Charlottesville: O Bibi, Where Art Thou? – OpEd

In light of the events in Charlottesville I ask, paraphrasing the words of the immortal Coen Brothers: “O Bibi, Where Are Thou?”

After France and its Jewish community suffered Islamist terror attacks, you were a veritable Lion of Judah.  You hopped the first flight to Paris to stand courageously with your Diaspora brothers and sisters in solidarity…well, sort of.

You couldn’t restrain your inner-Zionist and told French Jewry (and all of European Jewry for that matter) that it had no future in its homeland.  That it’s only hope was to make aliyah and be “safe” in the land of their fathers, Israel.

Protesters at Charlottesville, Virginia rally carrying Confederate flags, Gadsden flags and a Nazi Flag. Photo byAnthony Crider, Wikipedia Commons.
Protesters at Charlottesville, Virginia rally carrying Confederate flags, Gadsden flags and a Nazi Flag. Photo byAnthony Crider, Wikipedia Commons.

Many of the French Jews in the synagogue that day didn’t take well to your Zio-chauvinism and linked arms singing the Marseillaise–to drown out those other audience members singing HaTikvah.  But many French Jews responded to your call and did make aliyah.  The numbers doubled that year.  Oh how you crowed for joy to realize the Zionist dream of the ingathering of the exiles.  But then the flow receded the next year and returned to their normal level in the following year.

So Bibi’s call for mass emigration didn’t work out as he planned.  French Jews remain French.

But ironically, Bibi’s response to anti-Semitism in the U.S. is entirely different.  Basically, there is no response.  Radio silence.  When anti-Semites desecrated Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis: silence.  When Trump failed to mention the 6-million in his Holocaust Day message: silence.  When armed neo-Nazis menaced the Jews of Charlottesville davening on Shabbat: silence.

This is no accident.

Bibi not only doesn’t care about American Jews (they’re far too liberal and Democratic for his taste), he’s joined at the hip to his soul brother, Donald Trump.  Bibi has a permanent alliance with the GOP.  Trump is his man.  Bibi, like any good vassal, brings tribute to his master.  His tribute is absolute loyalty (a quality Trump particularly values).

If Donald Trump says the Nazis were “fine people,” then who is Bibi to question?  If they shouted anti-Semitic slogans, well who says “Jews will not replace us” is anti-Semitic anyway??

Anti-Semitic Attack on Charlottesville Temple on Shabbat

Just in case Bibi is living in same sort of gold-plated cocoon as Donald Trump, let’s inform him–here’s what real Jews suffered through last Shabbat:

Forty congregants were inside [the temple last Shabbat]. Here’s what I witnessed during that time.

For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple. Had they tried to enter, I don’t know what I could have done to stop them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them, either. Perhaps the presence of our armed guard deterred them. Perhaps their presence was just a coincidence, and I’m paranoid. I don’t know.

Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, “There’s the synagogue!” followed by chants of “Seig Heil” and other anti-Semitic language. Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.

In this eyewitness testimony penned by the Temple president, he notes that alt-right websites went crazy after the Saturday protests, calling for the synagogue to be burnt to the ground.  To any Jew with even an ounce of historical memory, this recalls an actual tragedy in which hundreds of Jews were burned to death in Poland inside their synagogue.  But to Bibi and Trump, victims of profound amnesia, this signifies nothing.

How does a Jew and Zionist ignore such displays without responding with even an ounce of sympathy?  The short answer is that self-interest permits him to abandon these values.  This means Bibi isn’t a ZIonist. He’s an Opportunist.  Thus, when it comes to a choice between your fellow Jews and your political patron, Bibi has an easy choice.  He chooses Trump every time.  It doesn’t matter that Trump’s father was arrested at a KKK rally, that Trump hires Hungarian Nazis to work in the White House.  Much can be forgiven from a man who offers Israel a green light to do anything and everything it wishes in the region.

Nor is this an anomaly: Bibi has struck alliances with other anti-Semites across Europe and the Middle East.  Despite the protests of Hungarian Jews, Bibi excused the anti-Semitic ravings of the country’s prime minister, Viktor Orban; and his anti-Semitic attack on Hungarian-American Jewish financier, George Soros.  In fact, Bibi piled on by accusing Soros of supporting enemies of the State of Israel (Israeli human rights NGOs, which have apparently become ‘traitors to their race’).

Israel’s new bromance with the Sunni states also demands that Bibi hold his nose at the overt anti-Semitism for which the Saudi Wahabis are known (Protocols of the Elders of Zion, anyone?).  Because the Saudis can advance Bibi’s political interests by demonizing Iran (thus giving Israelis yet another reason to keep him in power), their moral flaws are excused and ignored.

Israeli Media Offer Platform for Neo-Nazi, Richard Spencer

Meanwhile, American Jews were treated to the revolting spectacle of Israeli Channel 2 offering a platform to the leader of the Charlottesville terror attack, Richard Spencer.  Among the numerous outrageous stunt-like comments Spencer offered was that he was a “white Zionist.”  He also parroted another hoary Nazi slur–exploiting it in order to justify the anti-Semitic slogans heard last Saturday–that Jews are “overrepresented” in the “historic left:”

One question for the producers of this monstrosity: would you have interviewed Adolf Hitler in 1933??

StandWithUs Facebook Friends Support Charlottesville Nazis

On Facebook, the Israel advocacy group, StandWithUs, posted a typically cliched statement denouncing “hatred and bigotry.”  But what they didn’t bargain for was the defense of Nazi violence in the comment thread.  Among the choicer ones:

“Dont forget the Black Lives Matter hate group too! Seems like they were flown in from all over the US and really started the violence. They are extremely anti- Jewish and anti- Zionist as much as the Neo nazis.”

‘Was the broad who got killed part of that Antifa trash?”

“All THREE groups are Nazis!”

“I will be withdrawing my support and membership of this group as it is clear to me that rather than take the trouble of researching what actually occurred and who was responsible, you have taken the lazy option of becoming apologists for a lie…….I no longer trust you to report the truth.”

“I vehemently disagree with your opinion. I consider BLM to be a domestic terrorist group and a black supremacist formation…”

Jamie Ross “No condemnation for the racist people who attacked a peaceful march standing up for white historical heritage which is being attacked and removed because blacks cannot deal with history they don’t like.”

Kenneth Ellis “Why don’t you mention blm or the antifa. One is a hate group the other Fascist . Who were bused in to start trouble. Why the police just stood and watched.”

Carol Hasidim StandWithUs “are you going to get it wrong too?! Condemning the alt-right and the Nazis is fine but you left out the far left. Their anti-Semitism is just as palpable and was on display. Shame on you for getting caught up in the PC nonsense.”

“Our President was absolutely right in his initial condemnation of ALL those hateful groups. Initially, there was no confirmation which group the actual murderer belonged to. Those criticizing his statement have their own agenda and peace & love is not part of it.”

“Southern Pride is not about hate, it’s about preserving history and heritage; and every Jew in the United States owes just a little bit of gratitude. Sadly none of you are aware of this because the only thing that is taught today is how evil the South was; and while it is true, they did do unspeakable things, there were many people who stood for what is right. Remember that.”

Mindless Response of an Israeli Zionist

Israeli political journalist, Tal Schneider, had a different, but no less troubling response to Charlottesville:

Note that Tal doesn’t offer an ounce of sympathy for American Jews.  She doesn’t seek to understand their emotions.  She immediately goes into Zio-mode and decides the real and only solution to the problem is for American Jews to make aliyah.  This is a mindless, insensitive, but typically Zionist response.  It ignores who Diaspora Jews are as Jews or human beings.  It sees them instead as disembodied figures in a Zionist passion-play.

One of the egregious faults of her tweet lies in the assumption that American Jews would be safer or more secure in Israel than in their native land.  Clearly, this isn’t the case, as Israeli Jews are not only subject to terror attacks, but their children must serve in the IDF, where they also may die in an endless series of wars against the Arab peoples of the region.

Michael Cohen: Some of His Best Friends Are…

Trump’s real estate lawyer and lately a White House functionary, Michael Cohen, had his own unique Jewish response to Charlottesville.  Apparently, he’s feeling a tad defensive about standing by his man and meal ticket despite the overt Jew hate heard throughout the town that day.  So he tweeted this doozy:

All I can say is that for a child of Holocaust survivors to believe he can stand behind a man who openly supports neo-Nazis and white supremacists, requires a devastating bout of historical amnesia.  But like Bibi, Cohen can excuse many things from the man who has been his meal ticket for a decade or more.  When David Friedman called J Street “worse than kapos,” he had the wrong target.  If anyone aids and abets Nazis it’s Jews like Cohen.

The leadership of the Israel Lobby has reacted in typically schizoid fashion.  Sure, there have been the standard denunciations of anti-Semitism.  That’s to be expected.  But there was also the dawning realization that the antifa activists defending the status of Thomas Jefferson on the UVA campus; and the left-wing protesters who fought back the next day against the gun-toting white supremacist thugs, were not precisely pro-Israel caliber.  They understood that this movement, these social justice warriors would never take Israel’s side.  Therefore, they too were suspected in a fashion similar to the way Trump suspected them.

That’s why the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt could denounce Trump’s waffling in one tweet and retweet an Anshel Pfeffer Haaretz column saying “a pox on both your houses,” since the “hard-left” is no friend of Jews or Israel:

This article was published at Tikun Olam


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Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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