There rests within many Passover seders a providential warning: Lest Jews forget their tenuous history: “In every generation, one shall rise, to destroy us...”
Currently, worrisome situations targeting Jews; have conveniently been tucked away under the assumption; “Don’t trouble, till trouble, troubles you.” Unfortunately, we Jews cannot afford the luxury of such wishful thinking. For us, troubles by their very nature do not resolve without immediate and persistent active resolution.
It was not that long ago a virus-like, anti-Israel malady began surfacing and spreading on college campuses across the United States and eventually abroad. Hostile seemingly infected individuals began to seek efficient means to neutralize their fabricated enemy; Israel and those who advocate for her, typically, but not exclusively, Jews, as well.
During the early course of the pandemic, campus encounters appeared relatively civil. However, as press and television coverage expanded, hostile rhetoric ensued. The confrontational exchanges that followed appeared minimized by those that should have known better; including authorities charged with keeping order, as well as institutional administrators.
Cloaking their tactics to appear as “mere” Israel policy critics, angry protesters appeared to gain the upper hand, even though some could be heard spouting antisemitic slurs. A few were laced with intimidation and others with threats of violence.
Perpetrators eagerly shouted down perceived challenges to their anti-Zionist platforms and again, were relegated as mere annoyances. But Jews on campus; both faculty and students knew better. They began to notice dangerous signals.
Trial and error testing by the haters eventually ascertained that Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) maneuvers directed against Israel and her supporters could prove opportune.
The boycott aspect had previously been utilized and perfected within Nazi Germany in the 1930’s. It successfully delegitimized Jews; first socially, then politically, and finally, economically. This reduced them to poverty, at which point, they became pariahs and their enemies began the process of eliminating them without meaningful opposition. A lesson understood as replicable.
Along the way, misrepresentations, deceptions and outward lies were employed. Simply by repeating them over and over, at every opportunity afforded; animosity towards Israel increased. That gained an even larger demented following.
Those that could have spoken out loudly and repetitively instead appeared intimidated and silent.
Israel is an integral part of our Jewish identity. Our enemies soon understood that by eliminating one; would ultimately place the other in jeopardy.
Currently, the risk towards Jews and Israel has risen most appreciably with haters intersecting their anti-Israel agenda with seemingly legitimate causes, claiming a kinship of destiny. This included African-Americans and other marginalized populations, many of whom ignored the earlier efforts of Jews to help them gain Justice during their times of need.
As time passed, it became easier to convince others to band together to vigorously challenge Israel’s legitimacy; utilizing nothing more than manufactured disgusting defamations of “apartheid”; “ethnic cleanser” and “Nazi-like” that gained popularity when tied to Israel.
Even elements from within our own extended Jewish community succumbed to these evil mudslings.
At the end of the day, we Jews as a group may have complicated our own situation. To those on the sidelines, we appeared as lacking eagerness to fight back. This may have served to give some observers an inaccurate perception that silence means accord, if not acknowledging guilt, itself.
While Israel has an incontestable record of success in military engagements, perhaps the time has come to prove itself within a different battleground: the courtroom. Strategically launching an aggressive, multi-pronged campaign on many legal fronts may serve to make it too expensive for those who repeatedly defame our Jewish character and Israel within the public venue; employing liable and slander. The perpetrators may finally get the understanding of consequential damages for manufactured, baseless character assassinations targeting Jews and Israel, to the extent allowed by law.
A non-Jewish acquaintance once cast an interesting observation: “Is there a scarcity of Jewish lawyers to stand up to outright discriminatory practices targeting Jews?” I guess we will find out.
Despite the above, we are not alone.
Years ago, Congress, recognizing the threat towards our Jewish children while pursuing their education, sponsored several well intended federal legislative initiatives to address the effects of escalating antisemitism and anti-Israelism on campus. While initially successful within the United States Senate, the ball appeared dropped within the House of Representatives where it languished till expiration on fear of being viewed as trampling 1st Amendment rights.
At the time there was lack of consensus as to what constitutes antisemitism; an impediment on the road to those seeking justice for Jews.
Now Jews have been characterized by some as a “privileged” entity within the umbrella of a privileged “White America.” Clearly those that promote this view aren’t Jewish and were never on the receiving end of discriminatory actions including physical attacks and defilements of houses of worship: just for living the Jewish faith.
That said, there are non-Jewish, pro-Israel advocates who passionately see fit to join their Jewish brothers and sisters, in our time of greatest need.
Evangelical Christians, in many cases don’t appear to flinch in their efforts to stand up for Israel and Jews, and are proving a formidable force to be reckoned with; while too many other groups timidly cower in the shadows.
They do not silently kowtow to President Joe Biden when his actions appear to put our loyal American ally, Israel, in jeopardy.
They advocate that our president stand in both word and deed for and with Israel, when extremists dispute her legitimacy and threaten her viability.
The outreach of Evangelicals is both broad and deep within the Americas. Their numerical political strength when combined with that of the US Jewish community can carry the tide, for or against a candidate seeking public office.
It’s appropriate for President Biden to keep the above in mind, as he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and their support crew, in combination with representatives from China, Germany, France, Russia, and Britain deliberate in Vienna the re-upping of the original 2015 JCPOA Iran nuclear containment agreement.
Combined with alleged Iranian demands for billions of upfront American dollars without oversight and lacking concessions from Iran may potentially serve to further enable her destabilizing agents: Hamas, Hezbollah, and various militias in Syria and elsewhere; as well as to develop its international reach missile technology programs, potentially capable of delivering nuclear payloads.
With all of the lethal consequences that may portend existential threats; the United States and the other nations involved in the Vienna discussions must not reenter this flawed agreement lightly, just to appease “Iran, a nation that has not proven itself anything other than an enemy to America and Israel.” This is especially so as chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” can be remembered.
Perhaps, these situations are the very ones alluded to within the yearly Passover seder warnings.
The writer is the author of the geo-political thriller, ‘First the ‘Saturday People’, and then the …’