Friday, March 24, 2017

He Is One of Ours

Accused teenager hiding his face in an Israeli court (NYT/Reuters)
I’m not in the habit of quoting myself. But in this case I just can’t help it. In response to a spike in bomb threats to JCCs and other Jewish institutions that had some people thinking that we are on the precipice of another Holocaust, I said the following: 
No, I don’t think we need to be worried, although we should always be vigilant, keep our eyes and ears wide open. We are not on the precipice of a new Holocaust. Not even close... 
I added that we have no clue who is doing this or why.

That post generated a variety of responses saying that I was treating this new wave of antisemitism too lightly. Responses that ranged from accusing me of the kind of denial Jews of Europe had about the dire circumstances that Hitler’s virulent antisemitism presaged - to outright stupidity for not seeing this as an obvious white-supremacist plan to actually carry out the false bomb threats they were making. And of course they blamed it all on the President.

I considered that just another conspiracy theory by some on the left who are so blinded by hatred of the President (an easy target if there ever was one) - that they were eager to pin every ill in American society on him. So the spike in antisemitic incidents which were mostly (but not exclusively) those bomb threats was blamed on Trump’s rhetoric that often sounded racist - even employing some racist code words like America First.

It was after all Nazi sympathizers like Charles Lindbergh that were involved in the America First Committee - a group created in 1940 to keep the US out of involvement in WWII. America First is a phrase Trump uses a lot. As did another presidential candidate of the not too distant past, Pat Buchanan. Who is not exactly a philosemite.

I conceded then and still believe that Trump’s rhetoric frees up the existing antisemites and racists to toot their horns a bit louder. But I also believe that we are in no greater danger from antisemitism than we were before Trump even thought about becoming President. (…with the possible exception of the kind of virulent anti Israel activity by extreme leftist academics that egged on gullible students to act out in sometimes violent anti Israel demonstrations on some university campuses.)

I also thought that it was quite possible that all of these threats were being made by a sick individual in his basement as a prank using sophisticated techniques to disguise his voice, location and phone number. Techniques easily available online to anyone interested in purchasing them.

I was ridiculed for that by some who claimed that professionals in law enforcement that specialize in these things said that my ‘lone wolf theory’ was highly unlikely. The operation was too sophisticated. It was more likely that this was a sophisticated and organized group ‘testing the waters’ so to speak until such time that they will carry it out. And that I was burying my head the sand… just like many Jews did in the prewar years of Hitler’s rise to power.

That I had clearly said that we still need to be vigilant (and that is still true) but that we should live our lives normally fell on deaf ears to those who were convinced that the sky was falling. I also said that to the extent that a there was any threat, the FBI, local law enforcement and international counter terrorism agencies were all over this. That too was ignored.

Well, we now know that it was exactly what I thought it might be. Not only was it NOT right wing white supremacists who called in all those bomb threats, it wasn’t Muslim terrorists either. Nor was it an organized effort by a group of any kind. It was indeed a lone wolf. A teenager. A Jewish one. Who lived in Israel with dual Israeli-American citizenship. The international manhunt succeeded in apprehending and arresting this fellow in Israel.

We don’t know his identity. Nor do we know whether he will be extradited to America and charged with a hate crime. We also don’t know if he is so sick that he will be committed to a mental health facility for treatment. But that is not my concern or purpose in writing this post.

My purpose is to restate my view that we Jews have never had it so good and we need not be any more concerned today than we were last year or the year before that. Yes, there is still antisemitism and as I have said so many times we still have to be vigilant. Thank God we Americans live in a country that takes these things seriously and goes the extra mile when needed.

I do find it kind of funny that there are still some advocacy groups that refuse to let go. For example there is this excerpt from the NewYork Times
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, cautioned that many of the people responsible for anti-Semitic threats, vandalism and “a torrent of abuse online” remained at large. 
I guess Jonathan knows how his bread is buttered. What a great country we Americans live in. Let me end the way the New York Times did: 
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who described the threats as “hate crimes,” said, “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs.”