In prior columns, I argued against branding a group because of the acts of individual members in the group. I warned that one day Jews could be the group in that position. That day has arrived.
On Saturday, November 4, the guest host of Saturday Night Live was Larry David, a Jew. During his monologue, he pointed out, “A lot of harassment stuff is in the news of late, and I couldn’t help but notice a very disturbing pattern emerging – which is that many of the predators, not all, but many of them, are Jews… I don’t like when Jews are in the headlines for notorious reasons. I want ‘Einstein discovers the theory of relativity,’ ‘Salk cures polio.’”
The most famous alleged harasser is Harvey Weinstein. He lived in Electchester, a city housing co-op backed by the Electrical Workers Union, located in Flushing, and went to John Bowne High School.
The Orthodox Jewish community will attempt to distance themselves from these individuals, pointing out that none of them are religious Jews. The non-Orthodox Jews will make the distinction that these people are from Hollywood, where they have different standards.
We must make sure not to adopt the approach
that our enemies have done to us –
by labeling a group based on the acts of a few members
These may be legitimate arguments that could be convincing in the Jewish community, but will not be so for the non-Jewish society. One thing that Jewish history has taught us is that when it comes to anti-Semitism, the Jewish community is monolithic. To the anti-Semite, a Jew is a Jew. It does not matter how they dress and how religious they are. All that matters is that they are Jewish.
The traditional argument in response to these anti-Semites is that you cannot demonize the Jewish community because of acts of individuals who happen to be Jews. The problem is that many in the Jewish community, in relation to other groups, have taken a position that undercuts this argument.
For example, every time a Muslim engages in a terrorist attack in the United States there are those in our community who blame it on their being Muslim, a religion that they believe encourages terrorism.
Similarly, every time a person who is involved in an attack is an immigrant there is a call to stop immigration from that county. The implication is that people from that country are terrorists.
Last week, a Muslim who immigrated from Uzbekistan in 2010 used a rented truck to drive on a bike/pedestrian path and killed eight people. The reaction was swift from the president, who stated that since the person came into the country because of a diversity plan, it should be eliminated. Others mentioned about his being Muslim, and thus used it to claim that Muslims are terrorists.
On the other hand, when an American-born individual uses a weapon for mass killing, there is no group generalization such as that gun owners or American-born people by their nature are mass killers. For example, on October 1, at least 58 people were killed by a gunman in Las Vegas, making it the deadliest mass shooting in this country’s history. And just a few days ago, on Sunday, 26 people were killed in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which was the most people killed at a house of worship. Instead of being branded as part of a group, the killer is considered on his own merits to be deranged or to have some personal beef.
If we learn anything by the fallout from the conduct of Harvey Weinstein and other Jews in Hollywood, it’s that we must make sure not to adopt the approach that our enemies have done to us –
by labeling a group based on the acts of a few members.
Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org