Holocaust

The Oldest Bigotry


Anti-Semitism is the world’s oldest bigotry. Go ahead – see if you can come up with an example that’s older than thousands of years. It rises and falls in frequency and in severity, but it always shows up.

Here’s a dramatically condensed version of history to put this in context, a story which you might recall from Sunday School and your history text books.

Jews started in Ur – that’s part of what is now southern Iraq and it’s where Abraham came from. He settled in what eventually became Israel. Then the Babylonians came, destroyed the first temple and dragged the people away into slavery. Then the people returned, only to be banished by the Romans, who sacked the second temple.

That’s when Jews became the diaspora, wanderers looking for a safe place to live. But eventually every place Jews settled became dangerous or deadly. There was an Inquisition, pogroms (those brought my ancestors to the U.S.) and a Holocaust, so each time we wandered yet again looking for a safe place to live.

Jews have always been accused of being evil, of being dishonest. The most heinous of those accusations was the nineteen hundred years of the Catholic Church declaring unequivocally that Jews killed Jesus. I was called a Christ killer many times while growing up, although I know for a fact that I wasn’t around 2000 years ago, so I really couldn’t have had a hand in anything that took place back then. Near the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1964 I was absolved by the Vatican of personal responsibility for the crucifixion. It was a shame that a lot of the bad guys in high school didn’t get the message.

Overall, though, life in the United States for Jews has been pretty good and has seemed pretty safe, if at times limited and sometimes threatening. But violence against Jews has taken a terrible turn for the worse in recent years. The frequency of anti-Semitic acts is increasing, as is the severity of its violence.

The Anti-Defamation League reports that, “In 2020 and 2021, there were 7,528 incidents of extremism or anti-Semitism in the United States.” That’s over 14 per day and the rate is increasing. Take a look at the ADL tracker – filter for your state and look at just the recent incidents near you.

“Incidents” is a strange word to use for anti-Semitic violence. If you were the rabbi just walking down the sidewalk and you got pushed to the ground and kicked repeatedly by a couple of toughs,* you might use a different word.

You’d surely use a different word if you had been at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that awful October morning in 2018 or at the Chabad in Poway, CA in April 2019 or in that kosher deli in Brooklyn in December 2019. You would have had a different word, all right, if you had somehow survived the shootings.

Here’s the point: Hate is on the rise in America. I usually write about the anti-democracy hate and racial cruelty of far right extremists, but it’s concurrent with the dramatic rise in anti-Semitic hatred in our country. And there is a difference.

If attacks like the ones listed above had been against Blacks there would have been BLM marches across the country and perhaps around the world, as there were following the murder of George Floyd, and rightly so. But these attacks were against Jews. There were and are no marches for Jews. Nobody comes to the rescue. It has always been this way. That’s just how it is in the world’s oldest bigotry. Refer to the videos below.

The hate of angry Palestinians is rising in London following the May hostilities between Gaza and Israel. Have a look at the short videos below to get a feel for reactions to what is happening. As you watch, keep in mind how the public is reacting to this violence.

.

.Many thanks to Mel Zahn for sending the videos.

Note: I’ll appreciate it if you can identify the woman in the first video or provide a link.

The public isn’t reacting to this violence at all, just as these videos report. No help. No support. Crickets.

The violence in Israel and Gaza last month has been reported mostly in an irresponsibly simplistic way, as though this isn’t an enormously complex problem. Castigation of Israel has been the main theme, based primarily on the fact that there were many more Gazans killed and injured than Israelis.

Using John Oliver as a placeholder for all the grand pontificators who have dumped myopic criticisms on those events, he managed to mangle the logic of that casualty disparity. He specifically said it wasn’t a fair fight because Israel has Iron Dome and Hamas Gazans don’t. I haven’t a clue why he thinks fairness is an issue in this violence. I’m thinking survival should be the issue, like surviving rocket attacks. The way Oliver presented the issue sounds as if he would label it a fair fight if more Israelis had been killed. I’m not sorry to disappoint him.

Be clear that nobody lobbed 4,360 rockets at John Oliver, so he’s fully ignorant and missing the point. So did much of the world’s reporting of those dreadful days. This video and this one will explain that for you.

Key point: If you had been on the receiving end of those rockets, you wouldn’t have focused on playing fair. You would have done whatever it took to stop more rockets from being fired at you and your loved ones.

The leaders of Hamas knew in advance the likely response if they fired rockets into Israel. They’ve seen that movie before. Still, they fired rockets at Israeli civilians. They did it from Gaza apartment buildings and hospitals and office buildings, knowing that Israel would attack to stop yet more rockets from being fired. They knew that Israel silencing the rocket launchers would cause the death of a lot of Palestinians. Indeed, that was made worse because Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to remain in those buildings even after they were explicitly warned by Israel of coming attacks.

If there’s one thing Hamas leadership is good at it’s creating dead Palestinians so they can claim victimhood, gain world sympathy and make Israelis look like monsters. Where’s the fairness in that, especially for Palestinians?

Anger, hate and violence are always present or about to show up wherever Jews have gone. It’s the continuation of the world’s oldest bigotry and it is part of the reason why Israel exists and why Never Again means exactly that. The cavalry is never going to come over the hill for Jews, not in Israel, not in the United State and not in London (although the police did detain 4 suspects after the current anti-Semitic hate fest).

Jews have to take care of ourselves, regardless of whether John Oliver or anyone else thinks violence is a playground game with fairness rules. If the world doesn’t understand Never Again after the murder of the 6 million and Israel being repeatedly attacked by neighbors, there’s nothing I or anyone else can do to clarify it for them.

Palestinians are convoying through the streets of London yelling, “Fuck the Jews! Rape their daughters!” and the world’s condemnation of that vile hatred is  .  .  .  inaudible. It’s the same old crickets of the world’s oldest bigotry.

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  • * Google “rabbi attacked” and you’ll find links to stories of this happening in other countries, too.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
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JA

 


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Mom


Reading time – 4:12; Viewing time – 6:53  .  .  .

My mother was a teen during the Great Depression and came of age during WW II. She was from that generation. Tom Brokaw dubbed it The Greatest Generation and the label stuck, this for obvious reasons.

This was a generation without a sense of entitlement, who followed the rules and simply did what needed to be done, regardless of the risks and hardships. And one of the things that needed to be done was to stop Adolph Hitler from brutalizing  and enslaving the entire world.

From the late 1940s through early 60s the world repeatedly came face-to-face with the indescribable evil of the Holocaust, as Nazis were found and prosecuted. Most notorious was Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Nazis’ “final solution.” The death camps were factories of his design, created to manipulate prisoners so the Nazis’ mechanized murdering would be efficient. Efficiency was a proud trait of the Germans, so they put a sign at the entrance to Auschwitz, the murder center in Poland where 1.1 million people were gassed and cremated. That sign still stands and you can see it in the picture on the left.

The words translate roughly to “Work makes you free,” suggesting an entirely false and cruel promise for the future, if prisoners would work hard. Both the manipulation and the death were complete.

I recall with frightening clarity a conversation I had with my parents when I was an idealistic teen about those death camp horrors. I was raised in red, white and blue America, land of the free and home of the brave, so I said of the Holocaust, “It’s so good that that could never happen here.”

My mother gave a start and said (and this is word for word), “Oh yes it could. You better watch out.”

I had no idea how she could have said that. I mean this was the country of people wearing the white hats, who are forever the good guys. This is the country that fought and bled and died to kill that hate monster. This is the country of my dad, who, like millions of others, risked his life over and over so we would be free.

Yet now we have a president who proudly tells us that there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville, one side of which was composed of white supremacist Nazis. We have a never ending parade of angry citizens carrying assault rifles to intimidate our people over any and every imagined grievance. And we have protesters who want our entire economy “opened up,” regardless of the mortal consequences to tens of millions of us.

If she’s protesting the lockdown, why is she wearing a protective face mask? Where is the courage of her convictions?

They’re carrying Nazi flags and declaring how aggrieved they are, this to justify their demands and their hate. The president continues to tell us what good people they are, these swastika brandishing thugs. And not even a single Republican in Congress has the courage or decency to stand up and declare the obvious evil and hate these people are spewing.

There was an “anti-lockdown” protest in Chicago last weekend. It was clearly a temper tantrum aimed at those in government and the dedicated scientists who are working to keep us safe from coronavirus. One woman at that rally carried the sign you see to the right displaying the very words of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. Her bottomlessly sad and incongruous companion piece is that her coronavirus face mask is a U.S. flag.

Another Chicago lockdown protester with her hate on display.

The “JB” on that woman’s sign refers to J.B. Pritzker, Governor of Illinois. He’s Jewish. I’m thinking that her true message, as for that of the woman in the picture to the left who was at that same protest, has nothing to do with the lockdown and has everything to do with their hatred.

That first woman was asked about her sign and she invoked the “Some of my friends are Jewish” defense, as though that would fully relieve her of responsibility for the vileness of her bigotry. It doesn’t. In fact, that claim is proof positive of her hatred, as she carries a replica of the evil, hateful sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. And the President tells us she’s one of the “good people.”

Don’t lull yourself into passivity, thinking these are just fools carrying signs. It’s what is in their hearts that matters and we can be confident that they, along with the self-important militias all around the country and the online hate spewers and the Nazi wannabees in their brown shirt costumes and the people who assaulted the Michigan State Capitol building with weapons of war strapped to them as they shouted their hate – all of them long for a totalitarian state aligned with their bigotry.

That’s the way genocide starts – every time, everywhere. In other words, we have the seeds of a holocaust right here in America right now.

It turns out that Mom was right. And I’m following her clear direction: I’m watching out.

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Finally,

New projections are in, as two events are happening simultaneously.

The first is that the number of deaths from coronavirus are heading sharply upward. The experts (epidemiologists, not blathering, know-nothing politicians, economists or law professors) tell us that by June 1 over 3,000 Americans will die every day from this disease (a daily 9/11; a Vietnam every 2 months)) and there may eventually be hundreds of thousands of us dead, all things being equal. But all things aren’t equal, because at the same time as death counts are skyrocketing, the second event is happening.

At the direction of the President, states are incrementally “opening up,” meaning that more people are being allowed to open their businesses. Employees are going back to work and generally lots of us will be exposed to far more people, some of whom are undoubtedly asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus who will unknowingly infect many others. Maybe you.

So, while there is still a moment, I say au revoir to those who are in the coronavirus death bulls eye. Perhaps we knew one another – ’twas great; perhaps we didn’t. What’s for sure is that now we know that we won’t ever meet. One of us will have disappeared permanently. Maybe both of us.

And a large percentage of those who will die long before their time was due will depart thanks to politicians deciding that money and their elections are more important than your life. Too bad for you. And me.

Program note: Look for an explanation on Sunday, May 10 for why we don’t do the testing that is mandatory in order to beat this disease.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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