Jews will cheer for anyone who promises to remove the threat

I wonder what is behind the overwhelming reception Trump received this evening at the AIPAC Convention.

American Jews clearly are perpetually afraid, a lifetime of fear, at least since the Holocaust. First it was a possible second Holocaust with Israel, and the slogan “Never Again.” Then the Soviet Union and the demise of Soviet Jewry, along with the Arab States threatening Israel. Now it’s Iran and terrorists.

Jews, it seems, will cheer for anyone who promises to remove the threat. Bibi’s rhetoric led to Rabin’s assassination, and he never apologized. It’s been forgotten, it seems, by nearly everyone. The path to peace, while the most popular, is destroyed by a small minority with a gun or a bomb. Fear triumphs, and the ground is tilled and fertilized for demagogues.

I am surprised at the callousness of such a large number of Jews at AIPAC. Trump hurls bigoted insults against women, Muslims, the disabled, Hispanics, and others. Had he said the same about Jews, would they still have cheered? And failing to have mentioned Jews, have they no empathy or historical memory of persecution? Is their fear really so very powerful as to overwhelm the smell of crematoria that resulted from murderous rhetoric; does the humane bulwark built by thousands of years of ethics fall flat before the threat of terrorism?

The path forward and the ultimate destination are unclear. But this I know: hatred ultimately consumes all in its path, and the tone of a nation flows from the leader to the body politic. Have we abandoned our roots, the very ground of our being, for a few platitudes to assuage our fears?

About the Author
Mark H. Levin was born in Baltimore, Maryland. A graduate of Boston University, Rabbi Levin studied two years in Israel, was ordained at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and received his DHL in liturgy in 2001. Rabbi Levin is the Founding Rabbi of Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park, KS, and has been retired since 2014.
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