All decent people, without doubt, believe that black lives matter just as all lives matter. Many, many Jewish organizations have embraced the concept that black lives matter and the organization of the BLM movement even though that organization’s platform and some of the leadership have been anti-Semitic and critical of Israel, one of the most democratic nations in the world and certainly in the Middle East.
Hillel’s famous statement needs to be considered: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” The American Jewish community has embraced “If I am only for myself, what am I?” And the third sentence: “If not now, when?” when it comes to many other causes. However, the very first sentence which Hillel placed first: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” has been taken for granted by American Jews. I am not referring to monetary or lifestyle comforts, but concepts of Judaism when it comes to themselves. Anti-Semitism is rampant throughout the world and increasing both in the world and the U.S. As a whole, with some exceptions, we seem to be mostly silent, mild, sheepish and non-assertive when anti-Semitic incidents occur.
Are we afraid to speak too loudly?
There are far more Jewish organizations supporting BLM and Jews protesting the recent police actions than Jewish organizations, non-Jewish organizations and Jews coming forth when there is anti-Semitic occurrences i.e. desecrating Jewish synagogues and centers, shooting of Jews, BDS movements, anti-Semitism on college campuses, teaching in educational institutions, and even activities against circumcision.
Jews, for centuries, have been targeted as the source of all problems of that particular time, and anti-Semitism has demonized the Jewish collective. I think we Jews need to focus on the insidious, systemic (over thousands of years) anti-Semitism happening in our current unrestful world. Hillel listed: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” first. There was a reason for this, and we need to take note.
Larry Benuck, Atlanta