As odd as it may seem for me to be addressing all 8 billion of you, what I have to say is directed at non-Jewish populations from Nantucket to Nairobi, from Krakow to Cape Town, from Toronto to Tehran, and all points in between. It doesn’t matter what race you are, what religion you adhere to, what language you speak, how educated you are, where you live. I want to speak to all of you.
As I write this letter, the 16.1 million Jews in the world today — still nearly 1 million less than on the eve of the Nazi Holocaust — are facing a surge of antisemitism unseen since the end of World War II.
I will admit that we Jews do talk a great deal about that war, but that’s because we lost 6 million of our sisters and brothers to the German Nazi extermination program, among them 1.5 million of our precious children. And for many of us, it’s clear that a significant number of you — well over 6 million — would like us to go through that hellish ordeal again so that we can be gotten rid of for good this time.
I’m not just talking about the rapists and murderers of Hamas, or their backers in Iran, or their cheerleaders in the Islamic world. I’m talking as well about those of you who live in democracies, who have been educated in free societies, who enjoy free access to all sorts of information, including the obscene fake claims that the one Jewish state in the world practices apartheid, wages genocide and relishes the killing of children.
Those of you who swan around Paris, Berlin and Buenos Aires daubing Stars of David on the walls of Jewish-owned homes or Jewish communal buildings, seeking to mark them out just like the Nazis of the last century did.
Those of you who, responding to incendiary posts on Telegram, arrive mob-style at an airport in Dagestan, Russia, to take out your anger on Jewish passengers arriving from Tel Aviv.
Those of you who patrol the streets of New York City, eyes eagerly peeled for posters broadcasting the fate of the Israeli children kidnapped by the Hamas monsters you worship, just so you can rip them down.
Those of you who mutter “they deserved it” when Jewish students on college campuses are physically punched or verbally assaulted with language straight out of the Nazi playbook.
Those of you who take to social media to wax with fury about the deaths of Palestinian civilians, but who studiously ignore the plight of the Kurds under Arab, Iranian and Turkish occupation; the Ukrainians blitzed by Russian bombs; the migrant workers slaving (literally) on behalf of Hamas’ paymasters in Qatar; the Uyghur minority suffering in China; the women in Iran struggling to free themselves from the imposition of the hijab.
Sadly, what I’ve come to realize is that too many of you are impervious to rational arguments and facts. You don’t consider Jews and Israelis to be as human as you are, or as worthy of rights and freedoms as the Palestinians you fetishize, and so we arrive at the situation we are in. A situation of your making, not ours, meaning that our pleas fall on deaf ears.
“We are not asking for special privileges, Mr. President, we are just asking to be seen for what we are: South Africans deserving of the same respect and consideration as that accorded to their fellow citizens,” stated the South African Board of Jewish Deputies in a letter last week to President Cyril Ramaphosa. But, wretchedly, you have to wonder why they even bother.
It’s the perfect paradox: You don’t want us living among you, but neither will you accept our right to self-determination in our historic homeland. What conclusion can we draw other than that you wish us dead?
Whether you realize it or not — or whether you indeed care — you have been co-opted by the Iranians in their increasingly sophisticated strategy to remove Israel from the map of the world. The Tehran regime is evil, but it isn’t stupid, and it has realized that those of us who live outside Israel are the Jewish state’s Achilles’ heel.
Every synagogue window smashed, every Jew assaulted, every act of vandalism reinforces the argument that Israel is a liability for Jews — that its existence works to our detriment. The fact that we saw in graphic detail on Oct. 7 what a world without Israel might look like for Jews everywhere doesn’t sway you at all.
What I want to emphasize is this: We will not take your abuse lying down. In the words of a letter penned by the newly-formed Harvard College Jewish Alumni Association to Harvard University’s professional leadership, “For centuries, the posture of Jewish people has been one of conciliation, nursed by the hope that if we show the non-Jewish majority that we are conciliatory, we may escape harm, persecution and extermination. Those days are behind us.”
You are the problem, guys, not us. There is something deeply awry with your culture and your values, and what this means is that you, almost as if you were automatons, periodically launch these witch hunts targeting the Jews in your midst. You blame us not only for the bitter political divisions in the world but for your personal and professional failures as well.
Can’t get a job? Blame Jewish control of the economy. Can’t find a romantic partner? Blame the Jews instead of looking in the mirror. From mundane to world-changing events, there will always be a peg to hang a “blame the Jews” sign on.
I’m fed up with it all frankly, and so are the vast majority of my fellow Jews. Sometimes, I feel nauseated just to be breathing the same air as you. I certainly don’t feel “conciliatory” toward you, and I have no desire to engage in a “dialogue” where the hurt we feel as a community is matched with the outrage you feel on behalf of a nest of terrorists who are now being taken out as Israel fights yet another defensive war.
It’s more than conceivable that large numbers of us, perhaps the majority, will eventually move to Israel because we are sick of living among you. How ironic that would be. Some of you will repeat the anti-Zionist mantra that Israel is the most dangerous place in the world for Jews as a riposte. But it isn’t, and a key reason why is simply this: You don’t live there.
Ben Cohen writes a weekly column for JNS.org on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics.