The horrific story out of Dagestan in Russia where rioters stormed a plane from Tel Aviv, reportedly calling to kill Jews, is a reflection of a new sense of an open season on Jews. Antisemites the world over see new opportunities to go after Jews following the barbarism of Oct. 7 and the rationalizing, if not support of events that day. This was done most prominently by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who argued that Hamas’ actions did not occur in a “vacuum” – an implication that Israel bears some level of responsibility for the massacre of its citizens.
Indeed, the Oct. 7th Hamas massacre generated this development because it showed antisemites around the world that it is possible to murder large numbers of Jews, and that those murders can be rationalized and even legitimized. This is a poisonous brew that ends up inviting an open season on Jews.
It has been commented that Oct. 7 was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community since the Holocaust. One could add tthat the overt, violent antisemitism of the kind we are seeing today has not been as prevalent since the Holocaust. Indeed, for decades the shame about the Shoah and how centuries of antisemitism had led to the murder of six million acted as an inhibitor on the carrying out of antisemitic attitudes.
Now all bets are off.
Let’s be clear, the protests against Israel, like the massacre of Oct. 7, have nothing to do with the complicated political situation that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are instead a sign of resurgent antisemitism, shameless in its transparency, that we haven’t seen for years.
The failure of many societal leaders to stand up unequivocally to denounce the barbarism of Hamas, the appearance in too many demonstrations of a variety of blatantly antisemitic signs – including “by any means necessary” which justifies the murder of Israeli innocents, “from the river to the sea,” which is an outright call for Israel’s destruction, and “kill the Jews” – have set the stage for further attacks on the Jewish people.
Many important and good people have stood up, particularly President Biden. But the equivocating by many others, particularly presidents of universities, as if the demonstrations on their campuses were just about free speech, have sent a message, even if unintentionally, that the killing of Jews is now acceptable as long as it is framed as resistance.
The lowest moment in this respect were the remarks of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Talking about giving credibility to those inclined to violence against Jews: this important figure, the leading individual at the U.N., has given license to Jew haters everywhere.
His comments are reminiscent of when the UN passed the infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution in 1975, and how it enabled hostilities toward Israel all around the world. As bad as that resolution was, Guterres’ comments are worse because of the violence that already occurred, and how it may inspire other acts of violence against Jews.
If the words “Never Again” are to have any meaning, there is an imperative for political, religious and cultural leaders to stand up and stand together against this devastating antisemitism, not only manifested by Hamas but by others who are seizing on the moment to attack Jews. None of this is to stifle legitimate conversation on Israeli-Palestinian relations and what can be done to move toward a better future.
It is, however, imperative to make clear that what Hamas represented for so long, culminating in its atrocities on Oct. 7, has no place in a civilized society. Those who seek to attack Jews must be stopped and denounced by society without reservation or qualification.
This is truly a critical moment for the future of our civilization. When Hitler came to power after publishing his plans in Mein Kampf, he was not taken seriously until it was too late.
The Jew haters are now having a field day. They are acting as if the future is theirs. We must all act immediately to stop them, not only to prevent future pogroms against Jews, but also for the soul of civilization itself.