Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dead Serious Matters

Today there was a pro-Israel protest in Manhattan. While we can all ascertain from reading headlines that most of the media is not on Israel's side- nor has it historically been- I find it glaringly obvious that this morning's protest is not yet covered in the media. In this day and age, such an omission is telling.

The sad fact is that I find the whole Israel-Gaza ordeal frightening. It is but a glimpse into how the Arabs, when given "autonomy" choose to act, namely group and scheme for one sole purpose: to eradicate Israel. Yet equally frightening, in my mind, are the headlines about the calls to target "high-level" Jews.

I have mentioned previously that growing up in Canada, I faced constant, open anti-semitism. While I chose to not dwell on it, the reality is that my father, olev hashalom, stressed that while I am Canadian, I am always foremost a Jew, i.e., when push comes to shove, don't expect Canadians to rally on your behalf. During my recent visit home, I encountered a dismaying development. The metro near our home has become the local hangout where dozens of Arab youth congregate in throngs. Since I was already well-aware that my neighbourhood had become overrun with this most recent wave of "immigrants/refugees", I found the volume of young people, all hormonal and generally unpleasant in that way that only groups of teenagers can be, unsettling.

I figured no reason to worry about things for the time being, since I was only in town for a few days and, B'H' and bli ayin hara, my mother is a few districts away, thereby saved from having to deal with this development exact on her infrequent visits home. On my second trip home on the metro however, the reality of the situation became a bit more personal. The protocol when using the escalators in the metro is that those who want to walk up the steps go on the left; those who stand are on the right. As I was tired, I decided to stand on the right, and ensured that I was standing all the way over, because many people are in a rush and I didn't want to impede anyone's progress.

A youth of about "bar mitzvah" age came up the my left and deliberately bashed - hard- into my elbow, then proceeded to block the left line by standing there and glared at me the whole way up. I look at him for a moment and thought, "Dude, you're so not worth my time. You want to 'win' the stare contest, go right ahead". So I just shook my head, and went my merry way. Did I have to navigate through dozens of Arabs to get out the station, because they were blocking the entrance/exit, i.e., inside and outside? But of course.

My point here is that obviously my metro saga is as much a product of teenager behaviour as Arab anti-semitism. But it would be naive to only consider the incident as a reflection of the former. And so, while as much as American Jews like to think that they are safer in America than Israel, Europe, or basically any other country in the world, I beg to differ. Anti-semitism is anti-semitism, and it is just as insidious in this country as anywhere else. To think otherwise and to act otherwise is downright dangerous, and does a disservice to yiddin everywhere.

So as much as my heart is breaking over what is happening in Israel, and much as I'm all for defending Israel because it is the only land that is unequivocally for the Jews if you will, I am equally worried about our safety here at home. With my father's words of wisdom ever present in my mind, we need to cultivate an awareness that as much as America "protects" the Jews, we need to protect ourselves. And that starts with our mindset.

That is why, in addition for davening for all Jews in Israel to be kept safe, especially the youth who are currently fighting on the front lines in the IDF, I am davening for Hashem to bestow his mercy and protection on Jews everywhere. Indeed, we all need Hashem's help in staying safe, wherever we are, in this pre-Mosiach world.

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