Jeffrey Salkin: Martini Judaism Opinion

When it comes to hate, I will not ‘get over it’

Citizens marching in support of the Jews of Billings, Montana, 1993. Photo by Frederic Brenner. Credit: https://www.niot.org/sites/default/files/billings_crop_1.jpg

On the day after Election Day, a few of my Trump-voting friends called me. They knew that I was upset.

Their response: “Get a grip.” “Get over it.”

Thanks, but I don’t think I will.

Several years ago, we sojourned in South Orange, NJ. Rabbi Francine Roston and her synagogue reached out to us, and for a while, it became our synagogue, and she became our friend. Rabbi Roston is articulate, passionate, and compassionate. She has a beautiful family.

The Rostons wanted a life change. They moved to a small town out west, in big sky country. The Rostons found the other Jews in the area. They created a Jewish community.

It turns out that they have a neighbor that they hadn’t counted on — Richard Spencer, the alt-right leader, which is just a fancy way of saying “white nationalist.” The citizens of that town created an anti-bigotry group, Love Lives Here.

Spencer’s mother has a business in that town. The negative attention that her son has been getting has not been good for Mrs. Spencer’s business.

And that’s when it started. The bigots decided that Mrs. Spencer’s newborn business woes were the result of a Jewish conspiracy.

On Friday, a neo-Nazi web site issued a call to “take action” against the Jews of that town. The site listed the names, pictures, contact information, and addresses of alleged Jews In the town.

And then came the visuals — the photo-shopped photos that pinned a Nazi era yellow star on Rabbi Roston.

I am not getting a grip. I am not getting over it. And neither should you.

Jews often ask: “Can it happen here?” It depends on what “it” is. Government sponsored round ups, and Jews interned in concentration camps, a la Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America?”

No.

But as for mob hatred, and psychological “pogroms?”

Absolutely. Ever since the election, there has been a spreading virus of hate.

Is Trump personally responsible? Absolutely not.

But the election has seriously compromised the American immune system that had protected us against this garbage.

Amazing: Some Jews on the right are in denial over what is happening. Oh, they agree that there is anti-Semitic rhetoric, but they believe that it has absolutely nothing to do with the election.

I have heard that kind of denial before. Jewish leftists discount the anti-Israel — and yes, anti-Semitic — rhetoric of some of their supposed friends.

Those on the left and on the right are equally myopic about the anti-Semitism that exists among those who are, in some ways, their allies.

It is unbelievable what Jews on the right are saying about the post-Trump hate wave.

Some say that they doubt that there has been any real increase in hate crimes. But, in fact, those crimes just keep on coming. In recent days, red spray-painted swastikas have appeared in neighborhoods in Long Island, New York – complete with pleas to “Make America White Again.”

A synagogue in Tallahassee, Florida, has increased security after receiving three letters anonymous letters filed with anti-Semitic rhetoric.

And the organizations that respond to such vile acts? Some Jews have declared war on those organizations, as well.

Some say that the ADL has become an extreme leftist organization — because it has the massive chutzpah to criticize this new administration. On Facebook, some have accused the ADL of falsifying the number of incidents as a fundraising technique.

You don’t like Jews being photo-shopped with yellow stars? Well, David Friedman, Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel, can turn you into a kapo. That is what this prominent rabbi’s son calls Jews who disagree with him on Israeli policies.

So, yes – “it” can happen here. “It” is the targeting of Jews by Jew-haters.

And “it” is the Othering of Jews by Jews – the importing of vile rhetoric by Jewish leaders who should know better, the tearing asunder of our communal tallit.

Three lessons.

First, all American Jewish organizations must speak out about what is happening. We scream “Never again!” But, “it” is happening again. It is affecting real Jews and real lives.

Ask yourselves the question: WWED – what would Elie (Weisel) do?

Second, Jews need to continue their outreach to those groups, like Muslims and immigrants, who are facing real threats to their personal safety and security in this country. It’s not all about us.

Third, the gentile residents of that small town where the Rostons live — have stood up against hate.

They could learn from what happened in Billings, Montana.

In 1993, white supremacists moved in, spewing hate mail, death threats and vandalism against Native Americans, blacks and Jews.

The town responded. Thousands of citizens pasted menorahs in their windows in a show of solidarity. Others marched with menorahs.

The story inspired books, articles, a Life magazine photo spread and the 1995 documentary “Not In Our Town” by California filmmakers Patrice O’Neill and Rhian

May the good people of this country, this world, and their town give strength to the Roston family.

Because when it comes to hate – no, I am not getting over it. I am not getting a grip.

And neither should you.

About the author

Jeffrey Salkin

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality and ethics, published by Jewish Lights Publishing and Jewish Publication Society.

23 Comments

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  • “I am not getting a grip. I am not getting over it. And neither should you.”

    You know what?? Screw you then. You voted for a candidate who supported religious profiling.

    The No Fly list is notorious for targeting Muslims WITHOUT TRIAL or constitutionally GUARANTEED due process, and stripping them of their ability to travel.

    The candidate YOU voted for wanted to EXPAND the power of that religious profiling to strip Muslim Americans of their constitutional rights as well!!

    You disregarded the feelings of all Muslims when you cast your vote IN FAVOR of religious profiling against them, so you get NO sympathy from me, nor does ANYONE who cast their vote in favor of profiling who is now ~pretending~ to suddenly be concerned about minorities.

    If your vote HADN’T been cast for someone who supported vile, discriminatory policies, THEN you would have a pedestal to stand on and I’d support you. But you didn’t. You decided to throw Muslim Americans to the curb and voted for a bigot. So I don’t care about your feelings.

    Boo hoo. The candidate you wanted to win didn’t get to win and enact her vision of increased profiling against Muslims lost. YOUR bigot didn’t win. How ~terrible~ that must be for you, despite the fact that even with a Trump win, you don’t have to fear having your rights stripped away without due process like Muslim Americans would need to fear under the regime of your bigot.

    “Second, Jews need to continue their outreach to those groups, like Muslims and immigrants, who are facing real threats to their personal safety and security in this country. It’s not all about us.”

    Yet you voted for someone who wanted to increase profiling against Muslims. And I’ve NEVER heard you speak out against Obama, who has deported a RECORD NUMBER of immigrants during his eight years. More than ANY other president. Where was your supposed “concern” for immigrants over the past eight years?!

    Please. Just stop. If you voted for the “lesser of two evils” that’s fine. But OWN UP TO IT. Stop PRETENDING to care about minorities just so you can use us to bash Republicans while at the SAME TIME ignoring the bigotry in your own party.

    It just seems like for people of your political affiliation, you want to give your own side a pass while criticizing your opponent for the same things you IGNORE on your own side. You want to bash Trump’s plan to restrict Muslim immigration… while ignoring Hillary’s calls to strip Muslims of constitutional rights with no due process. You want to bash Trump’s plans on immigration, while ignoring the fact that the past eight years under Obama has seen the worst rates of deportation in American history!! You want to bash Trump for his stance on gay marriage, even though he says he wants to keep it legal now, even though eight years ago you gave Obama a pass for holding the SAME views and wanting to keep it ILLEGAL. Get your own house in order before I will listen to your criticisms of others!!

  • A rather angry and emotional response not typical of you under normal conditions. Clinton, Trump, Obama; in the end each has proven to be feckless in their own individual way, it is the way of the politically inclined. As to the author’s concerns about the alt-right, I believe the root of the problem lies in the fear of economic uncertainty. Had Germany not been economically punished beyond measure (in my opinion) for her actions during WW1, circumstances might not have become so straitened financially speaking, the crux of which was the emotive basis for Hitler’s rise to power. We will always have nut-bars, anti-Semites, haters of blacks, etc.; for the time being, unless the economy really takes a Great Depression like nose dive, which is certainly a possibility, I think most Americans will continue as they are, and despite the author’s apocalyptic vision, remain willing to work together, sometimes guardedly, within their communities, to live and let live. No criticism of your position is intended, I was just a little worried about your blood pressure.

  • “I have heard that kind of denial before. Jewish leftists discount the anti-Israel — and yes, anti-Semitic — rhetoric of some of their supposed friends.”

    Huh. And Trump’s Ambassador to Israel believes that “Li-shanah Haba’ah Bi-rushalayim Ha-bnu-yah!” is appropriate. His son-in-law is Orthodox – his grandkids are Orthodox.

    Quit blaming Trump. Put the blame where it belongs.

  • PLEDGE OF RESISTENCE

    “I listened as they called my President a Muslim.
    I listened as they called him and his family a pack of monkeys.
    I listened as they said he wasn’t born here….
    I watched as they blocked every single path to progress that they could.
    I saw the pictures of him as Hitler.
    I watched them shut down the government and hurt the entire nation twice.
    I watched them turn their backs on every opportunity to open worthwhile dialog.
    I watched them say that they would not even listen to any choice for Supreme Court no matter who the nominee was.
    I listened as they openly said that they will oppose him at every turn.
    I watched as they did just that.
    I listened.
    I watched.
    I paid attention.
    Now, I’m being called on to be tolerant.
    To move forward.
    To denounce protesters.
    To “Get over it.”
    To accept this…
    I will not.
    I will do my part to make sure this great American mistake becomes the embarrassing footnote of our history that it deserves to be.
    I will do this as quickly as possible every chance I get.
    I will do my part to limit the damage that this man can do to my country.
    I will watch his every move and point out every single mistake and misdeed in a loud and proud voice.
    I will let you know in a loud voice every time this man backs away from a promise he made to them.
    Them. The people who voted for him.
    The ones who sold their souls and prayed for him to win.
    I will do this so that they never forget.
    And they will hear me.
    They will see it in my eyes when I look at them.
    They will hear it in my voice when I talk to them.
    They will know that I know who they are.
    They will know that I know what they are.
    Do not call for my tolerance. I’ve tolerated all I can.
    Now it’s their turn to tolerate ridicule.
    Be aware, make no mistake about it, every single thing that goes wrong in our country from this day
    forward is now Trump’s fault just as much as they thought it was Obama’s.
    I find it unreasonable for them to expect from me what they were entirely unwilling to give.”

    …….Author unknown (borrowed from Robt. Wright)

  • Refusing to get over “hate” sets up a nasty continuum: hanging onto the hatred by others, gradually grows into hatred OF them. In one way or another, hatred denies the very image of God in the other, and wishes to see them destroyed. There’s no chance for redemption, or recognition of the good in them, or prayers for their growth. Ultimately, hate destroys it’s practitioners.

  • Wow. Mr. Scott, that is a powerful pledge that I intend to share.

    I understand Rabbi Salkin’s column to be about Not Accepting bigotry, hate, demonizing and fear mongering.
    Not accepting normalization of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, intolerance or any other”Hates” based on externalities like race, gender, sexual preference, religion, economic status, etc. Those are indeed things we Should Not Get Over.

    “Alt-right” is an attempt to normalize people who are actually NaziKKK fans. They’re not an innocent version of the Far Right tea baggers. They are Extreme Right haters of any but white, male dominant societies and they are willing to use any level of violence and cruelty to get what they want.

    Whenever I see “alt-right” I mentally substitute NaziKKK. I urge you all to do the same. America must never allow them to become normalized. They remain a stain on America.

  • It is good that you are concerned about Jews in Montana and other parts of America being threatened by hate groups.

    And I agree with your three points: Jews speaking out, Jewish outreach, and gentiles standing up against hate.

    In light of these convictions of yours I assume that you would also advocate (1) Jews speaking out against the atrocities perpetrated on Palestinians during the 130-year creeping Zionist invasion of the Palestinian land, (2) you promoting Jewish outreach to the Palestinians and to the “settlers” and other Zionist groups still marauding over Palestine land and its people and (3) you mobilizing gentiles in America and around the world to stand against the Zionist oppression and atrocities in Palestine.

    You claim not to get over hate. Let’s see how far your humanitarianism extends.

  • The problem is not that Trump is antisemitic, but that he has appointed antisemites to his government. He has not spoken up when his followers are were using antisemitic abuse of reporters or other people.

  • You are not just against the settlements, your are against Israel’s existence and I will support Israel’s existence unapologetically. I do oppose the settlements and support a two-state solution. You hatred of Zionism shows through.

  • You mean that you support the Zionist predations on a small country. It is interesting that Theodore Herzl, the originator of Zionism wanted to take over Argentina, A few years later he wanted to take over Uganda. Then Palestine became the target. The moral question of stealing someone else’s land and possessions and killing or exiling the owners never seems to have entered his head nor any of the heads of Zionists since. If you want a two-state solution you can start with recognizing Gaza and the West Bank as independent Palestinian states or a single Palestinian state. And that includes not encroaching in their 12-mile sea boundaries or air space. Then you can make reparations to those and/or their descendants who have been exiled since the Zionist invasion began 130 years ago. You can make Jerusalem an international city under U.N. control. You can give the Golan Heights back to Syria. All of this comes as atonement for the Zionist predations that continue to this day. Finally, you can apologize to the world for causing so much problems, death in the Middle East generally.

  • The Jews were desperate. When Jews needed help the most no one helped us. Even American turned back a boat full of Jewish children. Hertzel came to the correct conclusion that assimilation was not working after witnessing the Dreyfus affair and the crowd shouting “death to Jews.”

    I’m not in the Israeli government. I don’t vote in Israeli elections.

    There are more Jewish refugees from Arab countries than Palestinian refugees from Israel. So who was was committing predation?

  • The Zionists began looking for someone else’s country to invade in the late 1800s. They looked at taking over Argentina, then Uganda. Their third choice was Palestine.

  • It was not because they wanted to invade someone else’s country. In the 1800s things were very bad for Jews especially in Eastern Europe and Russia. They were desperate. They needed a sanctuary badly. They wanted one lousy tiny peace of land where they could be safely Jewish.

  • No matter how you slice it, Zionists arbitrarily decided to invade someone else’s land, take their assets and exile or kill most of the inhabitants. It is a war crime.

  • Zionists certainly did not kill most of the inhabitants. The Palestinian population grows larger every year. Yes, many Palestinians left, but they did not have to. Jews are indigenous people of the land. They were going back home. Where should the Jews have gone instead? Should they have stayed in Poland where returning Jews were attacked or in Germany among their killers?

  • Zionists murdered or exiled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Italians and Arabs have more claim to Palestine if you want to use the historical residency notion. And stop using WWII as a justification because Zionists had started their invasion of Palestine even before the beginning of WWI. Zionists learned how to commit atrocities from the Nazis and then applied those tactics to the Palestinians. It is a disgusting war crime.

  • It’s not just WWII, I know that. Jews have faced persecution for centuries going back to the Middle Ages. I use WWII as an example because German Jews were the most assimilated Jews in Europe. That did not help them in the end. They didn’t realize that no one else considered them real Germans. Assimilation doesn’t work. If you don’t have your own state, you get screwed. That’s why I support a Palestinian state and a Jewish state. Jews did no learn from the Nazis. You are just wrong. They may have learned from the British who occupied Palestine.

    I’m not sure why you are so determined to see Zionists as evil, when they just wanted a small space where Jews can be safe. They did not exile thousands. I’m not saying that Zionists were perfect, but you are way over the top. I have read the transcript of a radio broadcast where Palestinians were told by Arabs to leave their homes and come back when the the Jews were all gone. You never talk about the Arab side. I suppose you think they had no obligation to be moral. The Arabs were the ones who sided with the Nazis and learned from the Nazis. They learned Western and Nazi antisemitism for a start. The Mufti of Jerusalem visited Hitler in Birtesgarden (sp?). The Jews knew they would be massacred if they lost.

  • Give it up. You cannot justify Zionist atrocities by saying “they just wanted a small space”. That “small space” belonged to someone else. Get it. Not only did Zionists exile thousands, they exiled hundreds of thousands. Zionist atrocities in Palestine are war crimes.

  • They did not exile hundreds of thousands. Why don’t you give it up? You have some obsession with Zionists that goes beyond normal. You post on a page that has nothing to do with subject and you keep saying the same thing. I’ve never heard you say anything about Arab atrocities.

  • Palestinians are just trying to defend their families, homes and land against the Zionist invasion and its atrocities.

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