On Tuesday, when my mom called me, voice quivering slightly, to tell me that the JCC where I learned to swim had received one of these threats, it took me a few minutes after hanging up to realize that I needed to step away from the flying e-mails and Facebook invitations for protests to think about how my mom must have felt, and to let myself feel.
And now I say to my friends, other Jews in the resistance: hold this moment. Feel what has just happened to our community.
We know that anti-Semitism functions by allowing Jews to gain a limited amount of security and power, making sure that everyone else thinks ‘the Jews are in control,’ and then leveraging this sentiment against Jews when the real ruling class feels threatened. In the meantime, other oppressed groups are encouraged to think that anti-Semitism is over, or at least that it couldn’t exist because, look at the Jews! They’re doing just fine.
But our people are not fine. While we don’t face the same daily threats as other communities — police violence, walls, bans — over sixty-five of our local community centers were notified in the past couple weeks that they would be bombed. A white nationalist and anti-Semite is running the White House. Neo-Nazis publicly planned a march against the Jews of Whitefish, Montana.
We do have allies out there in other movements. But if we don’t pause during this moment and make it clear to our non-Jewish friends in the resistance that we are scared and that we need to stand up to fight anti-Semitism, then they won’t know that they need to stand with us.
And as we start standing up for ourselves, we will begin to have much better responses to Hillel’s second two questions: “If I am only for myself, what am I?” and “If not now, when?” As we build a liberated Jewish movement that stands up for ourselves, and as our allies stand with us, we will all build deeper trust, love, and solidarity. As we heal from our fear and communal trauma, we will cast off the bonds that make our leaders think that the occupation keeps Israelis and Jews safe.
So my ask for all of us is that we take this moment of attack, build ourselves a movement that stands up for Jews and ask our allies to stand with us, and charge forward standing in solidarity with all oppressed communities, ending the American Jewish community’s support for the Occupation, and fighting for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.