The time for politically correct obfuscation is past. There is no room for pretending we don’t see:
The issues are simply too important for it to be any other way.
I turn back here to the attack last week at the kosher market in Jersey City, which is now being referred to as an incident of “domestic terrorism.”
The victim I could not yet identify when last I wrote was Miguel Jason Rodriguez, an émigré from Ecuador, an employee at the store, and a husband and father.
Mindy Ferencz and her husband, Moishe Ferencz, co-owned the store.
Moshe was in the synagogue, mere feet away from the store, when the attack took place. Once the lengthy shoot-out between police and the terrorists began, the synagogue went into lock-down and no one could get out. Those inside prayed for those on the outside; while Moishe was praying, his wife had already been shot dead.
Not only was a synagogue next to the store, in an upper floor of the building there was a school, where 57 children were studying. Also under lock-down during the shooting, they trembled in fear.
What has become clear, and what some officials are beginning to acknowledge, is that the two terrorists were after a great deal more than shooting a handful of Jews in a store. They exited their van, parked in front of the store, each carrying a rifle. But in all, they had with them in the van five guns: an AR-15-style rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, two 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistols and a Ruger Mark IV with a homemade silencer, pus an operable pipe bomb. The U-Haul van itself had been retrofitted with makeshift ballistic panels meant to deflect bullets and was lined with material from bulletproof vests.
The blood runs cold when one considers the massacre that was averted by the speedy action of the SWAT teams and police that rushed to the scene.
Armin Rosen, writing about this attack for Tablet Magazine, called it “the latest incident in a slow-motion pogrom.”
He cites Rabbi David Niederman, the president of United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg [Brooklyn], who had come to the scene of the attack because it was waged against Hasidic Jews who had moved from Williamsburg to Jersey City in search of less expensive housing (emphasis added):
“In his [Niederman’s] experience, the attack was not a single, shocking incident of violence but rather the latest episode in a year-and-a-half-long period in which a Haredi Jew was hit, beaten, or threatened on the streets of New York on what felt like a monthly and then a weekly basis. That the steady drumbeat of attacks on Jews had finally turned deadly left him with a feeling of inevitability, exhaustion, and waste. ‘It’s incremental,’ Niederman said of the worsening attacks. ‘The target moves.’”
And who has been paying attention???
“Niederman had a message for the non-Haredi Jews who form the vast majority of New York’s incredibly diverse Jewish community. ‘Don’t think that because you don’t have a kippa and you don’t dress like the Hasidim that you are safe.’”
More chilling still is what Daniel Greenfield has written about the incident and the politically correct cover-up of the nature of the group – the Black Hebrew Israelites – with which the terrorists, David Anderson and Francine Graham, have been identified.
Greenfield says we see the whitewash of this Black racist hate group in the media:
The NY Times called them “sidewalk ministers” who practice “tough love.” The Washington Post described them as non-violent.
We see left leaning and politically correct individuals, including politicians, covering for them as well:
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), for example, stated that she does not believe that black extremist groups exist.
What this does, says Greenfield, is make it more difficult for law enforcement agencies ‒ the police and the FBI ‒ to take appropriate action against this group, which indeed, is hate-filled, racist, and black supremist.
It is politically correct to take on white supremist hate, but the reverse does not apply. Various videos of the group, many of them found in the possession of Anderson, make their nature clear:
In one, “a Black Israelite preacher shouts, ‘Satan is in you’ at a Jewish man. ‘You stole our history. You are pretending to be us. The messiah, who is a black man, is going to kill you.’”
In another, “a Black Israelite preacher calls a Jewish teen a member of the ‘Synagogue of Satan.’ ‘We want our book back and we want our land back.’”
Greenfield further tells us that “Tom Metzger, a KKK leader and the founder of the White Aryan Resistance, had described them as “the black counterparts of us.”
“The media is already embracing the familiar narrative about lone wolves and individual instability…
“Hate groups, whether it’s the KKK or the Black Israelites, or campus hate groups…should be exposed with clear and honest facts about who they are and what they believe.
“When political activists and media whitewashes cover up the truth for partisan reasons, people can die…
“Truly standing up against racism and anti-Semitism means jettisoning partisan agendas for the truth.”
Caroline Glick, speaking about attacks against the ultra-Orthodox in Brooklyn over the last two years in her most recent piece, points out that:
“Most of them have been perpetrated by black anti-Semites. None have been carried out by white supremacist anti-Semites.
“This is an important distinction because progressive politicians like New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and Senator Bernie Sanders routinely present the anti-Semitic violence in Brooklyn as the product of white supremacists.”
From this topic, I segue to the issue of President Trump’s executive order, signed last week, intended to address anti-Semitism on American campuses, which is horrific.
The order calls on government departments enforcing Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act – which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance – to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
Implicit in the IHRA definition is the concept of Jews as a people, which squares with discrimination on the basis of “national origin.” (“Accusing the Jews as a people…”)
This is an excellent move, and yet American Jews on the left have responded with enormous hostility. Quite simply, they do not want to be seen as separate in any way. They do not want to be part of a people, other than the American people – although in fact, one can be part of the Jewish people and a loyal American at the same time. They want to assimilate into the whole of America, without any markers or distinguishing features.
The simple truth – that word again! – is that there IS a Jewish people. Am Yisrael. We are not simply adherents of a Jewish religion, much as Jews on the left would prefer to have it that way.
Being Jewish incorporates aspects of culture, values, shared history, and sense of peoplehood. Journalist Shmuel Rosner points out that according to the Biblical narrative the Israelite nation arose and emerged from Egypt as a people before it received religious instruction (via the Torah).
Were we not a people, we would not have yearned for and returned to Israel: we would have disappeared a long time ago. We would not have learned from Talmud (Shevuot 39a), “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh lazeh”: All of Israel is responsible one for the other. We would not have worked to save the Soviet Jews or to bring out the Jews from Ethiopia.
I say forthrightly on the record that the attitude of some of these left wing Jews saddens me deeply. It is a loss to us – a truncating of our people, but also, and most significantly, a loss to them and their children. The concept of peoplehood has been replaced by universalism.
But some of what is being said also shocks me enormously:
Fred Gutenberg, cited in the JPost, said on Twitter that the executive order “scares the daylights out of me!!!” and asked, “Does this mean I will need to have a yellow star on my license?”
While journalist Jonathan Katz charged that those supporting the executive order were “defending actual Nazism.”
Clearly, those who think this way cannot be expected to support Israel, in any terms. The Jewish state has nothing to do with them, as they are American Jews. Period.
I comfort myself that in every generation we are a remnant people. So it is, even as I hope some will come back.
What the executive order does is make it impossible to viciously attack Israel with impunity (“Israel is an apartheid state,” “Israel is committing genocide on the Arabs,” etc.) on campuses while claiming that this is not anti-Semitism. It is understood now that anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism.
But let me be clear here: legitimate political discussion about Israel, with varying views about Israel (support for the “two state solution,” etc.) will still be permitted, no matter that far left groups such as JStreet are claiming otherwise.
Hurray to the Brits for rejecting the anti-Semitism of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in their election last week. A glimmer of hope.
And Bravo! to UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis for having taken an unprecedented stand in speaking out firmly about anti-Semitism in the Labour party before the election:
“How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office?”
“…Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse and even perpetrate the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not…
“…What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? When December 12th arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience.”
Now he cautions that there are still many challenges to be faced: “concerns about the resurgence of anti-Semitism very much remain.”
(Do I quibble, after praising him, if I confess an unease about his allusion to Islamophobia in the same breath, as part of the larger problem of racism?)
American Jewish singer Ari Goldwag has a musical video – Am Ehad, Lev Ehad: one people, one heart – which I think is rather neat. The Hasidim you see in the video are Breslov, but it includes secular Jews and others as well.
A good way to end this posting!
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.