat to the Jewish People, which is becoming ever more obvious, is growing to truly dangerous levels. Our starting point is Carolyn Glick’s article on entitled “Hanukkah and the new imperialist assault on Judaism,” wherein she cites an AMCHA initiative report written by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Leila Beckwith, which makes the case that campus anti-Semitism is actually an all-out assault on Jewish identity. Their strategy is to claim that Zionism has “occupied” Judaism and is inauthentic, hence it is a form of anti-Semitism. In this redefined view, denying the right of Israel to exist is actually pro-Jewish, that is, the good, authentic Jews are the anti-Zionists, whom they use to justify persecuting the bad, Zionist Jews. Thus, the three groups of anti-Zionists – faculty members who support BDS (boycott, divest, sanction); non-Jewish pro-BDS groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine; and Jewish anti-Zionist groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace – combine to suppress not only pro-Israel activities but expressions of Jewish identity altogether.

Mrs. Glick goes on to point out the remarkable correspondence between the current situation and the historical events that culminated in the holiday of Chanukah. After conquering Judea 2,200 years ago, the Greek kingdom set out to eradicate the Jewish religion, the Jewish national identity, and Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel and replace them with the pagan Greek culture with the aid of Hellenized Jews. In current terms, the Left plays the role of the Greeks, anti-Zionist Jewish organizations and indifferent supposed Jewish defense agencies are the Hellenists, and a growing cadre of newer, independent-minded Jewish defense organizations represent modern-day Maccabees (the priestly family who led the rebellion that ultimately liberated Israel from the Greek Empire.

Persecuting Jews doesn’t just affect Jews, however. As Mrs. Glick observes, it also promotes anti-Semitism among non-Jewish progressives, who are trained to hate two types of people: members of identity groups defined as oppressors, and right-wingers/conservatives/fascists. The campus assault redefines Judaism such that we are (a)”white” and (b) racist/Jewish supremacist/fascist Zionists, so progressives must hate Jews. “Therefore, by redefining Judaism as anti-Judaism, they [progressives] define Jews who try to defend themselves as ‘antisemites.’ And anyone who criticizes George Soros, who funds practically every anti-American and anti-Semitic organization on Earth, is an anti-Semite.

A particularly galling factor in the demonization of Jews is the constant charge that Israel is an “apartheid state,” which is ludicrous, considering that an Israeli Arab sits on the nation’s supreme court; Arabs are in all the professions, especially health-related; Arab political parties hold about 10% of the seats in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament; Arabs work with Jews, attend universities with Jews, and participate in civic activities, with no segregation. Consequently, Leftist activists have had to twist the definition of apartheid until it is unrecognizable in order to make their fantasy case.

So here we are with the threats we were rescued from over 2,000 years ago, several centuries apart, now coming together: a modernized version of Chanukah with the Left playing the role of the Seleucid Greeks and the Jewish Left playing the role of the Hellenists; and a modernized version of Purim with Ayatollah Khamenei playing the role of Haman. Moreover, these two menaces combined form a global alliance. As a consequence, the intensity of anti-Semitism is rising ominously in America, especially among Generation Z (18 to 29-year-olds), in particular, students and recent alumni of the elite colleges and universities that produce America’s future leaders.  A sample of recent events:

  • The City University of New York Law School selected as its student commencement speaker Nereen Kiswani, who has called for Israel’s destruction. Furthermore, a July letter from from the American Center for Law and Justice addressed to a senior official at the Department of Education stated, “Some of the harassment on CUNY campuses has become so commonplace as to almost be normalized,” stated the letter. “There have been numerous classes in which Israeli soldiers are casually described as killers, and antisemitic flyers with vulgar comments about religious Jews—incredible as it may seem, even swastikas—are regularly observed on CUNY campuses.
    “Attacking, denigrating, and threatening ‘Zionists’ has become the norm, with the crystal-
    clear understanding that “Zionist” is now merely an epithet for ‘Jew’ the same way
    ‘banker,’ ‘cabal,’ ‘globalist, ‘cosmopolitan,’ ‘Christ-killer,’ and numerous other such dog-
    whistles have been used over the centuries to target, demonize, and incite against Jews.”
  • Two Lubavitcher boys ages 10 and 12 are viciously assaulted and punched in the face by four black males in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
  • A mob of Palestinian students marched across the University of Michigan campus calling for an intifada, “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free” (translation: exterminate Israel), and “murder the Jews.” No consequences for the demonstrators.

What is truly frightening about the situation is that the same pattern appeared in Germany in the early 1930’s. College students were in the forefront of the Nazis’ rise to power. Writing for Gatestone Institute, British Colonel Richard Kemp observes,

“German non-Jewish students, who had pioneered antisemitism on campus before 1933,
not the government, led the charge against their Jewish fellow students in the early Nazi years, bullying and intimidating them and pressuring the authorities to expel them. In other words, virtually the same phenomenon as we see today in America and elsewhere in the West. A German student journalist at the time wrote that students themselves made an important contribution to the creation of the Nazi university in the Third Reich. (Source: Die Bewegung, 47 (1938),Bundesarchiv (BA) Koblenz, ZSg 129/152.)
“Under assault from their fellow students, as in American universities now, many Jews then found it prudent to conceal their ethnicity and religious beliefs, years before the ultimate fate of the Jews in Germany could be foreseen.
“Jews were excluded or expelled from the German Student Federation and other student groups not because of any state edict but because of pressure by other students. The sam  e thing is happening today at American universities, with recent examples of Jewish students being voted out from student councils and excluded from community groups, specifically because they are Zionists, for which read Jews.
“Just as Jewish fraternity groups were targeted and physically attacked in 1930s Germany, so the Amcha report documents systematic actions including physical assaults against Jewish fraternities and student groups on campus today, including Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) and Hillel, as well as vitriolic condemnation for participation in pro-Israel projects such as Birthright.
“Despite expending so much energy against their fellow students, German Gentiles had plenty left for their Jewish professors. Unsatisfied with Nazi race regulations restricting Jewish faculty, students boycotted the classes of those who were exempt under the race laws and pressured university authorities to dismiss them. The result was that every Jewish professor who was still legally allowed to teach had resigned by 1935.”

Having described the current situation, in part II we ponder what to do about it.

About the Author
I'm a native New Yorker (Brooklyn, to be precise) transplanted to the desert as a teen-ager. I hold a Ph.D in Physics from Stanford and have taught mathematics and physics at the high school, community college, and university level. I'm an adult ba'al teshuvah and label myself as centrist Orthodox and a Religious Zionist along the lines of OU, Yeshiva University, and Mizrachi.
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