Is there a future for Jews in the United States? – opinion

I’ve stopped counting how many times people stop me, call me, text or email me to ask THE QUESTION. It may be phrased in different ways, but the pain THE QUESTION evokes, the fear from which it emanates, the disbelief that it even has to be raised, is shared by all. THE QUESTION is: Do I think that there is a future for Jews in the United States? 

Only someone living in a cave would not know that the recent past has seen a dramatic spike in violence against Jews in the United States. Only someone living in a complete state of denial could deny the uptick in Jew-hatred. The violence has certainly been directed at visible Jews, at Jewish looking Jews and at Jews who live in traditionally Jewish neighborhoods. But these are not the only victims.

There have been incidents at places of work, on campuses and in schools. And on the airwaves and in public forums, verbal abuse of Jews has come spilling forth by public personalities and by politicians. 

The ADL has a website blog that keeps track of antisemitic incidents. The incidents documented here are not limited to high-profile Jewish populations like New York, Florida or California. These attacks have taken place in middle America, in Minnesota, Virginia, Colorado, Nebraska and Connecticut. 

These are a few recent examples, be warned, they are not for the faint of heart: 

May 23 (Redondo Beach, CA): A synagogue received an antisemitic and harassing email from an unknown sender who wrote: “Die f**king jew cockroaches! Israel = racism, apartheid, genocide.”

May 22 (New York, NY): A Jewish man wearing a Star of David necklace was punched by a man who allegedly asked him, “What is that around your neck, does that make you a f**king Zionist?”

May 22 (Brooklyn, NY): Three men allegedly drove around Borough Park harassing and assaulting Jewish individuals, including teenagers. They yelled antisemitic slurs as well as, “Free Palestine.” The men also kicked a synagogue’s doors and broke a car mirror.

May 20 (New York, NY): A Jewish man was beaten by a group of anti-Israel protesters in Times Square. In another incident, anti-Zionist protesters shouted, “F**king Zionists” and threw fireworks at passersby, injuring one, in Midtown Manhattan’s Diamond District, which is home to many Jewish-owned businesses.

May 18 (Los Angeles, CA): A group of Jewish diners at a kosher restaurant were allegedly assaulted by a group of individuals. The attackers reportedly arrived in cars carrying Palestinian flags and yelled antisemitic slurs.

May 18 (Bal Harbour, FL): A Jewish family was walking home from synagogue when they were harassed by a group of individuals in a car who allegedly yelled, “Free Palestine!” “F**k the Jews!” “Die Jew!”

June 28 (Denver, CO): At least 15 cars were vandalized with graffiti that included swastikas and messages like “Land of Nazi” or the N-word.

June 28 (Lincoln, NE): Two cars were found vandalized with swastikas and racial slurs.

June 24 (New York, NY): The Goldman Sachs building in Battery Park City was vandalized with stickers of the Israeli flag that were re-designed to look like a swastika.

June 24 (Newtown, CT): Police reported that “racist and antisemitic graffiti” was found painted on an abandoned truck and boat overnight.

June 23 (Ukiah, CA): A mural in downtown Ukiah was defaced with swastikas and SS lightening bolts.

June 22 (Woodbridge, VA): Congregation Ner Shalom received a threatening and antisemitic voicemail.

June 22 (New Haven, CT): New Haven Jewish Community Center was evacuated and closed after receiving a threat.

June 22 (Fort Lauderdale, FL): During the Zoom court hearing of known white supremacist Paul Miller, several unknown viewers began making antisemitic and racist comments.

June 22 (Nassau, NY): Antisemitic hate mail was received by state Senator Anna Kaplan.

June 22 (Scandia, MN): A swastika was found spray-painted on the back of a van.

June 21 (Los Angeles, CA): A Jewish man was dropping off his children at a bus stop when a pedestrian began yelling antisemitic slurs at them.

I have an answer to THE QUESTION. 

My answer is: YES.

I have an answer to THE QUESTION. 

My answer is: YES.

I do think that there is a future for Jews in the United States. But to ensure that future, we, the Jews of America, cannot be complacent. We cannot assume that with time, the situation will change. And we cannot, should not, flee.

It is essential for the American Jewish community to build strong alliances with those other Americans who are willing and unafraid to publicly condemn the vile and heinous physical and verbal attacks against Jews. People with standing, people with a conscience, people with a moral barometer. People whose voices are loud enough to be heard.

The power of the courts must be brought into our battle. Especially when the hatred comes from institutions, from schools and from places of work. Justice is on our side.

For too many people it has become acceptable – under the guise of racial sensitivity, to be atonal about Jew-hatred. Too many Americans have succumbed to the erroneous and irrational theory that Jews are white and thus the oppressor and have no right, therefore, to complain about Jew-hatred. We must combat and correct that untruth. 

The only way to deal with the level of physical and verbal Jew-hatred we are witnessing, we are living through, is to enlist good, fair, ethical friends of Jews to stand up and condemn the violence and the messages. These need to be leaders of non-Jewish communities. Cultural leaders, entertainers, media personalities, politicians and religious leaders must be enlisted to stand up and condemn these hateful messages.

They need to condemn it without exceptions and without qualifications.

We need to present an alternative message to the world, a positive image of Jews working together with non-Jews to achieve mutually beneficial goals. People who sign on to help do not need to agree with a mainstream Jewish agenda about Israel and the Palestinians. They need to be people who believe that hatred is evil.

We cannot sink to the level of those who abuse us.

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