A Shared Sense of Survival

runyan_josh_otYou don’t need to live in Israel to be the target of anti-Jewish hatred. You could be attending a rally in Los Angeles or praying in a Paris synagogue.

Of course, you wouldn’t know this solely by reading the region’s daily newspapers. Both The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post in fact contained not a single mention Monday or Tuesday of the hateful attacks against Jews in Europe or here in the United States. Amid their significant coverage of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge to stop more than a week of rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, neither paper managed to note that two Parisian synagogues had come under attack July 13.

An Associated Press report, however, managed to make it to The Post’s website.

“Pro-Palestinian protesters tried to force their way into a Paris synagogue Sunday with bats and chairs, then fought with security officers who blocked their way,” said the report, noting that “some 150 people were inside for a ceremony honoring three Israeli teens recently killed.”

In Los Angeles, according to a report in Haaretz, hundreds of pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clashed near the campus of UCLA. The scuffle got so heated that a federal officer fired his gun.

No one was hurt in the L.A. incident, and those inside the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue in Paris managed to eventually get out, but these instances of violence have so concerned the Anti-Defamation League that the organization, which counted more than 50 anti-Israel rallies to take place stateside since the beginning of last week, issued a security advisory to Jewish institutions.

“The events taking place in Israel and the Gaza Strip have resulted in tense atmospheres at anti-Israel rallies in Europe and across the United States,” ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, said in a statement. “While most of the demonstrations in the U.S. have been peaceful, we are encouraging Jewish institutions, organizations and synagogues to have a heightened sense of awareness, particularly in light of what is happening overseas.”

It’s important to remember that the events abroad are affecting communities here. And the death of the first Israeli civilian to Hamas rocket fire in the current conflict — the man reportedly suffered a direct hit Tuesday near the Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel as he was passing out food to Israeli soldiers — demonstrates, as if any demonstration were necessary, that it’s not just Palestinians who are suffering.

As you’ll read in this week’s JT, many Baltimoreans have responded to the events of the past few weeks with a renewed sense of Jewish identification. Many teens and young adults continued their summer trips to Israel and defiantly decided to stay, despite the sirens, the rocket attacks and the bomb shelters. Others on this side of the world are donating their hard-earned money to any of several funds established by Jewish organizations to help Israeli civilians and the Israeli military.

It’s dangerous to view the world through an “us vs. them” prism, but sometimes it’s helpful to realize that at the end of the day, a shared sense of Jewish peoplehood is what will enable not only Israel, but all of the Jewish communities throughout the world to survive.


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