I believe the time is now for our community to look inward and strengthen our religious and ethical outlook on the issue of racism and anti-Semitism. In the coming months and years there is a real possibility that political and social pressures will be pulling the Jewish community away from empathizing with minority communities and from standing up for minority rights. Every group wants to be accepted by the establishment and the fear of revenge for taking an unpopular stand is real. We are living in a time period where outward racism from social media sources is common and governmental policies all too frequently are designed to have racially biased outcomes. It is important now more than ever to set the page for everyone to be on. And that page is that racism is the same as anti-Semitism and we should treat and fight them equally.
The beliefs of racism and anti-Semitism drink from the same well. They are intellectually the same. The purpose for both is to delegitimize a racial or ethnic group in the eyes of the general public for political gain. This is scapegoat theory at its very core. Make the ignorant public scared while also showing them an easy solution. “Do something” about the Jew, do something about the Latino, do something about the Blacks, and do something about “insert easily identifiable group here.” Promise that through persecution the majority will be saved. Sound familiar? Racism is Holocaust denial. When Jews act in a racist fashion they are attesting to the fact that we cannot learn from the Holocaust. The Holocaust was a onetime mistake that only applied to those Jews and those Germans, nothing more. Today, we can treat people as second class citizens and deny them the same basic rights that we cherish for our own families, because those actions don’t really count like the Holocaust counted. The methods and reasons for the deaths of six million Jews and the millions of others do not speak to us today.
We must change our thought process. When someone acts in a racist manner you must see that they have a Nazi officer looking over their shoulder in approval. Every time someone uses the word shvartza there is a Klan member shouting “dirty Jew” alongside them. Start seeing them. All humans no matter their race are created in the image of god, tzelem elokim. All humans have natural rights which God gave us and humans should not take away. When ethnic groups are marginalized from voting, from employment, from safety within their own home, society is perverting God’s vision of the world. Find moderate and balanced solutions to the major issues of the day. No one is asking to ignore our problems but we must solve them in a manner that also treats fellow human beings in an ethical and religious manner. In Jewish law it is forbidden to barge into a debtors home to collect their collateral. God desires people to feel safe, not to live in fear. Do onto others today as was not done to our ancestors.
I feel the need to put in a paragraph here for those who are concerned about anti-Semitism or the hatred of the State of Israel coming from minority groups or organizations. Obviously, all those who come to bring hate or prejudice to our community should be fought in every way we legally can. Obviously, if campus groups spread anti-Semitic rhetoric or those who claim to leadership positions within Black Lives Matter adopt pro-BDS platforms we should oppose them with the same force and energy as opposing anti-Semitism from Alt-Right and Neo-Nazi groups. Why does one fight cancel the legitimacy of the other? It is my belief that the great majority of people out there who support the concept of equality for Black citizens do not know that amongst them are those who hate the State of Israel and support its boycott. Most people out there are fighting for equal protection under the law and for political equality without the injustice of gerrymandering and voter discrimination. Remember, racism is anti-Semitism. Fight the people who are our enemies but do not make enemies out of people who just want to fight.
Treat all people as if they are the next potential convert to Judaism, no matter what their ethnicity. If non-Jews turn away from potential conversion because they perceive Jews as standing against equality then we have failed in one of god’s purposes for there to be a Jewish people. The mission set forth by our father Abraham. When dealing with individuals I believe people are generally better at this but we must also be better at treating groups of people the same way. Because all groups and ethnicities have a collective memory. Furthermore, if Jewish organizations or members of our community are perceived as being against equal rights it can lead others to view the State of Israel in the same light. Israel is in a do or die fight for legitimacy against the lie that it is an apartheid state. Our enemies don’t need the extra ammunition. We must be convincing the world that Israel can be a beacon of acceptance and toleration for all groups, which I believe it is. American Jewry can sabotage this if we are not careful. Be a light onto the nations, not a darkness.