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Alan Simons
Author | Writer | Social & Allyship Advocate

The language of classic prewar European antisemitism has returned

“Never again!” For many Jews, the term today seems to be just a dream fading into obscurity.

For an insurmountable amount of years, I have tried my best to live up to two altruistic Jewish New Year resolutions. They consist simply of two sentences:

“To foster democratic participation for the achievement of peace and security between Jews and non-Jews by the free flow of information and knowledge, and to advance understanding, acceptance and solidarity between all people.”

And secondly, “To reject intolerance, antisemitism/virulent Judeophobia, hate, Islamophobia, ethnocentric violence and conflict through dialogue and negotiation among individuals.”

Nelson Mandela in his book Long Walk to Freedom, said: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Unfortunately, over the past years, and especially over the past three years, I have seen a diminishing amount of love and in its place more diatribe than I ever imagined possible. Sadly, we no longer live in Nelson Mandela’s world, a world where hate and love can be used with such simplicity in the same sentence. And sadly, I’ve started to question the validity of my two resolutions.

Over the years I have seen groups of splenetic small-minded antisemite bigots of this world become more adventurous in their misguided fantasy that we Jews are weak, pathetic individuals, without any backbone.

Over the years I have seen once internationally respected newspapers, such as, for example, Britain’s The Guardian, which I used to work forturn their back on striving to present a balanced view of Middle East issues, to nowadays being in the forefront of stoking the fires of antisemitism and hate.

Over the years I have seen NGOs and international rights groups fervently compete for funding by branding themselves as leading authorities on Middle East issues – translated into NGO language as Israel apartheid – yet refuse to focus their resources on victims of democide in the region.

Over the years I have seen the dilution of the stand-alone word Holocaust being incorporated into the general genocide lexicon.

Over the years I have seen dedicated educators and activists strive to reintroduce antisemitism and Holocaust studies as critical aspects of social justice education in sectors where they have been removed or weakened from the academic curriculum.

“Non-Jews do not want to hear our complaints. They want to know our solutions.”

Perhaps we should turn to Frank Luntz. For many years now, this US-based political and communications consultant and pollster has been telling us that, “the Jewish community is often torn between those urging private pressure and those preferring to express public outrage. Matters are complicated by traditional territoriality among Jewish community groups and occasional splits between the local Jewish community and Israel.” He added, “It does not matter what you say. What matters is what people hear.”

He has said:

“The hardest lesson for the Jewish community to grasp is that the best communication is education – and you have to listen before you can teach. The reflexive, accusational approach, accusing opponents of antisemitism, may make us feel better, but it does not capture hearts or change minds. A more positive, aspirational approach, “build bridges, not boycotts”, is almost always more effective. Non-Jews do not want to hear our complaints. They want to know our solutions.”

Where are the young and articulate Jewish leaders?

Yet for the vast majority of Jews, we must understand right now that we need to urgently invest in leaders who are young enough to lead the next generation into battle. Young and articulate leaders, who speak, not the language of Mandela, not my language, and not, with no disrespect intended, the language of our dear treasured Holocaust survivors, but the language of today. And in this, there are far too few young Jewish leaders able to rise to the challenge.

As Luntz has said, “Greenpeace does not wait for the next oil spill or seal hunt. The Jewish community should not and cannot wait for the next bombing or boycott.”

The time to organize is now! The clock is ticking.

“Never again!” For many Jews, the term today seems to be just a dream fading into obscurity.

During the Jewish calendar year of 5784, let’s stop pussyfooting and call a spade a spade. It is time for ordinary Jews everywhere to raise their voices and cease being on the sidelines expecting others to do the work for them. 16 million Jews can and must make a difference. The clock is ticking.

Shanah Tovah Umetukah. May you have a good and sweet year.♦

PHOTO CREDIT: Alan Simons
About the Author
Simons is an author, writer and social & allyship advocate. He publishes an online international news service, now in its 15th year, dealing with issues relating to intolerance, hate, antisemitism, Islamophobia, conflict, and terrorism, as well as an online community news site. As a diplomat, he served as the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Rwanda to Canada, post-genocide era. He has lectured and designed courses in the areas of therapeutic management, religion in politics, and communications. He recently published his sixth book.
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