Author and lecturer Yossi Klein Halevi was on a campus tour for his latest book, “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.” A student at DePaul University in Chicago asked him why “humanizing” Zionists was acceptable” and compared that to asking black Americans to “humanize members of the KKK.” Here’s part of his amazing response.
I will make this as clear as possible. Antisemitism always existed and antisemitism will always exist. Regardless if someone wants to blame President Trump, past President Obama or whomever, for the growth of antisemitism, they are missing the big picture. There are those on the left who hate us because Jews are “Zionists” and “capitalists.” There are those on the right who hate us because we are “Jews” and “socialists.” And there are Islamists who hate us because we are “Jews.” Just as the Quran teaches them to treat us as second class citizens and kill us even when we hide behind a rock!
Do you see a pattern here? People from all sides hate us! Antisemitism exists, period. And it is not going away anytime soon. Period. Stop ignoring the elephant in the room. Antisemites never need a reason to hate us. They just make up a reason to hate us, and fit it into their ideology.
We’re in the Same Boat
Instead of screaming at each other, and blaming each other’s camp for the growth of antisemitism, wake up and realize that we are all in the same boat!
When the chips fall down, the antisemites on the left won’t hate you less because you are a Democrat. The antisemites on the right won’t hate you less because you support Trump. And the Islamists will never care whether you support Israel or not. They fight us because we are Jews! Get with the program people and don’t blame one another!
Antisemitism has always been a part of the world and it will always exist. Why? Because. That’s why. It just does, regardless of what the Jew does or doesn’t do. We are always singled out for hatred. We are always the scapegoat. Just check the history books! And every society that goes down the antisemitism direction always ends up self-destructing.
What about America?
Don’t think that because things have been so good in America that antisemitism won’t get really bad for us there either. Things were great in Spain, with religious Jews acting as advisors to the Kings and Queens. But then we were expelled. Things were great in Germany and then came the Holocaust. No, I’m not saying that another Holocaust will happen in the USA, but life for Jews in America will get more and more uncomfortable and dangerous. Don’t delude yourselves into thinking otherwise. Just as Jews in England were safe a decade ago, look at what is happening there today. One of the major political parties actually supports an antisemitic leader, and enables antisemitism to grow!
Education about the Holocaust is Not Enough
We were fortunate enough to live in a time period that I call the “post-Holocaust bubble.” Antisemitism became taboo because Western society scared itself when they saw how horrible the most cultured and educated people of Germany turned into cold-blooded murderers. But that bubble has now burst. Now it is ok to be public with one’s antisemitism again, whether from the left, right or from Islam.
And no, educating about antisemitism won’t stop its growth. Antisemitism is now acceptable again, and this is the new reality that Jews have to learn to live with.
So stop blaming one another, and instead work on strengthening your Jewish identity, for yourself and for your family, so that you can be better prepared to deal with what is coming. And obviously, start learning how to defend yourself!
I’m just blessed to live in our ancestral homeland, Israel. Why more Jews in exile haven’t realized how blessed they are to live in a generation that we can live the dream of our ancestors and live in our own homeland, baffles me. No, ideally, one should not choose to move to Israel just to escape antisemitism abroad. Jews should want to move here in order to enjoy living in a society where it is normal to live a Jewish life, with Jewish customs, according to a Jewish national calendar that is OUR life-cycle calendar, and of course with our own army to protect ourselves.
I just don’t understand those Jews who still don’t get it. There is only one reason to live in Israel – because you want to live in Israel! Not to escape, not for the high-tech, not for any other reason, except to want to be home, with all the challenges that it entails, and there are many!
Bottom line, Jews – wake up. Antisemitism is not an abnormality, and it is not “back”, it just was on the backburner for a while. Antisemitism was always part of Jewish life. We just got spoiled living in a time period that it hid for a while. So, get with the program, internalize this new reality, stop the divisiveness, unify and be proud Jews and proud of our Jewish State of Israel!