I have been wanting to write this Op-Ed for a long time. Too long. But the time has finally come for me to say something about the massiverising tide of antisemitism here in America specifically and all over the world as well.
I am Jewish. I am not all that religious, but I am proud of my Jewish heritage and culture, as I'm sure most of you are proud of whatever heritage ethnic/cultural background you may come from or identify with.
I am writing this piece today because I, and many other Jewish folks I know, are just so damn sick and tired of our non-Jewish friends and associates telling US what is and what is NOT “anti-Semitic.”
Whether it was (1) the recent statements from The View’s Whoopi Goldberg, or, (2) those from the NFL’s Washington Commanders' Jonathan Allen or, (3) the matters of mandatory Christian proselytizing assemblies in West Virginia public high school, or, (4) the refusal of an adoption agency in Tennessee to allow the adoption of a “Christian” child to a Jewish couple, or, (5) the convoy of 30 truckloads of “Christian” men suddenly massing in front of my son’s home (he is a State Representative in Ohio) on a weekend carrying, among other extremist artifacts, flags that demanded that he and presumptively his family (including our three very young grandchildren) “kneel before the cross,” we Jews tend to actually KNOW when we are being targeted for antisemitism.
As the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously opined in the case of Jacobellis v. Ohio in 1964 regarding his definition of pornography, “I know it when I see it.”
We know that the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms, the Holocaust, and so many other noted bloodbaths in Earth’s human history have been catalyzed by this very same hatred of the Jewish people.
Likewise, we Jews also frequently know antisemitism when we see it or experience it.
It is so demeaning and hurtful and repulsive; how could we NOT?!
And we know that the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms, the Holocaust, and so many other noted bloodbaths in Earth’s human history have been catalyzed by this very same hatred of the Jewish people.
I realize that I am a public figure asa civil rights advocate and, as such, will tend to attract more of this pernicious, anti-Jewish hatred than if I was not “out there” in the public sphere.
I have elected to fight antisemitism, and all other forms of religious bigotry, in thecrucial battleground of the United States military.
Virulent, grotesque antisemitism sadlycomes with this very same civil rights advocacy territory.
Andmy wife and I have seen so much of it and still do on literally a daily basis.
But there are two things that folks we know will too often say to us that are JUST as hurtful. Seriously so.
The first is, “Well, you guys asked for this by deciding to be so public in the media.” (not even worthy of a reply!)
The second one is, “Well, that particular matter is not at all anti-Semitic. You’re being too thin-skinned” ... and the wretched like.
Obviously, one can have rational and reasonable debate about these matters of antisemitism, but if you are NOT Jewish, please, PLEASE try to understand that you may not at ALL “know it when you see it.”
And why not?
Because, my friends, unless you have PERSONALLY felt the horrific ignominy, humiliation, threats, and indescribable pain of antisemitism YOURSELF, your own judgment on such anti-Jewish bigotry, hatred, and prejudice may well be wanting, faulty, and terminally suboptimal in your analysis of the alleged anti-Semitic matter at hand.
I am not saying that questioning whether an incident is or is not anti-Semitic is wrong.
I’m just asking for some amount of basic FREAKING decency among those who are not Jewish in how they communicate about it with Jewish people they might know.
One should never consider the opinion of the persecutor as to whether he or she committed “persecution” as conclusive or dispositive.
ASK THE VICTIMS!!
And please give the victims of antisemitism their due amount of “street credibility” when they answer you.
LISTEN TO THEM!
And grant them some reasonable acknowledgment that "They, better than you, know it when they see it."
Military Religious Freedom Foundation