As usual, it takes something huge to actually motivate me to blog, and I had been moving in that direction for weeks before the events in Pittsburgh shoved me all the way there.
Let’s start with the basics: my brothers and sisters (or in the case of many of the victims, zaidys and bubbies) were murdered, in shul, for the crime of being Jewish. They were murdered like the 6 million. They were targeted like Jews were murdered in Russia, Spain, England and on and on for literally thousands of years.
They were murdered like the Jews in Paris and the Jews in Mumbai. They were murdered like the Jews in Munich and the Jews in Argentina. And for sure they were murdered like the Jews in Har Nof and Sderot and Tel Aviv. A Jew is a Jew to those who hate us, and if you want to spend your time quibbling about embassies and settlements and right and left, kindly show yourself the door, because I’m tired.
I believe in semantics, the words people use. When I go back to the USA to visit and people say “oh, you’re going home?” I say “no, I am home. I’m going to see my family.” And they roll their eyes and mumble something about my raging Zionism and we move on. Why do I say that? Because here is home. Here I am not “the other, the (((Jew)))” here I belong.
I lived in America my whole life and loved it. My house has an American flag, I scream-sing the National anthem at baseball games, aggressively follow Team USA during international competition and know American history like the back of my hand. My dream vacation destination as a child was colonial Williamsburg.
Why am I mentioning this (other than giving you a glimpse into a weird hyper-patriotic kid?) Because I don’t blame this tragedy on America whatsoever. It’s not Trump’s fault (sorry, but that’s just wishful thinking on the part of those who blame him for the sun coming up.) It’s not the alt-right, or Antifa or the Klan or the Nation of Islam (although they all really hate Jews, to be fair.) Because Jews are killed everywhere in the world at every point in history, and it would be pretty odd to blame those tragedies on the alt-right, even though the motive is always exactly the same.
A lot of well-meaning people ask “what can we do” to help eradicate anti-Semitism. Certainly ensuring it has no place in government or on campus or in the media is a great start, but there is no way to actually end anti-Semitism. It’s an irrational bigotry- we’re hated because were too religious and too secular, too wealthy and too much on welfare, too educated and too ignorant, too assimilated and too separate, too left-wing and too right-wing. We are whatever it is bigots hate in nation-form, and that’s pretty hard to eradicate- or at least it hasn’t been done in over 3,000 years.
Which brings me to my final point. The last acceptable anti-Semitism is also known as anti-Zionism (I’m lookin’ at you, Jews and non-Jews alike.) This tragedy happened in Pittsburgh to a conservative synagogue and you still hear people blaming the embassy move and Gaza. And if that makes you feel better, if it makes you feel safer and absolved of guilt, you enjoy that. But Israel wasn’t just not a factor in this tragedy, it is the only known defense the Jewish people have against a world gone mad. Most Jews know it, our enemies know it and jeez Louise, anti Zionist Jews, you better get to know it too!
It is the main difference between the Jews of 1933 and the Jews of 2018- a strong country with a strong government and a strong army. And you can call us a country of land-thieves with a hawkish government and a brutal army until the cows come home- but we are the main factor in this entire world ensuring “Never Again” is a reality.
So while I hope that the Jews of America are safe in the “goldene medina” for as long as they want to stay there (and that includes the people I love most in this entire world) we must always remember that we are one nation, with one heart and only one homeland to call our own. Come for a visit or come to stay, but come Home soon.
And to the families and friends of the victims of this tragedy,
"May God comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."