The War Against the Jews

“Stop acting like the benign ocean water that fuels the hurricane passing overhead. Instead, be the hurricane.”


Jews around the world have awakened to a new reality of grief, fear?—?and mobilization. Alongside the horrors of the October 7 terror invasion of Israel, a global antisemitic movement has suddenly emerged, marching through our cities, celebrating the barbaric violation of Jewish bodies, tearing down posters of Jewish victims, blaming Jews for the atrocities committed against them, and unleashing yet more violence against Jews and Jewish institutions.

While global Jewry has come together in unparalleled fashion to support Israel in its most difficult hour, there is nonetheless an important truth that many Jews are still finding hard to accept, or at least to articulate.

It is this: War has been launched against the Jewish people.

The war is not only against Israel?—?it is against global Jewry. While the IDF regains the upper hand against Hamas and others in the coming weeks, we should expect our enemies to turn their wrath toward a more vulnerable target: the Diaspora. Listen to the chants of “Globalize the intifada!” This is what they mean.

Anyone who thinks that October 7 was a glorious act of justice and resistance, rather than unalloyed barbarism, is cut from the same cloth as Hamas, part of the same cinematic universe?—?even if they sit in the halls of Congress.

Jews everywhere must now come to see themselves as being in a state of war. Not only because the victims of October 7 were our own people, but also because the antisemitic hordes are rising up against Jews in city after city around the world. The Diaspora must prepare itself for battle, too.

We recognize these hordes from generations past: from the pogroms of the Russian empire and Soviet persecution, from the Farhud in Iraq and Arab riots in pre-state Palestine, and from the Holocaust. And going back even further to the Crusades, the expulsions, the blood libels. Just as persecutors of generations past invented justifications for their hatred of and violence toward Jews, so today’s mob uses lies about Israeli “genocide” and “apartheid” to justify the slaughter of Jewish innocents. The lies change; the results are the same.

The lust for Jewish blood, so familiar to us, can now be seen in the eyes of the protesters, in their placards and cartoons, in their chants, and increasingly in their actions. From London to Istanbul, from Brooklyn to Beirut, from Detroit to D.C., the message is the same: They pretend they are calling for justice and freedom, but their real target is every Jewish man, woman, and child on earth.

To understand the nature of this war, we must understand the profound connection between the Hamas invasion on October 7 and the antisemitic protests around the world. It is not simply that one triggered the other. The two crises emerge from the same moral universe, one in which grievances against The Jew (state or people, doesn’t matter) take on infinite importance, providing infinite license to override any principles of morality, decency, self-restraint, empathy, dignity or sobriety in response to the perceived threat. The Jew is infinitely demonized, and any attack is thus inherently just?—?to be celebrated, embraced, and used to fuel further rage.

Because antisemitism is a conspiracy theory, different from other forms of  bigotry, it carries infinite explanatory power for every imaginable grievance. Words are borrowed and distorted beyond recognition (“genocide,” “apartheid,” “colonialism”). Responding with rational arguments is fruitless; the purpose of the borrowing and distortion is not to make a logical point, it is simply to aim these terms as weapons against The Jew.

When they say “by any means necessary,” they mean it. They will do anything and everything they can get away with; any act is a noble defiance of the cosmic order in which The Jew controls all.

This combination of infinite grievance and infinite license produces something that can legitimately be called infinite evil. The only meaningful difference between the protesters?—?so thoroughly uninhibited as to rip down signs of kidnapped Jewish children?—?and the Hamas fighters who kidnapped those children (and tortured and murdered others) is that the latter have lots of weapons and a willingness to sacrifice their own lives for the “resistance.” (This is the product of lifelong indoctrination to martyrdom combined with the use of drugs). Hamas is simply “braver” and better armed than the protesters; but the force arrayed against the Jews is one and the same.

This is why the explosion of antisemitism happened not as a response to Israel’s retaliation, but before it had even started. It was an immediate, instinctive response to October 7 itself.

Infinite grievance plus infinite license equals infinite evil.

Israelis are actually familiar with this phenomenon, which I call “celebrioting.” During the Second Intifada, every major terror attack in Israel triggered demonstrations by Palestinians across the West Bank?—?a frenzied, instinctive response that combined the celebration of terror with enraged riots against the IDF. At the time, I thought this was just a brilliantly effective tactic of media manipulation, a way to change the subject by instantly replacing images of bombed-out buses and pizza parlors with those of soldiers shooting rock-throwing protesters.

But watching such demonstrations erupt across the world after October 7 has convinced me that there’s something deeper going on here: an instinctive response, an overflow of hate-filled joy that identifies with and even idolizes Hamas itself. Sure, some of the protestors and politicians who support them will insist they are not pro-Hamas?—?just as for years they’ve been insisting they are not antisemitic, but merely anti-Israel or anti-Zionist.

Don’t believe them. Anyone who thinks that October 7 was a glorious act of justice and resistance, rather than unalloyed barbarism, is cut from the same cloth as Hamas, part of the same cinematic universe?—?even if they sit in the halls of Congress.

This movement makes little distinction between Jews and Israel, as is now clear. The posters with a Star of David in a trash can urging us to “keep the world clean” are about Jews. The rioters at the Dagestan airport in Russia were searching for Jews. The signs on stores in Istanbul that say “no Jews allowed” are, obviously, not talking about Israel. Neither were the people marching in a heavily Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn shouting “Say it loud, say it clear, we don’t want no Zionists here.” Being American, they have merely continued their habits of useful euphemism.

Hamas, too, makes little distinction. Article 7 of their founding charter concludes with the following quote from the Hadith:

The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, “O Muslim, O servant of God, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

Infinite grievance plus infinite license equals infinite evil.

Deep down, Jews know all of this too well, even if some have needed a reminder. The emergence of ancient hatred against us, seemingly detached from all reality, triggers an ancient, existential fear. We are so few, and they are so many.

Our fear, however, is a relic of centuries of impotence. We are no longer powerless, neither in Israel nor in the Diaspora, and it’s time to recognize and embrace our power to mobilize and to take the fight to the barbarians at our own gates.

We need to start by calling the current antisemitic wave a war rather than a pogrom. Pogromists preyed upon the powerless; we are far from that. Jews everywhere must realize that they, too, are at war, that the battle is to defend their own homes, and all available resources must be deployed. Antisemitism has torn off its mask, and it is far more widespread, integrated, and bloodthirsty, than many of us imagined. The time has come to prepare a response.

Many people have realized this independently and are spontaneously rising up?—?the instinctive and creative energy of many donors, activists, and institutions is to be commended. They have moved past fear and into action. But war requires not only many soldiers but also strategic thinking and coordination. To that end, I’d like to suggest a few principles that might be a helpful place to start.

  1. Protect Jews everywhere. Every community is now an outpost and every Jew a soldier?—?and none should be left behind. Technology allows us to stay connected instantaneously. We need to build more obvious communication channels to share resources, ideas, tools, and political and psychological support. Every Jewish institution also needs physical security?—?professional security and hardening of Jewish targets, and essential volunteer guards, including the shomrim long present in Haredi communities. We must also consider more “kinetic” forms such as armed civilian defense organizations if policing is inadequate to the moment.
  2. Recognize our enemies. Do not be afraid of that word. Every person who actively takes part in demonstrations demonizing Israel, who refuses to condemn Hamas’s actions, who rips down posters, who calls for the annihilation of Israel, or who makes excuses for barbarism is endorsing the butchery of Jews everywhere. Many of them would gladly replicate Hamas’s behavior if given the chance. Recognize the bloodlust in their calls and in their eyes. They are enemies of our people.
  1. Recognize our own power. We need not fear the mob. We need to assess threats, allocate resources, and fight back. When faced with the attacks of October 7, Israelis immediately overcame their divisions, regrouped, and came together in full force both militarily and in civil society. Diaspora Jewry must do the same. The potential for unified Jewish power is immense: Jewish organizations, philanthropists, and activists working in concert can channel resources, aggressively deploy known weapons, and develop new ones to test on the battlefield. These include legal action and new legislation; intelligence-gathering; civil defense; rapid-response teams on campuses and in neighborhoods; and the creation of a cross-communal “war room” to monitor the operations of our enemies, gather intelligence, assess threats, and share experiences and new ideas across the Jewish world.
  1. Shift the balance of fear. Wars are not won solely by playing defense. Jewish institutions should be focusing now on taking the fight to the enemy and working to shift the balance of fear. This has already begun with donor revolts, public shaming of students who support Hamas or people who tear down hostage posters, and more. The principle should be clear: It is not the Jews who should be afraid. It is those who take the side of barbarism, who indulge in terrorizing spectacle, who must be made to fear instead. (It’s starting to work?—?notice how many protesters and poster-rippers are now wearing masks.) Those who hold positions of power but who sit on the fence because they fear the mob, including many university administrators, should be made to fear the side of moral clarity even more.
  2. Recognize our friends. Jews have friends?—?and the current crisis has provided a powerful litmus test of this friendship. Taking advantage of such friendships means crossing previous political, cultural, or religious divides. It no longer matters if someone is a Republican or a Democrat; an Asian parent or an Evangelical Christian. As the Israelis have done so stunningly, we need to drop our differences, create new alliances, and muster all the support we can get.
  1. Demand our rights. Jews have rights and are protected by law, like any other group. We must demand?—?loudly?—?that those protections be enforced, and that those who violate our rights or the law be punished. On campuses and in private institutions, where codes of conduct and organizational value statements also pertain, we must demand that Jews be treated like any other group. Those who violate behavioral standards and value systems must be punished, and the hypocrisy of fence-sitting and mob-fearing leaders?—?corporate, academic, or governmental?—?must be called out every time.
  2. Adjust our philanthropic priorities. Mobilizing donations to Israel is worthy and helpful. But recognizing that this is a global war also means funding the Diaspora’s war effort?—?including campus groups, media and social-media strategies, educational and advocacy efforts, community-relations initiatives, and Jewish communal institutions writ large. Together, these have the grassroots reach both to mobilize Jews and allies and to act as nodes in the broader Diaspora war effort. They can also provide the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and communal support needed to sustain our troops.
  3. Fight the long-term battles now. What we are seeing, especially in elite Western circles, is the product of half a century of investment in anti-Western and antisemitic ideas. These have been heavily funded and have spread across our institutions. Every false narrative about Jews, Israel, and the West can be traced to books and essays written long ago, whether in Moscow, Paris, or Columbia University. It’s time for us to fight the war of ideas as well?—?but with our own long-term strategy. We need a multifaceted approach to investing in Jewish culture (film, TV, museums, public history); intellectual life (journals, books, think tanks); and scholarship and academia (where we must wrest back the study of Jews and Israel from those long captured by anti-Israel and anti-Western ideas. A war that was launched through books cannot be won with billboards and banner ads alone.

All of these steps can be taken immediately, even if for many Jews, they feel like directives from a different planet. But going to war begins with flipping a switch. Reframe the situation: It’s not a pogrom we must endure or flee; it’s a battle we must fight and win. Make the terms of victory clear?—?not to eliminate antisemitism from the earth, which is impossible, but to radically disempower and disincentivize the antisemites. The goal is for Jews to again feel safe, free, and confident that we can take part as equal citizens in every educational, commercial, and cultural endeavor we choose.

Overcome the urge to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. Stop acting like the benign ocean water that fuels the hurricane passing overhead. Instead, be the hurricane. The only way to avoid the maelstrom is to become the maelstrom. Find every path to retaliate and reestablish deterrence. Confuse our enemies and attack them from multiple sides at once. Restore the physical and psychological security of our communities, as well as the intellectual and cultural foundations of Western civilization, that have allowed Jews to thrive.

Will this mobilization further trigger the ire of our enemies? Of course it will. But that is the nature of war. If we build our forces, work together, and shift from fear to war-making, it will be the Jews’ power rather than our suffering that will secure our safety. This will attract greater and more powerful allies, protecting Jews for generations to come.

The world is watching us right now. Western civilization itself is under attack; this is not just the Jews’ war. But Jews must lead by example: If we do not fight this battle, who will? We are the ones who must draw the red lines and send out the call to arms for all those who value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We must fight with everything we’ve got.

If not us, then who? If not now, when?


November 19, 2023 | 3 Comments »

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  1. Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, the PA, etc. are all bad. The masks has been torn away for the world to see, not that anyone was fooled to begin with. Israel is taking care of business…on its own … in the presence of lots of arm-chair moralists and diplomats, who have nothing to lose, and considerable notoriety to gain by trashing Israel. This frustrates me no end.

    But worse that that, I am frustrated by the little farce Israel must act out with the US every time they are forced to go on the offensive. The US wears the mask of being Israel’s best (and only?) ally, all the while working behind Israel’s back to weaken them and to strengthen their enemies. The US wants a never-ending conflict in the middle east, and the Israelis are mere cannon fodder (as were the Ukrainians). Another one of Israel’s imperatives should therefore be to not step and fetch or to bow and scrape to its two-faced friends. Israel must start telling the US, and others, “no”, and figure out how to make it stick.

  2. It would be necessary to add a 9th necessity ; Come to Israel now to volunteer , in hospitals, in the nurseries , in the factories , in the schools , in the fields ; 350,000 Israelis have been called into the army , the country must still deliver all of its output without them . It is crucial that all qualified professionals that have the possibility to help now must be able to join Israel .