In recent weeks, American Jewish communities have been beset by a rash of bomb threats, acts of vandalism, and the like aimed at Jewish institutions. Responding to a rabbi who urged American Jews to see the threats they face in light of the (supposedly) far more severe dangers faced by other groups in the U.S.—like Muslims and homosexuals—Bethany Mandel suggests consideration of what their fellow Jews in Europe are undergoing:Via The Forward:
(...) If American Jewish groups care to appoint themselves guardians of those truly vulnerable, we needn’t look far for a group that deserves not just our sympathy, but also our full-throated defense. European Jews face regular violence and contend with widespread state apathy.
I recently spoke with Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, a Jewish-Swedish political writer and syndicated political columnist for Israel Hayom, who has spent the last several months aghast at the priorities of liberal American Jews (Hernroth-Rothstein made news a few years back by applying for asylum in her own country to draw attention to rising anti-Semitism).
“We [European Jews] feel so disconnected from American Jews because we don’t feel the solidarity,” fretted Hernroth-Rothstein. American Jews are talking about such silly things. I keep seeing protests in New York City with rabbis wearing a tallis protesting immigration; do they know we can’t do that here? Do they know what is going on here for the last five years? Does nobody pay attention that their Jewish cousins are fleeing Europe? American Jews have such an influence. They don’t and won’t use it for our community.”
As if to prove her point, in the last two months the ADL has issued two press releases about “transgender” issues and three in response to Trump’s immigration executive orders, yet it rarely highlights its support for the European Jewish community.
Just in the month of February, two brothers who wore yarmulkes in Paris were ambushed and abducted, with one having his finger sawed off in the attack. Meanwhile, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen warned French Jews in possession of Israeli citizenship they’ll have to relinquish it.
And this week started ‘Israel apartheid week’ in France.
Benjamin Amsellem, a French Jew, survived a machete attack last year when a Torah – literally – saved his life. Amsellem defended himself against a teen attacker of Turkish descent by holding a Bible between his body and the blade. Like many other European Jews, Amsellem now feels unsafe wearing a kippah in public, so he now dons a cap instead.
And that’s just the bad news for Jews out of France!
Few groups deserve our support and sympathy than our embattled European brothers and sisters. Loving our fellow is a key component of Jewish tradition, found in Leviticus 19:18 and continues to inform how the Jewish community is structured in the present. Of late, an obsession with liberal politics has changed the way we identify who is worthy enough of being a victim for many Jewish organizations and individuals. Is it so much to ask for Jewish communities and organizations to take the position that Jewish lives matter as well?