The Mass Hysteria of American Jewry
I have no problem with people being anti-Trump or believing that he is wrong for America. But, when rabbis and other assorted Jewish intellectuals willfully mis-interpret classic Biblical texts in order to validate a leftist agenda, we should all be concerned. Indeed, there is enough evidence to demonstrate that the Bible is an ancient epic of Israel’s history, political theory, cosmology and religion. Therefore, it is intellectually dishonest to conflate an ancient Jewish text with a contemporary political issue.
For example, their obsession with “welcoming the stranger because we were once strangers in the land of Egypt,” refers to Hebrew jurisprudence. It was the Biblical ideal that Israel would be the light unto the nations. As to its superficial application, “stranger” or ger in Biblical language means “resident alien”; that is someone who lives among us legally but has no inherited or original rights. He or she is not merely an individual intending to live among us. The ger is entitled to equality in law and its obligations.
When the Bible refers to Hebrews once being strangers in Egypt, it uses the same term ger, meaning that the Hebrews were legally in Egypt. But they were not Egyptian; they were Israelites. Thus, the injunction regarding the “stranger” did not apply to those who disregard our laws.
Justice, which is what our nation strives for, cannot be left to sentiment. There are other considerations. The plight of those people seeking a better life in America is a sad one. And perhaps we can demand more of our government towards assisting them to build a better life in their own home. Perhaps we can improve the immigration system. There is good reason for debate about these issues and perhaps about changing our established procedures for immigration. It is a difficult political issue. Jews would have had a significant contribution to its resolution if only they had not themselves fallen victim to the antagonistic trope of the radical left.
When emotion supersedes reason one might consider a mass hysteria. The allegation that Trump is the cause of gun violence is vicious. Jews would be advised that their attitudes border on scapegoating. Throughout the Middle Ages every outbreak of the plague or every murder of a child was attributed to the Jew. Joshua Trachtenberg demonstrated in his classic study The Devil and The Jews (1943) how the Jew became the Devil. And we must be wary of witch hunts. As victims of bigotry, one would have thought that Jewish voices would be conciliatory voices of reason.
Using Biblical texts as a pretext for their political attitudes is little different than excising and applying, out of context, various New Testament sayings in order to prove that Jews have been rejected and a new covenant has been established. American Jewry apparently has been infected by a moral virus; a contemporary strain of the medieval St. Vitus’ dance syndrome. Symptomatic is their knee jerk derision of everything Israel does and of their hatred for Netanyahu and Trump.
There are other signs of this moral dysfunction. The Jewish reaction to anti-Semitism does not seem to reflect the political and spiritual reality of a Jewry liberated from the ghetto; a Jewry capable of defending itself. Neo- Nazis and the Nation of Islam do not represent the existential threat of 20th century Nazism. It was the silence of America and its Jewry during the 20th century that abetted the final solution.
President Trump, however, in deeds rather than words, affirmed his aversion to Jew hatred and to a campaign to de-legitimatize the Jewish state. Yet, Jews have become hysterical. They appear as impotent and as anxious as were their grandfathers living in ghettos.
They live in a country where the right of self-defense is cherished. Yet, American Jews in this instance behave in the same passive dependent ways that their European ancestors did prior to the Holocaust. This dependency is both un-American and un-Jewish. Their reaction is characterized by a fear that haunts them because their only identification with Judaism is historical. Reverence for the past does not mean glorifying it. That would mean that they glorify victimhood by confusing victims with martyrs. Yet, the American Jewish curriculum pursues an educational model that perpetuates both. How else can one make sense of their falling for the Palestinian narrative that thugs, murderers and terrorists are innocent victims of a Nazi-like occupation? How else can we explain that they see the “devil” in Israel’s efforts at defending its people? Controlling a hostile population and even killing the enemy is not human rights abuse. It is simply defending our own human rights.
Jewish intellects use the Exodus narrative as a rationale for their confused loyalties. They falsify the texts by using them out of context. The Exodus is not about slavery, but about liberation. It is not so much about sympathy for the victim as it is about the courage of the free. Although God is credited for this great delivery, the Biblical editor makes it clear that the Hebrews helped. They actually left Egypt armed and in military formation. They even “borrowed” equipment from their former oppressors and they fought their way to the Promised Land.
In other words as unfair as their reality was, they chose to act decisively and in their own interest. As Ruth Wisse once pointed out, Jews have a problem with power. Perhaps because for centuries they were powerless, they have accommodated themselves to a collective impotence. They celebrate powerlessness by continuing to refuse to teach themselves how to protect their own synagogues. They attribute anti-Semitism to Trump’s rhetoric rather than to the probability that Jews have always been “soft targets.” Trump did not invent Jew hatred. It has existed for a long time and responsible leaders should have anticipated the consequences of hate speech.
There is more than rhythm in the verse, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” There is reason. One is responsible for one’s liberty. Courage is the bulwark of freedom. The Black power movement understood this clearly. Some Jews sought to act and formed the Jewish Defense League and exercise their right of self-defense only to discover that they were ostracized by other Jews and called thugs. Jews have yet to realize that only they can protect themselves from anti-Semitism. While anti-Semitism is a Christian and Islamic ideology, only Jews can reduce its toxic effects upon society. But, Jews can only accomplish this by being Jews, by educating their children about Judaism and by emphasizing the correlation between the Chosen-ness of Israel and American exceptionalism.
Finally, one would have believed that the history of the Jews would have formed in the American Jewish psyche an abiding sense of gratitude. Jews in America stood by while their president denied sanctuary to Jews fleeing Hitler. This generation was privileged to witness an American president say yes to Jerusalem and no to terrorists making an improbable claim. Yet, one did not hear a resounding “Thank you, President Trump! We understand the international climate in which you, the only world leader, were willing to act morally and courageously on our behalf.”
In the reality of politics there are always uncomfortable alliances. Unfortunately, it seems that American Jews have entered into a wrong and a self-destructive alliance.
Photo credit: Tim Pierce