David-Seth Kirshner
Author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness

Streams of Anxious Consciousness XXVI

They got him. The violence inciter on the campus of Cornell threatening to gruesomely kill Jewish students and causing students to convert dorm rooms into bunkers. Thanks are needed to law enforcement for their speedy response to this menace.

The suspect is not Palestinian.
He is not Muslim.
He is not a white nationalist. In fact, he is not white.

This is the new face of antisemitism in 2023. The honor student next door.

Patrick Dai is an Asian American from upstate New York. A National Merit Scholar with an off-the-charts intellectual quotient.

I point out this heritage to highlight the lunacy of this moment. A man who recently would have been targeted by some during the Asian hate escapades, someone who himself is a minority in America, targeted Jews on campus in the most vicious manner and threatening manner. Where in the hell does that hatred come from? How can one minority demonize another for being, well, a minority. Is the hypocrisy not screaming out at most of you?! It is non-sensical.

We cannot call this kid stupid. Not if he is a merit scholar and straight A student. He was studying engineering at one of the most prestigious schools in the country. He might have received an academic education, but he is failing morality.

What was glaringly missing from this kid’s hateful threat to Jews was the Asian, white, Christian and/or Muslim band of sisters and brothers that should have knocked gently on the doors of their Jewish classmate and said to them, Ill walk with you to the dining hall. I will come with you to the Hillel. We are safe if we are together. If they hurt you, they will have to hurt me first.

I think that sentiment is a microcosm for what has been missing from society right now. We could have really used a friend to walk with.

Random but related to Dai. The sale of Italian flags on Amazon has quadrupled in the last 27 days. People are logging on to purchase Palestinian flags and mistakenly – perhaps naively – are selecting the Italian one. The flags share some of the colors but none of the design. Why does this matter?

Because supporting the Palestinian plight is a cause célèbre for the ultra leftists and liberals. Most of these people could not tell you where Palestine is located on a map, how many Palestinians there are in the world, any shred of its history or what its flag looks like. It is really a false flag, excuse the pun.

I am all for standing up for the Palestinian people, if that is your jam. Support Palestinians right to statehood, independence, liberation from Hamas. If you are buying an Italian flag because you know so little about the cause, are you really advocating for the Palestinian people? Most who are standing for the Palestinian cause via Amazon are really just rooting against Israel and Jews in a not-so veiled act of antisemitism. That is why so many silly souls wrongly conflate Hamas and the Palestinian people. None of their ambitions are shared. It reminds me of the line in Hamilton, “If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for?”

Last night at the hotel bar, CNN was playing in the background. One of the IDF spokespeople was interviewed about the bombing and targeted attack of terrorists in Jabaliyah, in the heart of North Gaza. The interviewer asked the question with judgement and scorn to the Israeli soldier, “With civilians imbedded in the areas, you still pulled the trigger?”

I was so annoyed at the question and its tone, I walked away before I could hear the soldier’s answer.

I think what he should have said, what I hoped he had responded was, “Yes.” Nothing more. “Yes. We did drop that bomb.”

All that could be added is why would any journalist put the onus of morality on the IDF for choosing to remove the threat and not on Hamas who uses those civilians as shields. The bad guys should hold that burden and responsibility. Those questions should be asked to Hamas, Hezbollah, PIJ, and asked to leadership in Egypt who has announced that it is willing to sacrifice millions of lives to ensure Gazans do NOT enter Egypt, to leaders in Qatar who are holding the keys to the hostages in Gaza. They should answer these questions, not Israel.

If Hamas can shoot at Israel and call “base” like kids playing tag with children and civilians as shields, how can we ever remove the existential threat they pose? It is a perpetual forcefield that we must break.

It would be much easier and safer for our soldiers and protect the grieving country from more death and bloodshed to only drop bombs from the air over most of Gaza. The collateral damage would be unfathomable. Israel’s commitment to protecting civilian life in Gaza is felt most by parents, siblings, spouses and children of the dead soldiers who were killed because Israel values saving civilians in Gaza from Hamas. If we did not, we would not be on the ground there at all. I wish CNN and all sensationalist news outlets would recognize that fact and report on it, properly.

Before my wife and I had children, Sunday mornings consisted of us enjoying a leisurely brunch at the kitchen table and playing a game we invented call the Ethicist. It was based off the column in the New York Times. We would read the case to each other printed in the paper and offer our best ethical solution to the question posed of the moral guru. We loved when we got it right and took issue with the Ethicist when he failed to see it our way.

How would the ethicist slice this Jabaliya problem? Hamas masterminds hiding amongst children? Terrorist headquarters in hospitals. Keeping fuel for rockets and food for terrorists and hiding both from citizens. Denying civilians passage to safe zones. What is a warring country to do? How would the Ethicist handle such cases?

The question is rhetorical because it is a new form of warfare and reality that, Israel is the first to face. We are the canary in the coal mine, again. In 2000, when Israel named, targeted and assassinated Hamas leadership, the country was regularly chastised by the United States and other countries for what they deemed unnecessary action. Mind you this was during Intifada II when busses were exploding and Hamas suicide bombers were detonating themselves at cafes and pizza parlors all over the country, killing civilian Israelis living life.

Then 9/11 happened. The United States took trillions of resources and made playing cards to track down the heads of Al Qaeda along with Osama bin Laden. Ethics are subjective to our pinch points. If it hurts, we feel permitted to do what is necessary to make it stop. If the pinch point is distanced from us, or not throbbing, the need to address the pinch wanes. I relish and dread the day when the pinch points draw near to those who chastise us now.

After George Floyd’s senseless death, people were reawakened to continued racism in society. My tribe was horrified and stood in solidarity of a painful reality for black people in America. We stood together in an effort to be more aware and work towards eliminating the societal disease of bigotry.

This event is different. It has felt so different. When Jews die, some have the unspoken feeling that we had it coming to us. It was deserved. Jewish blood is cheaper. Evil weighs less when it is against Jews. We can philosophize for years on why that is and the crossroads of white and privilege and religion and ethnicity we find ourselves today. This intersection is the silence of companies speaking out and the hesitation of university leadership using a moral voice.

I cannot tolerate any more of the ‘why’ or unpacking the history and root causes of Jewish hatred. I do not want a sociological experiment or an expensive study. I am fed up. The hatred and hypocrisy and double standards just need to stop. For good. Forever. We must institute a zero tolerance towards antisemitism and force at worst the law and at best, the scarlet letter on those who cannot follow the needed moral code of society to which we sadly belong.

About the Author
David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Closter, New Jersey. He is the past President of the NY Board of Rabbis and the NJ Board of Rabbis and is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute and serves on the Executive Committee of the JFNA. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel Commission by Governors Christie and Murphy. Rabbi Kirshner is a National Council member of AIPAC and an adjunct faculty member at the Academy for Jewish Religion, (AJR). He is the author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness, featured in The NY Times Book Review (Feb '24) and has over 11,000 copies in circulation in its first three months since publication. He has spoken on his book and topics connected to Judaism and Zionism across the world.
Related Topics
Related Posts