Susan Heitler
Denver psychologist, popular book author, and psychologytoday blogger

Shema Yisrael! But Are Jews Listening Enough?

In pre-WWII Germany, many Jews allied themselves with the Nazi party.

As Wikipedia explains, the Association of German National Jews, and other Jewish organizations as well, attracted Jews who identified more with being German than with being Jewish.  Defending this German identity, these many German Jews blocked their ears to the ever-louder voices of Jew-hatred around them.

Like current-day citizens who pay little attention to Coronavirus warnings and go on with life as it used to be—no masks, no social distancing, no frequent and thorough handwashing—these Jewish Germans ignored the voices of hatred at their peril.  In staying loyal to Germany even with the emergence of Nazi leadership, they unwittingly endangered their family, friends, and co-workers as well as themselves.  The Nazis killed them right alongside Jews whom their deafness had endangered.

In America today, and amongst extreme-Left Israelis as well, many Jews deafen themselves to the ever-growing chorus of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel voices, voices that have been speaking increasingly brazenly even within organizations in which Jews have long participated.

In a chilling recent blogpost Carolyn Glick details the rise in major Jewish organizations of leaders who support anti-Jewish political groups.  HIAS, AIPAC, ADL, and more have been choosing leaders who advocate for Linda Sarsour and the like, that is, for blatant Israel-haters.

Listen to that! Leaders of groups that once protected American Jewry now champion Americans whose public statements are hostile to that mission.

The Reform Jewish community, led by extreme-Leftist rabbis, has become at risk for similar trends. Secular Jews, bereft of sufficient knowledge of the value of their Jewish heritage, are especially at risk for naively adding their voices to this frightening chorus.

I worry particularly for Jews who all their lives, and their parents before them, have affiliated with the Democratic party.  That group, alas, includes too many of my own children and siblings. Are loyal Democrats becoming like loyal Germans, too trusting of their long-held political identity that they cannot acknowledge the frightening sound of anti-Jewish rhetoric?

As the Corona-devasted economy worsens, so will anti-Semitism and its Siamese twin of anti-Israelism. 

Have the leaders and supporters of such formerly pro-Jewish groups as HIAS, AIPAC, ADL, and the Democratic party become so indoctrinated by the media’s anti-Trump and anti-Republican propaganda that they cannot hear the left-leaning voices who, like extreme right-wingers, are reviving old refrains of blame the Jews?

How can we flatten the hatred curve?

Sipping coffee in my sunny apartment here in Israel where we are gradually transitioning from being visitors to, unexpectedly, becoming citizens,  I just heard overhead the sound of many jets.  I ran outside to see what was happening.  Phew.  Not jets were heading to bomb in Syria.  Rather, planes from the Israeli Air Force were flying overhead, first in a tight-knit foursome, then expanding outward like petals opening into a blossoming flower.

A runner jogging by told me that the planes were practicing for upcoming Independence Day festivities.  I felt strengthened.  As when I look at my eldest grandson Elazar standing erect in his dark green Israeli army jacket, pride and hope surged up within me.

Tonight begins the Day of Remembrance of Fallen Soldiers.  We mourn the too-many Elazar-like young men who have been killed for doing their part to protect Israel and the Jewish people.

How best to honor them? Are each of us doing our part to protect and defend our people, both in Israel and around the globe?

Shema Yisrael. 

May we, the Jewish people listen.   May we cease the deafness that allows too many of us to ignore the early signs of another pandemic of hatred.  Even worse, like German Jewish Nazi supporters, when we refuse to take seriously the words spoken by those who promote Jew-hatred,  we are actively supporting those who seek to destroy us.

Am Yisrael chai!

About the Author
Susan Heitler, PhD, a Denver clinical psychologist, writes about marriage, therapy, and emotional self-help. Her popular psychologytoday.com blog—Resolution, Not Conflict—has received more than 19 million reads. Dr. Heitler's book The Power of Two, which teaches the communication and conflict resolution skills that sustain harmonious relationships, has been published in six foreign languages including Hebrew [Kocham Shel HaShenayim]. Learn marriage skills also on her fun interactive online marriage program, poweroftwomarriage.com. And for relief from depression, anger and anxiety, see Dr. Heitler's Prescriptions Without Pills at prescriptionswithoutpills.com.
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