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Here’s How To Protect Jews From Anti-Semitism

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Secretary of State Yair Lapid stumbled hard last week – attacking Jew-hatred subtly and thoughtfully. Weaving the particular with the universal, Lapid’s unique obsession against Jews with people’s tendency to hate others, described for the first time how the Nazis threatened his father as a 13-year-old Jew. Lapid then added that fighting Jew-hatred requires fighting all bigotry. He said, “Anti-Semitism is not the first name of hate, it’s the family name,” he claimed, “the struggle is not between anti-Semites and Jews,” but between “anti-Semites and anyone who believes in values ​​like equality and justice and human love.”

Continuing his month-long rage, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu accused Lapid of “flattening the concept of anti-Semitism” and “minimizing the uniqueness of Jew-hatred in history.”

From the left, Haaretz rejoiced — equally foolishly — that Lapid’s universalism “angered all those who argue and live their lives from a perspective of Jewish supremacy” — using an ugly Holocaust-generated term that is going mainstream.

Welcome to what passes for debate today. Knee-jerk radicals right and left are removing brawny moderates’ attempts to nuance. Rather than appreciating the quintessentially Jewish and democratic dance and integrating the unique story of the Jews with our shared destiny as humans, partisans hijacked Lapid’s words to further their competing agendas.

The fanatics have clearly misread something – confirmed from Herzl to Herzog, from the founder of Zionism to Israel’s new president.

In 1898, Theodor Herzl described Jew-hatred as “an ugly movement, first anti-Semitic, then anti-capitalist, finally anarchist”, treating it as a gateway to hatred: poison against some turns into poison against others.

At the same global forum against anti-Semitism that Lapid addressed, President Isaac Herzog addressed the poison being spread on social media and warned: “Fear and hatred looms over anti-Semitism. Fear and hatred spread by vast organizations, operations and systems, tipping the balance against Jews, and the right of Jews to self-determination with their own nation-state.”

This debate goes beyond Jew-hatred to Judaism and Zionism. Today’s over-simplifying fanatics “flatten out” all three. Thoughtful, subtle, liberal Democrats, Jews, Zionists, see things in three dimensions, balancing identity and freedom, liberalism and nationalism, our natural instinctive concern for ‘us’ and our natural human concern for ‘others’.

Lapid and Herzog also behaved bizarrely on that Forum: each spoke for less than 10 minutes. hmm. Are Israel’s new leaders genuinely interested in robust, democratic dialogue and not in a know-it-all demagogic hectoring?

In short, these two statesmen — it feels great to use that word again — were talking about the big picture and implicitly inviting others to come up with practical strategies against Jew-hatred.

HERE IS MY APPROACH:

Jews should feel SAFE in any community with proper security, alliance, framing and education.

• Security First, from physical to emotional security: fortifying locks, fortifying windows, hiring guards, perfecting security systems and educating young and old. By adapting Britain’s Community Security Trust model, communities must train young people to become security guards.

While cultivating communal responsibility and a Judaism of the body, not just the mind and soul, this strategy restores the sense of empowerment that haters steal from their victims. That Jewish jitsu, from feeling vulnerable, lost, defenseless to feeling strong, loud and proud, remains Zionism’s greatest gift to the Jewish people.

• Alliance (as awake progressives might say) is what Lapid and Herzog are looking for. Harnessing the global spike in hatred in a common cause with others is not flattening or retreating. People often bond through shared enemies – and we need zero tolerance for haters, even if they agree with us politically.

• Framing: Basically, reframe the debate, and end the silly debate about “which is worse, Jew-haters left or right” – they’re both bad!

Twenty years ago, Natan Sharansky identified the Three Ds: demonization, delegitimization, and double standards. With a quarter of American Jews now believing these lies, we need to explain how phrases like “Israeli apartheid,” “settler colonialism,” “Jewish supremacy,” “from the river to the sea,” and “Israeli genocide,” declaring the Jewish state mentioned. for what it is, not what it does, crosses red lines – even when launched by Jewish leaders. We must call on these un-Jews who want to undo modern Jewish obligations to the people and the state. Depicting Jew-hatred as the most plastic hatred – adaptable, artificial, poisonous and sometimes deadly – and a people problem, not a Jewish problem – is also essential.

As with any disease, careful diagnosis is the key to a cure. Jew-hatred is increasing online and in the streets, but not in workplaces, where our grandparents suffered. And Zionophobia updates the fanatical formula of the French hater Clermont-Tonnere by denying “everything to the Jews as a nation” but granting “everything to the Jews as individuals.”

• Education: To understand anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, it is often necessary to teach Jews and non-Jews Judaism, Zionism and democracy in intimate settings and mass campaigns. Educational initiatives should include:

a. 10-part courses to engage students, waking them up to identity threats and campus propaganda, while teaching them to be progressive and Zionist, if they want to, or conservative yet popular, if they want to.

b. less reactive, visionary exercises such as Zionist salons based on reading texts about who we are, who we have been, who we can be, as Jews, as Zionists, as people.

c. public campaigns pushing back: this Hanukkah, why not the people of Billings, Montana, who reacted when in 1992 someone threw a cinder block through a window with a chanukkia on it.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if on November 28, when the Jews lit the first Hanukkah candle, millions decorated their windows with paper menorahs, essentially saying, “You hurt one of us, you hurt us all,” and Yair Lapid’s insight confirms that this is a struggle for “equality and justice and human love”.

The author is a leading scholar of North American history at McGill University, and the author of nine books on American history and three on Zionism. His book Never Alone: ​​Prison, Politics and My People, co-written with Natan Sharansky, has just been published by PublicAffairs of Hachette.

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