Why are Pols Silent on Anti-Semitism Rise?
By Rabbi Harry Hertzberg
Temple Hatikva Spiritual Leader
More than 70 years ago, the Jewish community in the United States maintained a strange silence while the Holocaust was burning throughout Europe. Six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, yet American Jews had virtually no voice and applied little public pressure to stop this atrocity.
Today, we again have a government who chooses to ignore the murderous and vicious entity known as Hamas. Even
though Hamas has been recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, they are somehow not held morally responsible for their actions – but rather, are granted the status of being “morally equivalent” to Israel.
The charter of Hamas, simply states that Jews must be eradicated and Israel destroyed. Much to their credit, Hamas does not try to hide their intentions – but instead, is proud of its’ goal to destroy Israel and the entire Jewish population.
Yet, even when confronted with their rockets firing at Israel indiscriminately, or their tunnels meant to wreak havoc and murder upon the Jews, our leaders are strangely silent concerning the actions of our government.
It is of particular note that our President hails from the Democratic party as do the vast majority of our elected representatives in the Bronx. Yet, not one elected official has taken the President to task for his obvious lack of support for Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East and our only ally.
Congressman Eliot Engle serves as the ranking member of the foreign affairs committee of the United States House of Representatives, but has not issued one statement criticizing the actions of the executive branch of the government in this situation. While the President and Secretary of State do all in their power to weaken Israel and protect Hamas, we have not heard one objection from our Congressman.
Recently, our State Senator, Jeff Klein, went to Israel with a star-studded group that included Governor Andrew Cuomo. This trip was ostensibly to show solidarity with Israel and support for Israel. Yet, upon their return, the Governor and State Senator were not critical of our President or Secretary of State, nor did they take them to task for the obvious lack of support for Israel.
It is embarrassing to note that the leaders of the Jewish community-at-large have also taken the silent approach to dealing with this situation. Rather than speak up and demand executive branch support for Israel, Jewish communal leaders have acted as cowards – afraid that by speaking up they would damage their own access to the seats of power.
We have long known that those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Anti-semitism in Europe is at an all-time high. A rabbi in Miami was murdered on his way to synagogue. Jewish schools and museums are the targets of hate. It is way past the time to speak up. It is time to speak out and take action – even if that means voting against those who have represented us for many years.
It is not enough to feel bad for Israel. It is not enough to silently support Israeli actions. The time has come for public displays of support for Israel and to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions. There is no excuse for silence in the face of such evil and horror. There is no excuse for silence in the face of such danger and hatred. And, there is no excuse for silence in the face of anti-semitism.
It is time for each and every one of us, Jew and Gentile alike, to speak out and demand that our country support Israel and that we make a bold statement against anti-semitism. It is time to tell the world that we will not stand idly by while Jew-hatred pervades Europe while planting the seeds of another Holocaust. And finally, it is time to stand up and demand that our elected officials really represent us, rather than run scared.
If we choose silence over action or choose to look away rather than meet the problem head-on, then shame on us. We will truly get what we deserve.
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