There’s No Place Like Home

This might sound a bit melodramatic and it is going to be a bit personal, but I don’t believe there is any other way for me to describe what I’m feeling right now.  The news is blaring over and over again about the terrorist outrage in Copenhagen, Denmark. In a local restaurant a symposium on free speech was taking place-among the guests was a Danish cartoonist whose life had been threatened by Islamist thugs because he “dared” to draw a cartoon portraying Mohammed in a way that they found objectionable. So this terrorist fired around forty rounds of ammunition into this place and, in the melee, also shot and wounded some Danish police.   After fleeing this site, this murderous thug, killed a Jewish security guard posted to a local synagogue. The board of the temple has requested security from the city and had been denied. There was a bar mitzvah being celebrated in the temple and there were about eighty people in attendance. Can you imagine the horror if that murderous thug would have gained entry???

About five weeks ago four Jews were slain by another Islamist while doing their last minute shopping for Shabbat in a kosher deli. The terrorist was in possession of a list of Jewish venues to hit and had mentioned on the internet that his aim was to kill Jews. Regardless,, the incredibly facile president of the United States called the slain Jews, “random victims,” as though their ethnicity had no relevance to the horror foisted upon them. Yeah, right.

In the USA, in the city of Madison, Wisconsin, forty Jewish homes were daubed with the swastika-Jewish university students are pilloried when they come out and demonstrate for Israel and rallies in Florida, where Arabs scream “Jews to the gas” on the streets of Miami, are all signs of a burgeoning and public anti-Semitism. And spare me the euphemism by calling this anti-Zionism. To criticize the policies of the State of Israel without hatred is neither racist nor bigoted in the proper context of legitimate debate. Hell, no one criticizes the Israeli government as much as Israelis. However, to call oneself anti-Zionist means denying to the Jewish people the right of self-determination in its own ancestral homeland and therefore relegating the Jews to an inferior status among nations and peoples and that is anti-Semitic.

I was born in New York, probably the most ethnic diverse city anywhere. Raised in a Jewish neighborhood, I only experienced anti-Semitism once-when, during the Six Day War some creep told me “We are going to finish you Jews this time,” and I performed some unprofessional dental work on his upper jaw.

In college, there was the leftist anti-Semitism from groups like the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and some other crackpots, but nothing as physically dangerous as what faces Jewish students today on campuses all over the United States and Europe. Sure, we had debates on campus and there were the few times that vicious epithets were tossed around, but by and large, the atmosphere was not inundated with the physical brutality and open threats that is so evident today. Anti-Semitism , disguised as anti-Zionism is unfortunately more tolerated than discredited.

Europe is flooded with Islamic radicals preaching hatred for Christians and Jews.  But whereas the majority populations of these countries is still overwhelmingly not Jewish and with the fear implanted among the media and some of the governments of a Moslem backlash and the bankrupt policy of multi-culturalism on the rise, Jews have come under more vicious and more dangerous attacks including the frightening atmosphere of possible death at prayer, in their schools and in their shops. As in the 1930s, Europe is becoming less healthy a place for Jews to live-the difference is that whereas in the last period of this danger the threats were shouted in German, today they are screamed in Arabic.

So, what is the answer? To remain where you are not wanted, where you are in danger, or to come home to the only place on Earth that is truly your own, namely, Israel. No, it isn’t running away as some might proclaim, nor is it doing exactly what the Jew haters want, it is fulfilling the destiny of our people. “Ha Banim yashuvu l’gvulam,” “The sons will return to their borders.”

Jewish history is replete with the horrors faced by our people in the Exile; from forced evictions and expulsions, to fleeing from persecution and death-the difference now is that there is a home to come too-the two disastrous words, “Jewish refugee” have been banned by the lexicon and by Israel’s sovereignty.

Foreign governments cannot protect you in the Diaspora, nor will they. Oh, they will try, they will pour forth words of consolation and send funeral wreaths to the victims of Jew hatred in their midst, but the words won’t stop the bullets and “political correctness” protects the evil ones. You know what political correctness is-the ability to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Why did I choose to live in Israel when my life in America was relatively secure? Sure there are the synagogue vandals, the cemeteries where headstones are defaced and/or overturned and the revolting public displays of Jew hatred. Yes, America does not have the history of violent anti-Semitism and  violent Jew hatred as in Europe, nor does it suffer (yet) the mass immigration of fanatic Islamists, so why emigrate from the “Goldeneh medinah” to this tiny land whose entire geography would nicely fit into Lake Ontario?  Because this is home. Here I need not explain why my children are not in public school on certain days of the year, why I don’t have a Christmas tree in my home like most of my children’s friends, why I don’t believe in their “Messiah.

Here, we are the majority. Here, we celebrate our holidays as they are intended to be celebrated. Here, we are all in the same boat in our tiny, Jewish country. Here, we can walk free and proud. Here, we defend ourselves, by ourselves and need not apologize for who we are. Here, we are home.

Jews have wandered the globe since our father, Avraham, left his father’s house to worship the one G-d.  No. I am not a religious man. But  one need not be a religious man to live here as we are all one family. When I had a bad fall a few months ago, before I was able to see straight, I was surrounded by several people whom I did not know. A couple of guys from a nearby store came to help me up, a woman with a baby carriage stopped to give me some water and handed me one of her baby’s wet wipes to clean the blood off my knee. One of the guys wouldn’t leave me till he saw I was able to walk freely and even offered to take me to the hospital. Perfect strangers-no, perfect family.

This is home, where our family lives, where our children play without fear and where we all sleep at night under the protection of our Israel Defense Forces. Sure, we face danger here, but we face it and we beat it together.

There is no place like home-Ein makom k’mo Israel. Come home brothers and sisters, come home to your land.

About the Author
Irwin was born in New York City and is now retired. He lives in Maaleh Adumim since making aliyah 7 years ago.