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Dec. 5, 2023- 22 Kislev, 5784

12/05/2023 01:24:32 PM

Dec5

Living in Texas these few months has offered me a world of Jewish experiences, a universe of experiences as a Jew. On Monday evening, December 4, I listened intently to the words of CEO and National Director of the ADL, addressing “Modern Antisemitism: An ADL Perspective”, the 26th Annual Gates of Chai Lecture of the Jewish Studies Program at Brite Divinity School, a division of TCU, was one of those experiences. About 20 minutes into the talk, two rows over my left shoulder a shouting heckler would not be silenced until she and her cadre were escorted from the hall. She used very ugly, pejorative terms like ‘genocide’, ‘racist’, and more, in a prepared rant read from her cell phone. She and one other were almost dragged over a few chairs as they refused to move as requested. No one was physically injured, though an older woman who happened to be seated in front of her was emotionally distressed.

It was the current climate of campus life played in real-time, part of a ‘tsunami of hatred, a hurricane of antisemitism’ which even at that time Mr. Greenblatt had described. The would-be protesters, demanding ‘free Palestine’ to a crowd of college students and adults from the Tarrant County Jewish Community. Greenblatt cited numbers: 73% of college students have experienced—as victims or as witnesses—overt antisemitism during the current term. Students exist in an anxious state, on campus, in residence halls, in classrooms, where ‘freedom of speech’ is unlimited by decorum, by codes of conduct regarding bullying, and by university administrations unwilling to use their authority to protect the vulnerable. It was, to me, a damning indictment of the sea-change in American civil society. Hatred has been given license; the terrorism of Hamas and the slaughter they have brought to tens of thousands have become the causse célèbres’ across the US, in Europe and elsewhere.

Greenblatt argues it is not politics, yet it is profoundly political. The drive to delegitimize Judaism in the early centuries of the Christian Church, and to delegitimize Jews through the racist antisemitism invented in Inquisitorial Spain before 1492 has devolved into delegitimizing Israel. Yet Israel came into being 75+ years ago (in a United Nations General Assembly Vote on November 29, 1947) that offered statehood, self-determination, and independence to two groups—Zionist Jews and Palestinians—one of which said yes. The other said no, never. Guess which one took the option?

The history that unfolded beginning May 14, 1948, when the British Mandate ended, still rankles because it should have created a world of equal opportunities, shared benefits and creative synergies that both should know now, in 2023. Instead, the terrorists called Hamas have brought about the complete decimation of the Gaza Strip, using the civilian population as shields, the hospitals as cover, the good works of UNRRA as decoys for their terrorist activities, programs and military forays. And, as the same terrorist Hamas, who swear they will clear all Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, who were elected in 2006 to govern Gaza, their terrorism spreads to the Palestinian Citizens whom they have now completely abandoned as cannon fodder.

Has Israel behaved perfectly? I think not, but for the nine months of 2023 before October 7, tens of thousands of Israeli citizens blocked highways and marched peacefully to the Prime Minister’s Office, united against proposed changes to the very active Supreme Court. Those protests—set aside since October 7—peaceful, orderly, focused on the great good—are hallmarks of an Israel that remains a democracy. 

I urge caution, support non-violent protest, and understand the temptation to anger, violence and authoritarian stances. Israel will need to come to terms with the plans that the security services chose to ignore, with the concentration of IDF forces over the holiday weekend in Judea-Samaria [aka the West Bank], for the military unpreparedness that left Israel needing to destroy so much of the built environment. Accountability is also part of democracy in action.

Gaza lies as rubble, Gazans dead, or in hospitals; Hamas continues the pointless war they began. Scorched earth might describe the landscape and strategy. Who is the victim?

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, pray for the captive, the wounded, the missing. The judgment of the terrorists will be determined in higher places.

Thu, July 18 2024 12 Tammuz 5784