By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried
We are beside ourselves with the reactions of many whom we considered our friends to the carnage in Israel. We expected them to react with horror and compassion over the unspeakable barbarism shown to innocent men, women and children. Instead they have only been criticizing Israel and showing their support for the barbarians who perpetrated these crimes. It’s been heart-wrenching and we don’t know who our friends are any more! We hear this from many other Jews around the country and we’re all beyond shocked over the statements of certain people in government, what’s happening in universities and the frenzied marches all over the world in support of barbarian criminals instead of supporting innocent victims of unspeakable atrocities. What has happened to the civilized world?!
Joe and Laura
Dear Joe and Laura,
Sadly and unfortunately, there’s nothing new about what’s happening; it was merely suppressed for a short period of time, giving the illusion that antisemitism no longer exists in this country. I recommend you read the introduction to “The Case for Israel” by Alan Dershowitz. Although it was published 20 years ago, it could have been written today, just changing a few names. (I strongly recommend all should read the entire book to have the clear facts of Israel’s history and existence when a debate presents itself.)
In discussing the double standard shown to Israel during the murderous intifada, the public opinion, marches, moral equivalencies between murderers and defenders, a lot of what we see now, Dershowitz correctly states the following: “In seeking to answer these disturbing questions, it became clear to me that darker forces were at play. The dramatic and almost total shift in public perceptions over so brief a period of time could not be explained by reference exclusively to principles of logic, morality, justice — even politics. The answers lay, at least in part, in the fact that Israel is the Jewish state and the ‘Jew’ among the nations of the world.”
What is happening has nothing to do with the world’s caring about the Palestinians and everything to do with the age-old hatred of the Jews that has reared its ugly head.
Just today I received a video of a Gentile Australian diplomat who was railing against the double standard being leveled against Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians were murdered by the Syrian regime and nobody marched in Sydney or London. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan and recently in Yemen by the Houthis; no outcry in the UN, no marches in Turkey or any other Muslim state over any of the above and more. He exclaimed that the Muslims don’t have any deep love for each other and certainly not for the Palestinians. If they loved them, they would have long ago been integrated into Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The outcry is only because it’s the Jews who are defending themselves against them. That brings out an ancient hatred.
He went on to say this hatred is infectious and was readily and swiftly adopted by universities and so many others; it’s the age-old hatred of the Jews that has come out of the closet by so many.
We know that there is a silent majority that does support Israel and are not antisemitic. It’s important that we work with those who are our friends and enlist their support, urging them to be more vocal as some already are. Israel would not be able to be fighting the fight they are without the support of many in our government, in the laity of this country and throughout the world who are still on the side of moral correctness and sanity.
Our Sages teach us that during times like this permeated with darkness we need to react by adding light. We need to increase our Jewishness with Torah study, mitzvah observance and acts of tzedakah and kindness, both monetary and giving others emotional support. Many are suffering, such as many Jewish high school students who are being marginalized in school and receiving Nazi curses of the worst magnitude. They need to be supported through this time.
With G-d’s help, if we will be our full selves Jewishly, G-d will find favor with us and allow this time to pass in peace, in Israel and for us all.
Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried is dean of DATA–Dallas Area Torah Association.