David Felsen

We Need a New Word

We need a new word.  I am a fairly educated and experienced person.  I have experience in some of the most noble and some of the most base realms of human experience.  I have watched.  I have read.  I have tried to rationalize.  I now come to the conclusion that we need a new word.  Words have power.  Words convey meaning, intention, and principles and dictate appropriate reaction.  We need a new word.

I have watched, studied, evaluated and seen the “pro-Palestine” “anti-Israel” protests around the world, especially in the United States. I have come to the unassailable conclusion that these actions are neither pro-Palestinian, nor anti-Israel, nor protests.  These acts, these gatherings, are nothing less than anti-Jewish thug attempts to support the underlying thesis that Jews do not have the right to self-determination, self-defense, or existence.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a “protest” is a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something.  I have yet to figure out, how taking over common space at a college campus and refusing to let Jewish students into that space, and expelling them by force, shows disapproval of anything other than the Jews.  I cannot fathom how calling for “Zionists” to identify themselves on a public subway, because it is their last chance “to get out,” objects to anything other than that “Zionists” existence.  I have tried to understand how forcefully blocking entry into a synagogue in Los Angeles can be justified as part of a political discourse, unless the discourse is about how to intimidate and destroy Jews.  Let’s be clear, “From The River to the Sea” means no Israel.  Intifada is defined as “revolution” by that bastion of pro-Israel sentiment (please note sarcasm), NPR. So, please tell me how wearing the garb of a terrorist organization and chanting in favor of kidnapping hundreds, including babies, murdering elderly and infants, raping victims, and playing soccer with severed heads of innocent festival attendees, is part of a revolution, unless it is a revolution against the existence of Jews.

These acts against Jews are not “anti-Israel.”  When the America was involved in the Spanish-American War, Catholics (while the subject of other discrimination) were not assaulted outside their churches. In the midst of World War II, Lutherans were not asked to be identified in public spaces because it was their last chance “to get out.” But, in 2024, every Jew is a target.  It is acceptable for Hamas to kill Jews, even if most of the people at the Nova Festival were politically supportive of peace.  October 7th gave license to those who want to eradicate the Jews. It is now acceptable to speak about it, rationalize it, and advocate for it.  It is now acceptable to vandalize, threaten and block synagogues, regardless of views on the war in Gaza, because they are Jews. Please don’t insult the world’s intelligence and say these acts are a “protest.” And to my brothers and sisters who stand with these people, they will come for you too, because you are a Jew. We need a new word.

The world didn’t call it a protest when Asian men and women were being assaulted daily San Francisco and Los Angeles from 2019 through 2022 (and still).  The world didn’t call it a protest when people of color were lynched for registering voters in the American South in the 1960s.  The fire-bombing of a church in 1963 was never considered a political call to action. While there has yet to be a fire-bombing, there are bomb threats, and let us not forget, 11 Jews were cut down during Shabbat services in their synagogue in Pittsburgh.

There are historical parallels to what we are seeing.  The Brownshirts in Germany in the 1930s wanted to “protest” the Jews out of existence.  They started with chants, moved on to taking over public spaces and advanced to vandalizing, blocking and destroying synagogues.  The parallel is not exact, because at least those hatemongers, like the ones in Charlottesville in 2017 chanting “Jews will not replace us,” had the chutzpah to show their faces.  A more apt comparison is to the Ku Klux Klan.  Vandalism, intimidation, murder is all part of the plan from behind the cowardly hood, or keffiyeh.  The world never called the Klan’s actions “protests.” So, we need a new word.

The word needs to convey the purpose and methods of these actions and the actors. While I am no Etymologist, “ubelcuard” has a nice ring to it.  Ubel comes from Old High German for evil.  Cuard is from Old French, meaning coward. While adding to the world’s lexicon has never been a goal for me, these “ubelcuards” cannot be described with existing language.  Their acts of “ubelcuardism” demand their own word.  The world needs to recognize that this evil cowardice has historical roots but is now in a new context. We cannot let the world relegate this evil cowardice to the realm of protest, because it isn’t.

About the Author
David Felsen is an attorney in Rockville, Maryland and is a member of the adjunct faculty at American University’s Washinton College of Law. He has been involved in Jewish community leadership for over 25 years and lives in Potomac, Maryland with wife Debbie.
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