Glenn recently asked a well-known public intellectual what it is like living as a Jewish man in America today. Ever since Hamas unleashed its deadly terror attacks on the Israeli people on Oct. 7, there has been an onslaught of antisemitism that is harrowingly reminiscent of the years leading up to the Holocaust. A Russian mob in Dagestan flooded a regional airport hunting for Jews who were returning on a flight from Tel Aviv. Jewish students on college campuses still receive constant threats from pro-Palestinian groups. So-called activists, like Ahed Tamimi, have explicitly called for the brutal and grotesque murders of the Jewish people. These are only a few of the many instances of antisemitism rising across the West.
So how does it feel to be a Jew in America amid this shocking rise of antisemitism? Here are the thoughts of one Jewish public intellectual amid these tumultuous times:
An open letter from a Jewish man living in America
You asked me to tell you what it’s like to be a Jewish person in America these days, and I had to decline to be interviewed. I can’t speak for the Jewish people as a whole any more than I can speak for the American people as a whole. I am just one human being, with strengths and weaknesses like everyone else. Personally, my social media has become almost unusable because of the constant anti-Jewish hatred, but the idea of me complaining about Twitter when people are being held hostage and children are being bombed is ridiculous. I thought a letter for you to read to your audience might be of greater help.
Terms like racism and homophobia and sexism are bandied about a lot in the media. But I have never heard of racists or homophobes or sexists calling for the murder of those whom they oppose. Those who hate Jews love to tell Jewish people we should get over the Holocaust while at the same time calling for another one. This is one of the major reasons why Israel is so necessary. If your very existence rests on the good nature of other people, at some point, they will fail you.
I have never heard of racists or homophobes or sexists calling for the murder of those whom they oppose.
This isn’t a uniquely Jewish principle. Americans know this quite well. It was in 1964 that Reagan pointed out that if Americans lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. The United States was the last stand on earth. After thousands of years, Israel is that last stand for the Jewish people.
Those who hate Jews love to tell Jewish people we should get over the Holocaust while at the same time calling for another one.
My heart goes out to the Palestinian people who are trapped between powerful forces greater than themselves. Many of the Arab nations would rather have war than refugees, and my only hope is for everyone in the Middle East to find a way to coexist, not “mostly” peacefully, but entirely peacefully. But if Israel fell and martyrdom became viewed as even more of a heroic action for the forces of jihad, then many more innocent people would pay the price all over the world. In fact, it would be the moderate Muslims who would be the next targets, as those in Turkey today and the Persians who fled Iran in 1979 understand quite well. We would see Jerusalem closed to non-Muslims, just as it is illegal for non-Muslims to visit Mecca today.
If Israel fell and martyrdom became viewed as even more of a heroic action for the forces of jihad, then many more innocent people would pay the price all over the world.
Alan Dershowitz once made the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism as to whether you are applying the same standard across the board or are only having a problem with something when it is Jewish people doing whatever it is you have an issue with. It is absolutely the case that there are many Jews in power doing absolutely horrific things—George Soros being chief among them, and hardly a Zionist. Yet this standard often only applies to Jewish figures. When I think of Catholics, I think of social conservatism and having a veneration for human life. I certainly don’t think of Joe Biden and his crackhead son, or of San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi and whatever that husband of hers was doing. Nor would I think that somehow the Pope or the Vatican was in any way responsible for their corruption.
My only hope is for everyone in the Middle East to find a way to coexist, not “mostly” peacefully, but entirely peacefully.
I see no shortage of awful things said by Jewish people throughout the centuries in exile and under oppression being quoted on social media with the claim being that this is what Jewish people secretly believe today. Yes, Glenn, these beliefs are so secret that neither I nor any other Jewish person I have met has ever held or espoused them. As a Mormon, I am sure you can relate to people telling you with a straight face that your faith is satanic when you are simply trying to the best of your ability to be a kind, decent, moral person—as are most people with the slightest bit of honest faith. Martin Luther wrote things that would make Hitler blush. Yet I never think for one second when meeting a Lutheran that they secretly hate me or think me an evil person. Nor does any remotely sane Christian believe any longer that the Jewish Passover meal is made with the blood of children—we are Jews, not politicians.
I get told that Jewish interests are un-American but then attacked for Jews supposedly having “dual loyalties”—an accusation all those people waving Ukrainian flags never have to worry about. People who support Israel are accused of being controlled by the Jews. Yet you and I and a huge percentage of your audience are greatly concerned about the growing authoritarianism in Canada, especially as it concerned the truckers. That does not make us “Canadian-controlled.” Nor does someone have to be a teamster to be worried about those hard-working men and their families. It just makes me human.
Thank you for your ongoing concern with this country, with Israel, and with all freedom-loving people of all faiths and nationalities all over the world.