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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Gerber

What is Happening to Our Country?

"Go back to Poland."

"Death to Zionists."

"Al-Qassam you make us proud, take another soldier out."

"Burn Tel Aviv to the ground."

These aren't the latest signs and slogans from Iran, Gaza, or Syria. These are directly from the campuses of Columbia and Yale.

When I was in Israel--a country at war--I was repeatedly surprised that the Israelis were worried about me. But I see it now. We are at war too.

A rabbi affiliated with Columbia University sent a message to the Jews of his community. The message told them to go home. The university is unwilling or unable to protect them. Since their safety cannot be guaranteed, they should not remain on campus. How have we reached the point where terror-supporting antisemites feel safe on an Ivy League campus and Jews don't?

Those of us who have been following the disturbing trends on college campuses have feared this day. We watched as the heads of these distinguished universities sat before Congress and waffled on whether or not antisemitism is acceptable on their campuses. We read the stories about Jewish students being barricaded in their Hillels. Rabbis (like me) warned about universities inviting Jew haters onto their campuses under false pretenses.

My friends...

In the past week Iran fired over 300 missiles at Israel. Israel retaliated in a stunning and remarkable fashion. And I'm writing to you today about the dangers of being Jewish in America. (fyi...the incident with Iran is truly incredible and much more than meets the eye...I'll definitely write about it later)

We can lament the loss of our the moral compass. That so many in our society willingly align with a jihad mentality. That those who profess to advocate for the voices of women are willing to side with rapists. That even people who call themselves Jews would side with our oppressor.

But now is not the time for lamentation; it is the time to use our resources. Parents, when you tour colleges with your kids ask them how they will protect their Jews. Donors, when you are writing checks to your alma mater, first ask them if the campus will give safe harbor for antisemites. We all should advocate to our local representatives and allies.

Rabbi Hillel famously said, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, who am I? And if not now, when?

Jews have often taken this to mean that we have to have a balance between looking inward and outward. Often times I believe this to be true. But like so many messages of wisdom from our tradition, we must parse the verse to meet the moment.

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me?"

The majority of this country does stand with us. We are largely a pro-Israel country. Statistics bear this out. Politically Israel enjoys broad bipartisan support. But we still have to lead the way. We must be louder than our enemies as well as our supporters. We have to tell them what we need. We have to define antisemitism. We have to put forth solutions.

This is not a time for Jews to be passive and hope the storm blows over. If we aren't careful, this spark will turn into a fire. It may already be burning.

This is a time for us to assert ourselves. Use our influence wherever we can. Build bridges with allies as often as possible. Show the way for our friends to support us.

It's great to hear that the White House and State leaders are "horrified" by what we're all witnessing. It's not enough. People need to be held accountable. These aren't issues of free speech; these are issues of moral clarity. These are issues of safety and security and establishing what is and is not acceptable in the United States of America.

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1 commentaire

Mike Fein
Mike Fein
22 avr.
  1. You voted for this. Maybe try something different in November.

  2. Jews must personally cease funding schools of Jew-hate appreciation, our Alma-maters.

  3. Congress should immediately pass a law than bans every college and university from receiving foreign donations. That’s you Qatar, China, Saudi. Penalties to schools will be 6 and 7 figures. Closure if necessary.

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