I had a good first night of Passover seder in my new Nashville home thanks to some friends who took us to the impressive local Chabad.
Chabad, to their credit, likes to make sure no Jew is left out on the holidays. (There were plenty of gentiles at the festivity as well.) Also to their credit, this consistently outreaching branch of the Hasidic movement is determinedly upbeat, looking to the future and the joy of life for all. L’chaim!
But even with this positive atmosphere, my mind drifted off and I kept thinking of Isaac Singer’s post-Holocaust novel Shadows on the Hudson because there was clearly a shadow over Passover 2019.
For the first time in decades, anti-Semitism is growing in the United States. The old-line Jewish organizations like the Anti-Defamation League want us to believe this is being caused by a rise in white nationalism. This is no more than reactionary self-hypnosis leavened with a bit of nostalgia for the days of Father Coughlin. (Here’s an irony for you. Coughlin’s anti-Semitic newspaper was called “Social Justice.”)
While there are and always will be — in a nation of three hundred and twenty-plus million — racist lunatics like the madman who shot up the Pittsburgh synagogue, such people, like the KKK today, are rare and considered extreme pariahs in our country. Tragically, they may do violence, but they have no influence on our culture. Indeed, they and their ideas are abhorred, as they should be.
The truly dangerous anti-Semitism, however, is coming from within the Democratic Party and its allies, often masquerading under the thinnest veneer of anti-Zionism. This growing bigotry has its origins in a vile alliance of the left and militant Islam (despite the obvious misogyny and homophobia of Islam — the left doesn’t care, for some reason). It has infected our college campuses to the degree that Jewish students often feel threatened and if they are supporters of Israel or (gasp!) Republicans, are forced to go underground in a democracy.
Even worse, this rising anti-Semitism has distorted one of our major political parties beyond recognition and we only have two. It has been going on for some time, but has reached an apotheosis of late with statements from congresspeople that would have fit very well coming from the mouth of the very Father Coughlin.
The wretched irony of this is that this party has been supported by a majority of Jews for as long as anybody can remember. It’s as if none of these people learned the lessons of Berlin in the thirties when secular and left-wing Jews thought they would escape the Nazi onslaught.
Many of the Jews in our Democratic Party are educated people who must know this, so that their maintaining this position, not speaking out against the rise of anti-Semitism in their own party, can only be ascribed to cynical selfishness, immorality, or outright cowardice.
I’m not even going to mention the names of the several Democratic Party Jewish leaders, because we all know them. Very few have said anything — their media allies, many of whom are also Jewish, even less. They claim to be “liberals” and “progressives” but those words have become a meaningless desecration of the English language. They apply to nothing.
I wonder what these people were thinking at the seder table last night as the story of the Exodus from slavery in Egypt into freedom was once again told. Surely they had heard it as children. But evidently, the message didn’t get through.
Roger L. Simon — co-founder and CEO emeritus of PJ Media — was nominated for an Academy Award in screenwriting for adapting Isaac Singer’s post-Holocaust novel Enemies, A Love Story. It was after the publication of that novel that Singer was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.