The average street criminal cannot do much about the mighty and historic State of Israel.
If you’re over 40 years of age or routinely wear glasses and you’re looking for the State of Israel on a globe, unless you actually know the location of the country on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, you will be hard-pressed to find it.
Israel is a tough place with courageous and resilient people. We Jews living outside of the Jewish State have demonstrated that we are somewhat more vulnerable.
Today, despite the so-called progressiveness of society, when it comes to attitudes and the approach to the Jewish people, it seems that much of the world’s gear shift is stuck in neutral—perhaps even in reverse. Jew hatred is alive and, as far as destructive agents are concerned, quite well for haters.
Since New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind retired after a 36-year career in the Assembly, he was involuntarily presented with the scourge and uptick of attacks on Jews—many here in New York—that left the veteran activist and protector of the Jewish people no choice but to act with alacrity and forthrightness.
He is fighting back with the powerful weapon of knowledge about the matter of anti-Semitism. Hikind teamed up with Israel Bitton, a young man who is a deep reservoir of information, and together they pooled their experiences and breadth of knowledge to produce a stunning volume that has become available for sale and distribution in the last few weeks. The book, A Brief and Visual History of Anti-Semitism, will become an authoritative and reliable reference on the troubling history of Jew hatred that is dressed up in the clichéd term anti-Semitism.
The book took two years of thorough research and is intended for general consumption, but perhaps more importantly it is intended for young Jews—many on campus—who are at a loss for how to respond when they find themselves in an anti-Semitic environment.
This is an important and breathtaking volume that belongs in every home in addition to educational institutions around the world.
“This book should be required reading by those who seek to eradicate this scourge and educate the public on its dangers,” said former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said of the book: “This is an impactful work which clearly and creatively explains the concept of anti-Semitism, its history, how it manifests itself in society, and what we must do to combat it,” he said.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Mr. Bitton on Monday, we talked about events that led up to the realization that a work like this was long overdue. We talked about how the terminology often used—anti-Semitism or Jew hatred—is really interchangeable. As odd as it sounds, of the two terms, it seems that anti-Semitism is the more dignified, if you can call it that.
Whether it is the way the Ayatollahs in Iran talk about eradicating the Jewish state from the map of the world or a mugger knocking a hat off the head of a yeshiva boy, it all falls under the repugnant and disturbing rubric of anti-Semitism.
One of the matters I discussed with Israel Bitton is why it seems that attacks against Asians or African Americans seem more shocking and attention-grabbing in terms of how events like this are covered by the media. In other words, it sometimes seems that there is a place in the psyche of the world that allows for some level of acceptance for Jew hatred specifically. Is it that anti-Semitism is almost as old as the world itself? An even greater overarching question is whether there is a level of acceptability when it comes to anti-Jewish actions, whether violent or political.
We hear the words “anti-Semitism” and “Jew hatred” on a weekly basis in some context. After thousands of years of some of the most extreme and murderous anti-Jewish acts—like the Holocaust—is there a way to turn things around and stop the scourge from spreading and increasing, whether on our streets or at the United Nations?
A Brief and Visual History of Anti-Semitism will go a long way in arming Jewish readers and defenders of the Jewish people with a key weapon: knowledge—knowing our history and knowing how to respond when confronted with anti-Semitism.
The book takes us back and reveals how and where hatred of Jews and categorizing the ills of the world as the fault of the Jewish people began. It takes us through the circuitous world of history, the tiny number of Jews, and how we loom so large in the eyes of the world.
This is not exactly the type of book you can read through on a Shabbos afternoon. This is more of a coffee-table variety that can jumpstart important conversations that have the potential to make changes in a good direction—and that was the purpose of this book from its very inception.
Not Meeting Key Knesset Members
Only a Jewish member of the U.S. Senate now traveling in the Middle East can say that she and her delegation do not want to meet with two specific members of the Knesset because they are too Jewish for her and her delegation.
Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada is visiting the countries that are party to the Abraham Accords but has announced that when she and the delegation, that includes New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are in Israel, they will refuse to meet with Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich.
The delegation is visiting Morocco, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates where there are no democratic elections and no LGBTQ rights like in Israel. But Senator Rosen and her group will have no problem meeting with and extending courtesies to all members of those governments.
When it comes to Ben-Gvir, who is the public security minister and wants to crack down on terrorism and terrorists to protect Israel’s citizens, or Smotrich, who wants to put a stop to the Palestinian Authority using U.S. funds to reward imprisoned terrorists who murdered Jews, this delegation draws the line.
There’s something terribly wrong here.
Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.