As Jews there are 3 things we do not have the luxury of doing. We can not shy away from identifying the perpetrators. If these were isolated incidents maybe, but since they are happening with alarming frequency we can not. The next thing we can not do is allow politics to distract us from the problem. Depending on your personal spin you could waste your time blaming either side of the aisle. And lastly, but most importantly, we can not remain silent. The order of the first 2 are interchangeable, while number 1 is unquestionably the most important of the 3. Silence is not an option.
Although an argument can be made that there is no evidence that the increasing attacks by black individuals against Orthodox Jews is an organized effort, it is a growing and disturbing trend, and if in the name of liberal tolerance we do not address it for what it is, we will be complicit in its ongoing development. Furthermore, it is my belief that we would not be helping the black community in the process. The fact that the severity and frequency of the attacks is a newer phenomenon indicates that this is not something that is encouraged or condoned in those communities. I am sure there have been tensions in some areas for a long time, but the majority of Americans are not criminals who randomly attack other Americans. Why is this important? Because for this to end we need to solicit the help of black communities. We can’t do that if we’re afraid to admit so much is coming from there in the first place.
The political issue is a big one, because like it is doing in so many other areas of American society, the position people take towards party and leadership has become so important they find ways to justify their position, rather than look at things clearly and honestly. Since the increase in attacks I have consistently heard from people on the left how Donald Trump is to blame for the climate he has created in the country, while hearing from people on the right how Barack Obama and left wing liberals are to blame for what is taking place. I have fellow Jews I care about on both sides of the political aisle, and I encourage them to continue the debate, but when we are under siege I urge them even more to recognize that we do not have the option of not working towards one common purpose. Our personal safety.
And of course silence is not an option. I am writing this today solely for that reason. I am not so arrogant as to think I am going to say something that will make it all better, but I will try to lead by example. Public officials in New York have reacted well, but the truth is that we can not allow them to get comfortable. We have to make our voices heard. We have to write them, we have to call them, and we have to organize rallies with large numbers to keep their attention. We have to demand that they fulfill their number one responsibility, and that is to keep us safe. We have to show that when we say NEVER AGAIN that we truly mean it.
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