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

Can It Happen Here?

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Puck: “Lord, what fools these mortals be”:  Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II, Scene 2, v. 116.

We are indeed fools to believe that the twin evils of fascism and Communism were vanquished in the 20th century. They’re back now in tandem as a toxic hybrid of corporate fascism and cultural Marxism, and are well on the way to subjugating America. Extending our view to the global picture, now that the Islamists have declared a global intifada, that is to say, a worldwide war against the Jewish People, it’s time to assess the threat they pose.

The collectivists start from an incredibly strong position. As Carolyn Glick wrote in her column of May 8, “Twitter, the Supreme Court, and the progressive revolution,” progressives now control nearly every national institution, which they use to rewrite history, change our national character, attack God and the nuclear family, and turn children against family and country.

Let me preface the following exposition by noting that historically, Jews have generally fared better in liberal democratic societies than in authoritarian ones. Indeed, two of the worst ever were Nazi Germany, which, like Haman, sought to destroy us physically, and the Soviet Union, which, like the Seleucid Greeks, sought to destroy us spiritually. Consequently, America’s slide into totalitarianism represents a mortal threat. The deterioration of the fabric of our society is reflected in the erosion of the Bill of Rights: freedom of speech is on life support, with Big Tech/social media censoring any opinions that deviate from the “woke” party line, and the Administration has reacted to the prospect of a break in the solid private wall of censorship with Elon Musk’s move to purchase of Twitter by creating a new Disinformation Governance Board, headed by an activist who has herself engaged in disinformation; likewise for freedom of the press, as entire websites are banned from social media platforms; and freedom of religion, both Jewish and Christian, is under assault, as exemplified by the COVID shutdowns where governors closed churches and synagogues while allowing large retail businesses to remain open. At a time when crime is spiking because of funding cuts for the police, Soros-financed district attorneys who reduce felony charges to misdemeanors or decline to prosecute at all, and the virtual elimination of cash bail that allows violent offenders back on the street within 24 hours of being arrested, the push is on to abrogate the Second Amendment, thus leaving citizens without a means of self-defense.

Moreover, the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure has given way to warrantless surveillance of millions of people; a lawsuit recently filed here in Arizona alleges that a member of the Scottsdale Unified School District Board and his family engaged in a pattern of both legal and illegal activities to compile a dossier on a group of  mothers who formed a Facebook group to combat the teaching of critical race theory and gender identity issues at the elementary school level, presumably to be used to intimidate the parents into dropping their resistance.

The Sixth Amendment guarantee of a speedy trial has been withheld from January 6 defendants, even those not charged with violent offenses, as they languish for months in solitary confinement; states’ rights under the Tenth Amendment are threatened by attempts to Federalize elections. As is often done, these activities are carried out while the perpetrators hide behind Jews – the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Homeland Security. Bottom line: the land of the free and the home of the brave is now neither.

Now that we have presented a case for the deterioration of civil society, let us consider the effect on American Jewry. Signs of escalating anti-Semitism are everywhere, such as:

  • Increasing physical attacks on visually identifiable Jews (i.e. the Orthodox) on big-city streets in broad daylight;
  • Ludicrous accusations of apartheid and even war crimes being lodged against Israel, especially in the media and academia;
  • Verbal and sometimes physical harassment of Jewish students on college campuses, often encouraged by faculty and condoned by cowardly or unsympathetic administrators;
  • Vandalism of Jewish communal property, beginning with the mini-Kristallnacht in Los Angeles/Beverly Hills after the death of George Floyd, directed against Jewish-owned businesses and continuing through spray-painting the message “Die Juden the other day on the outside wall of a synagogue in Portland, Oregon;
  • Exclusion of Jews, especially students, from public events; denying Jewish organizations recognition as campus organizations; crowd actions to disrupt the presentations of Jewish and more generally, pro-Israel speakers;
  • Increasing support for BDS among college student councils and a more aggressive, confrontational posture adopted by Students for Justice in Palestine and similar groups.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of all these manifestations is that anti-Semitism is strongest at the nation’s elite colleges – Ivy League, Stanford, UC Berkeley and others – whose graduates will become the elite political, corporate, academic and media leaders, just as anti-Semitism was most virulent in the German universities in the late 1920’s and 1930’s and spread from there.

No wonder the distinguished playwright David Mamet has written a book, Recessional: The Death of Free Speech and the Cost of a Free Lunch, in which he foresees an inexorable slide into totalitarianism.

In fairness, the rise in anti-Semitism is not limited to America, nor to the Middle East for that matter. A news item the other day reported that Lufthansa flight attendants refused to allow 127 Orthodox Jews to board a connecting flight from Frankfurt to Budapest because several Jews on a previous flight raised objections to the mask mandate. In other words, collective punishment is back in vogue. More to the point, within the lifetime of Holocaust survivors who were children at the time, the world has shed its guilt and is ready for a repeat performance. And once again, just as the Mufti of Jerusalem encouraged Hitler to commit genocide against the Jews, the Islamists are fueling the worldwide intifada.

Going farther back in history, anti-Semites are reviving the medieval genre of blood libels, with help from the news media that lend credence to every fabrication, however ridiculous. Instead of Jews slaughtering Christian children and using their blood to bake matzos, which hardly anyone believes nowadays, the stories allege that Israelis kill Palestinian children and innocent civilians (who are almost always actually terrorist attackers), harvest organs from the Palestinians they “murder,” conduct ethnic cleansing (for example, the dispute in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood of East Jerusalem, which really is about Palestinian squatters living in Jewish-owned houses that were seized by the invading Jordanian Arab Legion in the 1948 War of Independence, who now, under pressure from the PA. refuse even to pay nominal rent), and in the extreme, committing genocide. (How can that be possible when the Palestinian population has increased sevenfold since 1948?) All these allegations of racism strike a chord with people of all races at a time when the entire white population of the USA is accused of incurable systemic racism. So we see a growing pattern of physical attacks, such as the three assaults in the last five days on Orthodox Jews in neighborhoods in Brooklyn that have substantial Jewish populations.

Inevitably, comparisons can be made between Germany in the early 1930’s and America in 2022 – the physical assaults on Jews in the streets, the harassment of Jewish students, especially in the colleges and universities, the calls for boycotts of Jewish businesses then and Israel now, the vandalism of synagogues, the propaganda in the media. While anti-Semitism hasn’t yet been openly declared as official government policy, momentum is building in that direction. The adoption of virulently anti-Zionist (and hence anti-Semitic using the IHRA definition) ethnic studies curricula by California and Massachusetts effectively establishes anti-Semitism as official public school policy in those states. Moreover, with the continuing appointment of anti-Zionist extremists to high Federal government positions, as well as the tolerance of openly anti-Semitic rhetoric from members of Congress, the appeasement of Iran, and the resumption of financial aid to the PA and UNRWA in violation of the Taylor Force Act, thus effectively supporting the Palestinian “pay-for-slay” policy, anti-Semitism is becoming de facto national policy. Lest anyone think I’m exaggerating, a righteous Christian named Dexter Van Zile has quoted Jean Amery, who was in Vienna when Germany passed the infamous Nuremberg Laws, as writing in 1969, “Anyone who questions Israel’s right to exist is either too stupid to understand that he is contributing to or is intentionally promoting an über-Auschwitz.” Writing for the Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) as early as May 2018, Dr. Joseph Frager expressed concern that the days of Jews in America may be numbered.

The picture may be bleak, but all is not yet lost. We must remember G-d’s promise that we will never be totally destroyed as a people, as we have seen historically. In Persia (modern Iran), Haman sought to destroy us physically’; centuries later, in our own land the Greeks tried to destroy us spiritually. Both failed. As we learned from Yakov Avinu when he prepared for a potentially dangerous encounter with his brother Eisav, we should follow a three-part strategy at a time of danger: appeasement, prayer, and preparation to fight. In a previous post I proposed a less demanding version of Queen Esther’s fast before going in to King Achashverosh. Today we note, per Rabbi Ari Entin’s webinar from United with Israel, that marvelous things can happen during the counting of the Omer when we recite Psalm 67, especially if we recite while looking at the Kabbalistic picture of a menorah formed by the 49 words of the Psalm. Try 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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