With mixed emotions
Every time I pick up a newspaper (I am of that generational bent) I hold my breath. I do the same thing in turning on the news. Matter of fact, wife Rachel will greet me with “Anything in the news about Israel?”
To be a Jew and to live like a Jew, be it Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or whatever, you must be aware of the Jewish world and what happens to Jews. Israel. What is happening in Europe with the rise of Anti-Semitism all of a sudden? Somebody gets arrested or accused—“Oy! I hope he/she is not Jewish.”
When the financial world collapsed I held my breath. But then the names started to come out: Jamie Dimon—Thank God! Angelo Mozilo—Thank God! Charles Prince of Citi Group—Whew!
No Jews except maybe Hank Greenberg of AIG but he was no longer in charge. Throughout most of my life anytime a scandal broke, the initial reaction has been “O, God! I hope he’s not Jewish!”
Then, along came Bernie Madoff. Not only was that mumser a crook, he stole from Jews! Listen, we’ve had our share. The guy who fixed the 1919 World Series was a Jew. The Mafia that ran Vegas was all Jewish. But, so were and are a number of Nobel Prize recipients, way above our percentage of the population.
Tiny Israel with its population less than that of the State of Florida is the twelfth largest economy in the world. Their percentage of Nobel Laureates far exceeds any nation in the world.
Currently our oldest daughter, one grandson and one granddaughter live in Israel. They will tell you that life is not that easy. But, you don’t have to sweat who the cheaters and the grafters are—they are all Jewish. But, it’s Israel, our country. Who else is going to game the system and figure the angles but Jews?
We, here in the U.S., so proud of our Jewish heritage, sweat the news about a Jew committing a crime. Why? Is it shame or fear? Deep within our souls, our neshuma, we are still the “Other.”
Within the lifetime of my parents this nation witnessed the “Palmer Raids” where the attorney general of the United States ordered the roundup of Eastern Europeans, overwhelmingly Jewish and shipped them out of the country—including American citizens—because in his own words, “Every communist is not a Jew, but every Jew is a communist.”
We have risen again after every mind-numbing disaster pressed against us. None greater in modern times than the Holocaust. Born in Germany, but supported, benignly or actively in most of Europe. Ninety percent of the Jewish population of Europe was exterminated.
And now, two contrary things are happening. Jews are returning and Jews are leaving. At the same time that Jews are leaving France in record numbers for the U.S. and Israel, young Jews are returning to Germany—from Israel!
We have always been a contrarian people. Stiff necked, going against the grain, living on after our death has been declared, prospering in areas where even Jews did not believe Jews could prosper. There would be no Hollywood without the Jews. No Broadway, no “tin pan alley”. And still we wring our hands every time a Jew does wrong.
And Jews are going back to Germany. I doubt there is a single Israeli, moving to Germany who does not have Holocaust in their past. But, they say, things are different now. The Nazis? Yes, I read about them—we were taught in school. But that was then, this is now.
Don’t they look across the border to France? Don’t they see the rise of Muslim fundamentalism around them? Didn’t they see thousands of Germans—not all of them Muslims—on the streets of their new country, Germany, shouting “Gas the Jews”?
Yes, Jews should have the right to live wherever they want. Jews should be granted the same rights as anyone else. We fought hard for that in this country. It is the reason the Third Jewish Commonwealth was created.
But there are over a billion Muslims in this world. If just two percent are insanely militant, that is 20 million crazies to take to the streets where they are allowed to and where it is tolerated. Obviously it is in Germany. Obviously it is in France. Why would you leave the nation that God gave us and our people fought so hard to create and make it prosper just so you could buy cheaper cream cheese?
Yes, it is a contradictory world. The Millennial generation is tough to figure out here in the U.S. much less in Israel. But some things are built into our DNA. We wince when a Jew commits a crime. We cry when a Jew is killed because he is a Jew. We take such pride in our Jewish Homeland.
In this contradictory world we are a contradictory people. There may come a day when we don’t keep looking over our shoulder. Some day. I don’t think the first place that will happen will be Germany. Or France.