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

By Jim Shipley
Shipley speaks 

Yes, we are different


February 22, 2019

We watched a Netflix program the other night titled “Mossad.” It consisted of interviews with mostly former Mossad agents and executives. At one point the interviewer asked “Why is the Mossad pictured in so many nations as a bunch of assassians and terrorists?

With a slight smile, the ex-agent said “look—we are a different country. We are surrounded by nations who for the most part would like to destroy us and wipe every Jew off the face of the earth.”

Can you name another country faced with this problem? No. And the problem of course, extends far beyond that little country in the Middle East.

Deadly anti-Semitic attacks in France, in Germany—in the United States, for God Sakes! When there is uncertainty in the world, blame the Jews. There were times in both the distant and not-so-distant past, when attacks on the Jews were more public and more accepted than today. But, the basic canards remain: “The Jews control the banks and the money.” “The Jews control the media.”

The rise of “Populism” has fanned the flames. As nations turn inward, they look for enemies within. They look for scapegoats and those to blame because “times are not like they used to be” or “No Jew will take my place.” And when the leadership allows this attitude to fester and flourish, it becomes a dangerous times.

Why more so for Jews than any other ethnic group? Well, we have to go way back for that, the Catholic Church took out after us shortly after they became and accepted religion. The popes for centuries fomented their populations to blame the Jews for famine, fire, rain and any other mishap that their own religion could not control—but the Jews differed in their faith and their peoplehood and therefore made a perfect target.

You would think that by this time, well past the “Age of Enlightenment” that the Human Race would have achieved a point where they would accept the fact that our problems are within ourselves and not with a given race, religion or peoplehood.

But here are the Jews. Because we have found a way to survive and even thrive in a world that really did not want us, we are an ideal target. Even if a national leader decided that “they” are the problem and does not mention the Jews—perhaps meant no harm or even reference to “Us”—that’s where it usually ends up.

So yes, we are different—always have been, always will be.

When the first wave of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe first came to the United States (AMERICA!) (“The Goldena Medina! –the Golden Place). Well, so, the streets were not paved with gold. Still, there were no Cossaks and there were opportunities!

BUT: Those who came here before this influx were not a welcoming committee. They did not for the most part want to share their piece of “The American Dream.” So, they discriminated against “The Other.” Irish, Italian. Jewish—each took their turn at being “The Other.”

So, what did we do? We tried to “assimilate.” WE changed our names: Rabinowitz became Roberts. Cohen became King, Slutsky became Sloan.

We even tried to hide our ethnicity with cosmetic changes. Shirley graduated? Mazel tov!! Now she can get that nose job!

You know what? It didn’t work (Thank God). In the long run, in realty, a Jew is a Jew. So, slowly we began to reclaim our heritage. During WWII we once again went silent—even further hiding our “identity.” It didn’t help. As the stories began to trickle in from Europe of an actual “Holocaust” most Jews refused to believe it. Matter of fact just about everybody refused to believe such a thing could be happening in the twentieth century. Could it? Yes—it could and it did.

While indeed there were some Gypsies and other ethnic groups sent to die, the gas chambers, for the most part, echoed with the prayers and cries of Jews—overwhelmingly.

It is the job of every Jew to tell this story as we tell of the escape from Egypt. We must recognize that the present political atmosphere is not benign—it is dangerous and yes, We Are Different.


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