“Ask the Rabbi” column, reprinted with permission of Texas Jewish Post.
By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, DATA Rosh Kollel
Dear Rabbi Fried,
The attacks on Jews in LA, NY and elsewhere have made us very uneasy and wanted to see what you make of them and this time?
Samantha & David
Dear Samantha and David,
The Torah tells us, “Remember the days of the past, understand the years of each generation; ask your father and he will relate it to you, your elders and they will tell you”, (Deut. 32:7). This verse is the preface to the portion of the “song of Haazinu”, which our sages taught was the prophecy of all Jewish and world history, all that would transpire from the time of Moses until the final redemption.
This introductory verse is telling us that we must, to attempt to fathom current events, to look at them not in a vacuum, rather with the backdrop of our past. The elders, who have an appreciation for the past, can better understand the present and what today’s events mean for the future.
I am very much not an alarmist, but I feel I must say something which is very uncomfortable to say and will probably also be very unpopular.
Given our not-so-distant past, so recent that there are still individuals among us who lived through it and remember it vividly, it is incumbent upon us to take real notice at what is happening and not brush it under the carpet or simply assume it will just go away. As a people, we would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb to not hear and heed the screams and death threats of those who truly, sincerely hate us, yes US, not just Israelis, and take them seriously at their word.
As the son of a survivor of Hitler’s death camps, who’s older sister and many family members perished in Auschwitz, I think we need to take this seriously. Today we are hearing the unthinkable, that Jews in NY and LA are beginning to say they fear walking the streets wearing a yarmulka.
The reason I say we cannot assume this is just going to go away, is because it is not happening in a vacuum by a few crazies. These pro-Palestinian marches, which have often devolved into violence against Jews, are made up of many regular Americans, and even American Jews, who have grown up on today’s campuses where Israel is a four-letter word, and the Palestinian narrative is the gospel. Any talk by a pro-Israel speaker is usually met, on most campuses, by violence with no consequences for its perpetrators.
The lies and propaganda of Hamas and the Palestinians, which until recently was only repeated by fringe groups, now has the prestigious stamp of approval by many of our mainstream elected officials and lawmakers. Anyone of repute, in the past, realized that Hamas, not Israel, is the terrorist, murderous group which uses women and children as human shields for their nefarious operations. Their sinister use of schools, mosques and hospitals and private homes as weapons depots and launching sites was condemned by all. Everyone of not understood that collateral civilian deaths, sad as they are and after ample warning by the most ethical army on the globe, are inevitable when children are used to protect missiles instead of missiles used to protect children. Those blaming Israel for the more than 4000 missiles shot at Israel, because of a land dispute over a few families or over breaking up a riot on the temple mount, have fallen for the sinister and false Hamas narrative hook, line, and sinker.
But when lawmakers as prestigious as Bernie Sanders attempt to block arms sales to Israel, calling them “murderers of babies”, utilizing the staunch anti-Semitic Hamas trope, throwing his own people under the bus, he, the “squad” and others like them, are announcing an open season against Israel and all Jews. The anti-Semites do not distinguish between Jews in Zion or Los Angeles. All this is further fueled by a completely biased media, led by the NYT, CNN and BBC, which focuses only on the “Palestinian victims” and adopts their narrative completely, purposely and completely ignoring the truth and the suffering of innocent Israelis.
Anyone who thinks their statements are not stoking the fires of hatred and anti-Semitism are not looking to our past, not “asking their father who will relate it to you, your elders and they will tell it to you”.
We need to keep both eyes open widely, heed what we are witnessing and hearing, and, as painful as it is to contemplate this, time will tell if our time in this country is limited.