Disclaimer: Most of the contents of this blog are based on my opinion and experience. It is not a research document. I did not spend hours and hours poring over historical documents to support my opinions. That said, to paraphrase the late singer Lesley Gore. “It’s my blog, and I can write what I want to.” I stand behind what I have written.
Much of what follows has been discussed in previous blogs, but in light of recent events it bears repeating.
You may feel free to disagree. In fact. I welcome and encourage your comments. After all, despite recent events and despite what some biased, dogmatic and vociferous commentators would have you believe we still enjoy the protection of the Bill of Rights in this country.
It is often said that antisemitism is as old as recorded history. That is a nice, catchy sentence, but I maintain an inaccurate one. In my opinion, it PREDATES recorded history. It predates Jesus Christ; it predates Muhammad; it predates the Bible. It is simply as old as human existence. Many people have always hated Jews and probably always will. The issues of this blog are (1) why and (2) what, if anything, are the remedies.
Recorded history provides a plethora of examples of persecution of Jews. Some it has been overt. Examples include the Egyptians the Romans, the Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms, Muslim terrorists and, of course, the Nazis. Sometimes it has been covert, like in the US. Examples of this would be quotas enforced by colleges, country clubs and hiring. Many of these practices are ongoing.
These are indisputable facts. The question is why? What did Jews ever do to precipitate such animosity?
Historians, religious leaders and scholars have been debating this for centuries. I believe there are many reasons but the primary one is Jews are just different. Different methods of worship, different god, different appearance, different food, often different language, etc. Recently, anti-Semites have been citing a new standard — being “visibly Jewish.” I could go on and on. But you get the idea. I’m not saying Jews are better or worse, just different. And people tend to distrust and dislike people who are different.
So, what have Jews done to deserve this? What crimes and atrocities have they committed? Have they instigated wars? Have they enslaved other people? Have they been intolerant of other people and their way of life? The answer is no, no and no. Simply put, their crime is that they exist. And now they have compounded the “problem” because they are fully capable of defending themselves. Ironically, the anti-Semites tolerated the Jews better when they were unable to do so. They seemed not to mind Jews as defenseless victims as much. Now, Israel is strong and can defend itself, and they don’t like it.
Even in the 21st century, when we are supposed to be so enlightened, many people who hate Jews have never even met one. Their attitude is based on hearsay and rumor. They believe the stereotypes. You are familiar with them. Jews are “money grubbing, unscrupulous, cheap and obnoxious.” (Yes, some are, but so are many non-Jews.). Also, “they killed Christ; they eat Christian babies; they have horns;” etc. Not that long ago a friend told me the story of a friend of hers, a college student, who was asked by another student if she could rub her hair to feel her horns. At around the same time a colleague of my wife’s asked her if she could see the inside of our refrigerator. Why? To see what she kept inside. A Christian baby perhaps?
This is a dangerous time for Israel as well as for all Jews regardless of where they live. Very dangerous. In my opinion, the two are intertwined to a large extent. Those who criticize Israel or advocate its destruction are, in reality, referring to all Jews. Since its founding in 1948 Israel’s only reliable friend and ally has been the US, and under the Biden Administration, the US’s support has been waning. It has been pursuing a more “even-handed” approach to the conflicts in the Middle East. Moreover, several of his influential advisors, such as the “Squad,” have been publishing antisemitic opinions and openly supporting the Arab terrorists in the region.
In addition, antisemitic incidents have become more commonplace in recent years. According the the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks such incidents, antisemitic incidents of assault, vandalism and harassment hit an all-time high in 2019, the last year for which such data was available. The ADL reported some 2,100 separate incidents, a 12% increase over the prior year. Five states — NY, NJ, PA, MA and CA — accounted for almost one-half of the total. This is not surprising since they contain the largest concentration of Jews.
So what can we do about this? How can this be resolved? I have no magic bullet, nor, I fear, does anyone else.
However, I think our leaders should set a better example. I’m referring not only to our political leaders like President Biden, VP Harris, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Schumer, but also influential people in sports, entertainment and business. Schumer, in particular, should be ashamed of himself. He is Jewish and represents NY, which has a heavy Jewish population. He should be a strong and unwavering supporter of Israel, but he has not shown that.
Those who maintain that Jews are living safely in the US and other countries are deceiving themselves. History is full of examples where Jews were welcome, or at least tolerated, in certain countries for hundreds of years until one day they were not. Rulers were adept at using them as convenient scapegoats. (Plague? Crop failure? Natural disaster? It’s all the Jews’ fault.)
Many American Jews are no longer staunch supporters of Israel. They are either apathetic or, even worse, hostile. They routinely and mindlessly elect politicians like the aforementioned who don’t support Israel. They don’t realize that Israel provides the only safe haven for Jews. Those who say it can’t happen here (in the US) are sadly mistaken. They are ignorant of history or, perhaps worse, delusional. The current attacks on Israel and Jews, in general, are not an aberration. They are a warning, a precursor. As I said, now is a very dangerous time for Jews.