Is anyone paying attention??
In response to this news, there have been streams of memes, videos and (more) articles invoking the hideousness of the Holocaust and imploring U.S. citizens not to fall asleep at the wheel, so to speak, as the citizens of Eastern Europe did in the 1930s when they allowed Hitler and his Nazi forces to make devastating progress in their plans for genocide against the Jewish people and other minority populations.
These are frightening times and diligent attention must be paid to the strategic maneuverings and actions of all branches of our government.
Still scrolling through Facebook now, I found this information on exactly ONE friend's news feed:
Earlier today, bomb threats were called into at least 17 Jewish community centers (JCCs) in locations across the United States, including Albany, New York; Syracuse, New York; West Orange, New Jersey; New Haven, Connecticut; Milwaukee; San Diego; and Salt Lake City.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency noted this is now the third wave of such threats — within just the past month.
- On January 9, 2017, "threats were called into 16 JCCs across the Northwest and South, forcing the evacuation of hundreds."
- Then, on January 18, 2017, "some 30 Jewish institutions in at least 17 states received bomb threats."
New York. Ohio. New Jersey. Florida. Massachusetts. Maryland. Michigan. Kansas. Delaware. Connecticut. Alabama. Maine. California. Tennessee. Missouri. Minnesota. Texas. South Carolina. Wisconsin.
There has been a widespread terrorist threat made every 10 of the past 31 days against U.S. citizens on domestic soil!
How can it be possible we aren't hearing about this? Shouldn't the media be falling on themselves to cover such an outrageous crime targeting people for their religious/ethnic identity?!
Google news results showed stories on these hate crimes shared by news organizations in many of the towns affected, while the national and international news attention is, frankly, pathetic.
Other than the JTA, at the time of this writing, only the following big boys of media have taken note of this wave of terror threats sweeping across our domestic soil:
2. USA Today
3. NBC News
4. Um ...
Yeah, there's no number four. That's it. Reuters, USA Today and NBC News. Only.
Meanwhile, the most recent FBI statistics show that the clear majority of "hate crimes motivated by religious bias" in the U.S. are "anti-Jewish."
The specific breakdown by religion is as follows:
- 51.3 percent were anti-Jewish.
- 22.2 percent were anti-Islamic (Muslim).
- 4.4 percent were anti-Catholic.
- 4.2 percent were anti-multiple religions, group.
- 3.7 percent were anti-Eastern Orthodox (Russian, Greek, Other).
- 3.5 percent were anti-Protestant.
- 1.3 percent were anti-Other Christian.
- Less than one percent were anti-Mormon, anti-Sikh, anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist, anti-Jehovah's Witness or anti-Atheist/Agnostic/etc.
As a Jewish woman, I find myself hesitating — and feeling not a little bit nervous — as I write this.
We Jews hate to call ourselves out for victim status. Melting into the background is one of our most successful survival skills. We are the chameleons of ethnicity. Most of us are aware of the privilege afforded to (most of) us by our (usually) light skin and European-ish features, and most of us take seriously our deeply ingrained communal mandate to play an active role in healing the world — referred to in Hebrew as Tikkun Olam.
So while we loudly and passionately engage in social, political and humanitarian action on behalf of oppressed and minority communities by the boatload, many of us choose to sit passively by abuses against ourselves.
We are the proverbial enablers in our codependent relationship with, well, everyone else.
So when I say it concerns me to write this, please understand that it isn't the neo-Nazis or the white supremacists likely behind these crimes who I am worried about.
I am worried about the reaction of my fellow liberal-minded folk.
There has been heated debate among those within the Jewish community regarding whether or not we should consider ourselves to be "white," so you can only imagine the wide variety of ways our confusing identity puts us into awkward positions in today's political climate.
Am I one of the "white women" everyone is so angry with right now?
I know I am granted tremendous privilege based on my lighter skin-tone, and yet, parachute me into a KKK meeting and watch what happens (or on second, thought, let's not). Heck, forget the KKK. Tag along with me one day and listen to the way people speak to me about my nose and Jewish money.
It's a fairly confusing position from which to engage in political conversations these days, and given that most Jews REALLY do not want to piss anyone off in relation to our identity, we err on the side of apologetics while allowing others to check off the identity boxes for us.
And then there's Israel ...
When I pointed out to non-Jewish liberal friends that whereas we all cried and prayed together for the people of Nice and Berlin, the Jerusalem attack went virtually unmentioned in the press and social media, they reacted with quiet, somewhat defiant, confusion.
"But, that's the Middle East," they said.
Yes, it is. And this was a local tourist point overlooking the beauty of the Old City.
"The people killed were soldiers," they said.
Yes, they were. The four soldiers who died were 20 and 22-year-olds out for a day of sightseeing, not engaging in military exercises. And two of them were U.S. citizens.
"I don't think that has anything to do with anyone being Jewish. It's because it's Israel," they said.
Yes. It's Israel. The Jewish state.
I'm sorry, but you cannot decry Trump's executive orders pertaining to Islamic countries and their people for being "anti-Muslim" if you don't consider biases, bans, boycotts, violence and apathy toward Israel and its people as "anti-Jewish."
Which is not to say I don't think these new immigration policies reflect a bias against Muslims.
I'm saying: Let's call a spade a spade, please.
If you have the kind of wide-open heart that cries out for people unable to get on an airplane for whatever reasons they need or want to over the next few months, I ask you to try opening that heart to care about your neighbors who just received news their children were being evacuated from the JCC preschool in light of a bomb threat.
I'll be the very first to say that Jews have it pretty damn good these days.
Especially Jews living in the United States. Sure, there are impoverished Jews in the U.S., and yes, most Jews I know have experienced at least some degree of anti-Semitic insult or behavior, but as a communal whole we've done well for ourselves — through tremendous perseverance and damn hard work. We do an outstanding job taking care of one another. And we do a kick-ass job of taking care of others.
This video of how one man fought the blatant disrespect of tourists at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is making rounds.
The most recent comment on YouTube says, "People getting offended by shit that has happened more than half a decade ago and doesn't have any effect on them anymore. A memorial is to get people to remember something, whether they do it in a happy or sad fashion isn't up to you. Stop being a little bitch."
Today there were coordinated bomb threats made against the Jewish community in 17 locations across the United States of America.
"This shit" that happened a half century ago happened before that. And before that.
And it could happen again. Not only to Jews — but yes, to us as well.
If you want to be a force for true positive change in the world, there's no room for selective hearing.
Eyes, ears and voices open, please. For ALL of us.