In a post, some weeks ago, I lamented that “They will first come for us because we are Jews.” That our political machinations aside, the world does not see that we are a people of many and diverse ideas, thoughts, or paths. They do not see that we are a nation with a varied and interesting population spread throughout Israel and the Diaspora. The world has so little knowledge of who we, The Jewish People, truly are, that even in time of crisis and support, they still get it wrong.
Jake Tapper, the CNN reporter, went on Twitter to explain to people that a Conservative synagogue does not mean politically conservative, but that it is a branch of Judaism. The inanity of those who comment about the tragedy of The Tree of Life Synagogue, and yet have no clue what Judaism is, or how our community functions, is astounding. Only when it comes to Judaism, Jews, and yes, Israel, do those who are so highly uneducated in the subject dane to offer up their own prescriptions of peace plans, religious authority, and nationalistic perspectives.
As an aside, the hubby had his own definition to work from, “Conservative Jews are those who are just above the fake Reform Jews. Conservative Jews are still a little bit Jewish. (and you have to say that with your grandparents Eastern European accent)” By the way, Reform Jewish observance seems Orthodox in our household. And before you get all insulted, that was a joke in a time of horror.
The hubby, who, by the way, is not prone to talking about the subject of Jews, anti-Semitism or Israel, continued: these anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists are beyond the pale. They have no idea that there is no true centralized Jewish authority. OK, Israel does have the Rabbinate, and there are the organizations for the different branches of Judaism here in the US, but really, how many Jews that you know of, pay any head to anyone else when it comes to their Judaism? There is no Jewish Pope, or the Jewish version of the Archbishop of Canterbury. You could hear the incredulousness in his revelation. He was trying to logically understand the illogical.
I think that was how so many of us spent this past Saturday. We vacillated between horror, grief, and fear, searching for an explanation. Searching for a logical reason that the illogical could happen. How is it, in a nation of 300 million people, there is this abject vilification of a group that numbers less than six million. How is it that on the right and on the left, the Jew is the boogeyman? How is it that in a world that is experiencing upheaval, dramatic migration, and vast economic change, the people that the world turns against is a group made up of less than 1% of the world’s population?
But that is the illness that is anti-Semitism. Oh, intellectuals will give you reason and cause to think about “why the Jews.” It’s something the Jewish people have lived with since Avraham Aveinu. There are thousand page books written on the subject. I have a better question, “Why not the Jews?” You know that hatred exists. You know that anti-Semitism morphs with each generation, that for some reason it is the cancer that spreads into each society and each society has their own version, their own spin. So why should this generation of Jews be exempt?
The hubby, yes we are back to our discussion, likes to say that if genetic memory is a reality, and any Jungian scholar will tell you that it is, then anti-Semitism, as the color of your eyes, is something that can be passed between generations. It is in the DNA. To think that we are born with the propensity to hate is a sad perspective. But then, “Why the Jews?”
In an age, 70 years after the Holocaust, why was it so easy for Europe to fall back into anti-Semitic mode? There was hardly a blip on the radar that anti-Semitism was out of fashion. Of course, they called it anti-Zionism, but we know better what was truly going on. Why was it so easy for the Arab world to find anti-Semitic conspiracism as the reason for their own failures when it comes to Israel? Why is it so easy for those who fall on economic hard times to blame a globalist banking cabal, and why is it so easy for those who are lost in their own society, to blame our little number for their own unfortunate choices in life?
There has to be a reason, doesn’t there? There has to be a logical, scientific reason that Jew-hatred never dies. There has to be a reason that the old joke, “What is the meaning of any particular Jewish holiday? It doesn’t matter, its all the same-they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat…” resonates with every generation, and every generation can create their own new Jewish holiday.
Perhaps, there is no logical reason. Hatred has no logic after all, at least that is what the sociologist and psychologists would like to tell you. The inability of so many humans to grasp their own limits by blaming others for their failings is immeasurable. Perhaps hubby is correct, it is imprinted on human DNA, and it takes the extraordinary to not fall prey to their own ingrown prejudices.
Honestly, I have no answer. I have rantings. I have tears. But I stopped crying early on. Yes, my heart is broken for the families in Pittsburgh. Yes, I know that the attack could have easily been at the Jewish center where we go for programs from time to time. Yes, I know that there are Jewish families in the US waking up in fear this morning.
But I am not afraid. I am not afraid that hatred will spill over into my world. It already has. I am not afraid that the beauty and calm of my religion will be vilified. It already has been. I am not afraid that in this generation we will need new shivas and new mourning cloths. It already has. I am not afraid that the world that talks of peace, understanding, acceptance, and kindness, will fail despicably when it comes to Jews. It already has. I am not afraid that my sons will need to continue to be on their guard for lethal anti-Semitism. They already know that they have targets on their backs.
This Jewish-American, mother of two, wife of one, suburban, modern, spoiled, first-world woman is not afraid. This Jewish-American is simply… wholly… unadulteratedly… enraged.