Archive for the ‘Antisemitism’ Category

By the time that we American Jews begin our commemoration of the Shoah, the first round of the 2017 French Presidential election will be over.

That is significant.

At the very moment that we are praying that the horror of the Holocaust will never again befall our people, the moment when we hear from the few remaining survivors of the Nazi death camps, it’s likely that Marine Le Pen – the daughter of an avowed anti-Semite who is the farthest of the French far right – will receive sufficient public support to make it to the final round.

The French racist hyper-Nationalism which puts Ms. Le Pen into this position is not unique.

As we pray that such a horror will never befall our people again, many of us pray that such atrocities will never befall ANYONE again. But, as we do so, our American President is hell bent on beginning to build a wall on our southern border before he reaches his 100th day in office. Our American President sends congratulatory messages to dictators who’s people stupidly grant their leader additional powers. Our American President was elected on the specific promise to turn away refugees just like our country disgracefully did to European refugees who’s return trip sent them right into the National Socialist gas chambers.

But it does not end with Le Pen and Trump.

Throughout Europe there is a rising tide of Antisemitism. Around the world, Antisemitism is weakly disguised as anti-Zionism. America is immersed in Islamophobia. Radical Islam perpetuates the myth that even Muslims have insurmountable divisions that can only be solved through mass murder. The UK would rather leave the European Union than to embrace diversity. And an insane child is leading North Korea toward World War III.

In other words, every year I quote Robert Nozick and every year I come closer to believing his statement that the Holocaust may have demonstrated that our species is indeed unworthy of survival. I can’t bring myself to embrace that, though, and here’s why:

I believe that humans are no more than the latest round of primates. I believe that we are not really all that special. But, I also believe that we have been given, by God or by chance (who knows?), the unique capacity to reason and, as far as we know, a uniquely sophisticated linguistic ability. Together this is a powerful toolkit. With it, we have the ability to change our destiny.

We can use those tools to accelerate our demise as Kim Jong Un is want to do. But we could also delay it by thousands of generations, perhaps even permanently change its course. But to do the latter takes the courage to fight the forces of hatred, misogyny, xenophobia, and fear-mongering through which everything “other” becomes a tool for evil dictatorial “leaders” to take control of our societies. To turn toward good we need only use our reason and our communicative capacity to help enough others to realize that we can, indeed we must, turn away from evil.

And so, as we approach Yom haShoah 2017, my hope is that all of my coreligionists will use our commemoration of the past to rededicate ourselves to the realization that the past can and will repeat itself if we are not each individually a force for change.

My friend Tom Johnston reminded me of something critically important.

In 1938, on the night of November 9th and continuing into the 10th, Sturmtruppen acting on a government order destroyed Jewish shops, Jewish homes, and virtually  every synagogue in Germany and Austria. This was Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass”. It foreshadowed years of increasingly intense efforts to obliterate the Jewish people. On this day, each year, I pray that such a horror forever cease.

In 2016, 76 years to the day later, in the early morning hours of November 9th, Donald Trump because the president-elect of one of the greatest experiments in liberty and individual human value ever to be created, the United States of America. Trump rose to power amid promises to “Make America Great Again” but proposing to do so via strategies of mass deportation and xenophobic religious discrimination.

Perhaps the most significant change in American politics began on the same day as one of Europe’s greatest tragedies. This could be interpreted as a terrifying coincidence but I am optimistic that it is just that, a random coincidence. None the less, since Mr. Trump has been actively promoted by white supremacists, the KKK, and violent Islamophobic xenophobes, I would like to use this “coincidence” to ask you all for one thing. As we move into the uncharted waters with a new captain who has never sailed before, please, please, please, please remember this:

Ours is a nation of immigrants founded explicitly on the principles of liberty and respect for individuals. It took a while to get the kinks out and, yes, the 3/5 clause represents a horrific injustice. But, we Americans are supposed to respect each other’s individual worth regardless of race, religion, gender, gender identity, or any other variable. I hope you will stand with me on this night of broken glass with a continually strengthening devotion to liberty, justice, and the dignity of every single human being. Remember what CAN happen; know that it CAN happen here; and work to make America great for even those of us who aren’t Christian, white, and wealthy. Nip in the bud, any tendency to allow this change to to make worse the lives of others.

Love each other no matter what.

 

 

Every year on Tisha B’Av I write a little essay here. This year I’m not sure what to say. The Ninth day of Av is traditionally the day that we mourn the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Since we Reform Jews don’t want the temple cult to come back we have, in recent years, used the day to mourn all of the tragedy of the Jewish people. Every year I think that the Jewish people and the state of Israel are so far better off then we once were. Every year that dream seems to be unfulfilled, or shattered, or at least kicked in the balls a bit. This year is no exception. But, instead of telling you all the reasons why we have a long, long way to go, I will just sum it up with one example. Today an Israeli Olympic athlete beat an Egyptian athlete in a Judo match in Rio. The Egyptian would not only not shake hands but even refused to bow to the Israeli. When an Israeli can’t even get the courtesy of a bow that is mandatory by international Judo rules, let alone a handshake, at an event founded on good sportsmanship between countries, just because of his nationality, the Jewish people have plenty still to mourn. That’s all I have to say.

Thanks for following these incidents, Mike!

 

According to Amcha nearly 100 more incidents of anti-Semitism occurred on US campuses during the first six months of 2016 compared with the first six months of 2015.

via Study: Spike In Anti-Semitic Incidents at UW – Matches Trend Across Nation — The Mike Report

I will not use this post to debate the veracity or legality of Israeli settlements. I also won’t debate the human rights issues here.

I am not a supporter of the settlement strategy but I admit that I don’t live live there and don’t understand what it is like to do so. When it comes to my unwavering support for Israel and my inalterable support for its legitimacy as a sovereign nation and a Jewish state, I’ll side with Israel versus any enemy.

That said, please don’t comment on this post in the hope of starting a debate. I won’t do that now.
Here is what I feel compelled to say:

There is NEVER a rational, ethical justification for stabbing a sleeping 13 year old child in her bed. Palestinian, Israeli, American, what-the-fuck-ever, no one is justified in doing that. The horrific murder of an Israeli-American child is unjustifiable and immoral. It saddens me deeply.

There is now a debate about just how much Bibi will overreact. Some say that Israel has no legal justification to “punish the family” of the murderer for “a crime they had nothing to do with”.

I disagree.

An 18 year old murderer is likely the product of his family and community. Raise a murderer and you should be held accountable. I’m not saying to punish one person for another’s crime. But, I am saying that Israel would be justified in taking security actions that lessen the likelihood of this happening again.

If that affects the community that bred the murderer, well, that’s not as bad as having someone thrust a knife into you 18 times, or having to look at your child in the aftermath.

Another sad day in the nonexistanr peace process. Another sad day for Israel. Another sad day for Palestinians. Another sad day for humanity.

Every year, as Tisha B’Av arrives, I write about all the Jewish tragedies that supposedly occurred in this very day,

Tisha B’Av used to be a time to mourn the destruction of the first, and then second, temple. But, a big problem arose with Reform Judaism because, in our faith, we have no wish to return to the days of ritual sacrifice. We also don’t necessarily believe that there is an actual dude called “the Messiah” so we don’t have a reason to want the temple back.

We believe that, through our actions, we can improve the world to the extent that one day a Messianic age will arrive through our efforts. We need no savior, like Christians do; no singular prophet; and no special guy from the lineage of David. What we DO need it to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. Each individual is tasked with doing their own little part until one day the sum of those parts is great enough to affect a global culture of holiness, respect, and love.

What we also need is the courage to press on no matter the obstacles. THAT is why I care so much about Tisha B’Av. Irrespective of mourning the Temple, we can use this day to realize that our people have survived countless instances of cruelty and hatred and yet we have remained.

Think about it. In this week’s Torah portion, the first of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses begins the first of his three great “sermons”.  He reminds us, through a perspective that is much more mature in its deutero-retelling than in the original tellings earlier in Torah, of all the things we have been through. He also reminds us of our failures and our lack of courage and persistence. In a rather timely sort of annual occurrence, it is said that one of the things that happened on Tisha B’Av was the failure of the “spies” to come back from reconnoitering the promise land with confidence in our success. Moses not only reminds the people of their lack of faith and their unwillingness to persevere and enter the land but he takes personal responsibility for it by reminding them that G-d is angry with him as well.

What I’m saying here is that, in his well seasoned maturity, Moses takes responsibility even for the things that he himself did not do. The buck stops with Moses. From this we learn that we, as a society, must have the forbearance to take action AND that we, as individuals, must have the integrity to accept responsibility for making those actions work or not work.

So, on this Tisha B’Av I am not suggesting we neglect the temple. Nor am I suggesting that we ignore the crusades, the inquisition, the expulsion from Spain, the expulsion from Portugal, the weak will of 10 out of 12 biblical spies, the mass transport of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto to Auschwitz, or anything else that has tragically befallen the Jews throughout history. Rather, I suggest that, as we mourn the myriad terrors, we use that memory to notice that we yet remain a people.

Remember that much of the reason we persist is that we never give up, never give in, never allow humiliation to trump fortitude, and never act with complacency in the hope that all will be fine with a new temple, a Davidic Messiah, a second-coming of Christ, or anything else.

Don’t wait for the end of days to take responsibility for doing your part to bring about the world you hope to someday have.

B’Shalom.

I don’t know the “Mike” who writes this BLOG. But he is a kindred spirit. This is 2 weeks old but worth a read.

The Mike Report

The following is an open letter to the University of Washington community from UW Student Jamie Schwartz and the UW Chapter of  Students Supporting Israel. 

Dear University of Washington Community,

Click above to sign petition. Click image above to sign petition.

When I applied to college, I chose to apply to universities with communities I would be proud to be a part of. The University of Washington stuck out as an institution of integrity and diversity which is why I have been grateful to be a student at the University of Washington for the past three years. But recently, my Husky pride has been shaken in response to my shock that ten academic departments and organizations are sponsoring a campus event with Steven Salaita.

This summer, the University of Illinois rescinded an offer of employment to Salaita in response to his Tweets about the conflict between Israel and Gaza. While most of these Tweets were…

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