Systemic racism and bigotry are not the lifeblood of the Left: A response to Rabbi Fischer

The writer disagrees with the beliefs expressed in the rabbi's article, claims that its style is intended to make him feel threatened. Op-ed

Moshe Greenebaum ,

Riots in Los Angeles, California
Riots in Los Angeles, California
REUTERS/Kyle Grillot

The recent op-ed by Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer posted on Arutz Sheva was shared with me and I thought I would take a moment to respond to it. I have two main points, one about the article itself and one about the beliefs that inform it.

Overall, I concluded that this piece was not meant to engage my brain, but rather my heart. Its aim was not to stimulate my thinking by providing me with new facts or logical arguments with which to reconsider my worldview. Rather, it aimed to make me angry and afraid, to make me feel as though I, and the group to which I belong, are threatened. I can admit without hesitation that I do not care for this kind of communication. I believe that it encourages rash, cramped thought, untempered by deliberation and rigorous thinking; consequently, it instigates action disproportionately informed by emotion.

However, I can also admit that I did learn about the incident of anti-Semitism in Los Angeles. For that I am grateful, as that should not be ignored. In addition, I agree in spirit, but not in word, with the author on another point: the Democrats kneeling and wearing kente as they introduce the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. Although I find his language bordering on insulting and his allusion to the Book of Esther unsound, there is no doubt that the political stunt was an embarrassing and unnecessary faux pas.

I will conclude this first part by quoting two sentences from the article that I found particularly unsettling:

“And they hate.”

"The looting and the physical violence that awaits us all if the Left and its Ocasio-Hyphen anarchists ever attain their dream of defunding ICE at the border and the police in our cities.”

I will not examine these statements at length. Rather, I think it is sufficient to point out that, taken together, these allegations misrepresent both the ‘Defund the Police’ movement and the scale of the looting and physical violence (which I believe is often police-instigated). They also conflate other,
These allegations misrepresent both the ‘Defund the Police’ movement and the scale of the looting and physical violence (which I believe is often police-instigated).
unconnected movements, political figures, and policy goals with the protests in order to construct ‘the Left’, a well-organized, monolithic institution with singular, well-defined political goals.

The author creates something out of nothing, misrepresenting a decentralized, multifaceted and amorphous movement that perpetrated the riots. In a word, this is fear-mongering.

Now I will turn to the beliefs and values that inspire this article.

This is an article by a Jew, written for Jews. It asks us to consider our history as we decide how to interpret the world around us today. It uses emotionally-charged language like ‘pogrom’, which is uniquely meaningful to Jews, in order to paint a picture of events in far off places.

However, I do not think this is the right way to use our history, which catalogues thousands of years of suffering.

It is precisely because Jews have been a minority for thousands of years, have suffered systematic prejudice and institutional racism in different places and ages, that we should stand in solidarity with other minorities now. We should not glibly forget what our ancestors endured just because the burdens have shifted from ‘our’ backs to those of another ethnic group.

The article’s allusion to Soviet purges and Tsarist pogroms is, in my opinion a calculated distortion of our past. It conflates a single, isolated incident in Los Angeles with pogroms, a decades-long series of organized, systematic, and government-sponsored (or at least tacitly accepted) terrorist acts. It is a calculated distortion of our past because Stalin and the Soviet Union conducted anti-Semitic purges under the aegis of the state; it was official government position.

The BLM protests are not government-sanctioned and ought not be so flippantly and superficially conflated with the might of the Soviet Union. The article seeks to portray the BLM movement as powerful and dangerous, when the truth is that they are neither.

In fact, I find that a more reasonable historical comparison is the treatment of people of color in the United States today – de facto second class citizens through systematic disenfranchisement, discrimination, and systemic inequality – to the treatment of the Jews in the Soviet Union. The message is the same: “we don’t want you here, please leave.” The problem is that they can’t leave. ‘Here’ is their home – African Americans are Americans in the same way that Jews were Soviet citizens. African Americans and Soviet Jews didn’t ask to live in a country that treats them unequally; no one would willingly choose that. History, which is another way of saying that chance determined it for them.

Jews shouldn’t be silent, precisely because we are a minority. Although North American Jews are well-integrated, anti-Semitism is still a problem. However, it’s not coming from ‘the Left,’ but from ‘the Right’. Here is a headline from June 12, published by the Jewish Journal: Far-Right Spreads Anti-Semitic Conspiracies About COVID-19 and George Floyd’s Death.


As members of a minority ethnic group (even as relatively well-off as we are), we have an obligation to stand in solidarity with other minorities.
As members of a minority ethnic group (even as relatively well-off as we are), we have an obligation to stand in solidarity with other minorities.

As I read Mr. Fischer's article, I was reminded of the famous poem by Martin Niemöller, a key piece of Holocaust cultural history:

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

I think we would do well to remember this sentiment in this day and age.

Thank you for your time and courtesy.

Yours Sincerely,

Moshe Greenebaum



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