A call for new leadership from Charles Jacobs and Seth A. Klarman of the David Project:
A rush of shocking events is creating a “tipping point” in Jewish consciousness. Increasingly, Jews feel our situation has substantially changed, and for the worse.
The events include Iran’s nuclear threats and Holocaust denial, Hamas” electoral victory, the torture and murder of Ilan Halimi in Paris by a Muslim gang, the “discovery” by a Harvard dean that Jews actually do conspire to control Congress and American foreign policy in the service of Israel and to the detriment of U.S. interests, and the British academic boycott.
All of these demonstrate for many that there is a new assault on the world’s Jews. The hostility is based on a unique and intense hatred of Israel and deep resentment of its supporters, accompanied by a growing willingness to use violence.
As though in a “perfect storm,” two global ideologies, rooted in different radical critiques of the West, have suddenly aligned against us:
1. Islamic anti-Semitism. Fueled by Saudi petro-dollars and Iranian revolutionary zeal, a global campaign in mosques and madrassas (Islamic schools) teaches hundreds of millions of Muslims that Jews are the sons of monkeys and pigs, and killing them is a holy deed. The internet and television embellish the message: docudramas in Iran, Egypt and Jordan depict Jews harvesting the organs of Muslim children, killing non-Jews to make matzo, and plotting to rule the world.
This poison reaches Muslims in the West. Europe’s Jews are besieged and violently assaulted — on the streets and in the no-longer varnished rhetoric of polite society. In America, Freedom House told Congress it found Saudi-produced hate literature aimed at Americans, Christians — but mostly Jews — in mosques across the U.S.
2. In the West, “Palestinianism” — the notion that an innocent, indigenous people suffers a senseless, cruel oppression by the Jews of Israel (who ought to know better) threatens to become the standard view. It is the basis for an attack by Western radicals on Zionism, Jewish national self-determination, and by extension on Jews everywhere. The “oppression” of an Arab people by Westerners is, for the far Left, morally and politically more consequential than the massacres, enslavements, beheadings, bombings, and ethnic cleansings committed by Arabs and Muslims from London to Sudan, from Spain to Indonesia. These are treated by radicals as distractions from (even caused by) the deeper Zionist evil.
Rooted in separate critiques of the West, Islam and the radical left are now allied — in Europe and increasingly in segments of America’s professoriate, media, human rights community, and the leadership of certain Protestant churches.
In America, Jews fret as a vicious anti-Israel movement has taken root on American campuses, and Jewish organizations reeled last summer when five mainline Protestant denominations passed anti-Israel resolutions. Most Jews don’t yet know the extent to which public high school texts — and teachers — are delegitimizing Israel.
Anti-Semitism is a virus that morphs. In the West now, hostility to Jews has little to do with the familiar hatreds — of Judaism or the Jewish “race.” Today”s antipathy makes Israel “the Jew” and its “crimes” the old “Jewish crimes” — killing of the innocent, theft (this time of land), arrogance, and the control of business, finance, government and the media by international cabals. As before, “Jewish crimes” stand out as uniquely, even cosmically evil. And as such, they call for correction.
We were unprepared; we remain confused. Arab and Muslim Jew-hatred was misread as mere “street talk” that would dissipate when Oslo brought peace. Instead, Jew-hate is an engine of the global jihad. We are flummoxed by the new breed of Western adversaries. After centuries of attack by brutes, illiterates, right wing lunatics, and Christian anti-Semites, antagonism to the Jewish collective is now generated by soft-spoken moralists with high ideals, by “anti-racists” — some of the most articulate of whom are Jews. Set to defend against thugs yelling “kike,” we are attacked instead by college professors — today a far more insidious enemy — who berate us for supporting “immorality.”
No one wants to think that sixty years after the Holocaust, a new storm threatens Jews everywhere. But reality cannot be avoided or minimized. Confused, with our defenses down, Jews need to consider the profound impact of losing the ideological battle that can destroy the Jewish state. This new time requires courageous and talented leaders to grasp these new realities and create strategies to defeat the latest defamations, grounded in a libelous portrayal of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
A leadership correctly prioritizing the threat would convince us to lay aside our furious left-right debates, and teach us instead to make Israel’s basic case — from the left as well as from the right. It would gather the support of non-Jews and distinguish clearly friends from enemies. Most important, a new leadership would bravely and tirelessly tell us the truth about our new situation and recruit our talent and resources to the task.
If current Jewish leaders — in this country which has been so good to the Jewish people — can’t or won’t do these things, then this small but enormously talented people will have to get new leaders. For in this, the Jewish community cannot and must not fail.