Well, the demonstration was not all that it was hyped to be, a few cars and trucks honking and yelling Jewish slurs and they passed by without incident - except the next morning we found a couple of bullet holes, one in the stone front and another in one of our beautiful front doors. So being prepared back then meant "have your cell phone with you and ready- just in case!" Yesterday, I was asked the same question by a different Rabbi in a different city, "Are you armed?" This time, the question was not about whether I was carrying my cell phone (which I always leave in my car), but whether I was carrying a concealed firearm. Now most of you would say that after the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and the mass murder of Muslims at prayer in ChristChurch, New Zealand, we would naturally be on high alert - except that "alert" has been posted for years now, and even more so since Donald Trump has become president. Before you get into the "But being Anti-Israel isn't Anti-Semitic!" you might want to look deeper into the beliefs and commentary of these people claiming there is a difference. There seems to be a very, very fine line between their Anti-Israel rhetoric and their beliefs about Jews themselves.
How often does the Anti-Israeli group make outrageous claims that simply are not true? Genocide of Palestinians? Shooting innocent Palestinians from roving police and military vehicles? Random shooting of Palestinian children "for sport?" What? Every time I ask someone spewing this nonsense where they get their information, they simply come back that "you are uninformed and biased because you are a Jew!" Except I have been to Israel more than once. I've been to the West Bank. I have witnessed with my own eyes the freedoms Palestinians have in Israel. When one talks of Israeli Apartheid, explain why as an American Jew, I am unable to travel to Ramallah or other Palestinian Authority areas? Because Jews are not allowed to travel there. Why did I have to travel by armored bus to visit Jewish sites in the West Bank? Could it be that Palestinian snipers have shot and killed folks trying to tour places with ties to their religious heritage? How outraged would Americans be if they had to travel by armored bus with military protection just to make a pilgrimage to Bethlehem? Yes, Israeli policy when it comes to Palestinians can be heavy handed and should be criticized and hopefully ended! Demanding it does so is reasonable. It's okay to criticize Israel. It's not to okay vilify American Jews who both criticize and support her! Criticizing Israel is a valid exercise, but when some of the criticism is based upon nothing more than a dislike of Israel, ie. Jews, it should be called out. Claiming the Jewish State is a Pariah in the World because of their treatment of Palestinians is perplexing. Being blind to the human rights violations towards the Palestinians by Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the entire Arab World does not give one a free pass to repeatedly single out only Israel for policies that might from our eyes be viewed as unnecessary - but what if our views are skewed without recognizing we don't live in the Middle East where citizens of Israel have been slaughtered in bus bombs, concerts, birthday celebrations, at schools, or in their cribs! (See: mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/terrorism/palestinian/pages/victims%20of%20palestinian%20violence%20and%20terrorism%20sinc.aspx). Then why do they? More often than not it's because it's easy to target Jews as having "dual loyalties!' Will this crazy circular nonsense ever end?
With the rise of hate facilitated on social media and the Internet, we are experiencing a time of extreme danger, one that unfortunately, may be the potential beginning of the end of domestic peace as we know it. Why so? Because we have a sitting president claiming if things get "rough", he has his military, police and biker support to take care of any opposition to him. (See: www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/03/14/trump-you-wouldnt-like-my-supporters-military-if-they-got-angry/?utm_term=.fc1c4072c21c). And that was music to the ears of the "tough" guys on the Far Right (ie., Charlottesville) - their president is with them! We know elements on the Far-Right of the political spectrum are at home with those "very fine people" (including White Supremacists). As long as the GOP fails to acknowledge that they must separate and distinguish any connection with these groups, they will be shunned by those attacked. Unfortunately, the Far-Right is not the only group that we should be worried about. It seems, the Far Left is somehow competing with them to see who can be more Anti-Semitic in their rhetoric and objectives. So how will the Democratic Party deal with these elements within their coalition?
Freshman Congressperson Illan Oman stepped on a political "third rail" when she repeated a tired old canard of Jews having some kind of "Dual Loyalties" when it comes to support for Israel. When called out for her Anti-Semitic statement, the Far-Left went into massive hyperventilation of "AIPAC controls Congress" - ie., Jews own and control America and the world!" She did apologize and claimed ignorance that such a sentiment is a centuries-old slur against Jews. I know what's real and what isn't, so why get upset? I am upset because the fallout from the Far-Left has left me stunned. Jews are being portrayed by those on the political fringes as being loyal to two bosses, America and "Vast Jewish Conspiracy to Rule the World!" You might recall this same rhetoric was spewed about JFK being "loyal to the Pope" before being loyal to the Constitution! What type of outrage would be heard from the American public if Oman had accused Catholic Americans for having "dual allegiances" or loyalties with the Pope? (See: www.wbur.org/news/2017/05/25/kennedy-catholicism-presidential-campaign). We know the outrage when Muslims are publicly accused of supporting Jihad against the West.
Oman claims it was an ignorant statement and has apologized. Although her staff could not have been that ignorant. I accept that she made a mistake and am willing to move forward - except the Far-Left on social media simply isn't letting it go. Could it be that Oman anticipated the Far-Left would quickly come to her defense, knowing her apology was just for show? Can it be too late to put the "paste back into the tube?" Why do I ask? Because for the first time in ages, the Far-Left and the Far-Right have come into agreement - they openly claim Israel and Jews are bad for America! And this rhetoric (and any that stereotype any racial or religious group) are to be confronted in the public square. Social media is lost - it's over-run by folks hell-bent on agreeing with anyone that will accept them into their circle of "friends." We thought the lonely male that can't find a mate ("incel") was a Far-Right problem, but it seems to exist on the opposite side of the political spectrum as well. Oh, and please stop right here if you think I can't discern the differences between valid criticism of Israeli and Anti-Semitism.
Come on Rubin, you are being overly sensitive! But I am not. Take a look at outlets dealing with Oman and the fallout from her remarks. Look how Chelsea Clinton was verbally attacked for standing up to to Oman's ignorant rhetoric. Look how many on the Far-Left lay claim that the American Israel Political Action Committee ("AIPAC") "owns Congress and our political system all to benefit Jews!" Or my favorite, "Being Anti-Israel is not being Anti-Semitic." Once you engage in a discussion with these people, Anti-Semitic sentiment rises quickly to the forefront. The one that I can't understand is the notion the Far-Left seems to believe they have some moral high ground and authority to chastise the Far-Right for being "Racists" - all while they ignore their own deep-seeded Anti-Semitism. Case in point. Circulating amongst the Far Left is the notion that "AIPAC spends $100 Million annually to own our Congress!" and that alone proves their point. Except that is a lie. For claiming to be "smarter than everyone else", these folks sure seem stupid when they fail to check their own facts.
According to The Center For Responsible Politics, aka, Open Secrets, AIPAC in 2018 spent $3.5 Million lobbying Congress. You read that right, $3.5 Million. Yet, AARP, the lobbying group for "older" Americans spent $8.29 Million lobbying Congress last year. What? Open Secrets reveals the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers collectively spent a total of $8.220 Million on lobbying Congress. See where this heading? The obscene singling out of a JEWISH group that lobbies for financial and legislative support of Israel, somehow is destroying America all because the Jews want to control Congress? Where's the claim "old folks are bad for America?" (Lobbying does have too much influence over our politicians, but singling AIPAC out is, you guessed it, Anti-Semitic!). (See: www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?showYear=2018&indexType=s).
Like most hate, there is no reasonable foundation in any facts. But this doesn't stop the Far-Left any more that it does the Far-Right. When they get together to identify and single out Israel (and Jews) for having 'Bought undue influence" with "Benjamins", we have a problem and I fear it may get worse before it gets better! Oh, and the group those two NYU students belong to that confronted Chelsea Clinton? Students for Justice in Palestine, states its main goal is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. "From the River to the Sea" is no veiled threat - it is their only mission - to wipe the only Jewish State in the World off the map in favor of the Palestinian "victims of genocide!" (That too, has never happened- unless you look at Syria, but you know, if Jews aren't involved, why bother?).
So far, I am "arming" myself with facts and a keyboard. But as a supporter of the Second Amendment, and as a Jew, I just may have to wake up to today's reality that my place of worship is now under daily threats of attack. Perhaps I will purchase a firearm specifically designed for concealed carry? Until then, real Americans should be calling out the Far-Left and the Far Right for engaging in rhetoric that is simply UnAmerican. As President John F. Kennedy once wrote; "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic." Have a great week!