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Jon-Erik G. Storm

The Israel we knew is still here, Tom

There are two articles at the top of the New York Times website today. One is an article about antisemitism and another is a hyperventilated op-ed from Thomas Friedman claiming that “the Israel we knew is gone.”

Friedman is among the public intellectuals who like to see themselves as prognosticators even though he is famously bad at it. Friedman is standing in for the many American Jews and Jewish organizations now shreyen gevalt about Israel needing to be Jewish and a democracy, yet here we are panicking about the results of an election. What could be more democratic?

The fact that we don’t like the outcome of an election is much different than there being none or it being fake. Where were the Arab voters? Why did the left implode? Bibi had nothing to do with those things.

I have never made my distaste of Bibi a secret. He has been in power too long, he doubled down on Trump too many times, and, like Trump, he seems to think his power and popularity make him exempt from the law. So, while I don’t like the result of the election, it is not the same as Trump returning, as Friedman suggests. I suspect that is what Friedman really fears and worries this presages it.

But notwithstanding all of that, Friedman must not be reading his own newspaper. Has he had to stand guard at his children’s Hebrew school with a rifle in the last few years? Has he not noticed that between k*nye and the alt-right online, antisemitism is back and has been unleashed, yet American society refuses to take it as seriously as it has taken race and gender issues?

It may be that one day Israel will have to decide between its Democratic character and its Jewish character, but American Jews are increasingly likely to have to choose between their Jewish character and their safety.

Which of course is all the proof anyone ever should need that we need a refuge, a strong refuge, even if it (democratically) elects leaders we don’t like.

About the Author
Jon-Erik G. Storm is an educator, JAG, former politician, and former professor of religion and philosophy.
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