Now that we American Jews have seen what Jews elsewhere in the world have experienced on a daily and unending basis, it is time to stand up and exclaim as loudly as we can, “me, too.” Why now? Because what happened today in the birthplace of my mother cannot and must not be tolerated by anyone who calls himself or herself a Jew.
I lived most of my life in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and also as an olah hadesha in Israel; and as such, I do not know a single Jewish person anywhere who has not experienced some form of anti-Semitism at some time in their lives. From my father who could not enter any fraternity at George Washington University in D.C., to the iniquities I suffered at the hands of a class bully, Tommy Teasley, from the time I was 13 until I graduated from high school and whose idea of amusement was to throw pennies at me before and after class and make constant anti-Semitic and unwanted sexual remarks.
I have had prospective employers ask me things which contained buzzwords such as “what are your family’s origins?” And this was from a black attorney at a law firm specializing in civil rights discrimination cases. Even American Jews who think they have been spared the scourge of anti-Semitism actually have not been spared at all. They are either oblivious or delusional or grew up in a cave.
As for anti-Semitism in Israel? It exists. I am not speaking of matters such as ultra-religious Jews who live their insular lives without any contact with secular Jews, I am speaking of the violence visited upon us as a people when a pigua occurs, and yes, I have been around when they began and immediately in their aftermath. This does not mean I am immune to the suffering of our people merely because of our birth, what I am saying is that we finally have to adapt to the reality that there will always be those who do not think we should exist and we should govern ourselves accordingly.
Those Jews who accept that we will be subjected to racism and so they wait for it to affect them are just like someone hearing a tsunami alarm going off while standing on an island beach in the Pacific Ocean and simply wanting to see it arrive.
There are those who would argue that our religious adversity made us the people we are today. We are elastic, vibrant and enduring; but if you ask any of us if we would rather not have had to experience such anti-Semitic behavior from our fellow citizens, the overwhelming response would be: “why should we ever have had to endure this at all? This is America!”
My father and grandparents taught me to fight for what I think is right, even if it cost me something later in life. Once, as my father was dressing for a gala event for the fraternity he created with his fellow banned Jewish law school classmates, he showed me the list of members and it was filled with a “who’s who” of Washington’s financial, legal, business and cultural elite.
The reason we are having to replay the anti-Semitism of our youth can be tied to one person and one person only. He is enabling terror for his own political gain and he thrives upon it in ways great and small. He equivocates the behavior of neo-Nazis with that of their enemies. He believes it is okay to compare victims of crime with those who commit them. He is saying: “Hey, the guy who ran over Heather Heyer, (of blessed memory) in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, was an American, just like the rest of us.” No, Mr. Trump, neo-Nazis are emphatically not like the rest of us.
So, it is time for us as a people to take a stand for our very survival. It is time to quit coddling political figures who move embassies to Jerusalem, which was at the behest of evangelical Christians who want us all to return to Israel, so that the end of the world can ensue. They pretend to be for us, even as such actions got many Jews attacked and killed in the process and once again, we were vilified by the international community. It is time we stood with the Jews around the world and say as loudly and as clearly as we can “dai, maspeak!”