It's been a tough year for the State of Israel. Angry protests over judicial reform rocked the nation, with ugliness we have never seen before. Then, of course the horrific massacre of October 7th. Now, we are in a war we didn’t ask for but which we know is necessary.
After the war, the nation of Israel will need to be rebuilt in many ways. Lots of damage and lots of issues to face – hostages, survivors, families, soldiers, the economy, – so much work to do. And yet, we see the strength of the State of Israel and know all will be fine. There's nowhere else for Israelis to go. It's that simple.
It’s the early days of a war which has many fronts and lots to do. Israel, with G-d'\s help, will handle what needs to be done.
Yet, against that backdrop, one genuinely wonders if the Jews of the Diaspora will also triumph and prevail. There has been no self- examination of why American Jews are in the situation they are in. Zero examination or willingness to discuss if the Jewish community enabled situations which have undermined their safety and security. WhatsApp groups filled with nervous Jews without leadership looking for guidance which doesn’t exist. Dependent on local leaders, security systems and more which aren’t controlled by our people and in some cases are openly hostile.
Organizations like ADL or Hillel are fully unequipped to deal with the situation we now face as they surely bear some responsibility for this situation, having enabled our enemies with their endless multi-faith events and social justice causes. Today, do we expect these liberal Jewish organizations to lead us away from this danger? Call me a skeptic – as we see deafening silence of all of these allies when it comes to Israel and antisemitism.
The American Jewish community remains overwhelmingly Ashkenazi with nearly no Sephardic representation among American Jewish leadership. Surely, Moroccan, Iranian, Tunisian Jews who resettled in America wouldn’t scoff as do their Ashkenazi counterparts at the thought that maybe,- just maybe - Jews won’t be safe in America.
Numerous recent interactions since October 7th have left me quite concerned for the Jewish future in the Diaspora.
One of America’s most prominent political consultants (who is Jewish) couldn’t feign disbelief when I told him that universally, Israelis are genuinely terrified for American Jews, telling me, “Well, you know America isn’t Europe where the Jews can be run out of town.” He literally didn’t believe me that Israeli friends of mine cancelled trips to the United States because of fear for their safety. Yes, many Israelis today wont visit the U.S. because they fear for their safety.
Sounds a lot like the Jews did in Germany in 1938, doesn’t he? Today, Jews truly aren’t safe in Europe, and unlikely they will truly be safe in Ukraine or Russia. Why will America be different?
So many American Jews take offense at that statement.
My daughter attends a major University in the Northeast where the majority of the parents share the attitude (loudly and vocally) that those Palestinian Arabs and their supporters chanting “From the River to the Sea”, or to “Free Palestine” are entitled to free speech and refuse to join calls to demand a boycott of the University. University administrators are openly hostile to our students and refuse demands for a meeting, something they surely wouldn’t do to African-American or LGBTQ parents. After all, these are only Jews.
And the Jewish organizations and Jewish community remains largely painfully silent.
In a closed door off-record meeting with a pro-Israel congressman and Jewish communal leaders, one walked out following a comment I made suggesting everyone in the room get an Israeli passport. After all, Jewish history has shown our welcome always seems to run out. So many refuse to even hear that.
Ze’ev Maghen, Professor of Arabic and Islamic History and former Chairman of the Department of Middle East Studies at Bar-Ilan University, once wrote words I remember, “A man calls you a pig. Do you walk around with a sign explaining that, in fact, you are not a pig? Do you hand out leaflets expostulating in detail upon the manifold differences between you and a pig (“A pig has a snout, I have a nose; a pig wallows in mud, I only occasionally step in a puddle, and then, of course, inadvertently…”)? Do you stand on a soap box and discourse eruditely on why, in general, it is extremely not nice to call people pigs, and appeal to the populace to please have no truck with an individual rude and nasty enough to say such things about an upstanding citizen like yourself? Fellow Jews, where in hell is your dignity?”
I don’t care why they all hate us – the reality is they do, and so much of what is happening in the world is simply a repeat of Jewish history. Unadulterated pure Anti-Semitism and I history will show October 7th to be much larger historically in 100 years than it is today.
Perhaps it will begin a process of the strengthening of the State of Israel. Of a rebirth of the 75 year old nation which requires growth and change for the next 75 years. It will also likely the start of a transformation of the entire Jewish people which will undoubtedly see a golden age in the State of Israel – a boom not unlike other historical changes which happened in Israel.
After the 1973 war, it took a few years for the Likud to come to power, but the aftermath of that saw a long reign where the Mizrachi were finally integrated into the State, saw a rebirth of the Jewish nation with the ingathering of Jews from the former Soviet Union, the creation of a great “Start-Up” nation with pro-business environments. So many wonderful changes which we will also see come to Israel in the days, weeks and months to come after this war. A rebirth – but one which diaspora Jews have to be cognizant of will vastly change not just the State of Israel, but the Jewish people. There will be mass aliya from all over the world, including the United States,
Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the leader of the Revisionist movement, which both Begin and Netanyahu come from, noted in 1940 that “we hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether Joseph or Simon or Ivan or Ahmed agree with it or not.”
As Jabotinsky noted in “The Story of the Jewish Legion,” Everybody is wrong and you alone are right?’ No doubt this question springs by itself to the reader’s lips and mind. It is customary to answer this with apologetic phrases to the effect that I fully respect public opinion, that I bow to it, that I was glad to make concessions….All this is unnecessary, and all this is untrue. You cannot believe in anything in the world, if you admit even once that perhaps your opponents are right, and not you. This is not the way to do things. There is but one truth in the world, and it is all yours. If you are not sure of it, stay at home; but if you are sure, don’t look back, and it will be your way.”
Yes, Israel alone is right.
We are truly living in historic times. Let's hope history doesn’t look at these times for the Jews as we do today at the Jews of Europe in 1938.
Ronn Torossian is an American Israeli entrepreneur, Chairman & Founder 5W Public Relations