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EllieBC's Journal
EllieBC's Journal
December 30, 2019

Jews Under Attack Deserve Better Than Selective Outrage

By Benjamin Wittes
Contributing writer at The Atlantic and editor in chief of Lawfare

The Jewish community has turned selective outrage over anti-Semitism into a kind of norm.

There was a time—and it was not that long ago—when regardless of what separated Jews, we made a certain common cause over those who traded in the themes that had caused so many Jewish deaths. You could be religious or secular, liberal or conservative, but protecting Jews in the Soviet Union was a fight we all fought. Jews didn’t look the other way when Louis Farrakhan or David Duke spouted hatred. And an attack on a synagogue was, well, an attack on a synagogue.

Times have changed. Over the past few weeks, Orthodox Jews in the New York area have been targeted in a series of violent attacks. Yet the reaction has been muffled, including from people—especially but not exclusively Jews—who one would expect to be up in arms. The reaction is about what you’d expect for unpleasant graffiti-writing or anti-Semitic name-calling. It is certainly not what I would have expected in response to a wave of hate crimes, including attacks with guns and machetes, that have left people dead and in critical condition.

Why the comparatively mild response? For many American Jews, the answer is that these aren’t “our” kind of Jews—and the attackers aren’t motivated by the kind of anti-Semitism we most want to talk about.
Batya Unger-Sargon, the opinion editor at the Forward, put it bluntly and correctly this morning:

After the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Shabbat that killed 11 people last year, and another fatal shooting at a shul in Poway, California six months later, one often heard that the great threat to Jews—even the only threat—comes from white supremacy. Conventional wisdom said it was the political right, and the right’s avatar in the White House, that was to blame for the rising levels of hate against Jews.

But the majority of the perpetrators of the Brooklyn attacks, and the suspects in Jersey City—who were killed in a shootout with the police—and now Monsey, were not white, leaving many at a loss about how to explain it or even talk about it. There is little evidence that these attacks are ideologically motivated, at least in terms of the ideologies of hate we are most familiar with.

And therein lies the trouble with talking about the violent attacks against Orthodox Jews: At a time when ideology seems to [reign] supreme in the chattering and political classes, the return of pogroms to Jewish life on American soil transcends ideology. In the fight against anti-Semitism, you don’t get to easily blame your traditional enemies—which, in the age of Trump, is a non-starter for most people.

In our political moment, a great many people seem more outraged by the other side’s anti-Semitism than by their own side’s. Only recently, Jewish supporters of the president seemed not to notice when Rudy Giuliani—the president’s lawyer—disparaged the Judaism of a Holocaust survivor. Trump trades in anti-Semitic stereotypes on a relatively routine basis; he once suggested that Jews had to vote for him because Senator Elizabeth Warren would take away their wealth, and he ran an ad at the close of the 2016 election insinuating that a Jewish elite holds too much power and control. Trump’s Jewish supporters have looked the other way even as they have seen a menace to the Jewish future from Democratic—but not Republican—members of Congress who have advanced similar ideas.

Rest at link: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/12/what-monsey-attack-says-about-jewish-community/604228/?utm_content=edit-promo&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_term=2019-12-29T21%3A48%3A31&utm_campaign=the-atlantic&fbclid=IwAR2AlUkfrHHr3yUx3nggC1rBWQ7ACe41GdPGb2K0f82GNv4FS6OWRfUWqYE

This article is spot on. We need to quit pretending anti-semitism is only a feature in the right wing.

December 29, 2019

BREAKING: Several People Stabbed By Machete-Wielding Suspect During Monsey Chanukah Event

Source: NY Times

A knife attack at the home of a rabbi in a New York suburb on Saturday night left several people with stab wounds, an official said.

The home of the ultra-Orthodox rabbi was in Monsey, N.Y., an area with a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The stabbing happened during a Hanukkah party, when a man entered the home around 10 p.m., the official said. The attacker fled and was still at large as of 11 p.m.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/28/nyregion/monsey-synagogue-stabbing-anti-semitic.html

December 26, 2019

CITIES OF ICE A dispatch from frozen Harbin, where Jews once flourished--and melted away

This was in my email this morning and I found it to be fascinating. More of our history!

<snippet> The first Jews arrived in 1898 and incorporated an official community in 1903, by which time this plan was working splendidly. A 1904 National Geographic article written by a U.S. consul to Manchuria reported, wide-eyed, that “one of the greatest achievements in city construction that the world has ever witnessed is now going on in the heart of Manchuria,” and that “the capital for most of the private enterprises is furnished by Siberian Jews.” These Jewish entrepreneurs created Harbin’s first hotels, banks, pharmacies, insurance companies, department stores, publishing houses, and more; by 1909, 12 of the 40 members of Harbin’s City Council were Jewish. These initial entrepreneurs were joined by Jewish refugees fleeing the 1905 pogroms, then by even more refugees fleeing World War I and the Russian Civil War.

At its peak, Harbin’s Jewish community numbered around 20,000. The “Old” Synagogue was built in 1909, and by 1921 there was enough demand for a “New” Synagogue a few blocks away, as well as a kosher slaughterer, ritual bath, and matzo bakery, not to mention a Jewish elementary and secondary school, a hospital, a charity kitchen, a free loan association, an old-age home, multiple magazines and newspapers, performances of Jewish music and theater, and Zionist clubs that were the center of many young people’s lives. Harbin hosted major international Zionist conferences that drew Jews from all over Asia. Zionist parades were held in the streets.

You already know this story has to end badly. Like almost every place Jews have ever lived, Harbin was great for the Jews until it wasn’t—but in Harbin, the usual centuries-long rise and fall was condensed into something like 30 years. The flood of refugees from the 1917 Russian Revolution included many non-Jewish “White” (anti-Communist) Russians, whose virulent anti-Semitism was soon institutionalized in a fascist party that burned the Old Synagogue in 1931. That was also the year the Japanese occupied Manchuria, noticed rich Jews there, and decided they wanted their money. Conveniently, White Russian thugs were ready to help.

The Japanese gendarmerie embarked on a partnership with White Russian criminals, whom they used to target Jewish business owners and their families for extortion, confiscation, kidnapping, and murder. Later they manipulated the Jewish community for their purposes, sending Abraham Kaufman, a respected physician and the community’s elected leader, off to two separate audiences with the Japanese emperor, and forcing him to publish official statements from Harbin’s Jewish community announcing their love for Nazi-allied Japan. Things did not improve when the Soviets took over in 1945; the first thing they did was round up the city’s remaining Jewish leaders, including Dr. Kaufman, and send them to gulags. Dr. Kaufman endured 11 years in a gulag and then five years in exile in Kazakhstan before he was allowed to join his family in Israel. He was the luckiest; no one else survived. Then again, dying in a gulag was less dramatic than the fate of some Jews under the Japanese. While retreating from the Manchurian town of Hailar, the Japanese military beheaded its Jewish residents.

By 1949 Chinese Maoists controlled Harbin. The thousand-plus Jews still in town were gradually stripped of their businesses and livelihoods, while Israel’s government made secret contact with Harbin’s remaining Jews and began arranging for them to leave—a process that mostly involved submitting to extortion. As one Israeli official explained, “It is obvious that the Communist government is keen to clear the country of the foreign element. However … the authorities make things very difficult as long as the person who wants to leave is still in funds, and lets the person go only after making quite sure that his personal funds are exhausted.” The last Jewish family left town in 1962. After that, only one Jew remained in the city, a woman named Hannah Agre who refused to leave. Leaning into the crazy-old-lady motif, she moved into a tiny room in the Old Synagogue (by then the building, its interior subdivided, was being used as government office space) and died there in 1985, the official Last Jew of Harbin.

Entire article here: https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/283410/cities-of-ice?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=e71ccfd396-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_12_24_06_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c308bf8edb-e71ccfd396-206808209

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