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.
At the same time, the Trump administration is readying further possible sanctions on Venezuela, the official said.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in Maracaibo. (photo credit: MIRAFLORES PALACE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, Feb 8 – The United States is holding direct communications with members of Venezuela’s military urging them to abandon leader Nicolas Maduro and is also preparing new sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on him, a senior White House official said.
The Shalva Band following their final performance on “Rising Star.” Photo: Screenshot.
The Shalva Band has removed itself from the race to represent Israel in this year’s Eurovision competition because some of its members observed Shabbat and would not be able to partake in mandatory rehearsals, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.
The group, made up of eight musicians who have special needs, was one of four finalists in the “Rising Star” singing contest — the winner of which will represent Israel in Eurovision, set to be held in Tel Aviv in May.
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As Birthright Israel reaches its 700,000th participant, certain voices in America have done their best to slander the organization and force it to make drastic changes. Having staffed multiple Birthright trips as a madrich (youth leader), I have had the amazing opportunity to pass on some of the love for Israel that helped change my life.
Local police in Manchester’s Whitefield neighborhood declared the vandalism a criminal act rather than antisemitic.
Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies for those who oppose anti-Semitism, in Parliament Square in London, Britain, March 26, 2018.. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
The Philips Park Jewish cemetery in Manchester, England, was vandalized on Saturday, during which the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, who died last year, was desecrated.
Protestors call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during a march in Cape Town. (photo credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS)
A proposed multi-million dollar deal between Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) and South Africa’s biggest dairy producer Clover could be in serious trouble due to heavy pressure from the anti-Israel lobby.
Newly-formed consortium Milco, in which Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) holds a majority, is offering to buy 59.5% of the South African dairy producer.
We need to give the Likud Party some credit for not destroying itself in Tuesday’s internal elections. Given that primaries are the very embodiment of deal-making, political machines and big worker unions voting in lockstep, the results could have been far worse.
When it came to casting a secret ballot, the Likud Party’s registered voters did display some maturity. They weren’t the obedient foot soldiers of Benjamin Netanyahu, who has failed again and again in his machinations.
With elections barely two months away, the greatest challenge facing Israel’s Right emanates neither from the Center nor the Left, but, rather, from within.
Indeed, if recent polls are accurate, several small parties on the Right, most of which may not individually pass the minimum threshold to make it into the next Knesset, could nonetheless win a combined total of 10 to 12 seats, all of which would end up in the dustbin if they fail to run together.
August 2017, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville shouting, “Jews will not replace us”. October 2018, one white supremacist posted on social media that “Jews are taking over the white house”, and that Trump is a puppet of the Jews. Shabbat, the same month, a man enters a synagogue during a Bris celebration and butchers Jewish people who are praying. December 2018, Women’s March leader and Louis Farrakhan (“I’m not an antisemite, I’m an anti-termite”) fan, Tamika Mallory says: “White Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy…”
Henry Ford devoted his life to two passions: making cars and demonizing Jews. When Hitler said, “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration,” he wasn’t referring to his car manufacturing. He was referring to Ford’s anti-Semitic ideology that eventuated in the genocide of six million Jews.
Henry Ford does not deserve to be honored. The question the good people of Dearborn should ask themselves is: What would you do if the performing arts center were named after Jefferson Davis? If the answer is that you would remove Davis’s name, then you should remove Ford’s.
It was reported recently that the USA and the Taliban have reached a peace agreement on Afghanistan that will allow US forces to leave that country 17 years after they invaded it on October, 2001, less than a month after 9/11.
Al Qaeda had used that dysfunctional state as a safe haven and, while there, was able to plan and execute the attacks that took the lives of over 3000 people in. After the West invaded, the Taliban