Stop supporting Palestinian moral inversion

An elephant in the room is missing here:

The High Court of Justice on Tuesday rejected a petition that sought the demolition of the homes of the Jewish killers of East Jerusalem teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir in 2014.

In response to a petition filed by the victim’s parents, the state told the court in September 2016 that homes of three murderers of Mohammed Abu Khdeir need not be demolished, as is common policy with homes of Palestinian terrorists.

The judges determined that house demolitions would be ineffective [as a deterrent – vr] in this case due to the time elapsed since the murder and delay in the family’s petition. They stressed, however, that contrary to the state’s position, the home demolition policy is valid for both Jewish and Arab assailants.

Abu Khdeir was murdered by Yosef Haim Ben-David and two underage  accomplices in an act of revenge for the murder by Hamas terrorists of three Jewish teens, Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, that June.

The Court (and the State, in a brief filed in June, 2016), are clear about the fact that the demolition of the homes of terrorists is not a punishment, but an action intended to deter similar acts of terrorism. The State argued that there were far more attacks by Arabs against Jews:

In the letter from the Defense Ministry’s legal adviser to the Abu Khdeir family’s lawyer Muhannad Jbara [in June 2016], the ministry argued that because cases of Jewish terror are so infrequent in relation to Arab attacks against Jews, there is no need to establish a deterrent for future Jewish attackers by demolishing the Abu Khdeir killers’ homes.

The Military Commander “should consider the deterrent effect against potential attackers that will be created by the demolition,” the letter said. “Given the scale of the phenomenon of seriously hostile crimes in the Jewish community, the need to implement this [deterrent] power does not arise.”

Lawyer Jbara argued back, citing the Dawabshe case, that there was a recent increase in attacks by Jews against Arabs, and that therefore there was a need for deterrence. But the court wasn’t convinced at the time, and neither was the Supreme Court on appeal.

Do you see the elephant? It is the fact that neither the infrequency of atrocious crimes committed by Jews against Arabs (or even attributed to Jews without proof, like the Dawabshe case) or the amount of time between the commission of a crime and the demolition of a terrorist’s house should be the most important consideration here. It is that crimes like the Khdeir case are different in a fundamental way from the murders of Shaar, Yifrach and Fraenkel – and even from “lone-wolf” terrorism in which no terrorist organization is directly involved, such as has been endemic in Israel recently.

By saying that the demolition policy could also be applied to Jewish terrorists in some cases, our own Supreme Court is implying that there is an equivalence between Arab terrorism and certain crimes committed by Jews against Arabs. Even the state’s argument that “the [smaller] scale of the phenomenon” of Jewish terrorism is the reason that it is not necessary to demolish perpetrator’s homes implies that the phenomena are similar in kind, although different in quantity. But this is wrong.

The difference, in a word, is that Arab terrorists are sent to do their evil deeds, either by organizations like Hamas, or by the Palestinian Arab culture itself as embodied by friends and relatives, media, schools, mosques and other institutions, including their PA and Hamas governing authorities.

Palestinian Arab terrorists are presented as heroic representatives of their people, role models and exemplars of piety and goodness. Jewish terrorists, on the other hand, are seen as deviants, rejected by most of their society and severely punished by its authorities. Arab media praises their terrorists while Jewish media condemns ours.

Arab terrorists and the families of “martyrs” are not only praised, they are paid for their work by their leadership. Here is a statement on the official Fatah Facebook page (July 2 2017) attributed to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in response to reports that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked Abbas to stop paying them:

Even if I will have to leave my position, I will not compromise on the salary (rawatib) of a Martyr (Shahid) or a prisoner, as I am the president of the entire Palestinian people, including the prisoners, the Martyrs, the injured, the expelled, and the uprooted. — [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas.

It is necessary to act against the broad social complex that stands behind Arab terrorists in order to deter future terrorism, and actions like home demolitions are only one element of this. But in the case of Jewish attackers, there is no such social complex, and both the larger society and the leadership condemn their crimes in the strongest possible way. Home demolition would therefore not be a useful response to crimes like the Abu Khdeir murder. Unfortunately, the reasons given to reject it in this case actually support the Palestinian contention that the crimes are similar.

Our government and courts do us no favor by promoting the idea that there is an equivalence between evil acts committed by criminally deviant members of the Jewish population, and systematic terrorism which is inspired, incited and paid for by the PA and Hamas – and which is applauded throughout Palestinian Arab society.

The view that there is such an equivalence is a form of moral inversion, like the false symmetry between Israel’s defensive actions and the aggression of terrorist militias and nations that wish to destroy us. Such inversions have been common in history where anti-Jewish elements have blamed the Jews for the pogroms and mass murders that they inflicted on us.

Moral inversion is one of the weapons of cognitive warfare employed by our enemies. Why do our own courts and officials help them use it?

Posted in Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Terrorism | 1 Comment

Why they are so angry

This happened in 2011, at the California Reform Temple that I belonged to. A man – a Temple Board member, approached me with steam coming out of his ears.

“I’m finished with Israel. I won’t give another dime to the Federation,” he said, knowing me to be a strong supporter of Israel.

I asked him why. It seems that he had just read about an incident on a bus in which male Haredi passengers had demanded that a woman move to the back (there were several similar incidents. Here’s another).

“What kind of country is it? Just like the Jim Crow South. I’m finished,” he continued.

I explained that Israel’s Supreme Court had ruled that women could not be required to sit in any particular part of a public bus, and that the great majority of Israelis, religious or not, opposed the idea of sex-segregated buses. Even when there had been segregated buses, they were found only on a few lines that served Haredi populations. He calmed down but he went on for a while about how the country was “a theocracy” run by “ultra-orthodox fanatics.”

The thing I noted about this discussion, which apparently was repeated throughout North America last week after the publication of the news about the government’s freezing of the Kotel compromise and approval of the conversion bill, was that it seemed like the fellow was primed to be angry, and the story about the bus incident set him off. And learning the facts didn’t make him less angry.

Last week’s furor, which hasn’t yet abated, also had a flavor of preexisting anger triggered by events that had little real significance. After all, the mixed-gender prayer area would continue to be available, and work to improve it would continue. The conversion bill, which only would have affected people converted in Israel by rabbinical courts that were not approved by the Haredi Rabbinut, would have no effect on conversions outside of Israel by any stream of Judaism, and anyway still has a long road ahead in the Knesset before it has a chance of becoming a law.

Freezing the Kotel compromise seems to have two practical effects: there will not be a committee that includes representatives of non-Orthodox Judaism to manage the area – the main issue that inflames the Haredim, who see it as a recognition of the legitimacy of Reform Judaism – and there may not (this isn’t clear) be a connection made between the entrance to the new area and the existing Kotel plaza.

But like my friend at the Reform Temple, steam was figuratively coming out of the ears of non-Orthodox Jews in North America, and of some in Israel as well. Rick Jacobs, head of the US-based Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), said that “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to say ‘no’ to his previous ‘yes’ is an unconscionable insult to the majority of world Jewry.” Rabbi Denise Eger of Los Angeles’ Congregation Kol Ami referred to “Benjamin Netanyahu’s crass political move.” In Israel, Daniel Gordis, normally Mr. Moderation, furiously advocated boycotting PM Netanyahu and all other Likud politicians, and even El Al, in order to “make Israelis care.”

It’s not an accident that most of the anger is directed against PM Netanyahu, who is said to have “reneged on his promise,” even more than against the Haredi parties in his coalition who forced him to do it. The URJ is closely aligned with Netanyahu’s left-wing opponents in Israel and with the international establishment that wants above all to get Israel out of the territories.

For years, the official line of the URJ has been that Israel “needs to do more” to bring about “peace,” and that the main impediment is Netanyahu, who secretly opposes “peace.” Many URJ rabbis are members of J Street, and Rick Jacobs himself was an active member of J Street and a board member of the left-wing New Israel Fund before he became URJ President. The URJ and Jacobs didn’t even oppose Obama’s Iran deal, and criticized Netanyahu for coming to the US to warn against it. Both the focus on Netanyahu and the surprising amount of vitriol that seems to have come out of nowhere can be explained in part by this long-term ideological bias.

But there’s a deeper cause for their anger. Sometimes family fights appear to be about one thing but are really about something else entirely. The kind of argument that ends up in divorce court isn’t really about taking out the garbage. And in this case, maybe the Kotel issue isn’t the real problem.

Reform Jews have built their identities more around their (liberal) politics than their Jewish spirituality, although they insist that they are the same. But almost subconsciously, they sense that there is something attenuated about Reform Judaism. They realize that the doctrine that each individual can rationally choose the mitzvot (commandments) that they will observe contradicts the concept of a mitzvah; that the anthropological study of Jewish texts is tedious and doesn’t yield enlightenment; that they don’t have time to learn Hebrew and Aramaic; and that kashrut is a bother and so is keeping Shabbat.

In short, they realize that the despised Haredim are actually right when they say that Reform Judaism is not Judaism, and anything that reminds them of that drives them up the wall with anger.

But Bibi has not given them grounds for divorce. They have not been delegitimized by anything Israel’s government has done. Nothing has changed in the arrangements for mixed prayer at the Kotel, and the conversion bill doesn’t affect them.

Rather than vent their anger against the PM and the state, they might better use their energy in introspection about matters of personal identity.

Posted in American Jews, Israeli Politics | 4 Comments

The next war and how to win it

Israelis are good at Viewing With Alarm. And today’s newspaper is full of things to be alarmed about, all the way from the 130,000 missiles aimed at us and controlled by a regime that announces every day that we will soon be destroyed (and has set up a countdown clock to emphasize that), through the millions of Euros spent each day by supposedly civilized European governments to empower barbarians who want to kill us (and who try every day), including the Iranian buildup close to our border in the Syrian Golan heights, and finishing up with the newly paved road built by PA Arabs to bypass the (still unfinished) security fence for the purpose of smuggling weapons, drugs and terrorists across the Green Line.

We’ve been viewing some of these with alarm for years, but have done little about them. Why do we allow these things – and so many others – to fester until they become crises?

Why did we allow Hezbollah forces to rearm and creep almost up to the border in violation of UNSC resolution 1701?

Why is the security barrier in Judea/Samaria unfinished?

Why don’t we stop the flow of money from the EU to illegal Palestinian building and subversive Israeli NGOs?

Why does Hezbollah now have so many rockets when they had only a few thousand left after the 2006 war?

Why was Hamas allowed to rebuild its attack tunnels after the 2014 war?

These and other similar questions all have similar answers: because it’s hard, expensive or complicated, or because powerful interests here or abroad oppose it.

But these chickens will come home to roost, many of them on the same day, the day that Iran decides that it and its proxies are no longer too busy in Syria and Iraq to fulfill its national commitment to wipe us off the map, and we find ourselves in a multi-front war. And what were small problems that could have been dealt with one by one become components of an existentially dangerous complex. Nevertheless, we can prevail if we take control of the situation instead of simply reacting to events.

If you think that there is a good probability that war with Iran/Lebanon/Syria can be avoided, I would like to hear the scenario. Today – and a great deal of thanks is due to Barak Obama for this – the Iranian project to control the region and its resources is progressing rapidly and with little opposition. Iranian forces and proxies will soon link up at the Iraq-Syria border, creating a corridor for supplying game-changing weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and for threatening Jordan and even Jerusalem. In a very short time, Iran will have a nuclear umbrella under which to shelter its aggression. If nobody is willing to challenge the regime now, will they be more likely to do so then?

Analogies abound. Like Hezbollah, Germany after WWI rearmed itself in violation of international law. Could Hitler have been stopped more easily in 1936, when he remilitarized the Rhineland, than in 1939? Almost certainly. But nobody stopped him, and they didn’t stop him from taking Czechoslovakia in 1938 either.

There often appear to be good reasons for not doing anything about a threat. North Korea developed nuclear weapons over a period of decades, and manipulated the US into paying it to not do what it did anyway. The risk from Pyongyang’s conventional artillery aimed at the South was often cited as the reason for not taking stronger action. But it’s hard to believe that a power like the US could not find a creative way to neutralize that threat. And now the danger is nuclear.

War is a horrible thing for everyone involved, and starting a war of aggression is a crime. But wars of self-defense are a necessary evil, and it is the obligation of every regime to defend its population. There is no more primordial function of a government than that.

When you are certain that you will be attacked, you can wait for the attack and defend yourself, or you can preemptively attack your enemy (Sanhedrin 72a). Both options have advantages: it requires more firepower to attack an entrenched force than for one to defend itself. But a preemptive attack can benefit from the element of surprise, especially if the enemy is unprepared. A preemptive attack takes place at the time and under the conditions preferred by the attacker. And – this is very important for a country with little strategic depth like Israel – a preemptive attack puts the war on the enemy’s territory, not among your own population.

It’s likely that the Jewish state will never be the popular favorite in international circles. The longer a war continues, the easier it is for the international community to force Israel to stop fighting before its objectives are realized. So the best way for Israel to fight is to launch a sudden, massive preemptive attack that will destroy the enemy’s military capability before international opposition can mobilize itself to force an end to the war.

Although a preemptive attack would result in more civilian casualties on the enemy side, waiting to be attacked would shift the burden to our own people. The choice here is clear.

For some years, however, Israel has avoided preemptively attacking its enemies. One reason is that she has been at the mercy of the US for supplies. If Israel is perceived as the aggressor, she could be cut off from receiving resupply of materials it buys and otherwise punished. Thus Henry Kissinger told Moshe Dayan that Israel would “not have received as much as a nail from the United States” if it had launched preemptive attacks in 1973.

The presence of Russian forces in the region which could intervene quickly is another factor that has to be taken into account.

But winning the coming war with Iran and its proxies may depend on preemption, due to the large number of missiles possessed by Hezbollah, Hezbollah’s improved training and quality of weapons, and the number of fronts that might become active. Analysts have pointed to the ability of Hezbollah to make incursions into Israeli territory, something that could be devastating to our small country. So Israeli planners should think about how to manage a preemptive war even without assistance from the US – what should be stockpiled, and how to strike massive enough blows to end the war as quickly as possible.

In the very near future, Israel will face one of the greatest military challenges in her history. It will take determined action to survive. It will especially take planning, the same kind of meticulous planning that gave us one of the most successful preemptive air attacks in history, Operation Focus, which destroyed the Arab air forces on the ground in 1967. But if we don’t do it now, when will we do it?

The chances of curing cancer improve when it is caught early. And if you are going to perform surgery, you need to cut out the main tumor, not just its metastases. As the previous king of Saudi Arabia said, when you are attacked by a snake, you need to cut off its head, not its tail.

Posted in Iran, War | 1 Comment

Behind the struggle for the Kotel

The proposed addition of a mixed-gender prayer area at the Kotel

The proposed addition of a mixed-gender prayer area at the Kotel

The kotel hama’aravi (Western Wall) is not actually the holiest place in Judaism – that is the Temple Mount, the actual site of the First and Second Temples – but for various reasons it has become the holiest place at which it is practical for Jews to pray. It is administered by an organization called The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, chaired by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, “the Rabbi of the Kotel.” It is considered an Orthodox synagogue.

In 1988, the Women of the Wall (WoW) organization was founded in order to obtain the right for women to pray at the Kotel with Torah scrolls and wearing a tallit (prayer shawl). They did not ask for mixed prayer with men, just a relaxation of the rules concerning how they could pray with other women in the women’s section of the Kotel. This would not violate Orthodox halacha (religious law), but is in opposition to the rules established by the Rabbi of the Kotel and the customs of strictly observant Jews (among others, the prohibition against women chanting out loud in the presence of men).

Customs differ over time and place. While it can be shocking to see a custom that one has grown up with violated – consider the (non-religious) customs concerning gender and restrooms – changes can and do happen. Over the last 50 years, many of the customs followed by normative Orthodox Jews have become significantly more strict. Halacha is a different matter, and changes are made rarely and depend on decisions by widely recognized rabbinical authorities.

The women held regular monthly prayer sessions and were faced with opposition from the Kotel management and sometimes verbal or physical assaults by Haredim. The group began a legal struggle to force the Kotel authorities to permit them to pray as they wished, in the existing women’s section. They continued to pray there regularly, and numerous members were arrested for creating disturbances and disobeying police.

Meanwhile the American Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and its junior partners established an organization called the Israel Religious Action Center to promote its goals in Israel. It hired Anat Hoffman, the chairwoman of the Women of the Wall, as its Executive Director. The negotiations and legal processes between the women and the government now include representatives of the Israeli branches of the Reform and Conservative movements, and the objectives of WoW have been correspondingly broadened as a result of its connection with the Reform movement.  What had been a movement to permit women to pray with Torah scrolls in the women’s section of the Kotel became a movement to permit mixed-gender prayers, according to Reform and Conservative practice.

For four years, representatives of the government and the other involved parties engaged in negotiations under Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky to find an acceptable compromise. Finally, in January of 2016, a deal was made. An area that is currently occupied by an archaeological park at the south end of the Kotel next to Robinson’s arch (see photo above) would be permanently allocated to mixed-gender and other non-Orthodox worship, renovated and made accessible by a single entrance leading to both the new area and the original Kotel plaza. A committee consisting of representatives of the government and “non-Orthodox leaders” would manage the area, which would be outside of the jurisdiction of the Rabbi of the Kotel.

Hoffman, who had previously vehemently opposed the idea of a prayer area at Robinson’s Arch (she had called it “the back of the bus”) suddenly supported it. The Board of Directors of the Women of the Wall voted to move their services to this area when work would be completed, to the unhappiness of some of its more conservative members who felt that the original goals of the movement had been “betrayed.” The URJ put its full weight behind the compromise, because it represents an implicit recognition of the legitimacy of non-Orthodox Judaism by the state of Israel.

But the compromise was never implemented for precisely this reason. Although the Haredi parties that are part of the ruling coalition initially agreed (albeit reluctantly) to the compromise, Haredi media exploded with criticism, making sure that the implications of such an agreement with the despised reformim were widely known. The pressure on the Haredi parties was irresistible. They withdrew their support, and even threatened to leave the coalition and precipitate new elections if the compromise went ahead.

On Sunday the cabinet voted with only two opposed (Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz) to “indefinitely freeze” the implementation of the compromise. Construction on the improvements to the Robinson’s Arch area would continue, and it will continue to be available for non-Orthodox worship; but there will be no handing over of authority over any part of the Kotel to a body containing non-Orthodox representatives.

So the demands of a few women for a small change in the rules concerning their Orthodox worship morphed into a challenge by the URJ, the standard-bearer of non-Orthodox Judaism, to the religious establishment and the government of Israel, to accept it as a legitimate partner. And this will never be acceptable to the Haredi parties.

URJ leadership in the US is furious, but it’s reasonable to ask them “what did you expect?” The overwhelming opinion of Jewish Israelis – not just Haredi, or even religious ones – is that Reform Judaism is not Judaism. And they are asking the Haredim to sit down with them as equals! They would as soon drive to the beach on Shabbat to barbecue pork cheeseburgers.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs of the URJ thundered,

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to say ‘no’ to his previous ‘yes’ is an unconscionable insult to the majority of world Jewry. We are assessing all next steps. The Israeli Supreme Court will rule, but even in waiting for the court we will not be still or silent. The stranglehold that the Chief Rabbinate and the ultra-Orthodox parties have on Israel and the enfranchisement of the majority of Jews in Israel and the world must—and will—be ended.

Jacobs’ arrogance and presumption to pontificate about what Israel must do perhaps obscures the false assumption he makes about the “majority of Jews in Israel and the world.” Even the most secular Israelis don’t agree that American Reform Jews should decide what Israel does in the holy places that were regained with the blood of its soldiers. They may passionately hate the Rabbinate, but it is our Rabbinate that they hate.

Netanyahu’s position is clear. On one side there is a tiny minority of voters (no more than 8% of Israeli Jews identify with non-Orthodox Judaism) and only a handful view the WoW as anything more than a curiosity. Most Israelis either don’t care what kind of worship at the Kotel is permitted, or support the Orthodox position. The URJ in the US may threaten to withhold financial and political support, but in recent years most of this has gone to Netanyahu’s political opponents, and even to anti-Zionist groups like J Street and the New Israel Fund – organizations in which Jacobs himself was active before he became URJ President. There is absolutely no percentage in it for Netanyahu to try to face down the Haredi parties in order to make Jacobs happy.

What will happen next? The Supreme Court will weigh in, and probably a new compromise will be worked out. The Haredi parties will not give in to anything that they see as legitimizing Reform Judaism, but mixed-gender prayer will probably continue to take place at the Robinson’s arch location. The original WoW who want to pray in the women’s section with Torah scrolls and tallesim will probably be out of luck. Rick Jacobs will continue to blame Netanyahu for everything, and continue to do his best to undermine Israel’s democratically elected government (because he understands democracy better than we do).

Who has lost out here are the women who had a reasonable demand, one that many Orthodox rabbis agree does not violate halacha. They might have gotten what they wanted if they had not chosen to ally themselves with an 800-pound left-wing gorilla with ulterior motives, the URJ.

Posted in American Jews, Israeli Politics, Israeli Society | 3 Comments

On keeping your suitcases packed

I have always thought that curiosity about oneself is self-indulgent. Nothing bored me more than people that wanted to tell me what they had discovered about themselves in psychotherapy. Just get on with it, was my motto. I don’t care about your childhood, and you shouldn’t either.

The same went for Jews who are always picking at the Holocaust. I didn’t want to hear about it. They tried to kill us, they only partially succeeded, let’s eat. I never visited Yad Vashem; I skipped the trip provided by the absorption center in 1979. I don’t go to Holocaust movies, and the last book I read about it was André Schwarz-Bart’s The Last of the Just, which I read in the early 1960s. Who needs this stuff, I thought? I had contempt for those who were seeking emotional titillation at a safe distance from the horrors of 75 years ago, while ignoring the Arabs and Iranians that want to murder us today.

I thought I was a “new Jew” that had dumped all of that baggage.

But there seems to be something about the aging process that compels reflection. There are things that you did that you wish you had done differently, and things that you wish you hadn’t done at all. And I think I’m beginning to understand why people investigate their genealogy, or take trips to the places their grandparents lived. What was it like to live under the Czar? My grandfather could have told me, but it’s almost 50 years too late to ask him. I didn’t care then, but today I want to know.

I was born in 1942 and I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust. My parents were born in America and were invested in being Americans. They weren’t interested in religion, in speaking the Yiddish they understood from their childhoods, or in joining Jewish or Zionist organizations. None of that had anything for them. They understood that they were Jewish, almost all of their friends were Jewish too, but when they looked for a house in the suburbs in 1950, they chose a non-Jewish neighborhood. They never talked about the Holocaust, at least not that I heard. In 1948 I asked my father about disturbing things I was hearing on the radio. He explained that there was a war going on “between the Jews and the Arabs.” But they were different Jews, far away and not connected to us.

My maternal grandparents, with whom we lived, were another story. They had emigrated (from here) in what is now Ukraine, before the revolution. They had relatives who had stayed behind in Europe, whom they kept in touch with until the war. Toward the end of it, they somehow found out that none of them had survived. I overheard conversations that I only partly understood, but I was aware that something terrible had happened.

My grandmother was one of the toughest and hardest-working women I’ve known, although she had a soft spot in her heart for her (then) only grandchild. She came to America at the age of 17 not knowing how to read or write, but already a dressmaker by profession. My grandparents both worked as sewing machine operators in the Manhattan garment district; someone told me that my grandfather, who was blind in one eye, had a job because they had to hire him to get her. I inherited my cynical, even slightly paranoid, attitude from her.

Their approach to life, far different from my “American” parents, was that of Jews who were always looking over their shoulders. The Holocaust was always present, as well as the pogroms of pre-revolutionary Russia. They were the kind of Jews that, at least figuratively, always had their suitcases packed. At one point when I was in college in the 1960s, I told my grandfather that I was thinking about making aliyah. He smiled and patted me on the back, and said “to help the Jewish people.” I was surprised. I doubt that my parents would have used the expression “the Jewish people” in any context.

I didn’t make aliyah until much later, but there’s no doubt that my connection to the Jewish people goes through my grandparents (but probably not my Judaism: the constitution of the Landsmannschaft to which he belonged contains a note that “the question of affiliation with a synagogue is never to be raised.” Not my conservatism either: he was a regular reader of the Yiddish Daily Forward and once even elected Secretary of his ILGWU local).

The Holocaust, the pogroms of Europe, and the anti-Jewish riots and massacres in the Middle East and North Africa are unfortunately part of the Jewish people’s collective soul. So are the thousands of years of discrimination and ghettoization. There’s no escaping them, even if we pretend to be “new Jews” for whom history started in the 19th century here in Israel with the arrival of the first Zionists.

And that’s not bad. My grandmother could spot a con a mile away. She was suspicious, but in her world, you had to be. She wouldn’t trust Mahmoud Abbas or Tzipi Livni as far as she could throw them. She understood that the world was a dangerous place for Jews, and you had to always watch your back. I completely understand her. I still look over my shoulder. It’s in my DNA. But there are some ways in which things have finally changed.

In Israel today, we face some very serious threats. We need to look over our shoulders, to Tehran, Gaza, Damascus, Beirut and Ramallah. But after several thousand years, our suitcases are finally unpacked.

Posted in Jew Hatred, The Jewish people | 2 Comments