My mother, who passed away last year, was a Holocaust survivor. As is typical with Jewish mothers, she was proud that I went to law school and even more proud when I was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. She also detested arrogance, so she frequently responded to my comments and professional achievements with “my son, the Chacham.” Chacham is a Yiddish word that technically means a learned person, but it is often used also to mock those who think they know it all.
When I co-founded a non-profit legal organization focusing on combating antisemitism, with a particular focus on defending Israel, my mother (and father, who also called me a Chacham) thought it was a bit out of left field. My mother would say that there was no way the Jewish people could experience another Holocaust or other form of mass persecution, in large part because Israel exists and in larger part because the world had learned its lesson about persecuting Jews. My mother honestly believed that there simply are too many who would never allow a slaughter of Jews to happen again.
I told her that it may have been true in the decades after World War II, but I was seeing a dangerous resurrection of Jew-hatred, one that was fueled by the political left and embraced on universities and other institutions that were supposed to be the liberal defenders who would prevent the next Holocaust. I warned her that unless action was taken soon, the world would see another Holocaust.
I wish I had been wrong.
That was the last time my mother told me to stop being such a Chacham. In the years between the time that I became a civil rights attorney defending Israel and my mother’s death, the world changed, and even she saw that Jews were in the crosshairs again.
In 2018, I submitted a detailed letter to the United States Department of Justice, asking that they investigate a number of groups operating on U.S. college campuses. This letter, with attached reports, provided the Department of Justice with hundreds of pages of details on how designated foreign terror organizations like Hamas were using university groups like Students for Justice in Palestine to recruit supporters and obtain financial support and recommended that the Department of Justice investigate the groups as a RICO enterprise providing material support for terrorism.
My letter was not an exercise in speculation or wishful thinking; it was based on over a year of rigorous research; contained extensive documentation of how the terror-aligned university groups operate; and detailed the specifics of how these university groups support, and work together with, terror groups, all under the banner of the so-called “BDS Movement.”
The letter warned that unless the Department of Justice took action to expose and prosecute the alliance between foreign terror organizations and university anti-Israel groups, universities would become the domestic beachhead for terrorism against the United States and Jews around the world.
As far as I know, the Department of Justice chose not to investigate, let alone prosecute.
Several weeks ago, Hamas invaded Israel and slaughtered over 1,400 innocent Jews, many of them women and children, and kidnapped Jewish children to hold as hostages. My mother told us how one day when she was 8 years old, the SS kicked down the door to her family’s apartment in Prague, dragged her into the street, executed her neighbors as she was forced to watch, and then dragged her to a death camp. On October 7, 2023, we saw a similar horror at the hands of Hamas.
The very groups that I warned my mother about, including the progressive wing of the Democrat party and university student groups, are now in the streets and even the halls of government celebrating the slaughter of Jews and calling for a new “final solution” to eradicate the Jewish homeland. They are doing this openly and with great support.
My 2018 letter to the Department of Justice, where I wrote the following, was prescient:
The undersigned respectfully calls for the Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) to consider an investigation into the domestic criminal activities of affiliates of certain foreign terror organizations (as determined under 8 U.S. Code § 1189), including, but not limited to, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Palestine Islamic Jihad (collectively, the “Designated Terror Organizations”). The criminal acts occur as part of an organized campaign conducted by parent organizations that include American Muslims for Palestine (and its affiliated entity, Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation), Dream Defenders, the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justice in Palestine (collectively, the “Domestic Terror Affiliates”).
Around the world, a new Holocaust is being fomented under the banner of antizionism. Jews are being attacked on campuses, Jewish institutions are being vandalized and targeted, and universities now favor the slaughter of Jews over the right of Jews to self-determination in their historic homeland. As my mother said when I told her that those promoting antisemitism on campuses claimed that they were only acting against Israel and had no issues with Jews, “Israel didn’t even exist when I was sent to a concentration camp, and if Israel didn’t exist today, they’d come up with some other reason to round us up again.”
Maybe my mother was the Chacham.
Once again, I call on the Department of Justice to investigate university groups that provide material support to designated foreign terror organizations. Support for Holocaust 2.0 is now in the open on campuses and even in Congress, and time is running out, Attorney General Garland.
Image via Picryl.