Where we are:
We Jews have an amazing ability to take the shape and form most convenient to our accusers. To the Christians, we were super-human killers of Jesus. To the Muslims, sub-human rejectors of Mohammed. To the socialists, we were communists and to the communists, socialists. Today, we have become the capitalists, the oppressors, the purveyor of the West’s misdoings. And so, we have attracted the might of the progressive coalition; LGBTQ, BLM, Islamists, and others who blame the Jews for all the world’s oppression.
Of course, a liberal progressive cannot simply demonize Jews – Hitler is still evil (for most). Therefore, our modern persecutors have repackaged antisemitism into anti-Zionism and, in doing so, intentionally divided our people across political lines. The division between Zionists and the “good” Jews has been comforting to many on the left. For some Jews, a divorce from Zionism became a way to join the coalition of the oppressed. For the majority of American Jewry who still support Israel and liberal causes, separation between Zionism and Jewry became a useful excuse to tolerate and ignore the obvious rise of antisemitism in the progressive caucus.
When the Star of David was banned at the Women’s March in D.C., it was largely ignored. When Ilhan Omar accused Israel of “hypnotizing the world” and the Jewish lobby of controlling the public with “the Benjamins,” it was ignored. As accounts of violent attacks on Jews by minorities across NYC continued to rise, Black Hebrew Israelites marched Charlottesville-style and chanted against the Jews in Brooklyn, and famous celebrities like Kanye, Chapelle, Kyrie Irving, and others accused Jews of being the root source of oppression, liberal Jewry and the liberal caucus refused to accept that there was a systemic problem.
It has yet again taken imagery of the Holocaust, this time not in black-and-white, but in full color, to unite and re-awaken world Jewry and our allies in the West. The weak condemnations from presidents of the Ivy League and the utter failure of mainstream media to demonstrate moral clarity has shown us we have a problem. Our liberal institutions are rotting from within. Our enemies have known it for years and they have used whatever tool available to accelerate its demise. We must stop this decline. We must fight back.
Where we go:
The masks are off. We have witnessed the reactions to the slaughtering on Black Shabbat, from moral equivalency to frank celebration. Many American Jews and liberal circles have long rejected the notion that Anti-Zionism was Anti-Semitism. I hope and believe that rejection has come to a screeching halt. So, where do we go from here? Many of us have woken up to the reality that Anti-Semitism is expanding and, with it, the hollowing of our institutions. The Holocaust created generational awareness of what a far-right, authoritarian-type Anti-Semitism looks like. If it looks like a Nazi and quacks like a Nazi… it’s probably a Nazi. Therein lies the first step: recognizing and addressing the new Anti-Semitism. If it looks like Hamas, and quacks like Hamas… if it accuses Israel of “genocide, apartheid, ethnic cleansing,” and other blood libel pseudonyms… if it blames Israel for racial inequality and homophobia in America or any other form of scapegoatism… if it chants from river to the sea or other calls for extermination… if it obsesses over Israel but can’t find Syria on the map… it’s probably an Anti-Semite.
Of course, criticism of Israel is legitimate, and we must not confuse disagreements of policy with Anti-Semitism. We must understand where that red line is and call it out whenever it is crossed. Most importantly, we must no longer allow political disagreements amongst Jews and our allies to divide us. If you believe that the Jewish people have a right to a state in the land of Israel, a right to self-determination, a right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness, then you are a Zionist. We can disagree on policy, but we must no longer allow there to be a distinction between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism. In practical terms, what this means is using our voices, our strength, and sources of leverage, wherever we can to combat Anti-Semitism. In the past, many have been hesitant to combat Anti-Zionism, whereas our enemies have used all means at their disposal. This is beginning to change. Harvard student groups, NYU law students and others who shamelessly blamed us for the slaughtering of our own children, were held accountable by those in positions of influence. When doctors jeered on social media over the raping of women and slaughtering of babies, they were identified and fired. It cannot be that in a society that protects against misgendering and microaggressions, we can allow such thinly veiled Anti-Semitism to go unpunished.
We, the world’s Jewry, and our allies in the West and around the world, can no longer tolerate Anti-Semitism to corrupt our society and destroy our institutions. We must stand united, understanding that all jews are Zionists and that never again is now.
We in America and around the world have seen your resolve in the face of this horrific tragedy. We have seen the protest movements transform into an apparatus of support for the troops. We have seen a surge of enlistment in the Haredi community. We have seen your sense of unity, and we are inspired. We may disagree from time to time, but we are with you, inseparably. We hope that the world will not spit out the diaspora as it has throughout history, but this is far from a given. And so, we rely on you, perhaps unfairly, to safeguard our insurance, our only small piece of land in this world. We pray that you will not let this moment of unity fade.
When the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile, a united front could not be defeated. Not by any of our surrounding enemies, not by the Greeks, not even the Romans. It wasn’t until internal divisions which had even invited the Romans, that we were finally defeated. Divided in the diaspora, we spent centuries on the run. We must all learn from our history. We cannot be divided in our homeland. We cannot be divided in the diaspora. United, we can survive any adversary, we can prosper, and we can be a free people. United, we will fulfill our covenant with G/d to be a light unto the nations.