(January 9, 2020 / JNS) If it were not the Jews of New York City that were being assaulted by African-American and Latino thugs, but some outburst of anti-Semitic violence in Odessa or Kiev, we would call it what it is: a series of pogroms. But we don’t want to do that because the repeated pictures of blacks and Latinos violently attacking Jews doesn’t meet the political narrative of liberal, urban elites.
In their myopic and politically self-serving frame of reference, liberals need anti-Semitism violence to be a product of white supremacy. To say otherwise is to contradict the disingenuous Charlottesville, Va., narrative that ultimately painted U.S. President Donald Trump as the source of the upsurge in anti-Semitic violence in New York City and around the country.
Even in the face of evidence to the contrary, one need go no further than a recent pronouncement by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to hear the false accusation that it is Trump-endorsed white supremacy that engenders these attacks. This mentality regrettably appeals to too many Jews who are liberal Democrats first and Jews last, especially when it comes to Jews who do not look like them.
From finding emotional catharsis in blaming the president to authoring long and often tedious essays about the nature of black/Jewish relations and the disproportionate anti-Semitism rotting away in the black community, Jews have done what they do best—analyze the problem without remotely suggesting the solution.
When you see a mad dog coming at you from across the street, your first instinct should not be to think about its bad upbringing, but to protect yourself from being attacked.
So, I really don’t care if blacks tend to be comparatively more anti-Semitic than whites, nor do I care if Tamika Mallory shares Louis Farrakhan’s adulation of Adolf Hitler. After all, Hitler’s final solution was first practiced on black Africans in what is present-day Namibia. Many of the Nazi inner circle had direct hands-on experience with the African genocide or, like Heinrich Himmler, their parents did.
I don’t care that Valerie Jarrett comes to Mallory’s defense by saying that it is necessary to form alliances with people with whom you disagree. I doubt if Jarrett would speak so glowingly of an alliance between Trump and David Duke.
I don’t care if Barack Obama embraced Farrakhan or whether Jewish opposition to the 2015 Iran deal contributed to anti-Semitism.
I don’t care if some blacks in New Jersey hold Jews accountable for their own deaths because like some scourge, they moved into a black neighborhood. Such ignorant opinions reminded me of the riots in Cicero, Ill., in 1951, when a black veteran and college graduate was actually arrested for moving into an all-white neighborhood. The rioters and the Cicero police blamed the black man for the riots. He, like the Jews of Jersey City, should not have been there according to the assembled white thugs.
But what I do care about is Jews defending themselves. In Charlottesville, the police were told to stand in place, making the Jews cowering in a synagogue vulnerable to the armed white supremacists outside.
Even if de Blasio’s concerns will turn into action, members of the New York Police Department can’t be everywhere.
At some point, Jews will realize that they must be responsible for their own defense. In this, they should follow the example of their Muslim neighbors, who in the face of hostility are turning to self-defense measures.
There is also a history of the pogroms of which few Jews are aware. In Odessa in 1905, armed and trained Jewish militias held off would-be Russian pogromists who came to slaughter Jews with knives and clubs. The pogromists found that you should not bring a knife to a gun fight, were beaten back and eventually needed the Russian military to assist them.
Joseph Trumpeldor and Ze’ev Jabotinsky trained Jews in military tactics in Russia, and later, in British Mandate Palestine. Their philosophy of self-defense helped pave the way for Israel’s success in the 1948 War of Independence.
In combating terrorism, whether foreign or domestic, the first principle still is to harden the target. The question Jews should ask themselves is what size legal handgun will fit in a tallis bag.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the news and public-policy group Haym Salomon Center.
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