September 15, 2020
A year ago this time, American Jews were concerned. On Pesach of 2019 the Chabad of Poway was attacked by a gunman, who murdered one person and wounded three others. It was miraculous that many more were not harmed. Several months earlier a synagogue in Pittsburgh was attacked during Shabbat services. Eleven people were murdered and six injured. The gunman told authorities that Jews were committing genocide, and he wanted all of them dead.
Politicians expressed their condolences and promised to beef up security; neighbors showed solidarity with the victims; organizations sent out press releases; funds were raised; hate “in all its forms” was condemned. It was a predictable script.
So was the reaction of Jews across the country. They expressed requisite concern, made it a little more difficult for their institutions to be invaded, brought in someone to talk about self-defense and how to survive an attack, arranged a ceremony, then went back to planning their next simcha and summer vacation. We're in galus, they said. Stuff happens occasionally. It will be okay.
That December, a kosher grocery store in New Jersey was attacked by two gunmen with tactical gear. Miraculously, they only killed three people. They intended to massacre children at the Jewish school next door, and had a pipe bomb in their van, which they didn't get a chance to use.
Days later, on Chanuka, a Jewish home in Monsey was invaded by a man with a machete, who went on a stabbing spree. One elderly Jew was severely wounded in the head and died three months later. Four others were wounded as well, one critically.
The murderer was a black man who didn't believe that Jewish lives matter. We were told that he was mentally ill – as so often seems to be the case when Jews are attacked – and therefore, presumably, this wasn't any particular cause for concern. It's less disturbing if there are large numbers of mentally ill people roaming the streets looking to kill Jews than if they are “normal” people killing Jews deliberately.
All this time, Jews were being harassed and physically assaulted on the streets of Brooklyn and elsewhere on an almost daily basis. Most of these incidents were chalked up to pranks, mental illness, or randomness. They would be investigated as “possible” hate crimes, because when Jews are attacked we must not jump to conclusions that their Jewishness had anything to do with it, unlike when people of other persuasions are victimized. The Jews were assured that these were isolated incidents, and the streets were safe. Nevertheless, for good measure, there would be more police patrols and schools would teach students not to hate. Problem solved.
The sheer frequency of these incidents provided Jewish magazines ongoing opportunities to run feature stories on “rising anti-Semitism in America”, with predictable quotes telling Jews to be cautious but not to worry. Readers of these lengthy features would have no idea that Israel existed if they didn't already know it. Jews don't run away from anti-Semitism anymore, after all, the thought merely crosses their minds momentarily before they come to their senses. And if they did run away, Israel would be the least desirable option. No need to mention it.
Lest readers complain that the coverage of these tragedies was disproportionate and there was too much negativity in their Shabbos reading material, no serious alarm bells were raised. We were always assured that the situation was under control, leaders and organizations were on top of it, and it's not too soon to plan the next Pesach vacation.
Oh, and increasing numbers of politicians across the country, including members of Congress, were making blatantly anti-Jewish and anti-Israel remarks, and anti-Semitism on college campuses was becoming as American as apple pie. How ignorant! The offenders would be invited to tour Holocaust museums, where they could learn from the pros and be inspired by their role models.
This was all a year ago. Those were much better days.
Since the Chanuka attack in Monsey, all of the following have occurred:
New York virtually scrapped its bail requirements, allowing even violent criminals to be released back onto the streets hours after attacking someone. In completely unrelated news, crime in New York City has skyrocketed, and it has quickly deteriorated from one of the safest large cities in the world to a very scary place.
The mayor of New York singled out Jews for blame over the spread of the coronavirus. No other demographic group has been similarly targeted. Subsequently, random Jews were harassed and attacked on this pretext.
The American economy has been devastated, with the full extent of the damage impossible to gauge. Millions of people have lost their jobs, countless businesses have closed, and the government can't print Monopoly money fast enough. The average American had little or no savings, or was deeply in debt, before all this happened.
The following have all become normalized in the last three months alone: riots; looting; destruction of stores and businesses; harassing and intimidating random people in the street under the guise of “social justice”; mobs of “protesters” stalking people outside their homes; cars being surrounded by mobs in the middle of the street; cities large and small descending into anarchy on a nightly basis; rows of stores boarding up to deter looters or closing completely; police officers being demonized and dehumanized; police officers being assassinated while onlookers cheer; widespread resignation of police officers; destruction of American monuments; demonization of American history, its historical figures, and its founding principles; demonization and humiliation of people with white skin; demands for people with white skin to surrender their homes, property, money, and jobs; calls for America to be destroyed; schools and colleges across the country overhauling their curriculum to mainstream all of the above; sympathy in the mainstream media for all of the above; heavily armed militias roaming the streets in opposition of the above; increasingly deviant lifestyles; sexualization of children; indoctrination of children with gender confusion and sexual deviance; churches and Bibles being burned.
All of that became normalized in the last three months. There's plenty more – that was just off the top of my head.
Large swaths of the country have been devastated by fires and hurricanes on an unprecedented scale.
In the past, natural disasters united the country. Today, the opposing sides celebrate when enemy states burn or drown. They don't even offer their “thoughts and prayers” anymore.
All the major sports leagues have become overrun with political and social activism. No longer can Americans of different races and classes even join together in rooting for the local team. The activism, and the reactions to it, are bigger stories than the actual games. Even sports is no longer an escape from it all.
The entertainment industry has dropped any pretense of being about entertainment; it exists to teach the masses what to think and how to behave.
Corporations have become political entities instead of simply selling goods and services. Their advertisements often have more to do with politics and new morality than an actual product. What people buy or don't buy is a political statement with battle lines sharply drawn.
Literally the only thing that unifies Americans is a common currency. Referring to America as “The United States” is an anachronism, and there is no way to repair it. For the first time since the September 11 attacks, which unified the country in a moment of collective grief, commemorations of the day were awkward and received little attention. If a similar attack occurred today, much of the country – including most of the young people – would side with the attackers. If terrorists hijacked a plane and crashed it into the White House, there would be dancing in the streets.
There is literally zero chance that the upcoming election comes and goes peacefully. Both sides have made it abundantly clear that if they lose the election they won't accept the results. The question is not whether there will be fraud, but how much it will influence the results, how much of it will be uncovered, and how badly the foundations of the country will be further broken.
Somehow, in spite of all the above, American Jews believe they have a long and bright future in America. They believe things are going to return to the way they were after the virus settles down, or after the election. Cooler heads will prevail. Responsible leadership will heal the societal wounds.
American Jews today, after all that happened, are surprised – even shocked – when someone menaces them with an anti-Semitic tirade. They think those who attack Jews are mentally ill, but is it not the Jew who is afflicted with mental illness? How else can their utter blindness, their absurd optimism and confidence which is shared by virtually no other Americans, be explained?
Demonization of Jews has become increasingly normalized in the last few months as well. There is no logical reason why Jewish businesses and neighborhoods have not become better acquainted with the anarchists who hate them to the core and covet all they have. God has tremendous mercy on His people even in difficult times, but instead of gratefully receiving the relatively gentle warnings, the Jews are blissfully misinterpreting them as a sign that they are untouchable.
I mentioned that the only thing Americans have in common anymore is the currency. That's not entirely true. The other thing that unites the warring factions is hatred for the Jew, to varying degrees, with the righteous exceptions not nearly significant enough or powerful enough to protect them.
In a country where all sacred boundaries have been trampled, where wickedness and cruelty are celebrated as moral virtues, Jews have no right to feel secure.
Just imagine what would happen if a black child ran in front of a Jewish car and was struck entirely by accident. Do I need to spell it out?
If the safety of all the Jews in America rests on such a razor's edge, should they not be urgently planning their exodus en masse? Is that not what responsible, intelligent, generally affluent people would do, particularly when they are not even in their true home to begin with? How can it be that brilliant, scholarly rabbis across America, who are experts at seeing different sides of issues, see only one side to this one, which is to stay in America and pray? Pray for what? That what is clearly happening will just be a bad dream? That all the people who hate you, have no boundaries, and have nothing to stop them will just forget about you?
There is a time to pray, and there is a time to get out. This is a time to get out.
The vast majority of American Jews descend either from Holocaust survivors or people who escaped from Europe when they saw the warning signs. (The earliest Jews of America consisted largely of people who escaped the Spanish Inquisition.) They should know from their own grandparents not to be lulled into a false sense of security, to recognize when a previously hospitable society is breaking down, and that it's always best to leave sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to get out and the more it will cost. Eventually the cost will be everything, and then even that won't be enough.
You can accuse me of “fearmongering” if it makes you feel better, but remember: this has happened literally every single time in history that the Jews thought they had it made in exile and it would stay that way until Moshiach came to pick them up in a limousine. There are countless reasons to believe that things are going to get very bad for the Jews in America very soon – many of them were cited above – and not a single substantial reason to believe this will all just blow over.
Americans across the country are celebrating wanton death and destruction or cowering in fear of it. When they come for the Jews and their money, the average American will cheer them on, or will be indifferent, or will be powerless to do anything about it.
It is not the attackers who should be accused of mental illness, but those who are still hoping to plan their next Pesach vacation.
I beg of you. Wake up. Get out. Come home. Figure it out when you get here, even if you have to live in poverty and start all over. It's reached that point.
Far greater people have issued warnings – even prophetic warnings – and were ignored. I have no right to expect anyone to listen to me. If nothing else, I absolve myself for having tried.
Next year in Jerusalem.
Go Up Like a Wall is available for free upon request and on Amazon for a pittance.