Levi Meir Clancy
Between Erbil, Jerusalem, and America.

Jews are tired

Parking lot at Zikim Beach, one of the areas impacted by the Simchat Torah massacre. Photo by the author.
Parking lot at Zikim Beach, one of the areas impacted by the Simchat Torah massacre. Photo by the author.

There are 15 million Jewish people in the world.

There were over 70 million White Germans. There are over 400 million Muslim Arabs. There are about two billion each of Christians and Muslims.

And sometimes they decide to try and wipe us out.

In Europe, about two out of three Jewish people were killed, and in North Africa and West Asia, over 99% of Jewish people were expelled.

We explain it often, but non-Jews do not seem to understand how every Jewish person’s worst nightmare scenario begins more or less like this week.

The majority of the world’s remaining Jewish population is left in just five cities: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, New York, and Los Angeles.

Most Israeli Jews are the descendants of refugees from Arab and Islamic countries, and most also have a parent, grandparent, or other relative who was a Holocaust survivor.

We are watching people blame Jews for Hamas always having had a genocidal policy. This feels like the first warning sign of many to come.

Nothing is compartmentalized for us.

There are so few of us left and in so few places, and we grow up with family histories of surviving existential violence that was supported or tolerated by their colleagues, neighbors, and supposed friends.

At most, the difference between an Arab group declaring genocide on us or a German group declaring genocide on us or an American group on a 405 overpass calling for a genocide on us, is that they are different flavors of the month but still the same dish being served.

In that real-life, apocalyptic, worst-case scenario we live with, we as Jewish people feel deeply, personally threatened by actions against us anywhere. This is part of Jewish experience.

There is simply no exact comparison for communities with hundreds of millions or even billions of people, and which already practice Arab, White, Muslim, or Christian self-determination in dozens of countries.

Our road end tends to end with our Jewishness.

There is one place that defies that norm.

The State of Israel is something like our reservation, where we can fully and truly be ourselves no matter what our political, spiritual, cultural, communal, or other affiliation as Jews, alongside two million non-Jewish citizens as well — and we fought to establish this. Tens of thousands of us have died for its independence.

Aside from the State of Israel’s practical affirmation of our existence, we as Jewish people have complicated, bittersweet, and sometimes urgent relationships to our homeland.

Yet for non-Jewish citizens of the State of Israel, simply paying taxes and having equal rights means an exception to centuries of dominance across the region. Average people tend to get on with life. However, some people view total power over Jews as part of their rightful legacy, and they view the loss of that power as a kind of oppression.

I think to myself — what if Jews had gained independence over part of Paris, Munich,  Baghdad, or Tehran? People should be grateful we just want freedom and peace, not revenge, and that we have mostly given up outside our small homeland.

The cacophony has not stopped.

Bombings and massacres still erupt across the entire world at Jewish targets. In some weeks, there have been bombings almost every day at sites outside of Israel.

Meanwhile, up through the present day, countries such as Yemen and Iraq continue to end their Jewish communities, and to cut off any hope for reconciliation.

The world is overwhelmingly apathetic to all of this.

Not a single non-Jewish person I ever spoke to in Los Angeles has even heard of the massacre of Jewish people at LAX.

However, it is not just apathy towards antisemitic violence, but also indifference toward antisemitic policies that makes me concerned.

On occasion, foreign politicians criticize the Palestinian Authority (State of Palestine) for some of its policies. However, when it comes to what really matters, they normalize the PA’s total prohibitions on Judaism and Jewish life, regardless of whether there is a historic and continuous Jewish presence in a town or area.

I always had a hard time reconciling that with a “peace process” or “political solution” — after all, even allowing only a very tiny Jewish minority would express major rapprochement, and remove oblivion from the negotiating table.

Until this week, I figured that my difficulty understanding that situation reflected a limit on my capacity or knowledge.

Now I am not so sure.

Neither the Christians on one side nor the Muslims on the other side left us any hope of an alternative fully centered on life in the diaspora.

Only a minority of Jewish people survived the Holocaust, which had spread across Europe and North Africa. And then, amid claims of “never again!” over 99% of Jewish people were ethnically cleansed from North Africa and West Asia — i.e., the Arab League and Iran — except in Israel.

Hamas’ charter represents the rule, not an exception, for Jewish life in North Africa and West Asia. The same goes for any extremist group that fixates on genocide of Jewish people as necessary for salvation or liberation, anywhere in the world. This is increasingly a North American problem, too.

It feels like our lives do not matter. There is always a bigger priority.

Sometimes our freedom dovetails with another agenda, like defeating Nazi Germany or proxying against Iran. But our lives never come first.

Our deaths do not come first, either.

The only time that non-Jews take action on our deaths is when they fear that the same gun pointed at us may also at some point be pointed at them.

About the Author
Levi Meir Clancy lives in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq, and is the founder of Foundation of Ours, which supports Jewish expression in the Kurdistan Region, and provides platforms for reconciliation and coexistence between all communities. He was born in Venice, California and moved to the KRI in 2014, after which he became involved in cultural, social, and religious affairs in addition to his work as a software developer, photographer, and videographer.
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