Is the Jewish community prepared for the level of Judeophobia that exists in the United States today?

Ricardo Israel

By: Ricardo Israel - 13/05/2024

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Before answering the question, for transparency I must say that I am Jewish and proud to be so. I also consider myself a consumer of information, since my activity requires me to do so daily, for academic reasons and for regular spaces in the media. It is, in that sense, that I am convinced that the leaders of the Jewish community should figure even more and with more force than they do today, given the times we live in and the strong challenge faced in the United States.

I explain.

It was unexpected, since they were for me the world standard for Jews outside of Israel. Due to the unexpectedness, I get the impression that there is a shock of such magnitude, that its magnitude has not yet been assimilated, and everything indicates that neither she nor her leaders were prepared for this gigantic manifestation of hatred (who was? , not me) and surprise and pain still predominate inside. Also, the disappointment with so many people with whom there were good friendships, cut in some cases by their silence, others by applauding what is happening.

There is anger at the injustice of the situation, and just as there are many expressions of understanding and affection that are appreciated, and States that have done better than others within the country, there is no doubt that the attacks on Israel worldwide are becoming repeating in the US, and hence the surprise, since it was not and is not just any place, but rather the one that seemed special for the Jews, and that has the largest population outside of Israel.

In no case are they comparable situations, but it should be added that, in the ancient Jewish history, there are at least two tragic cases when the Jews felt safe, Spain in 1492 and, by the way, Germany before the Holocaust, which is not added because it is a case unlike any other massacre, not only in Jewish history but in the history of the world, where a country had the resources and the will to try to eradicate an entire people from the face of the earth, so much so that the Jews still They do not fully recover their previous population percentage.

In any case, in the face of the passivity of so many authorities, what is happening in US universities gives a good idea of ​​what happened in Germany with Judeophobia, the oldest of humanity's phobias, and at the same time At the same time, 7-X provides a glimpse of what could happen if Israel were to lose a war. Above all, it provides evidence that the Holocaust will remain a remote possibility for Jewish survival as long as Israel exists.

But what is happening to the American Jewish community? Everything is complicated, furthermore, because the unexpected outbreak of anti-Semitism reproduced what the 7/10 invasion was for Israel, where the world has been forgetting about the hostages who are still in the hands of their captors.

And perhaps, not even in their nightmares, the majority of American Jews had prepared themselves for what young university students would face, in institutions where there were also many Jewish professors, researchers and philanthropists, young people who only knew of similar situations from what they had experienced. his grandparents in Germany and other places in Europe.

It is not about exaggerating, but rather understanding that everything will probably get worse before it gets better, and that any progress will require an attitude at the level of aggression, so it is not about criticizing anyone, but rather about supporting those who have been victims, as well as those who want to get active to collaborate so that it does not happen again, or that at least, if it happens again, there will be a community structure with the necessary resources so that those responsible suffer the legal consequences.

To do this, there must always be the possibility of going to court as well as filing a complaint with name and surname, to identify and, as far as possible, shame those who have made hatred a way of life. Furthermore, acting judicially in the United States should be easier than in other countries, since there is abundant legislation that must be improved and updated as well as jurisprudence, and the fact that it is not being applied as it should sets three tasks: The first is to demand in a very public way that it be applied; the second, to act on it as a pressure group, and the third, to go to court for the same reason, not individually as has been happening, but collectively as a Jewish community, as a brand and with the weight that this entails, always.

This defense must be without complexes of any kind given the nature of the challenge, since in practice there have been universities that have allowed “free” spaces for Jews by normalizing places where they could not enter or transit, so the fight must begin with the reasonable request that by mandate of the law they must be safe places for everyone, emphasizing security, as well as that of everyone, since we only have to ask ourselves: What would happen or what would have happened if this persecution had been against other groups such as as afro-descendants, lgtbiq+, women? Would it have been the same or would there have been a much more generalized rejection?

The struggle goes back perhaps a century or even more to Jews in the US, since here we are talking about the minimum requirement of a democratic society, which is the essential equality between all citizens. Also, the Jewish community is positioned against new scenarios, which have gone from unlikely to possible, such as that in some future US government it stops seeing Israel as an ally, and distances itself even more than current insecurities, raising criticism and always conditioning any support, even denying it.

It will not happen from one day to the next, but it will be like the story of the boiled frog, which when entering a pot full of cold or warm water does not react to the fire, but rather gets used to it, unlike if He would have entered with the boiling water, where he would have jumped out, saving himself. Perhaps, the process has already begun, and the Gaza war (caused by Hamas, not to be forgotten) was the trigger, so the greater separation could appear either due to the war itself, or by a by-product, in the case that The US does not sufficiently support Israel in the possible issuance of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court against Netanyahu and others, without realizing that if successful, it will probably be next on the list, so as self-protection it should make a total defense.

Given the seriousness of the threat that exists today to Jewish life, it is appropriate for the community to ask itself whether the institutions of extra-community relations or lobbying such as the American Jewish Committee or the Jewish Defense League should continue as they are or should be reviewed to confront this threat. new normal. Here Israel is not an example, since, in this type of activity, starting from clarification (Hasbará) it accumulates more failures than successes.

For me, the best model is African Americans, who, despite all their difficulties in relation to racism, have managed to organize themselves in such a way that the reaction to a public offense is automatic, and at a good time, as far as everyone knows. that will bring consequences for those who have committed acts or used reprehensible expressions.

In the case of anti-Semitism in the current university camps, some of the worst that has been witnessed has been the sympathy or cowardice of the administrators of these institutions, as well as the “understanding” demonstrated in the media and political authorities,

Today it exists, but its insufficiency has been demonstrated, which is why I believe that the Jewish community should think about a great project on the Holocaust, where its teaching is mandatory in the educational system, through laws approved in each of the States, being a graduation requirement. As an example, once again we should think about African Americans and the total unanimity that has been happily achieved around the teaching of slavery. In the case of the Holocaust, the approval in each State of the definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance should be added, in order to be able to charge the voice of universities that have falsely said that they are going to "repress anti-Semitic speech."

The thing is that in the camps the activists shout that their Jewish companions should “return to Poland”, a fact that adds to the impunity that has surrounded other situations, where protesters have violated the most basic rights of others. And if there is impunity as it seems there may be, these situations will not have the consequences they deserve for the professional future or work of the protesters, which coincides with new problems and new realities, so serious that the Jews are complying his traditional role of canary in the mine that warns of greater misfortunes for everyone.

Although it is not yet visible to everyone, Iran's presence makes Gaza also against the West. That is to say, the US has a serious national security problem in its universities, since a generation of terrorists could be incubating within it, just as happened a few years ago in Europe due to the Syrian civil war. Today, what began as anti-Semitism has mutated, also incorporating national security, since many older activists, professionals of subversion, participate, with people who hide behind covered faces, and where the role of money has been underestimated. Qatar and other countries, so Congressional action must be demanded to know what the security agencies have done as well as support that, as the law says, the delivery of federal funds to institutions that have allowed anti-Semitism within them should be stopped. .

To do? Insist on what has been said, that is, take advantage of some of the best that the United States has by going to court, basing itself on the many laws that punish anti-Semitism, but this judicialization should not be individual, but collective, in name of the community, that it be seen that it is the Jews as a whole who are behind it, and that every offense will be responded to, holding responsibility from the institutions that have tolerated it to the perpetrators, that there will be no impunity, and that the judges who reestablish the rule of law in each and every one of these acts, either by asking for the punishment determined by the law, or by appealing against the pockets of those who have acted by action or omission. Going to court also allows us to act on the network of foundations that have financed national coordination in this offensive against Israel and American Jews.

These incidents have allowed the debunking of myths about Jewish “power” in universities, companies, the media, Hollywood, etc., which is not necessarily good since this situation harms the type of deterrence that existed, that of those who held back for that mistaken vision of Jewish power, and it is necessary to reestablish it.

The path of judicialization must consult all American courts, but also international ones, especially those of human rights. To do this, there must be the will for the community to always prosecute everything, the big but also the small, no matter how tiny it may seem, since otherwise, there is still the myth that one Jew is going to defend another, which is why this Judicialization should not be the action of individual people, no matter how important they may seem, or groups, no matter how well-intentioned, but rather the community must be seen through its leaders and on behalf of all Jews.

This new stage requires that the leaders behind an attitude of total combat against anti-Semitic intolerance be very public leaders, more outward than inward, with the capacity for immediate response, to stop, to the extent possible, the violence of the many who want to harm the Jews, so that they know that there will be no impunity, that they will be identified, and that there will be consequences for this, including their professional or work life.

And if not the US, then where? Does the community and its national or local leaders have that type of attitude today? The entire structure of the community has provided immense services, even a model for other countries, but the reality that supported it has been modified, and it is necessary to ask if at least an adaptation is not required.

Furthermore, if the US does not react and allows Jews to be treated as second-class citizens, others will be at risk in countries where the community has fewer resources. For the rest, if I'm right, the lack of reaction at the level of aggression also puts them at risk here in the US, since there are sharks, large and small, smelling blood, and not all of them are in the water. In this regard, something I read in in universities.

In the new scenario to which the community has been brought, it is necessary to fight for equality before the law, to have consequences for Judeophobia, to pressure political leaders to act, and to demand accountability from the institutions made up of the Department of Justice, Education, the FBI and others charged by law to act, protect and/or punish. It is also appropriate to ask that the trail of the money that has poured into the universities be followed, and that it be known how those whose duty it was to monitor, be it finances or security, have acted to know what happened to those activists who, without being part of the universities, participated in the violence, or those foreigners who failed to comply with their student visa.

None of the above is going to be easy, but everything is necessary, even essential. Furthermore, it is not appropriate to ask others to do for Jews what they are not willing to do for themselves and/or other Jews. By the way, this type of proposal requires having more resources and incorporating more people, perhaps more internal discussion about the alternatives in the lines of action, but it must be done.

In any case, the mentions made are simple examples of situations that should not reappear, and whose adequate sanction and delimitation of responsibilities is the only way to prevent them from being repeated. Others need to be dissuaded, which in turn requires rethinking how the community is organized or reorganized, to address this new reality.

Going to court also has other advantages, by forcing the authorities to speak out, the media to report, since in general, in a judicial process more information is gathered about a situation of abuse than in any other instance.

What doesn't work is bowing your head or turning the other cheek, since the snake is among us and evil and hatred will not return on their own to the egg or the nest. In this regard, an unavoidable task is to prepare youth as best as possible, especially at the university level, so that they have the necessary tools and support. These young people should not hide, but prepare to defend Israel in assemblies and classes as well as attack Judeophobia there. To do this, the community must provide high-level training to groups of students, as if it were a postgraduate course so that they can accomplish this task, not as a simple cycle of talks, but as a systematic study, for which those who Those who need it must be awarded a scholarship to have the required dedication.

The Jewish community must appear as such in another situation where it simply cannot continue looking the other way, since it confuses and allows manipulation. It consists of confronting with great publicity those who row in the opposite direction, every time they appear in demonstrations against Israel, adding that they do so on behalf of all “non-Zionist” Jews. They are of two types: those who appear at demonstrations dressed as religious and those who display their “Jewish surnames”, almost always without any connection with community institutions. The problem is that both allow anti-Semites to deny that they are anti-Semites, since they would “only” disagree with the Israeli “genocide,” as would be demonstrated by the presence of “those” Jews, who sometimes also appear signing statements against known Jews, to disagree with their personal political positions in the name “of Judaism,” so they must be unmasked, in the sense that they represent no one but themselves.

In any case, the new normal also includes the silence of many politicians about what is happening, whether at the local, state or federal level, so it would be healthy if the community officially asked them to define themselves, an action that should also be directed by politicians. Jews who have remained inexplicably mute, and who do not confront those who make up the so-called “squad”, one of whose banners is the attack on Israel and American Jews.

There are specific cases where the community must act. A very notable one is that of Khymani James, one of the leaders of the camp at Columbia University, who shared on social networks “I don't fight to hurt or for there to be a winner or loser, I fight to kill,” he wrote. Like other similar ones, it corresponds to the type of situations where the community in the most official way possible must do two things, act judicially so that a lesson deters other people, and so that the authorities act, since nowhere in the world the first amendment allows death threats.

Israel discovered that there were people who had no opinion about the rapes and deaths of babies on October 7, although they did so with enthusiasm about a supposed "genocide", and Jews have discovered a new reality in the US, where they are attacked in their places of study, with the silence of many, including some who call themselves “friends.” The argument of this column is that an improvement in this situation will depend a lot on the Jewish community overcoming its current state of shock, since it is not enough to lament and complain, but to respond and counterattack.

How much do social networks contribute to the situation that has been created? My impression is that nothing out of the ordinary, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing that surprises nor does the organization, hatred and resources at the disposal of the haters. Ignorance should not be surprising either, since Judeophobia has always been nourished by it.

In this regard, the only thing that the community really controls is itself, and today, what it must do is review itself from top to bottom to conclude whether or not it is responding to the new scenario, and if it concludes that it is necessary to reorganize itself to be able to respond, it must to do so, to speak and act as forcefully as possible. This includes supporting Jewish students, teachers or journalists to respond, which must include, as in other trades and professions, a structure that helps them do it collectively, since at least in universities, the response remains rather individual.

What has happened did not appear overnight, but has been incubating for years and it will be healthy to review what has been done, to avoid repeating mistakes and in that sense self-criticism of a series of behaviors that have been proven wrong is welcome. To begin with, not having used as a community and in its name, the pressure on democratic institutions so that they would have acted in time on the atmosphere that had been established in the universities, including the action of extremist professors, with cancellations of pro-speakers. Israel as well as those that had been denying themselves for a long time, by preventing with full knowledge and even encouragement from administrators, sometimes conservative speakers, since this preceded in some cases what is now happening with Jews in general.

To improve, I think it can be accepted that the atmosphere of intolerance that was created to delegitimize Israel, where more than teaching, was indoctrinated, was not denounced before it broke out. Nor was there a timely complaint about the rise to power of toxic administrators, so everything recommends the creation of early warning instances, since this phenomenon has escaped Israel, perhaps because it has more urgent matters of life and death, and In other countries, Jews did not give it due importance for too long, since calls for disinvestment and boycotts appeared elsewhere, long before arriving in the United States, always with many resources at their disposal.

What will happen in the community? I refuse to think that nothing. The US is a nation of laws, with unparalleled success as a country and equally great failure in exporting its institutions. For me, what must be done is very clear, not only as victims but as an integral part of society, and what is done will result in a better country.

But, first you have to accept that everything will get worse before it gets better, which in no case should stop what needs to be done, but rather start from now, step by step, first one foot, then the other. But first things first, adapt to the new reality, the new normal. That is the necessary answer and we know it from the theory of evolution, since it is not the strongest that survive, but those who know how to adapt.

What happened in the universities causes deep regret, since the US maintained total superiority when it came to quality and prestige, and today it has shot itself in the foot, among other reasons due to the cowardice of its Administrators. It is not that this started here, but what has destroyed quality institutions in the third world and in Europe has arrived, in addition to the fact that not only the American elite graduated from the Ivy League, but also those from many other countries.

Israel is the strongest and most prosperous Jewish-majority society that has ever existed, and the underlying reason why there will not be a new Holocaust, and if we have insisted on judicialization, it is because if the community does not do it, others will. This is how a legal defense group for protesters filed a federal civil rights complaint on behalf of those who have occupied the universities, arguing that they have been subjected to “anti-Palestinian and anti-Islamic harassment.”

In conclusion, there is no doubt that Chile and the United States are not comparable. In my case, I come from Chile and there I was not surprised to disagree with that community leadership that for years argued that there was no anti-Semitism to worry about. My surprise was to find very disappointing attitudes in South Florida (Dade and Broward counties, where I now live), even more so that the community does not have a more decisive attitude at the national level after what we have observed in so many years. demonstration in the streets and not only in the universities, doing it as a collective and not individually.

Because of everything that has happened and apparently will continue to happen, perhaps the community is going to have to prepare for what until October 6 was unthinkable, that in a few years there could be an occupant of the Oval Office of the White House who not only was an anti-Semite, but also declared that he was proud to be one.


Ph.D. in Political Science (Essex), Law Degree (Barcelona), Lawyer (U. de Chile), former presidential candidate (Chile, 2013)

«The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author».