Have we, as Jews, become numb to record levels of antisemitism in the United States?
Thus far in 2023, we have witnessed record levels of it.
For the Jewish community in America, this is not a fairly sad state of affairs, it's a wholly tragic one.
Antisemitic fliers have been found on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, in January of this year and just last week, a brick with swastikas on it was thrown through the windows of a Chabad house in Pensacola, Florida.
And, we continue to see this hatred towards the Jewish community every day, from the growth of the antisemitic group the Goyim Defense League in Florida to the halls of Congress, where members traffic in antisemitism regularly.
Just last weekend, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., knowingly spread lies about Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, when she told an audience at a NetRoots conference "I want you to know that we have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state."
In light of this, let's take a trip down memory lane; let's share parts of this writer's childhood, to relate those parts of my youth when he experienced antisemitism.
This is illustrative of the point that the heightened disdain for Jews is nothing new in America, or globally.
In many ways, I and other American Jews, grew up with it daily.
Let’s start when I was a young boy, around the ages of seven or eight seven or eight.
At that time, I began attending Hebrew school at Temple Emanuel.
My shul was located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey — a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania— a town of 70,000 people.
I would venture to guess that at least 50-70% of the town was Jewish.
In addition to my public schooling from Monday to Friday, I attended Hebrew school twice a week, as well as over the weekend.
The fixtures I distinctly remember during my time at Hebrew school were a sense of community: American and Israeli flags in every classroom, starting every class by singing the U.S. national anthem and the Israeli national anthem "Hatikvah," frozen apple juice and pretzel rods for snacks, as well as learning about the Torah, Judaism and the history of the Jewish people.
In addition to all those positive memories, I also recall that there was always a Cherry Hill police car parked outside of our building, and an officer inside the shul.
Over the years, we endured many "false alarms," during which our shul had to go into lockdown after receiving bomb threats.
From a security perspective, during our high holiday services for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, when the entire membership of our shul would come together (some 400 families) — our shul felt more like the White House than anything else.
Returning to the present, just last month, on June 19, the FBI thwarted another attack on a synagogue in East Lansing, Michigan.
Returning to our trip down memory lane . . . In my early teenage years, I had the honor of being part of the Cherry Hill Katz Jewish Community Center (JCC) delegation to the Maccabi Games.
I was the third baseman for our baseball team. We played other delegations from around the country such as Houston, New York, and Miami.
For those who don’t know, the JCC Maccabi Youth Games is an Olympic-style event held annually for Jewish youth between the ages of 13 to 16.
The games were first held in 1982 in Memphis, Tennessee, sponsored by the Memphis Jewish Community Center.
More than 120,000 athletes have participated globally in these games.
The Maccabi Games’ aim is to foster Jewish identity, while developing national interest in Olympic sports through the Jewish Community Center’s affiliation with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
This writer recalls an enormous security presence at the games, but none more than during our opening ceremonies in Cherry Hill.
In this predominantly Jewish town, there were helicopter gunships around us at all times; local police and FBI vehicles everywhere, snipers were on rooftops.
There we were, a bunch of 13 to 16-year-olds having a good time with our fellow Jews, yet we saw snipers and flashing police lights everywhere.
I even remember seeing snipers on roofs during our baseball games.
I would go on to play in similar Maccabi Games as a 14, 15 and 16-year-old representing the Cherry Hill delegation in Florida, Virginia, and Montreal.
The same security protocols were in place for those future games as well.
I experienced an abundant amount of Jewish pride, camaraderie, and community — and . . . armed guards everywhere.
The truth is, we grew up with armed security present anytime we gathered in our shuls or mass events.
Antisemitism is rightly referred to as the world’s oldest hatred.
While this writer has experienced antisemitism throughout his entire life, the Jewish people have been facing it for centuries.
We’ve survived pogroms, deportations, and the Holocaust.
Make no mistake, we’re still here and we aren’t going anywhere, though many would love to see that outcome.
I don’t profess to have all the answers to remedy a situation following our people for centuries, but I will suggest that we as Jews must embrace more Jewish pride and do more to support each other.
We can no longer afford to allow politics to divide us.
That might sound compelling emanating from this writer, who is very political, but I have always championed the idea that Jews should work together to support our faith, Israel, and Zionism — regardless of our political leanings.
I also recognize that this might be a pipe dream, because many Jews who identify as progressives are far more interested in championing non-Jewish issues: they could care less about being Jewish and supporting Israel.
Sorry if that offends, but it happens to be the truth.
Groups such as J Street who represent Jewish progressives like to pretend that they support Zionism and Israel, but their CEO kisses the ring and cheek of Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas!
J Street routinely partners with groups that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
So, while hatred of Jews in America is nothing new, it has now become mainstream in many ways that I could never have imagined as a young Jewish boy in America.
The Jewish community must start playing offense and leading with Jewish pride. We can no longer play defense and sing "Kumbaya" with those who seek to destroy the world’s only Jewish state.
Our future is at stake, and it is even right here in America.
We had better start standing up for it; standing up steadfast and tall.
Bryan E. Leib is the Executive Director of CASEPAC, the nation's only Federal PAC dedicated to combating Antisemitism everywhere. Formerly, he served as the Executive Director for Iranian Americans for Liberty and in 2018, he was a GOP Endorsed Congressional Candidate (PA-03). He tweets at @BryanLeibFL. Read More Bryan E. Leib Reports — Here.
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