Cookie Schwaeber-Issan

Israel still unprepared as Jews are scapegoated

As an opinion writer, it always interests me to see what comments and feedback are given after one of my articles is published. In this case, though, I actually wish I hadn’t seen the latest comment received from my article entitled, The Clever Legalization of Crime and Deviate Behavior, published by CD Media on August 18, 2022. The posted comment read, “The Israeli Left is owned by the secular American Jewish Left. I consider them to be my political enemies and the UN-Jews of Natan Sharansky.” The individual then cited Sharansky.

This comment is not an anomaly, by any stretch of the imagination.  If you browse Twitter, Facebook or other feedback comments concerning articles which deal with topics of injustice, corruption or other related topics, you will immediately find views which state that “the Jews” are behind all of the world’s problems.

While this is not new, it is, however, gaining in strength and spreading faster than anyone can imagine.  The underlying fear and loathing which is being expressed, usually hidden behind anonymous social media labels is a real feeling that is making its way into every arena of thought – politically, religiously, socially or otherwise.

Take, for example, Mohamed Hadid, the father of supermodels Bella and Gigi who believes, “The Zionists have the world under their control, unfortunately.  They even want to kill the journalists and buy the outlets.” (Zionists control the world, buy up media outlets, says Mohamed Hadid, Jerusalem Post, 5/16/22) He asks, “How long can the world be so silent?” 

It is this kind of incitement, just one of many, to which Israel needs to sit up and take notice.  Because if lies, such as these, begin to take hold and gain momentum, Jews will end up coming to the conclusion that the only safe haven for them is their ancestral home of Israel – the one place where they are free to be who they are without being blamed for all of the world’s ills.

The sad news, though, is that the very agency which officially permits Jews to live in their homeland – the Interior Ministry, has not yet internalized what’s going on throughout the world in terms of the continued widespread fomenting of anti-Jewish sentiment.  If they would just be in touch enough to see where this is leading, there is no question that they would open their doors a bit wider, do away with the oppressive bureaucracy, meant to zealously weed out “unwanted Jews,” and realistically recognize the fact that we don’t all look alike, think alike or act alike. But that’s okay.

Some Jews are not religiously observant, some Jews have intermarried, some Jews only have one Jewish grandparent or one Jewish parent, and possibly even the wrong one, per Halacha (Jewish law) which only recognizes those, born of a Jewish mother, as being authentically Jewish. Yet, according to the 1950 Law of Return, every single one of the aforementioned, are eligible for Israeli citizenship and should be welcomed to live in the state which was established to protect those with even a quarter of Jewish blood.

Instead of wisely and cautiously preparing to accept Jews, of every stripe into their ranks, the Interior Ministry is still heavily invested in making potential immigrants jump through their many hoops of proving that their actions and lifestyles match the bloodline to which they were born.  If it is determined, by some clerk who works at that office, that an eligible Jew thinks or believes differently from what is accepted as being “authentic” and “valid,” then that individual’s application is stalled indefinitely, usually necessitating a costly and lengthy court battle in order to gain what is rightly theirs by law.

When will Israel’s leaders see the folly of all of this?

We are living in the year 2022, not 22 A.D.  Jews have been free to embrace whatever opinions, feelings, positions they want for thousands of years.  It doesn’t change their heritage or tribal membership.  It just means that there has been an evolution amongst them, just as there has been with every nationality and even religious affiliation.  Change is a part of life, and when agencies, which have been established to protect and defend the rights of their people, forget that and try to cling to a one-size-fits-all standard, especially during perilous times, that is when Jewish leadership has decided that conformity takes precedence over survival.  Nothing is more unconscionable than that! And nothing lacks mercy and justice more than that!

For me, as an Israeli writer, to receive a feedback comment which denigrates my people as those who are responsible for all that is wrong in our world, is one of the scariest things I have ever experienced, because it means that there is no regard even for the author who is also a member of that very ethnicity which is being vilified.

I do see the handwriting on the wall!  I do recognize that individuals are more emboldened than ever to find a societal scapegoat, and so, consequently, I do believe that this is no time for Israel to be caught off guard and to stick with a repressive, burdensome system, designed to crush Aliyah applicants who, although eligible for citizenship, are being sent the message that they are unwanted and unwelcomed.

It’s time to change the system!  It’s time to put someone in charge of the Interior Ministry who really has a heart for that agency and a heart for all Jewish people no matter what their persuasion!  It’s time to remember why Israel was established and for whom!  The Law of Return states that unequivocally!  Most of all, it’s time for that Law to be respected and honored rather than set aside or completely disregarded.

Justice should not be rendered at the whims of political considerations but, rather, because justice must be the hallmark of the nation state which was established to protect ALL of her people – regardless of any stand taken by those people whose veins carry enough blood to make them eligible for the right to live safely in their homeland at a time when being Jewish has, yet again, become a cause for unjustified hatred!

About the Author
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.
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