|The first candle to light tonight — in my home. Israeli menorah with doves of peace!
"Two months into a war with Hamas, the faces of Israelis taken hostage to Gaza still appear on individual posters plastered across Jerusalem bus stops and flashed across buildings. The sombre mood was all-consuming on Thursday at the start of Hanukkah, the first Jewish festival since 7 October … It was a solemn moment for all of Israel and not only for families of the 138 Israelis still held hostage."
|At a rally in Tel Aviv last month
“Barely eight weeks have passed, but this needs saying: Hamas committed crimes against humanity in Israel on Oct. 7. That much should be obvious from the terrorists’ own mass-murder video recordings, but it is indisputable for anyone who has visited, as I have, the ravaged sites of their attack. … As a Muslim woman, a physician and a journalist, I have devoted much of my work to battling radical Islam. …Islamism is a monster I know too well. And I know its hatred of Israel, hatred of Jews is especially poisonous.”
Antisemitism At Home
As this holiday begins, we should be celebrating the end of a war in Israel when Jewish life was threatened — of course I mean the victory of the Maccabees over 2000 years ago. But celebrating this ancient victory is hard when forces around the world and direct violence in Israel once again are threatening to destroy Israel!
Here at home in the US, we Jews are facing the most extreme antisemitism of our entire lives. The Anti-Defamation League reported on the incidence of antisemitism in October after the Hamas orgy of murder, rape, and kidnapping in Israel: “Preliminary data from ADL Center on Extremism indicates that reported incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault increased by 388 percent over the same period last year.” (source)
Over three-quarters of Jewish college students have recently encountered antisemitic verbal or physical attacks since the war began. (source) At congressional hearings this week, several prestigious college presidents embarrassingly refused to take a stand on whether a call for the genocide of Jews was against their free-speech policies. This is a complicated issue, but the safety of Jews on campuses is clearly not being taken seriously by the administrators.
In an article titled "There Is No Right to Bully and Harass," writer David Frum in the Atlantic describes this horror show:
"Rhetoric drawn from the Jefferson-Mill tradition is now being used to defend behavior that is meant to intimidate or harm. Important elements of our society have shifted from their former claim that speech can be violence to a bold assertion that violence should count as speech. ... Rifle through the news accounts of the past few years and you find dozens, if not hundreds, of similar cases of vandalism, bodily interference, even outright assault as forms of anti-Israel expression. Only this week, the Biden White House and the governor of Pennsylvania issued statements condemning the mob action against a falafel restaurant in Philadelphia owned by an award-winning Israeli-born chef and entrepreneur. But such menacing behavior has become the preferred style of anti-Israel expression in the United States and Canada."
This new American antisemitism pretends to be something else — it hides itself in a variety of ways. Another article in the Atlantic explains how this is working: "How to Be Anti-Semitic and Get Away With It: Too many communities have developed ways to excuse or otherwise ignore prejudice," by Yair Rosenberg. He writes:
“Out of 8 billion people on the planet, there are only 16 million Jews—but far, far more anti-Semites. … I have become a reluctant expert in all the ways that anti-Jewish activists obfuscate their hate. … too many communities have developed ways to excuse or otherwise ignore anti-Semitism. Today, such prejudice is growing in high and low places because powerful people around the world are running the same playbook to launder their hate into the public sphere.”
From the White House last month:
Earlier this week, the US House of Representatives approved a resolution opposing antisemitism. However, the wording of this measure is controversial; several thoughtful representatives preferred a more effective measure.
“Nadler, Goldman and Raskin on Monday introduced an alternative resolution that condemns antisemitism and calls on executive branch agencies and Congress to implement the Biden administration’s national strategy to counter antisemitism.” (source)
The issue of intensified antisemitic behavior and speech may seem complicated, but the problem is pretty obvious: classic antisemitism is back, along with some new forms as well. Throughout the US, Jews are now subject to verbal and physical attacks on their organizations, their businesses, and their very existence, and old racial slurs that had become socially unacceptable are now becoming normalized.
It’s not a pleasant time to celebrate the holiday, but we will try.
Blog post by mae sander. © 2023