On a pre-pandemic trip to London, when crossing the street, I noticed some assistance for the bewildered pedestrian. On the road surface just beyond the curb where one steps off were stenciled the words “Look to your right” or depending on the traffic pattern, “Look to your Left.” As a tourist hoping to make it across the street alive, it was a helpful reminder that the red double-deckers, the Range Rovers and the London cabs would come from unexpected directions and that we had best look to the right and to the left if we wished to survive the mean streets of Britain.
When strolling through Covent Garden or staring up at Big Ben, I found the cautionary messages both charming and helpful. Thankfully, I survived the trip across the pond. But as I reflect back on that not-so-long-ago visit, I realize that it serves as a powerful exhortation to us in this most nasty of worlds in which we live.
We still weep for the murdered victims of the Poway synagogue and of Squirrel Hill. Charlottesville and the chilling rants of “Jews will not replace us” still stings. Toppled gravestones, scrawled swastikas bring us sadness and alarm. We shiver as we hear the unsubtle hate-filled rhetoric of Duke. Of Spencer. Of assorted white supremacists. The insanity of Rothschild laser beams and Camp Auschwitz T-shirts proudly worn in the Capitol invasion. We look to the right.
The inability of Congress to unequivocally condemn internal anti-Semitic slurs. Farrakhan celebrated by too many high profilers. Campus suppression of Israeli speakers. AOC’s praise of ousted Hamas and Hezbollah sympathizer Jeremy Corbyn. Liberation theology’s libel against Israel. Racists of color rejecting MLK’s message that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. The hypocrisy drenched BDS campaign that targets Israel relentlessly. We look to the left.
Though the hard right and the hard left occupy opposite ends of the spectrum, their divergence disappears when it comes to the Jew. These odd bedfellows find common cause in their anti-Semitism. Whether goosestepping citizens of the hard right or morally bankrupt citizens of the hard left, they share an agenda of hatred. Intolerance. Ignorance. The hard right is unashamed of their violent, Aryan bigotry. Indeed, proud of it. While the hard left claims unassailable virtue in their distortion of tolerance. Liberty. Truth. We Jews have enemies banging on our front door and on our back door who wish to bring down our house. Neither are good neighbors. There is an unholy anti- Jewish alliance these polarities gleefully share. We are despised by both and we had better come to realize that sooner than later.
Friends, I learned a critical lesson in London. If we wish to survive when crossing the street, we had best look to the right and to the left.
Rabbi Shalom Lewis, Marietta