Long ago I made the intentional decision not to focus my Jewish life and mind on antisemitism, neither historical nor current. For me, there are far too many positive dimensions to Jewish life to focus on how other people define and treat us – as significant, historically, as those two things have been. In part, I could “afford” to do that because others in the community were focused on it and, in part, I could “afford” to do that because antisemitic acts were declining and rare.
That is no longer the case. Thanks to the rabble-rousing of Mr. Trump and many right-wing extremists, as well as some from the left, antisemitic acts are out in the open and increasingly frequent – and I mean from one month to the next.
I don’t have much of my own to say about this, other than to say that I am quite troubled by this new reality; that our federal government has not been quick enough to identify some of these people and groups as domestic terrorists and to take, then, the necessary action to prevent further trouble; and that while I do not believe that there is any reason to panic or promote extreme responses – e.g., violence, leaving for Israel – I do believe that we cannot pretend that life in America is “business as usual.”
I would like, then, to direct you to a few sources that I’ve read of late and that have been helpful to me in knowing what’s going on and in thinking about the situation. These articles address a number of different aspects and are written from differing perspectives (i.e., “right” and “left”).
1. “Our Reaction To Anti-Semitism Is Both Overblown and Underdeveloped,” Michael J. Koplow, Policy Director of the Israel Policy Forum. https://israelpolicyforum.org/2020/01/02/our-reaction-to-anti-semitism-is-both-overblown-and-underdeveloped/
2. “Need to Know: How The Government Is Responding To Antisemitism,” Aiden Pink, Forward. https://forward.com/news/national/437700/need-to-know-how-the-government-is-responding-to-anti-semitism/
3. Editorial: “In The Fight Against Campus Antisemitism More Tools Are Welcome,” Judi Rudoren, Forward. https://forward.com/opinion/436552/editorial-in-the-fight-against-campus-anti-semitism-more-tools-are-a-good/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Newsletter%20RSS_Test&utm_maildate=12/16/2019
4. “Why No One Can Talk About The Attacks Against Orthodox Jews,” Batya Ungar-Sargon, Forward. https://forward.com/opinion/437373/why-no-one-can-talk-about-the-attacks-against-orthodox-jews/
5. “It’s Time to Stop Lecturing And Start Listening To Young Jews,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism. https://forward.com/opinion/436900/the-next-generation-of-jewish-leaders-will-not-be-just-like-us-and-thats/
6. “No, We Aren’t Seeing The Return of Nazi Germany,” Prof. Deborah E. Lipstadt, Emory U., one of the foremost scholars of the Holocaust and Antisemitism. https://forward.com/opinion/437485/no-we-arent-seeing-the-return-of-nazi-germany/
I hope that you find these resources helpful and that you’ll share your own thoughts with me.