OpinionAntisemitism

What Jews must do to fight back

Some suggestions for dealing with hatred unleashed.

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir on March 1, 1973. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir on March 1, 1973. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Phyllis Chesler
Phyllis Chesler
Phyllis Chesler is an emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies at the City University of New York (CUNY).

The young women who demonstrate for Hamas are surprisingly vulgar, physically aggressive and self-satisfied. Their body language is, dare I say it, rather male. They curse. They enjoy the discomfort they cause in Jewish onlookers. Some wear hijab and niqab (face masks). Others wear Queers for Palestine t-shirts or sport black-and-white checked keffiyehs as scarves.

These girls and women are super-sonic “mean girls.” They smirk as they triumphantly tear down posters that feature the faces of kidnapped Israeli civilians. They look quite happy with themselves when a Jewish student appears visibly distressed.

Leftist women of all ages, many of whom are Jews, and some of whom are rabbis, lead chants against Israel. They wield megaphones, blow whistles and bang drums. They are seasoned, “in your face” performers and feel utterly righteous about drowning out everything and everyone else.

Of course, the young pro-Hamas men are even louder and more menacing. They are taller and wider. They scream, mullah-style, in hoarse voices of rage and are sometimes armed with knives, sticks and guns. They use their feet and their fists to kick, hit, beat or sucker-punch anyone who dares to carry an Israeli flag, wears a Jewish star or is in any way visibly Jewish. I’ve seen this in videos and heard about it from people who were there.

This hot Jew-hatred has been brewing for a long, long time. Yet it is being experienced as sudden and unexpected. The sight of Jewish blood on Oct. 7 has activated what we may metaphorically think of as “sleeper cells” that have been well-trained in mob violence against the Jews. These mobs are now on the move around the world and on American campuses.

Young American Jewish students, both women and men, are shocked, reeling, in free fall. They are traumatized. Frightened. Students did not suspect that such Jew-hatred existed so close to home. Like Anne Frank, they truly believed that all people were basically good. (Frank never exactly believed that, however.)

Such Jewish students are not prepared for a pogrom; or for the fact that Israel is now fighting an existential battle for its survival.

From a psychological and practical point of view, here’s what the students must learn. I am now addressing them directly:

First, you must understand that you have suddenly been drafted into a war. You must think like soldiers. In particular, you must accept that it does not matter if your enemies do not like or love you. A soldier’s only duty is to fight to win.

Second, you have to learn not to take anything personally. If you are cursed as “colonialists, racists, Islamophobes, capitalists,” it has nothing to do with you, who you are or anything that you’ve done. Jew hatred/antisemitism/anti-Zionism is a sickness, a virus, a plague that has afflicted Jew-haters. The shame is theirs, not yours.

Third, you must accept the fact that, despite exceptions, most people, both young and old, tend to be cowards and conformists. If you stand up to evil, if you stand up for Israel, you will lose friends, teachers, employers, even family members who may strongly disagree with you. This is the price that telling this particular truth exacts.

Fourth, you—or your parents or Jewish and Christian organizations—must fund armed guards to keep each one of you safe, just as synagogues and Jewish centers require armed guards. More importantly, you must spend at least a year or more learning Krav Maga or some other form of self-defense.

Believe it or not, if civilian haters, even in mobs, know they you know how to fight, they may decide to leave you alone. It’s happened many times before in Jewish history.

Fifth, it is important that you find like-minded students and meet regularly both in person and on the internet.

You have no choice. Please realize that the sight of Jewish blood excites and thrills the Jew-haters. The sight of Jews fighting back brilliantly and methodically, as the IDF is currently doing, enrages the Jew-haters.

We are not going to win any popularity contests no matter what we do. Like Golda Mair, I say: Let’s survive. Let’s win. We are in that kind of battle.

I must thank trauma psychiatrist Dr. Larry Amsel, with whom I discussed these ideas. You will hear more from both of us soon.

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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