Friday, April 18, 2014

Déjà Vu All Over Again?

Shooting victims
William Corporon and Reat Griffin Underwood
There have been a couple of anti Semitic incidents in the world  lately that may have many Jews  questioning whether we are once again in danger of anther Holocaust. In fact I have heard a lot of prominent people saying, ‘Beware! It’s 1938 all over again’.

I am not one of those. I recall a lecture given by Rebbetzin Esther Jungries saying this several years ago in response to Iran’s promises to wipe Israel off the map while pursuing nuclear weapons.  As a survivor of the Holocaust her words took on some urgency. She sounded the alarm saying that new Hitler was just around the corner in Iran. This was in 2006, 8 years ago. I was skeptical then and I am skeptical now.

One of the 2 events I am referring to took place at a Jewish Center and at an assisted living facility in Overland Park, Kansas. Frazier Glenn Cross (AKA Miller)  an avowed racist and anti Semite shot and killed 3 people. He probably assumed they were Jewish. They were not. But the government considers it a hate crime. As it should. He said ‘Heil Hitler’ as he was being transported away in a police vehicle.

Shooting victim Terri LaManno
(As an aside - my heart goes out to the friends and families that are experiencing this sudden and unexpected loss just because some violent racist anti Semite assumed they were Jews. I think I can speak for the entire Jewish community in expressing our own horror at this and our sincere condolences. From all that has been reported, the victims were fine people who were highly thought of in their communities. I cannot imagine the pain their friends and families must be going through. (Why is it always the good people that seem to suffer the most?!)

The second event is a distribution of leaflets in the Ukrainian city oDonetsk whose residents are mostly pro Russian:. From USA Today
Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated..." 
Shades of Nazi Germany! Except that the leaders of rebel Russian sympathizers deny they had anything to do with that. They insist that Jews will be welcome citizens in their new enterprise – be it as a part of Russia or as some sort of satellite country under Russian influence. They claim these leaflets were distributed by the Ukrainian government in an attempt to make them look bad.

I don’t know if that’s true. But I tend to believe that the rebels did not initiate anything like that. They would have to be the biggest fools in the world to turn themselves into the 21st century version of Nazi Germany. And I say this knowing full well that the Ukrainians have an inglorious history with respect to the Jewsih people. I don’t think there were too many people in Europe – pre-Holocaust - that were more anti Semitic that native Ukrainians. My father lived there. He has first had experience with them. So even if there is some residual Antisemitism there now - and I believe there probably is – there is no way they would ever want to be seen as Russian speaking Nazis.

So are we now living in the 21st century version of 1938? Hardly. Joseph Aaron, publisher of the Chicago Jewish News often says in answer to the constant whining by some about all the anti-Semitism in the world - that Jews have never had it so good. We are living in unprecedented times. I agree with him. We are no more in danger of a Holocaust than we are of the sky falling. Which is what seems the alarmists among us want us to believe.

In fact the biggest problem facing Jewry in America today - is the biggest proof of our acceptance. Rampant assimilation and intermarriage is a direct result of our acceptance into general society. Jews are now in every field of endeavor in the US… from the corporate boardroom to the halls of science and academia to the news and entertainment industry. Jews can be found in high places in all areas, including the government.  

Congress is filled with far more Jews that our percentages in the population. Jews are marrying American Royalty to great acclaim – as was the case when a Jewish man married Chelsea Clinton in a mostly Jewish looking ceremony. The last three Presidents have had Jews in high places in their government including observant Jews. One (Jack Lew) as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). One (Michael Mukasey) as Attorney General. And one as the Secretary of the Treasury (Again, Jack Lew). 

The fact is that not only have the people of the United States fully accepted us into their hearts (with some notable fringe group exceptions) - it is now cool to be Jewish, I'm told. And the rest of the world has moved in that direction too. Although they have a long way to go before they catch up with the United States 

While it’s true that much of leftist academia is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause thereby being totally unsympathetic to Israel, they do not reflect popular opinion. And even among those in Academia who side with Palestinians, there are many who are not necessarily anti Semitic (although certainly some of them are). They are simply misguided about the facts and history of the situation.

Then there is the one thing I keep coming back to - which to me shows the high level of approval that the Jewish people have: Joseph Lieberman. When he was chosen as the Vice Presidential candidate by Al Gore, Gore’s 10% deficit in the polls behind candidate George Bush disappeared. When people were polled about whether Lieberman’s Sabbath observance would be a hindrance to his job if he were to become President, they gave a surprising answer. Those who were on the fence and switched to Gore did so because of Lieberman’s religiosity. They felt that a religious man in office would be a plus in his favor – making his decisions more ethical. In other words, they perceived Judaism to be an ethical religion. And as we all know Gore/Lieberman won the popular vote.

If all this is pre-Holocaust activity, I’ll take it. What about Frazier Glenn Cross and the Ukrainian Antisemites? Yes we still have to be vigilant. But to say this is 1938 pre-Holocaust  Déjà  Vu all over again (hat tip, Yogi Berra) ? No possible way!