As I write this, I have no idea who won what in the midterms. But I do know that much of the commentary since the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh has focused on a rise in anti-Semitism in America. “It’s Trump’s fault” has been a popular meme on the left; while “Don’t forget Jew-haters on the left” has been the obligatory retort from the right.
Independent of where it comes from, though, the central claim is that things are getting worse for the Jews.
Before Pittsburgh, graffiti of a swastika on a synagogue wall was cause for serious alarm in the Jewish world. Then, suddenly, Pittsburgh happened. Instead of a spray can, a Jew-hater picked up an AR-15 and murdered 11 Jews.
From a swastika on a wall to the murder of 11 Shabbat worshippers is a communal earthquake.
To give you a sense of the magnitude, the last synagogue shooting in America happened in Detroit in 1966, and it was by a deranged congregant who shot the rabbi. In other words, Pittsburgh is the first synagogue shooting by an anti-Semite in U.S. history — and by far the deadliest.
“Let’s not overlook the enormous outpouring of love and concern for the Jews that has come from across the nation.”
In the face of such horror, it’s hard to focus on such things as how amazing America has been for the Jews; and how we have thrived in this oasis of freedom after feeling the sting of persecution for centuries.
Indeed, the golden age of American Jewry kicked off in the 1950s. In Jonathan Sarna’s “American Judaism: A History,” he quotes Anti-Defamation League director Benjamin R. Epstein, who described the two decades following World War II as a “period of tremendous progress” for the Jews.
During those years, Epstein recalled, American Jews “achieved a greater degree of economic and political security, and a broader social acceptance than had ever been known by any Jewish community since the [ancient] Dispersion.”
It’d be foolish to say that anti-Semitism went away. It never did; it never will, in America or elsewhere. As Sarna writes: “Anti-Semitism by no means disappeared, of course, any more than nativism, anti-Catholicism, or racism did.”
But it’s fair to say that America did not make it easy or popular to be an anti-Semite.
Anti-Semites “found themselves placed on the defensive as Judaism’s status rose,” Sarna writes. “Forced to justify their anti-Jewish prejudice in the face of America’s increasingly tolerant norms, they beat a hasty retreat.”
This broad acceptance of the Jews is what most of us grew up with and got used to. Our contributions to American society have been so pervasive and substantial that some commentators speak of Judaism and Americanism in the same breath. We have embraced American freedom and opportunity with a full heart, and, in deep gratitude, have given back all we could.
It’s not a coincidence that according to a 2017 Pew survey, more Americans — 67 percent— feel warmly toward Jews than toward any other faith group.
So, when we get spooked by a disaster like Pittsburgh, it’s not just because we’re terrified but because we recognize its abnormality. Something about Pittsburgh felt so un-American, so foreign.
‘When we get spooked by a disaster like Pittsburgh, it’s not just because we’re terrified but because we recognize its abnormality. Something about Pittsburgh felt so un-American, so foreign.”
It’s easy to forget all this while our ears are ringing with cries of an alarming rise in anti-Semitism and while our community argues over whether it’s worse from the left or the right.
Anti-Semitism will never go away; it’s the nature of the disease. The rise of the Internet and proliferation of social media has further magnified swastika sightings and anti-Semitic incidents from both the left and the right, including on college campuses.
But as we stay vigilant against these troublesome signs, let’s not overlook the enormous outpouring of love and concern for the Jews that has come from across the nation. It’s hard to imagine a country, outside of Israel, where a mainstream newspaper would actually feature large Hebrew letters on its front page — as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did last week when it honored the victims of Tree of Life by putting the beginning of the Mourner’s Kaddish on its front page.
Those Hebrew letters, which have gone viral, are a quirky reminder of how fully integrated we have become in American society; and how anti-Semites will never win popularity contests in this country.
For American Jewry, America has become like family. We give a lot and expect a lot. We’re no longer on foreign land. This is our country.
Pittsburgh has been a shock to our system not because America is bad for the Jews — but precisely because it has been so good.
Netanyahu’s support for the settlement enterprise, is believed to have been reigned by former democratic US president Barack Obama who was in office from January 2009 to January 2017.
A man photographs a woman as she stands next to a mural depicting U.S. President Donald Trump and Is
Spending on West Bank settlements spiked by 39% in 2017, the first year US President Donald Trump was in office, the left-wing group Peace Now reported on Tuesday.
Weekend work permits for Eurovision complicate Netanyahu’s coalition bargaining with ultra-Orthodox parties
Israeli singer and past Eurovision winner Dana International at the Orange Carpet event in Tel Aviv, May 13, 2019.
Israeli singer and past Eurovision winner Dana International at the Orange Carpet event in Tel Aviv, May 13, 2019.Tomer Appelbaum
Seeking to quell ultra-Orthodox anger over holding the Eurovision Song Contest’s final in Tel Aviv on Saturday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday it was an “individual international event” not sponsored by the state, and that the government doesn’t want to violate the Sabbath.
French Holocaust denier Alain Soral. Photo: Egalite et Réconciliation.
The mayor of one of southern France’s most picturesque towns expressed fury on Tuesday after learning that a group of right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists — including convicted Holocaust denier Alain Soral — were planning to hold a “summer school” there at the end of August.
“I say it clearly, Soral is not welcome here,” Alexandre Reynal — mayor of the town of Amelie-les-Bain in the spectacular Pyrénées-Orientales region — told a local news outlet on Tuesday.
I urge all visitors to join me in a conspiracy to violate the UN Security Council Resolution…Obama, himself, engineered the Resolution. He pushed it through the Security Council despite some reservations by other members, including Egypt, which believed that the Resolution itself could become a barrier to a negotiated two-state solution. After all, if Israel’s control over Judaism’s holiest site is deemed illegal, then Israel would have to negotiate its legality with the Palestinians.
The ruling Law and Justice Party views Poland as a victim of World War II, and that therefore Poland should not be required to pay damages to other victims.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reacts after receiving his nomination during a government s
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reacts after receiving his nomination during a government swearing-in ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, December 11, 2017..
Only three-quarters of a century after Der Stürmer incentivized the mass murder of Jews by dehumanizing them, we see a revival of such bigoted caricatures.
I do not believe in free speech for me, but not for thee. But I do believe in condemning those who hide behind the First Amendment to express anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, homophobic, sexist or racist views.
One of the most influential newspapers in the world, the Jewish-owned New York Times decided to present the Jews with a gift in honor of the last day of Passover – a major Jewish holiday – an antisemitic caricature. The controversial cartoon shows US President Donald Trump as a blind man with a skullcap on his head, being led by a dog that looks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And to make sure the reader knows it is indeed the Israeli premier, the dog has a Star of David dangling from its collar.
Last week, Jared Kushner, one of the administration’s point men on the Middle East, dispensed with the term “two-state solution” in its impending peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. “The two-state solution has failed,” he said.
The “two-state solution” does not appear in the 1993 Oslo Accords, which called only for “interim self-government” for the Palestinians. The goal was a negotiated final status agreement, in which independence was not specified.
Religious fervor always picks up before the Jewish holidays. Not surprisingly, Israeli undercover police arrested Jewish activists from the Hozrim L’Har (Returning to the Mount) organization early Friday afternoon, just before the onset of the Passover holiday, after an apparent attempt to bring a young goat on to the Temple Mount for a self-proclaimed sacrificial rite. Indeed, this drama plays itself out every year, but according to Jerusalem police, this year a record of at least twelve members of the organization were arrested throughout the course of the day on counts of disturbing the peace.
Every year when Passover eve arrives, I do my best not to think about that night; to allow the joy of cherished rituals meant to renew our family’s tribal history and faith envelop us in its warm glow as whoever among the kids and grandkids it’s our turn to host partake of the matzoh, bitter herbs, and wine. Often – actually most often – I succeed.