10 challenges facing the Jewish world

The axiological framework of each era and its repercussions have shown that the Jewish people can never feel safe.

A Star of David pointer over the first word of the book of Genesis. Credit: Odelia Cohen/Shutterstock.
A Star of David pointer over the first word of the book of Genesis. Credit: Odelia Cohen/Shutterstock.
David Garrett.
David Garrett
David Garrett is a defense lawyer and board member of the Jewish Community of Oporto, Portugal.

The Jewish state is isolated and so are the Jews. It is the 21st century, but one could say that everything is starting again.

As a result, we face 10 main challenges:

1. We cannot allow the Jews to be robbed again, this time of their status as victims. At a time when being a victim is both appealing and lucrative, the widespread interpretation of the concept verges on madness. When those targeted are not Jewish, it is all-powerful.

The word “boycott” is the only possible description of the restrictive interpretation of victimhood applied to the Jews. Decades of a leftist and radical Islamist propaganda campaign have culminated in the marginalization of antisemitism itself. The “anti-racists” have placed antisemitism outside the realm of racism. Not even a hideous massacre of Jews escapes relativization: “It depends on the context.” Everything is racism, except antisemitism. Worse still, the Jews themselves are labeled as racists who must be resisted.

2. We must not permit the Holocaust to be exploited for political ends hostile to the Jewish people. Teaching the Holocaust through the language of tolerance, respecting difference and so on has failed. Moreover, it is increasingly used against the Jews themselves. The word “Jew” itself is beginning to disappear from discussions of the Holocaust. Holocaust museums are in the hands of non-Jewish municipalities and organizations, and preach vacuous messages about “human solidarity.”

3. We must not act as if the Holocaust occurred in a vacuum rather than as the fulfillment of two millennia of hate. There is not enough attention paid to the historic genocides of the Jews in Hebron, Odessa, Chisinau, Bern, Troyes, York, Paris, Trent, Norwich, Metz, Erfurt, Worms, Cologne, Strasburg, Überlingen, Basel, Barcelona, Toledo, Madrid, Lisbon, Seville, Granada, Alexandria and other places. It has all been conveniently forgotten.

4. We must not forget the Jews’ umbilical relationship with the word “genocide,” a term that doesn’t necessarily imply the total extermination of a people. Etymologically and legally, “genocide” is the indiscriminate massacre of individuals of all ages belonging to a specific people. What happened seven months ago in Israel shows what might become the fate of all Jews on the planet.

5. Israel must enact a law criminalizing antisemitism. It must be of universal application, except in cases where national laws adequately punish said behaviors. It should read: “The rhetorical or physical manifestation against Jewish and non-Jewish individuals and/or against their property, community, religious and cultural institutions, as well as against the right of Israel to exist, shall be punished, when said manifestations aim to create a climate of fear or a hostile environment within the heart of a Jewish community and/or are result of a negative perception of Jews, as an individualized people, linking them not to virtues but to trickery, material interests, infidelity to the homeland, violence or infamous conspiracy theories.”

Although the value of such a law would be largely symbolic, it would expose the inadequacy of the laws of other nations and replace the inadequate International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism that only served to exalt the signatories.

6. We must learn from the current isolation and slander of “bad” Israel and not allow the same isolation and slander of “bad” Jews around the world. Around the world, there are Jews notable for their prowess, culture, spiritual leadership or economic talents who greatly support local Jewish communities and the State of Israel. They are constantly derided in derogatory terms by international propagandists without the Jewish world rushing to their aid.

7. We must enhance Israel’s relations with the Diaspora. Liaison officers between the State of Israel and the Jewish communities in every country must be appointed. At the moment, Israeli ambassadors and consuls are not trained to understand the challenges facing Diaspora communities and are not explicitly tasked with defending them. This must change.

8. We must rethink the Jewish media, which in terms of the mission of speaking truth and defense of the Jewish world is almost nonexistent.

9. We must analyze and understand the causes of the inferior performance of many international Jewish organizations, which are reluctant to make waves because they answer not to the Jewish community but to their benefactors. Many of these benefactors have agendas with absolutely no relation to Jewish interests.

10. We must not passionately support fashionable political regimes, values and idioms as if we have reached the end of history. Civilizations are born and then die. Values, regimes and leaders change. Alliances shift. Each era creates its own models of absolute truth based on banalities that the future will dismantle and deny. All is transitory.

The Jewish people have tried governance by judges, kings, the exilarchy and republics in the same way they have lived and continue to live in a multitude of non-Jewish civilizations. With so much learning over more than three millennia, it is not reasonable for Jews to take sides between axiological wars of empires whose programs will never include the defense of Jewish values.

Each of these challenges is as important as all the others. They are not separate but an interconnected whole.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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