The Jewish Community Needs New Leaders

26 May, 2016
Dr Charles Jacobs


On May 6, 2016, thousands of Boston’s Jews received an email from Jeremy Burton, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council, warning about mounting incidents of anti- Semitism.

Reviewing ugly occurrences — swastikas, “Burn the Jews” graffiti at our local high schools — Jeremy complains the Jewish community is not being defended by the groups whose rights we have so vigorously fought for: women, gays, blacks and Muslims.

This pains Burton. The JCRC has “denounced xenophobia” and hate crimes targeting local mosques, he tells us, so, “Why don’t we hear our friends in other faith communities and civil rights organizations calling out these acts of anti-Semitism…?”

Rather than see this failure of reciprocity as a reason to rethink Jewish intercommunal strategy, though, Burton averts his eyes and holds to his script. Maybe these incidents are only part of a wider coarsening of American discourse, he muses. Perhaps our human rights friends think we are so adept in matters of social justice that we do not need their help.

Of course, that is not it at all. Burton and many other well-intentioned leaders misunderstand the times we live in. We have been evicted by – and will not get help from – “our friends in the human rights community,” because we support the Jewish State of Israel, and because radicals who loathe America, the West, capitalism and Israel have hijacked our once-beautiful liberalism.

Our situation has changed, but our leaders will not adjust. There is a new anti-Semitism. Where once skinheads and Christian anti-Semites hounded us, now people who treat Israel as “the Jew among nations” deride and defame us. A new “Red-Green Alliance” of leftists and radical Muslims, who hate the Jewish State and us, Israel’s supporters, promotes this new form of assault. Yet most Jewish leaders will simply not permit themselves to see these new truths.

Partnerships forged over decades with other communities have now proven to be little more than one-way streets. The allies that we so avidly sought have turned their backs on the Jews. Yet Burton and his establishment colleagues, despite having a responsibility to do so, will not explain this to the Jewish community.

Worse, they double down. Like most Jewish establishment organizations,

JCRC lobbies for the resettlement here of Syrian refugees, fully knowing that almost every Syrian child who attended a Syrian school has learned to hate Jews. This echoes JCRC’s decade-long embrace of the Saudi-financed, Muslim Brotherhood enterprise, the Islamic Society of Boston. The JCRC knows of the organizations’ financial connections, its inflammatory preachers and its incendiary youth curricula, yet even today, JCRC officials will not tell their constituents what they know about the Islamic Society of Boston. In leftist eyes, the JCRC is simply being the “good Jew:” Jews who love strangers, even dangerous ones, more than family.

Unfortunately, demonstrations of selflessness only exacerbate the dangers we now face. Almost every Jewish institution in Boston protects itself with physical barriers or security guards, yet our leaders, inhibited by political correctness, cannot bring themselves to speak about the threats that compel us to protect ourselves.

How can they defend the community if they cannot admit the new anti-Semitism has turned our former “human rights” allies into adversaries? How can they defend us if they do not dare speak candidly about the threats they know we face?

It is late in the day. We need to face the fact that most of those who manage and control the major Jewish organizations seem more concerned with demonstrating personal moral virtue than responding to threats to our community.

Sadly, the people leading the Jews in these dangerous times find themselves on the wrong side of a bad bet. This is becoming more painful for them and for us who depend on them. Burton expressed that pain in his letter, but not the path out.

We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to confront this assault on Jewish peoplehood. For too long, our community has been projecting its values onto others, in the false hope that we all want the same things, and that promoting equality, tolerance and diversity will automatically protect us. It will not. We are now coming to the end of these fantasies. We must adopt an approach based on reality, harsh as it may be.

There are leaders in Boston who recognize our difficult predicament. We must urgently appeal to them to speak against the failed strategies of the past.

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