World Wide Anti- Semitism Today-
Standing strong as a Jewish Community
Rabbi David Nesson
Morristown Jewish Center
The events of the last several weeks, the last several days, the last several hours, have been on the minds of all of us who love Israel as the homeland of our people. The news that one moment there seems to be hope for a cease -fire, followed by a rejection from Hamas, followed a few days later for another attempt at a cease fire, and another rejection from the terrorist organization of Hamas, has put us on all on a roller coaster.
And now, following just a few hours of cease fire, as we all know, Israel has, relunctantly begun a ground incursion into Gaza, in order to find the tunnels and underground locations where missiles are being hidden stored.
But it is not about Israel that I want to speak right now, at least not directly. Rather, I want to say a word about the wider implications of the conflict in Gaza, and to be, unfortunately, the bearer of some other news, not good news, for the Jewish community either around the world or in the U.S.
The news is, and the truth is, that this conflict has now empowered and emboldened a new anti- Semitism around the world. We are all aware, I hope you know, that to be anti- Israel today is the newest form and disguise of being anit-semetic.
Throughout Europe, this new anti-semistism has been going on for a while, but has become more dramatic in the last few weeks.
Throughout Europe, violent demonstrations –Pro Palestinian, anti Israel-have been erupting, reminding us that the hatred that led to the Holocaust during World War II remains alive and well. Last week, on Bastille day, pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris led to hundreds of Jews being besieged inside a synagogue while police clashed with the violent extremists; three Jews were hospitalized. Actually, there were several synagogues that day where Jews had to wait for the police to come before it was safe for them to leave. Even though it was Batsille day, a day for the French to celebrate their own history, there were more pro-Palestinian demonstrators on Paris streets than there were those celebrating a French national holiday. There were those who sought to justify the violence against the Jews, including members of Frances parliament.
Thankfully, one reporter who saw the events wrote, “What I have seen today is Arab hatred against Jews. Pure hatred. Right in the middle of Paris. Don’t try to ‘explain’ or ‘understand’, it was hatred, period.”
This past weekend, a rabbi walking to synagogue in Casablanca was badly beaten while his cries for help were ignored by passersby.
Earlier this week, neo-Nazi Islamists took to the streets in Frankfurt chanting, “You Jews are beasts.” The police allowed the protestors to use their vehicles and megaphones, purportedly in order to “deescalate” the situation.
In London, protestors stood in front of the Israeli embassy and in “blood curdling speeches” compared “Palestine” to Auschwitz and Dachau as “some mocked the Holocaust, others disfigured the Israeli flag, a few screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’, [and] they all called for the destruction of the Jewish state.”
In the Netherlands this morning, the home of Rabbi Binyomim Jacob, the chief Rabbi, was attacked and vandalized for the second time in a week, this time, just hours after a pro-Israel gathering of the Jewish community
Despite the latest wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations, it is important to recognize that anti-Semitic voices are not new. In Europe, anti-Semitism is so pervasive that some are questioning whether Jews even have a future living there. Even before the violent demonstrations in response to Operation Protective Edge, Jews in Europe have been targeted. Including the recent murder of four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.
But lest we think that these events are only taking place in Europe, we need to be mindful of what is happening in our our own country
In midtown Manhattan last week, chants of “Free free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Based on the level of violent protests taking place in Europe and across the globe, the pro-Palestinians in New York seemed comparably tame – yet no less troubling. The calls for “Death to Israel” are anything but vague.
It’s not only New York. In San Francisco, 300 anti-Israel protestors surrounded and threatened 30 peaceful pro-Israel demonstrators. In addition to the usual chants, they screamed, “Long live the intifada, we support the intifada,” calling for violent uprising against Israelis.
At a protest last weekend in Los Angeles, what began as a peaceful pro-Israel event escalated as pro-Palestinians attacked the demonstrators, drawing in Federal Homeland Security officers, one of whom was forced to fire a weapon.
Farther north in Seattle, signs and chants reflected more of a general hatred of Jews rather than simply protests regarding the current conflict in Gaza. “Zionist Israel = Nazi Germany”; “Palestine screams terror, Israel screams greed”; “AIPAC Supports the Murder of Children”; and a poster depicting a Jew eating a gentile child with a cup of blood on the side are only a few examples of the anti-Semitic displays.
In Philadelphia, a pro-Israel vigil was interrupted by the typical chants for Israel’s destruction, but it was in Boston where things turned physical as a pro-Israel activist was assaulted by a woman shouting “that Muslims and Christians would someday take possession of Jerusalem and that the ‘Jews will go to hell, inshallah [God willing].’”
What advice therefore can we offer each other on this Shabbat?
There is a moment in this week’s torah portion that may help us…After the Children of Israel conquer the lush lands east of the Jordan River, the tribes of Reuben and Gad request the right to remain there instead of inheriting their allotted portion inside Promised Land.
Moses, incredulous, asks a timeless, eternal question: “Shall your brothers go to war while you sit here?”
Generations of our rabbis note that with this simple question, Moses establishes a basic moral truth about fairness and equality: Everyone must share the burden of protecting the nation. Members of one tribe cannot sit in comfort while their brothers fight for survival.
As our brothers and sisters in Israel contend with the threats of rockets and mortars from Hamas in Gaza, we must do our part to support Israel’s right and ability to protect its citizens. That is why last week I asked you to consider the Federation emergency campaign for Israel.
More than that, this is the kind of moment that calls on us, as a world wide Jewish community, to be ready and able to speak up
on behalf of Israel, be ready and able to make the case for Israel. This is also the kind of moment that asks us to speak out against anti-semitism in any of it’s forms, not only here in America, but also around the world.
It is up to us to accept this responsibility and act on it. If you have not yet signed up for the rally in support of Israel which will take place this coming Monday at the Federation Campus in Whippany I urge you do so now
. This is the kind of moment to answer Moses’ question by affirming that we are all, as Jews, intricately connected to one another, in every place that Jews live.