They say that a tsunami can be detected by the naked eye if there is some amount of observation involved. Reports say that an approaching tsunami is often preceded by a noticeable fall or rise in water levels. It may not immediately register, but people who are paying attention can run to safety if they are quick enough to take note of the changing tides.
As Jews living in America, it’s easy to settle into complacency. America seems far removed from bastions of anti-Semitism like Nazi Germany. And it doesn’t hearken back to the days of the Soviet Union, where religious practice was highly illegal and casual, almost flippant anti-Semitism ran amok.
No, America seems like a haven for Jews. We are free to practice our religion openly, or not practice it; we are free to dress in traditional attire, or dress in jeans and a t-shirt; we can light our menorahs at university campuses and local city halls, put on our tefillin in public, and pray in our synagogues in the center of town. There is no one ostensibly stopping us from being Jews. We have been experiencing, in the grand scheme of Jewish history, a modern Jewish paradise.
Yet we must watch the water levels carefully. We know that a tsunami is coming, but so many are intent on burying their heads in the sand.
If you’ve been reading the news in the Jewish world, the trends should be alarming. Europe and Britain, to be sure, are leagues beyond the United States as far as their spiking rates of anti-Semitism. Thankfully, the U.S. is still, relatively speaking, a good place for Jews. But this is only relatively speaking, and in my opinion, this won’t last for long. American Jewish life is coming to an end, and while it’s hard to say if it’s the beginning of the end, the middle, or if we have already reached the eleventh hour, it’s almost a statistical certainty based on Jewish history that this country is also headed in that direction..
All it takes is a quick gander at some of the headlines: “Upstate New York yeshiva set on fire and painted with swastikas,” “Is It Safe to Be Jewish in New York?,” “Man arrested after trying to run down Jews leaving Los Angeles synagogue,” “Anti-Semitic Incidents Fuel 17% Rise in Hate Crimes, FBI Says,” and so on, and so forth. It doesn’t take a literate to read the writing on the wall: the news is concerning, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
We are doctors, lawyers, accountants, artists, businessmen, politicians, and philanthropists. We have communities, we build synagogues, we raise children. We are humans. But we are also Jews, and we know the history all too well. A familiar Jewish refrain goes, “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!” While it’s a typical Jewish joke, it’s also a sobering reality. “They” refers to every political and social entity which has, again and again, risen up against us and tried to eradicate us. Every single time “they” have tried to erase our people from the face of the earth, it resulted in their destruction, not ours. Nevertheless, it was rarely without some major blow to our people.
A word of advice: arm yourselves and get ready. Don’t rely on someone else to protect you. Don’t like this advice? Read our extensive history as a people. Think about what occurred to the Jews who did not fight back. Remember that there are some people out there who may not overtly hate us but will always look at us as foreigners, different than them, and perhaps, in some cases, not worth saving.
And the truth is, we are different. We are Jewish. And though that does not justify certain pervasive attitudes, or the dark undercurrent of anti-Semitism that is quickly gaining power, we must remember that this is not our true home. We are strangers in a strange land. Our true home is the one to which we are irrevocably and eternally tied: the Holy Land, Eretz Yisrael.
Although we may try to fight the rising tide of anti-Semitism with facts, logic, and intellect, there is no reasoning with this ancient beast. This is not based in any framework that the purely postmodern mindset can understand. In order to understand this, we must return to our roots: the Torah.
Meanwhile, keep your eyes on the tide, and watch for any noticeable changes. The tsunami is coming.
For further reading on the statistics of hate crimes against Jews, please read this enlightening article.