Four years ago, I heard a sermon from a rabbi who bemoaned American decline. He also bemoaned centrism’s disappearance and, of course, blamed it on the degeneracy of the next generation. I unwisely wrote him to defend my peers. We’re doing what we can with what we’re given. The center didn’t hold because the right destroyed it. Liberals wanted a partner in peace, but there’s clearly no partner, and with every rebuff of Obama, the left became ever more bellicose in opposition.
Jews always adapt intractably slowly. In Amos Elon’s “The Pity of It All,” Elon discusses how German Jews were the last supporters of the Weimar Republic. In the early ’30s as Nazis murdered people in the street every week, Jews still believed they were no more a threat than communists.
We’re a community dancing on a volcano. Every attempt to hold Pikesville together as one community makes the inevitable divorce more explosive. Pikesville is a permanent 1950s suburb growing ever more prosperous. We’re conspicuously privileged, and in case it’s not obvious, resentment of Jews now grows exponentially every month.
A few months after Vladimir Putin rose to power, a series of bombings detonated in Russian apartment buildings: 293 dead. Chechen Muslims were blamed, but the West now believes the bombs were detonated by Russian Intelligence so Putin could seize absolute power.
Jews stand alone, and were we made victims of somebody, the crocodile tears would replenish the Dead Sea. The right would let Israel into Arab lands with guns blazing, killing thousands of Arabs and Israelis alike. The left would stand in solidarity until we supported Israel, then desert us as oppressors. Who really would mourn us?
But there’s still a chance to stop disaster. If you support Trump, there’s no sense pretending we have common values. If you said you respect my beliefs, I wouldn’t believe you, and I’m sure you wouldn’t believe me saying the same. We have to bifurcate so we can embrace people who protect us before we’re bifurcated.
We can still separate into two communities that respect each other’s distance. We already go to different synagogues and schools. Why not shop in different stores, eat in different restaurants and patronize different businesses? We can always remarry if things cool down.
In this sense, Jews can still be a light unto nations and show the world how two sides with irreconcilable differences can still treat each other with mutual respect during the many moments when we still have to come together as parents to the same nation.
Evan Tucker is a North Baltimore-based writer.