Photo Credit: Andrew Bernard

When I was four years old, my beloved Zeyde, z”l, a true Torah scholar, became seriously ill and was hospitalized. My grandmother and her seven children, one of whom was my mother, were understandably upset, all the more so when the attending physician suggested that they prepare themselves for his death, saying, “He’s seventy years old. He’s lived his life.”

My mother wasn’t about to concede. She went to visit Zeyde in the hospital, and as she described it many years later, he lay in bed inside an oxygen tent, too weak to say more than a few words. My mother approached gingerly and said, “Papa, you must get well.” He was noncommittal, perhaps resigned. My mother persisted, “Papa you must get well so you can be there for Richard’s bar mitzvah. I promise to have it in your shul. If you aren’t there, there won’t be a bar mitzvah.” My grandfather responded weakly, “Man muss [One must].” My mother insisted, “If you aren’t there, we won’t have a bar mitzvah.”


My mother later told me that she felt she gave Zeyde a renewed will to live. The upshot was that he recovered and lived another eighteen years, so he was indeed there for my bar mitzvah and my subsequent junior high school graduation.

Why am I relating this story? Six months later, when my grandfather returned to the hospital for a follow-up checkup, the family learned that the doctor who felt Zeyde’s death was inevitable had himself died at a considerably younger age.

The moral of this story is that people should never feel too sure about themselves and their judgments. As my mother put it, when things go too well for people, they go skating on thin ice. Case in point: Right now, the Islamic world, much of the European Union, and even a significant number of Americans believe Israel is doomed. Iran’s dictator, Ayatollah Khamenei, the 21st-century Haman, confidently proclaimed Israel’s imminent demise. (He seems not to know that Haman plotted to exterminate the Jews but he and his ten sons ended up hanged on the gallows he had constructed for Mordechai.)

The October 7 massacre convinced Israel’s enemies that she is highly vulnerable, besides occasioning joyous celebrations in Gaza and around the world. Israel’s subsequent move into Gaza to remove the Hamas threat has attracted nearly universal condemnation after a day or so of crocodile tears.

As Jonathan Tobin observed, “The bodies of the slain, tortured and raped victims of the Oct. 7 attacks weren’t cold before most of the coverage of the conflict flipped to one dominated by false narratives and brazen lies about alleged Israeli atrocities and Palestinian victims. Unlike the reaction to the 9/11 attacks, the media adopted a ‘both sides are wrong’ mentality and mainstreamed not just arguments that Israeli victims deserved their fate, but also antisemitic arguments about the one Jewish state on the planet not having a right to exist, let alone defend itself.”

The outpouring of support for Hamas and hatred for Jews has continued worldwide for months. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators march in London, in New York, and in other major cities proudly proclaiming “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and “Globalize the Intifada,” which is nothing less than a call for genocide.

On American college campuses, especially the so-called “elite” institutions, Jewish students are routinely harassed, even assaulted by fellow students, who are often supported by faculty and generally not disciplined by cowardly administrators, to the extent that one-third of Jewish college students surveyed say they conceal their identity. As AICE (American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise) puts it, “Thousands of professors support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign. The situation has only grown worse since the October 7 Hamas massacre.”

On being pressed to combat antisemitism, Harvard formed a task force co-chaired by an anti-Zionist Jewish Studies professor. And a recent survey shows that 52 percent of 18- to 24-year-old Americans believe Israel should be dismantled and turned over to Hamas.

By now we are all familiar with reports of antisemitic incidents. As Evan Nierman summarizes, “It is all depressingly reminiscent of an earlier time, between the two world wars, when Jewish students throughout Europe were terrorized by ideological fellow students…. Campus radicals today are also intimidating Jewish students while administrators issue mealy-mouthed statements. Students are in thrall to a totalizing ideology that brooks no dissent and burns with hatred for Jews.

“American Jews feel that they have seen this all before, and they are right. Universities are once again incubators of moral rot and antisemitism.”

In American society as a whole, antisemitism has skyrocketed by 400 percent in the past year, so that Jews constitute a majority of hate crime victims even though we’re only two percent of the population. How has Washington DC responded? By launching a crusade against Islamophobia in partnership with CAIR, the Council on Islamic-American Relations which, like Hamas, is an offshoot of the radical Muslim Brotherhood.

In other words, opposition to antisemitism must be accompanied by opposition to Islamophobia to assure equity, even though there are more than six times as many hate crimes committed against Jews than against Muslims, according to 2022 FBI statistics. Again quoting Jonathan Tobin, “The lesson here is that in the current political context, crying ‘Islamophobia’ is just a way to make us discount … antisemitism, as well as to shut up those trying to draw attention to a problem that can no longer be ignored.”

In response to the surge in antisemitism, the Brandeis Center and the American Bar Association presented a webinar on January 17 on “How to be an anti-anti-Semite.” As I watched, I was struck by how the panelists sought to placate the progressive Left. In response to questions from the audience about the need to end the panelists were careful not to endorse eliminating the racist practice of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) but rather to correct its admitted faults, mainly by lobbying to move Jews to the marginalized category. Speakers from the JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council) of San Francisco declared that ending DEI would be a non-starter in his city because black and brown people want it. Instead, he proposed, and other panelists agreed, that Jews be given a seat at the table to defend our interests.

In my view, asking for a seat at the table with the DEI proponents makes no sense. Our Islamist and Leftist foes are implacable, as is exhibited by their rhetoric. Islamist antisemitism has its origin in statements in the Quran, and its practice in Israel goes back at least to the 1929 Hebron riots, in which 67 Jews, including yeshiva students, were slaughtered. Leftist antisemitism has its roots in the old Soviet Union, culminating in the 1975 United Nations resolution declaring that Zionism is racism. Identifying Jews as “white-adjacent” oppressors has brought many Black Americans on board. As Tobin notes, “The willingness of so-called ‘progressives’ and the intersectional left wing of the Democratic Party, which is largely dominated by minority groups, to join the ranks of those seeking to delegitimize Israel’s right to defend its people against a genocidal terrorist group like Hamas was perhaps to be expected. That has always been the position of the BLM movement and the congressional ‘Squad,’ whose members have done so much to mainstream antisemitic tropes.

“But when people like MSNBC host Joy Reid claim that African-Americans identify with the Palestinians, that speaks to the general ignorance on the part of many Americans – and not just members of minority communities – about the genocidal intent of Hamas when it comes to Israel and Jews…. Jews have been transformed from a fellow minority that has known discrimination and fought for black equality into white oppressors who must be made to suffer for the real sins of America’s past and a fictional present in which ‘structural racism’ is blamed for all society’s ills.”

Jewish community relations councils often avoid challenging the anti-Zionist and antisemitic ethnic studies curricula that are increasingly being adopted around the nation. In Newton, Massachusetts, for example, the JCRC actually opposed efforts to tone down the curriculum and was rewarded with one seat on a new Commission for Anti-Racism and Equity in Education otherwise dominated by leftist organizations, including the teachers’ union, which “…since 2018 … has been promoting a “critical” ethnic studies course whose framework looks suspiciously similar to the one used by California’s highly controversial first draft model curriculum – which was roundly rejected by California education officials because of outrage over its blatantly anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist content.”

So, whose views are likely to prevail if Jews have a seat at the table with the likes of these organizations? Let’s also remember that as long as the DEI ideology prevails, any deviation from proportional representation of any identity group in every college and every place of employment constitutes prima facie evidence of racism. Jews, being 2.4 percent of the U.S. population, will have to settle for being 2.4 percent of doctors, lawyers and accountants – but as compensation we can be 2.4 percent of pink-collar and blue-collar employees.

Sorry, folks, the solution is to dismantle the bloated DEI bureaucracies that are a major source of antisemitism, coupled with a return to both meritocracy and the original form of affirmative action in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which, we were assured, was not meant to impose quota systems. Instead, we should offer remediation to minority students who have been shortchanged by the teachers’ unions-dominated K-12 educational system so they can compete and succeed on equal terms with everyone else. (By contrast, to increase diversity the teachers’ unions advocate ending basic skills tests required to enter the profession.)

DEI is but one of numerous issues clouding the future of Jewry. Before our enemies become too complacent, however, they should consider that G-d doesn’t exact retribution immediately, thus allowing people free will to choose between good and evil, but in due course He settles accounts. As it is written in Pirkei Avos (3:20), “He [Rabbi Akiva] used to say: Everything is given on collateral and a net is spread over all the living. The shop is open; the Merchant extends credit; the ledger is open; the hand writes, and whoever wishes to borrow, let him come and borrow. The collectors make their rounds constantly, every day, and collect payment from the person whether he realizes it or not. They have proof to rely upon; the judgment is a truthful judgment; and everything is prepared for the banquet [to be enjoyed by the righteous in the World to Come].”

Let us conclude with chizuk from an unlikely source, Mark Twain, who wrote in an 1899 essay called “Concerning the Jews”:

“The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

We know: It’s Hashem’s promise to us.

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Richard Kronenfeld, a Brooklyn native now living in Phoenix, holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford and has taught mathematics and physics at the secondary and college level. He self-identifies as a Religious Zionist.