The Jewish people have suffered like no other peoples — from the mass Babylonian exodus to the Muslim slaughters in the Middle East to the deadly pogroms throughout Europe to finally the Holocaust. Still today, we see the rising anti-Semitism again in the Muslim world and in Europe, and we see the ongoing life of civilian bombings by Palestinian terrorists inside Israel.
The one country that has been the greatest refuge for Jews before the creation of the state of Israel has been the United States. We’ve had our issues. The legacy of slavery haunts us to this day by not living up to the grand ideas in the Constitution and founding. And we’ve had small, localized fits of anti-Semitism. But nothing systemic like the rest of the world where Jews settled in relatively large numbers.
Jews came here and have thrived like no other non-Jewish country because we have no substantial heritage of anti-Semitism.
Quite the opposite, actually.
Most of us understand that our exceptional country was built on a Judeo-Christian worldview. Judeo is from the Jews. We connect Jewish beliefs and teachings into our core. It’s why so many Bible-believing American Christians are such staunch supporters of the state of Israel.
We understand the history of the Jews. We understand the importance of Jewish heritage in our nation. And realize the state of Israel is such a necessity because of the ongoing (and in Europe, the rising tide of) anti-Semitism. That we are seeing this anti-Semitic instinct growing on college campuses is a terrible blot.
In this sense, the mass shooting of Jews in a Pittsburg synagogue is as anti-American as it gets. The shooter talked about “our country” and taking it back from the vast conspiracies that a few fringe nuts attribute to Jews. He doesn’t know his history, but he does know how to blame “the other guy” for his problems.
As in so many other pogroms and the Holocaust itself, Jews became the scapegoat for any ills in the culture or in personal lives. In Russia, when the crops were bad or the Czar needed a distraction, Jews were blamed for causing the hardship. Russia was one of the worst, but fairly typical of most European countries.
In post World War I Germany, as the Weimar Republic crumbled, money became worthless and Germans were starving under the harsh conditions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, Jews again became the scapegoat. They ran banks and jewelers and lots of little shops. They are the problem. “Kill the Jews!” An entire political and cultural movement — Naziism — was built on blaming the Jews. This was the point of unity, from which the rest of Naziism was built. From harassing to bombing synagogues to mass slaughter.
The Nazis took it to the “ultimate solution,” but the concept had been used for centuries virtually anywhere the Jews lived in numbers. They were a handy little minority to be scapegoated. And at times, European Christianity got it horribly wrong by labeling them “Christ-killers” to foment religious opposition.
This scapegoating of the “other” is why today’s identity politics is so dangerous.
Too many Americans again are turning to blaming some outside group — a different race, gender, ethnicity — for their personal problems or what they are unhappy about in life. This seems to be a part of the human condition, an ugly part. And so while the Jews have suffered from this over and over through the centuries, it can be turned as a weapon against any group.
But it should never have a home in America. Dividing us by race, ethnicity and gender for political gain is the same core principle as what the Czars, Muslims, Monarchs and occasional Pope did against the Jews.
Why did the Jews flee here? Why do we have about the same number of Jews as the entire state of Israel? Because we do not have a broad history of scapegoating them for our ills — just as we should not for any group. This was, and remains, a relatively safe place and a synagogue was a safe place.
Our welcoming nature for immigrants and our lack of anti-Semitism as a nation made America natural refuge for the persecuted, including millions of Jews. It is irrefutable that America is better off for it. As are Jews.
Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.
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