Yoni Leviatan
How to be Jewish: Be good. The end.

We are all Jews. We don’t have to agree on anything but that.

Some of your children call us Nazis.

They accuse descendants of Holocaust survivors, like myself, of internalized anti-Semitism when we try to engage, as I did yesterday.

They even denounce their own Holocaust-surviving grandparents in the name of woke culture (or naked Twitter ambition).

All in one day. It happens every day. Where did American Jewry go so horribly wrong?

Seth Rogan’s comments about Israel don’t need repeating, or any more refuting, as most of World Jewry already took on that task, proving the swell of baseless hatred is no more than a minority and the vast majority of American Jews raised their kids right.

What needs refuting is the argument put forth by some Jews that the outrage over his comments is misplaced simply because they were said in a jovial manner. I’ll be the first to admit, expressing your opinions with humor and snark is a satisfyingly effective way to get them across.

But where did the idea come from that these opinions weren’t beliefs? And why are some of the most brilliant Zionist thinkers of our generation defending them as if they weren’t?

Those reveling in their ability to predict the outrage in advance are not exactly modern-day prophets. I want to meet the Jews who thought to themselves, “eh this is nothing, it’ll fly under the radar”.

The biggest irony of all? It actually did in Israel. While every English-speaking Jew on Twitter was busy denouncing Mr. Rogen and inviting him to have a personal history lesson, the Hebrew-speaking Jews were dealing with far bigger problems than a podcast gone wrong.

During the 24 hours the Diaspora was focused on an American Jewish boy with Oedipal rage, the following events were happening in Israel:

  1. Four Hezbollah terrorists tried to infiltrate in a failed attack, sending residents across the entire northern border into their shelters as heavy bombing took place for roughly an hour. Civilian life went back to normal shortly after in typical fashion, though not for the IDF. They’re busy sending reinforcements for the stressful days and weeks ahead, waiting for Hezbollah’s next attempt to slaughter a Jew.
  2. Israel took over America’s non-coveted 5th place for coronavirus cases per capita. As many other leaders would like to believe, in Israel this really is a result of massive testing at ten times the rate of gold-standard South Korea. And our mortality rate truly is one of the lowest in the world (0.8%) – but hospital wards are filling up with many more serious patients than in the first wave. Only time will tell.
  3. Far-right extremist gangs infiltrated peaceful protests, leading to innocent youths getting beaten with glass bottles and pepper sprayed throughout the streets of Tel Aviv. Unlike in America, it didn’t come from the police. They were nowhere to be found when actually needed, with reports of some even ignoring the cries for help. These were organized lynches sent by somebody in Israel who is unhappy with protests. (Extra points if you can figure it out.)

Israelis couldn’t care less what anyone thinks about our country. Not because we don’t care about other Jewish opinions. There’s simply a limit to the bandwidth and we have too many of our own, concerning events far more serious than what occupies Diaspora Twitter.

Although Rogen’s comments were spread to millions across the globe, giving ammunition to every anti-Israel/Jew-hating outlet on the internet – believe me, Israelis would give anything in the world for this to be the type of ammunition we need to defend against.

The Diaspora, however, was more than justified in its collective outrage. Verbal ammunition about Israel is what gives legs to anti-Semitism, morphing into real ammunition being fired at your local synagogue.

Whether or not a Jew loves Israel is an entirely personal matter between them and their god. It’s ok not to care. It’s also ok to oppose the actions of the state – why do you think Israelis are protesting all over the country?

But no matter your views on Israel, every single Diaspora Jew must internalize this fact if they wish to identify publicly as Jewish – Israelis have a Jewish army to protect them from the hate.

You are the ones who suffer and die from anti-Israel sentiment.

This isn’t about Seth Rogen. I have no doubt he regrets the statements he made leading to the torrent of Jewish guilt rained down on him from every direction. I actually feel bad for him. Not that he didn’t deserve it, but we all know the long-lasting ramifications of Jewish guilt. (Good luck, brother. Pay your therapist double.)

The real issue is the vicious, baseless hatred being spewed from a small – but too large – segment of American Jewry towards Israel.

Correction: Israelis. The conversation always seems to revolve around “Israel and the Palestinians”. As the world is progressing and realizing the power of language, it’s worth pointing out that this phrasing dehumanizes Israelis.

When you slander Israel – you’re slandering half of the world’s Jews. We are real people, no less than the Palestinians, but this isn’t about them. That’s a separate conversation and we have it all the time.

This is about us. Jews. There’s no other side in this conversation. The only thing we should be talking about today is how to fix the baseless hatred poisoning our people – in Israel and the Diaspora – and between Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews.

As I write this on Tisha B’av, I encourage any Jew who doesn’t understand the importance of the date to read this thread by Israeli writer and activist, Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll.

We are all Jews. We don’t have to agree on anything but that.

About the Author
Yoni Leviatan is a British-born, American-raised, Israeli-blooded musician, content producer, brand strategist, presenter and political commentator who loves to think out loud. Especially about Israel. Originally from Coral Springs, Florida, Yoni has been living in Tel Aviv since 2009, returning to the land of his parents and grandparents and ancestors before them. He has a BA in Criminology from the University of Florida and an MA in Political Communication from Tel Aviv University. Click to watch his videos. Click to hear his music.
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