Gary Rosenblatt, editor of The Jewish Week can't seem to understand anti-Semitism. In his latest piece:
Have we reached the point where we not only take anti-Semitism for granted but don’t even question the illogical attitudes of those who hate us?I learned with shock, as we all did, of the attempt of four former convicts from New York, Muslim converts, who reportedly out of opposition to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, decided to blow up synagogues, and presumably Jews, in the Bronx. Does that make any sense?Surely we will come to learn more details in the days and weeks ahead, but the strange conflation of American foreign policy, Israel, militant Islam and anti-Semitism is as dangerous as it is puzzling. Yet we have been conditioned to accept the notion that virtually any controversial event in the world
somehow becomes linked to Israel, Zionists and Jews, in a negative way.
There are two general approaches to understand Jew hatred: the religious and the non-religious.
The religious approach is relatively simple. Our sages tell us that "it is a halacha that Eisav hates Yaakov." Not a general thing, not a custom, not something common, but a law, using the same word that one might use to discuss rules about kashrus or Shabbos. In other words, it's a given for us.
What's more, we recognize this hatred is irrational. The Midrash tells the story of Hadrian, y"sh, the Emperor of Rome who was walking down the street when a Jew greeted him. Hadrian, insulted by the idea of a Jew speaking to him, had the poor guy executed. The Jew's friend who witnessed this then tried to sneak by but when Hadrian caught him and discovered that he too was a Jew, he had him executed as well. Hadrian's advisors then asked about the obvious contradiction: you killed the first Jew for greeting you and the second Jew for not greeting you. Where's the logic in all that? Hadrian's answer was: Don't tell me how to deal with my enemies.
For the non-religious, understanding anti-Semitism has always been much more difficult. After all, it's easy for them to understand Jew hatred from a xenophobic perspective. Religious Jews in their strange garb, speaking a strange language, refusing to integrate into the surrounding culture, well that would make sense. Initially suspicious turns into eventual hatred.
But let us remember that the tragedy of the Holocaust did not start with religious Jews. Hitler, y"h, began with the non-religious and the charges against them were that they wore German garb, spoke German perfectly and were desperate to integrate into German society, thereby diluting the Aryan race's purity. What's more, looking at the Nazi literature of the time, like Der Streumer, it's easy to discover what the German mind thought of their Jews: underneath the assimilated Teutonic exterior was the same bearded and caftaned Jew that infested Poland.
Movies like The Pianist make this point perfectly. Adrien Brody and his family are assimilated Jews in Poland during the war. There are, in fact, only assimilated Jews in Poland if this film is to be believed. They are so assimilated that they have Polish names, participate in Polish culture and, other than a bris milah (hopefully) they betray no trace of Jewishness. Yet when the Nazis come it's off to the ghetto for them and the viewer is forced to ask: why? They're no different from the non-Jewish Poles. What was so special about them that warranted such harsh treatment?
As the holiday of Shavous draws close, we are given our answer. About 3329 years ago we stood at the foot of Har Sinai as God Allmight, in all his glory, revealed Himself to us and gave us His Torah. The Torah is the source of morality, God's foothold in a world that would rather not have Him in it so that true goodness can be expunged. We are the guardians of that foothold and the nations of world, consciously or not, know this. Jews observant of the Torah's law know this. By virute of the covenant, we cannot be separate from Him. Just as they hate Him, they hate us. A Jew cannot assimilate away from this hatred and attempts to try just worsen things. No one loves a God fearing Jew but a perceived turncoat is always worse.
There will always be Jew hatred until the final redemption (may it come speedily) and it will never appear rational to the initiated because a rational approach exclude God's importance in all that befalls us as a nation. May we merit that this is the last Shavuos in golus and that our Father in Heaven speedily return us to our land in front of the eyes of the nations of the world so that His Torah can once again become the guiding light for humanity.