They say that “timing is everything.” I have always believed that, and that is why I am always quite nervous and apprehensive of anything that is happening to Jews and our community during the Three Weeks and especially during the Nine Days, knowing that this time in the Jewish calendar doesn’t bode well for us. It is historically the season of bad tidings for the Jewish people. I look forward with a great sigh of relief when Tish’ah B’Av is over and done with, and we have come out of it unscathed.
We know that everything that happens in this world is the result of “yad Hashem” (the hand of G-d). We are now dealing with serious issues and consequences that can greatly affect us individually and as a community during this period. The State of Israel is reeling from the turmoil generated from Gaza. The kites that are being sent with fire balloons have decimated many acres of Israeli farm land and nature preserve. Violence continues to fester, as Hamas contrives all kinds of ways to kill our IDF soldiers.
It isn’t just Israel that is burning; the whole world is aflame with evil intentions. Iran continues to be trouble. The latest caper is attacking international oil tankers going through the Strait of Hormuz. Both Iran and its nefarious partner, North Korea, have just launched medium range missiles, possibly jeopardizing the world’s fragile status quo.
The times are very bad now. Anti-Semitism is on the rise all over the world. There isn’t a day that goes by that a Jewish hate incident doesn’t occur somewhere, especially in Europe. The increased presence of far-right parties in various European countries has led to anti-Semitic, hateful rhetoric. In France, for example, frum Jews are targets. Recently, Germany’s government commissioner on anti-Semitism, Felix Klein, suggested that Jews should not wear their kipot in public. Many Jews were outraged by that pronouncement. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin declared,” Fears about the security of German Jews are a capitulation to anti-Semitism and an admittance that again Jews are not safe on German soil. We will never submit, will never lower our gaze, and will never react to anti-Semitism with defeatism and expect and demand our allies act in the same way.”
America is not exempted from hatred of Jews. Just last week, a man was struck several times in a “drive-by shooting” outside a synagogue in North Miami Beach, Florida. Investigators said the man was walking towards the entrance of the shul when a black Chevy Impala drove by and then circled around a second time before the driver left the vehicle and opened fire, striking the man several times.
There is also a disturbing negative trend evolving in the Congress. There are several elected officials in the House of Representatives, known as “The Squad,” who are anti-Israel and anti-Semitic by their rhetoric. We do not need people of that sort in our government. They have categorized themselves as progressive socialists, but do not represent or reflect our values in our democracy. Their far-left philosophies should be unwelcome in our society; but they are not, and that is quite troubling. One in question is Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who is seizing the opportunity to promote anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda. She had previously written that “Israel has hypnotized the world. May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” She has also referred to Israel as an apartheid nation. Just last week, Omar introduced legislation defending BDS with 17 members of Congress voting with her.
Rep. Omar justified her position by saying, “We are introducing a resolution…to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting. It is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”
Another one that we have to watch out for is someone closer to home, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This young woman has sharply criticized Israel, including calling the killing of Palestinian protesters as a massacre. She has become the voice of the Democratic Party as it turns dramatically to the left. Vice President Mike Pence strongly responded to the anti-Israel rhetoric: “Let me say this from the heart: Anti-Semitism has no place in the Congress of the United States or anywhere in this nation. And anyone who slanders the historic alliance between the United States and Israel should not be sitting on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives.”
The recriminations towards Israel are gaining traction all over the country. In California, a candidate for the state assembly blames Israel for committing genocide against the Palestinians and has offered her support for Nation of Islam’s leader Louis Farrakhan. Maria Estrada has posted on Facebook, “Democrats turn a blind eye to the genocide against Palestinians and justify it by bringing up the Holocaust. Religious fanaticism is used to justify apartheid and crimes against Palestinians and no one should be okay with it.” It is frightening that people of this ilk should be able to win public office in this country, which could affect our safety and stability, as well as Israel’s.
The atmosphere at American colleges and universities is another troubling issue. The rise of the progressive left in this country has created a serious divide. As the scholastic year begins, there are renewed attempts to promote BDS and the “plight” of the Palestinians. On most of our major campuses, BDS legislation is being sponsored by the left-wing campus groups, such as the Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, and endorsed by other radical groups. The school year hasn’t even started and we are already seeing troubling ramifications. Many Jewish students are apprehensive about attending classes and participating in Hillel activities on campus. These students and their institutions need our prayers to ensure that they may have a successful school term free from fear and leftist violence.
May Hashem ensure that we Jews have an uneventful Nine Days period and an easy fast for klal Yisrael.
Cynthia Zalisky is a community activist who resides in Kew Gardens Hills.