Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Jim Shipley
Shipley speaks 

Time to fight back


My grandfather, Abraham Shiplacoff, was a proud Jew. He was a Socialist labor leader in Brooklyn who led the Ladies Garment Workers’ Union into the American Federation of Labor, believing that Jewish workers should have the same rights and protection as everyone else.

He went to Palestine in 1930. He saw that even under the British Mandate, there were Jews dedicated to having their own country. When he came back he wrote me a letter about this, even though I was not yet born.

When my dad thought I was old enough to understand, he gave me Grandpa Abe’s letter. Abe said that the land he had just visited was the future of the Jewish people. Abe Shiplacoff was not a religious Jew. So he spoke of Jews as a people. He knew the history of that land. He knew that the last people to live under their own government in that land known then as Israel were the Jewish people.

Too many Jews, specifically in America, know too little about all our history. It is a shame. Talk to young or even middle-aged Jews today and they act as if Israel just emerged from nowhere in the Middle East.

Wrong. It is the land of our history and our legacy. It is a land we fought for. Abe Shiplacoff was a fighter. He fought for Jewish rights in labor unions. He went to jail with Philip Randolph, an African American and head of the Pullman Porters’ Union when they went on strike. He went to jail with the labor leader Eugene Debbs (after whom my brother was named.)

He would be disgusted and fighting today against the likes of Jews like J Street and the other anti-Zionist entities that are the unwitting foils of Arab money. Abe knew the power of money—he fought it his entire life.

He died in 1934 before he had a chance to see Jews in their own country. So, he was a fighter in the years when the average American Jew was “Sha Still”—Don’t make a fuss, don’t be recognized. Agree with them—the gentiles—then they’ll leave us alone.

He stood on street corners in 1917 and railed against America entering the First World War. Why? Because even then, he recognized that America was being made a foil for the French and the English whose sole goal was to take over the Middle East and its oil after the war. They threw him in jail for that too.

He knew if Jews did not fight for Jews no one else would. Obama believes that Jews operate in an emotional state of fear. He says that is what drives Netanyahu. Guess he never heard an Arab official say about Israel: “You have won a number of wars against us, but we only have to win one.”

You combat fear in one of two ways: fight or flight. Jews have used flight for centuries. Not any more. Obama may believe that Israel stands in the way of his dream of a peaceful Middle East. You would think by now that ISIS and the failure of the Iraqi Army would have disabused him of that canard.

Look, Abe could handle gentile hoards being anti-Semitic by being anti-Israel. But Jews? He would be sickened by the likes of J Street or the “Court Jews” of the Obama Administration trying to sell the Iran nuclear deal as good for Israel. He knew history. He would have known that this “new war” in the Middle East is indeed centuries old. It was just simmering until George Bush broke the Middle East by invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein.

Abe knew that nobody is going to fight for Jews but Jews. During all our centuries of wandering the globe—getting tossed out of nation after nation. He was a witness to the “Palmer Raids” of the 1920s—when the attorney general of the United States, during the “Red Scare,” created by the Russian Revolution decided to expel every person suspected of being an anarchist or otherwise threatening the U.S.

He took one of his assistants, a guy named J. Edgar Hoover who was reported to say, in setting up his raids, “Not all Communists are Jews, but all Jews are Communists.” So in a frenzy to find potential assassins and bomb throwers (none of which were ever convicted as a result of the raids) hundreds of people were deported including a number of American citizens.

Abe knew that in order for Jews to be treated with respect, they had to fight for it. He did. We cannot sit idly by and let any person, group or organization try in any way to harm the State of Israel and for that matter, any Jew anywhere.

Abe had a saying: “When one Jew is in trouble anywhere, all Jews are in trouble everywhere.”


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