Ron grew up in the South Bronx of New York, making Aliyah in 1980. Served for 25 years in the IDF as a Mental Health Field Officer in operational units. Prior to retiring was Commander of the Central Psychiatric Clinic for Reserve Solders at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring has been involved in strategic consultancy to NGO's and communities in the Gaza Envelope on resiliency projects to assist first responders and communities. Ron has written numerous articles for outlets in Israel and abroad focusing on Israel and the Jewish world.
The Holocaust, and the flat earth society
I was recently reminded of an article published at a Yeshiva University affiliated website called “The Beacon”, entitled “Why it’s time for Jews to Get Over the Holocaust”, the author had suggested that now is the time that Jews move on and stop making the Holocaust the most pivotal event in Jewish history. The author suggested that the Holocaust is unnecessarily singled out as if it’s more special or unique than other historical events, he continued and stated that although the Holocaust was on a much greater scale and horrifically well-organized, it was far from the first incident of a dominant power killing those deemed “inferior”. As far as this Yeshiva University student was concerned, mankind has been perpetrating horrible atrocities on each other for centuries. He seems to be genuinely puzzled as to why Holocaust denial is considered a crime in over a dozen countries. Surely, for this learned Yeshiva student, this is an overreaction. Do we arrest those that believe and express the opinion that the world is flat he ponders? Why denial of a historical event should even be considered a crime, something detrimental to society, he asks again and again. Denying the significance and uniqueness of the Holocaust is no different than denying that the world is round, so he believes.
Historical events, as earth-shattering and history-ending as they seem, eventually fade over the course of time from the forefront of public consciousness and become a footnote of historical memory. When holocaust survivors will no longer be around, and when there is longer an opportunity to let children and educators hear firsthand testimony of the Holocaust, will the Holocaust be just another event studied in world history classes? With all of the effort that has gone into recording testimonies of the Holocaust be enough to preserve historical memory in terms of the magnitude and uniqueness of the Holocaust? There are few historical events that have undergone greater scrutiny and preservation. Perhaps we can even acknowledge that we’ve done enough to ensure that the Holocaust can never be forgotten. In a moral world, in a world that differentiates between good and evil, right and wrong, this kind of preservation of historical memory would probably suffice.
However, today in the age of “woke” culture that is rooted in signaling support for progressive causes as a substitute for genuine change, and “Critical Race Theory” in which everything is viewed through the prism of cultural relativism; facts and evidence are not enough. The enemies of the Jews and of the State of Israel not only claim that the Jews exaggerate, but that the Holocaust was made up to justify the establishment of the State of Israel. They go even one step further and claim that Israel itself is implementing a Holocaust on the Palestinian Arabs.
The provocative article from the “The Beacon” that questioned the uniqueness of the Holocaust and posted on a website affiliated with Yeshiva University is a sign that the orthodox community is not immune from the politically correct triviality of the Holocaust and acceptance of intersectionality as the intellectual context of interpreting world events. Jewish identity that ignores or belittles or “moves beyond” the systematic attempt to exterminate the Jewish race eighty years ago cannot possibly fathom the significance and importance of the establishment of the State of Israel. The Jewish people made a conscience effort to rebuild out of the ashes of the Holocaust. Those that regard the Holocaust as just another unfortunate event cannot be depended on to understand that for modern Israel, in order to deal with existential threats, Israel must do whatever is necessary so that “never again” will not remain an empty slogan.
Those that compare the Holocaust and the Flat Earth Society should be reminded what the Holocaust was all about. In Daniel Mendelsohn’s book; The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million, he describes in detail the core horror of Nazi action in collaboration with locals in Bolechow, Poland, September 1942:
A terrible episode happened with Mrs. Grynberg. The Ukrainians and Germans, who had broken into her house, found her giving birth. The weeping and entreaties of bystanders didn’t help and she was taken from her home in a nightshirt and dragged into the square in front of the town hall. There… she was dragged onto a dumpster in the yard of the town hall with a crowd of Ukrainians present, who cracked jokes and jeered and watched the pain of childbirth and she gave birth to a child. The child was immediately torn from her arms along with its umbilical cord and thrown – It was trampled by the crowd and she was stood on her feet as blood poured out of her with bleeding bits hanging and she stood that way for a few hours by the wall of the town hall, afterwards she went with all the others to the train station Where they loaded her into a carriage in a train to Belzec…….
In every generation, the Jewish nation has had to deal with the threat of annihilation. In ancient Egypt, it seemed that the Jews would be gone. In ancient Persia, it looked like Haman would have his way and annihilate us. Yet, in the end, the Jewish people were saved. All of these so-called great empires that attempted to annihilate the Jewish nation have all disappeared and against all odds, we the Jewish nation are still around. Not just surviving, but thriving. The enormity of the Holocaust, with the majority of European Jewry being systemically murdered, is a singular event that defies comparison to any other historical event in the last millennium.
In retrospect, the Holocaust compels Jews to confront their own Jewishness. After such unspeakable events such as described above, every Jew must look inside and consider: Hitler tried to exterminate my people and the world stood by in silence. Will I, through apathy and indifference, or by belittling the tragic uniqueness of the Holocaust become a partner to Hitler? Or will my life convey a testimony to the glory of the Jewish people and our resurrection from the ashes. For this reason alone, we must stand united and dismiss the politically correct idea that it’s time for Jews to get over and move beyond the Holocaust.
International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust will be commemorated throughout the world this year on Friday, January 27, 2023
Applying the “Broken Windows” doctrine to Fight Anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism is spiraling out of control throughout the United States with a precipitous rise in anti-Semitic attacks on the streets, on campuses, on social media, Synagogues, JCC’s and other Jewish Institutions; wherever Jews are visible. The tsunami of Jew hatred comes from all corners of the political spectrum; the extreme Right, the progressive Left, radicalized Black and Muslim Americans, and the Muslim world. It has crept into the educational system, the corporate world, the political echelon and the celebrity sphere. Brazen anti-Semitic attacks are being carried out daily without inhibition or hesitancy on the streets of America as if attackers are granted immunity from punishment or accountability. A general sense of fear and intimidation has become the norm for American Jews. For many Jews in the United States, zero tolerance for anti-Semitism is further than ever from being a reality.
This past year, major Jewish organizations have announced that they have embarked on major campaigns aimed to fighting anti-Semitism. These organizations have infused hundreds of millions of dollars into these campaigns, with little if any noticeable reduction in anti-Semitic attacks, or empirically measurable efficacy. With the amplifying effect of social media, Jew hatred can now be spread and amplified with the double click of a finger to millions of people of all ages, of all ethnic groups throughout the United States, transforming Jew hatred to be viewed as acceptable and normal. Violent and physical anti-Semitic attacks have been shown to happen as a result of violent postings and incitement online.
As the world begins the New Year under a cloud of economic and political uncertainty, traumatized by years of the COVID pandemic, amid rising global populism and political disunity, history has shown us over the millennium that when economic, political and social crises erupt and disrupt life as we know it, the usual suspects have been Jews. History has taught us that Jews were always the first to be blamed, then scapegoated, and eventually attacked. The late Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and author, stressed that the Holocaust did not begin with gas chambers, it began with words. Leaders of American Jewry have a shared responsibility to work together in order to identify and combat the spiraling of anti-Semitic vitriol.
Applying the “Broken Windows” doctrine to combat anti-Semitism can provide an effective starting point. The broken windows theory, defined in 1982 by social scientists James Wilson and George Kelling, used broken windows as a metaphor for disorder within neighborhoods. Their theory links disorder within a community to subsequent occurrences of serious crime. They suggested that one broken window would soon lead to many more windows being broken: “One unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing.”
The “Broken Windows” theory had an enormous impact on police policy throughout the 1990s and remained influential into the 21st century. Perhaps the most notable application of the theory was in New York City, where the aggressive order-maintenance practices of the New York City Police Department were responsible for the dramatic decrease in crime rates within the city during the 1990s.
Jewish community leaders and heads of Jewish organizations both on a national scale and local scale must demand that the judicial system, state and local district attorney’s, courts, police forces, and political leaders adopt a “broken windows” orientation towards combatting anti-Semitism.
Only by forcibly demanding that anti-Semitic incidents be investigated, prosecuted and perpetuators be held accountable, only then can we begin to turn the tide and bring spiraling anti-Semitic attacks under a semblance of control. In recent years the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) has adopted the following working definition of antisemitism to empower local judicial and enforcement authorities to act;
Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities
The IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism enables judicial and enforcement agencies the necessary conceptual pathway to combat the spiraling anti-Semitic attacks in the United States. Adopting the “Broken Windows” anti-crime doctrine will enable enforcement authorities an operational pathway to significantly decrease the level of violence currently targeting American Jews, and provide a long-term strategic effect that can be a deterrence by holding those responsible for anti-Semitic attacks accountable for their actions. Zero tolerance for anti-Semitism can indeed become a reality.
Hatred starts with the Jews, but never ends with the Jews. The first airplane hijacked by Jew haters and anti-Semites was an Israeli airplane, and today at every airport at every country in the world, everyone lines up for security checks, so all Americans should be concerned. The danger of dismissing the inherent threat of today’s anti-Semitism lies in its danger for all Americans.
Appendix: A working definition of antisemitism
In the spirit of the Stockholm Declaration that states: “With humanity still scarred by …antisemitism and xenophobia the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils” the committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial called the IHRA Plenary in Budapest 2015 to adopt the following working definition of antisemitism.
Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations:
Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.
Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
Anti-Semitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of anti-Semitic materials in some countries).
Criminal acts are anti-Semitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.
Anti-Semitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries
Negotiating a Ukrainian-Russian agreement based on the “Egyptian Model”
As the long and bitter winter sets in on the war ravaged land of the Ukraine and as over 10 million Ukrainians are left with no electricity or heating, the eminent humanitarian crises is upon us; it’s not surprising that Benjamin Netanyahu’s name keeps popping up as the preferred leader to negotiate a settlement between President Putin and President Zelenskyy. In a recent interview held on a popular and respected American news show, Netanyahu confirmed that he was approached to mediate a resolution between Russia and Ukraine: “I can tell you that I was approached, about a year ago, to enter this and I said ‘No; our prime minister tried his hand at it at the time, unsuccessfully, and I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” Netanyahu said. In the interview Netanyahu stated that addressing the Ukrainian issue will be one of the first things that he will look at if and when he heads Israel’s newly elected government but noted the importance of balancing the concerns of Ukraine with the security relations with Russia and the implications for Israel’s strategic operations in the Middle East against the Iranian threat. How can Netanyahu be instrumental in advancing an agreement between Russia and the Ukraine when so many others have failed this past year?
The Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement was signed in 1979, and has been upheld by both sides meticulously weathering over forty years of political upheavals, conventional as well as terror wars, and numerous strategic pitfalls all along the way. The “Arab Spring”, initiated and orchestrated by President Obama in 2010, was by far the greatest threat to the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement, yet despite the turmoil and political instability in Egypt as a result of the “Arab Spring”, the peace agreement with Israel was upheld. The Palestinian terror leadership has tried to create from day one tension between Egypt and Israel with the goal of derailing the peace agreement, by conducting a non-stop terror war against Israelis and the State of Israel, but to no avail. The “Egyptian Model” has triumphed all of these attempts to derail the peace agreement between two sovereign states; so what’s the secret to this success and how is it relevant to the war between Ukraine and Russia, and lastly why is Benjamin Netanyahu the right international leader, at the right time to appeal to both sides to negotiate a settlement.
The conceptual underpinning of the “Egyptian Model” that enabled Israel to sign an enduring and sustainable peace agreement with Egypt over four decades ago is based on a unique understanding that nations can share control over sovereign national land. The “Egyptian Model” allowed Israel to withdraw troops and military control of sovereign Egyptian land conquered in previous wars between the two nations and return to the internationally recognized border. Israel received in return from Egypt that she willingly forfeits absolute sovereign control over the Sinai Peninsula, a large strategic land mass adjacent to Israel. Egypt agreed to limitations on her sovereignty by accepting limitations on introducing and allowing movement and the placement of military forces, installations, and weaponry in the Sinai Peninsula without Israel’s full prior consent. This is the gist of the “Egyptian Model”, shared sovereignty over contested land or due to a strategic threat to a neighboring nation.
The current stalemate between Russia and the Ukraine is based on the following; the Russian government has expressed her desire that the Ukrainian government acknowledge Moscow's annexation of southern and eastern regions. Ukraine says every Russian soldier must leave its territory, including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. The Ukrainian government applied to be accepted into NATO and will end her neutrality towards Russia.
All armed conflicts in modern history have eventually ended through negotiations, and this conflict will be no different. Should the return to the status quo prior to the invasion of the Ukraine by Russian be impossible, international supervised referendums in the territory claimed by Russia would most likely be the preferred option. The adoption of the “Egyptian Model” will give a practical negotiating platform that can bridge the demands of both sides simply by both sides accepting the idea of forfeiting land while accepting some form of shared sovereignty over Ukrainian land. The continued stalemate of the West supporting Ukraine unconditionally and providing advanced weaponry to counter Russian forces will quickly become unsustainable and a threat on the greater European continent.
This past week it was reported that Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia called Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his re-election as Prime Minister of Israel. The content of the call was not disclosed, however all indications show that the call dealt with ending the Ukrainian-Russian stalemate, and coordinating with Russia, Israel’s continuing shadow war against Iranian forces in Syria, Lebanon, and Iran. With Russian forces stationed throughout the Middle East, coordination with Russia is necessary to allow Israel to maintain her dominance in aerial warfare and uncontested control of the skies throughout the region. With a new strategic alignment in the Middle East emerging between Israel and additional Arab nations; this new Arab-Israeli coalition will be able to counter Iran and its radical Arab proxies. So both Putin and Netanyahu have the ability to help one another and on the way keep 10 million Ukrainians from freezing to death as winter takes its toll.
In the same manner that the old structure of the Arab-Israel conflict that defined the Middle East for generations—during and shortly after the Cold War—is now being replaced by a strengthening Arab-Israeli coalition against Iran and its radical Arab proxies, a similar process can be initiated between Russia and the Ukraine. Should the Ukraine become part of the NATO defense coalition, a major change of the old cold war structure in Europe would enable Ukraine to agree to some form of shared sovereignty based on the “Egyptian Model” paving the way for concluding a peace agreement between Russia and the Ukraine. Benjamin Netanyahu is the right political leader, at the right time, enjoying the respect and trust of Putin and Zelensky to make this happen and soon.
Life in the “Jewish Twilight Zone”
Assuming one accepts the idea that Jews are the perpetual canaries in civilization’s eternal coal mine, then Jews can do their fellow citizens a favor by identifying the sources and carriers of cultural poison disguised as antisemitism before the toxicity turns the tables on all Americans and not just on the Jews. History has proven that progression over the years. When anti-Semitism has become morally acceptable and expressions of anti-Semitism are condoned and protected by first amendment crusaders, then we have entered the “The Jewish Twilight Zone”.
The original “Twilight Zone”, created by Rod Serling, dealt with issues that resonate even today including; racism, alienation and loneliness, the fragile nature of society, and the enduring notion that the biggest threat to humanity is from within, that is, what we tend to do to ourselves as a society. Metaphorically, when applied to Jews, the phrase “The Jewish Twilight Zone” can thus be taken to signify that threats to Jewish life simultaneously represent a warning signal to society at large. The unnerving feeling that “The Jewish Twilight Zone” has become a useful way to describe the upside-down feeling and sense of impending danger as reflective of Jewish life in America is much more widespread than we are willing to admit to ourselves. Dr. Jordan Peterson recently expressed this sentiment; “When anti-Semitism becomes a moral necessity (even in its subtler forms) hell is about to make its appearance yet again.”
American Jewish leaders and laypersons as well, are left with few choices as to how to ring the bell concerning the potential dangers awaiting American society. Divisive racial ideologies have dominated American politics over the past decade, half receiving a shot in the arm during the first Obama administration. This encouragement of racial division was cynically used afterwards by politicians on both sides of the aisle, only to be surpassed by the current Biden administration being top heavy with antisemitic and anti-Israel bureaucrats and Democratic Congressional representatives. However, as the midterm elections have shown us, the general public is open to and seeking a more centrist political representation. The American public has begun to reject the crime, chaos, and violent activism of liberal progressives and “woke” ideologies, while equally rejecting representatives of white supremacism. The voting public voted for representatives that disagree with current policies that have weakened police enforcement and have enabled unrestricted illegal immigration on the Southern borders. The American public voted for politicians who represented middle-of-the-road policies, orientation, and values; rejecting many Democratic and Republican candidates that were perceived as overly ideological or extreme in their political declarations.
Does this mean that we are on the verge of a new era of a kumbaya type of racial harmony and the end of antisemitism? Not likely, but America may be reverting back to an older style of politics in which ideology takes a back seat to practical concerns, bread and butter issues; inflation, crime in the streets, quality of life issues, jobs, and government spending. Uniting many of the political upsets in the midterm elections has been that those elected have a common message of wanting to preserve American society and the range of traditional values, including traditionally liberal values for which America has long stood. This message of reclaiming the political, cultural, intellectual middle ground, a common political center, is perceived by the American public as the most viable path to counter the extreme left and the centers of power that empower the extreme left: media, academia, judicial, and social media/internet technological companies.
Alongside the rejection of extreme left politics, there is a general agreement within the American public and most political representatives that belong to a common political center, that the extreme right in all of its manifestations is also not a political partner to the Democratic process within American society. This is where the “canaries”, the Jews, can show the way for both sides of the American political spectrum to find a common political center and on the way help American Jews to exit the “Jewish Twilight Zone.”
It’s fair to say that when somebody is obsessively anti-Israel, they also tend to exhibit antisemitic sentiment. The best example that comes to mind is the “Boston Mapping Project”, a digital interactive map that identifies every Israeli and Jewish organization/location in the Boston area. The “Boston Mapping Project” has also been labeled a ‘Digital Kristallnacht’, for providing exact information for locating Jews or institutions. It’s obvious to all that the project won’t stop in Boston, but will be replicated in most cluster areas where Jews, Israeli, and their institutions are located in the United States. All major Jewish organizations should consolidate their resources to eradicate this project with all the legal, punitive, and financial resources available. The endgame of this initiative will show American society that anti-Semitism should be met with zero tolerance and that Islamist extremists who advocate going after Jews, whether American or Israeli, cannot hide behind a first amendment defense. Remember: The first commercial plane to be hijacked by Palestinian Arab terrorists was an Israeli ElAl flight, and today at every airport throughout the world, we all line up for exhaustive security checks for boarding every flight; because what starts with the Jews, never ends with the Jews.
Countering Jew hatred while supporting American Democratic principles such as freedom of expression in order to be supportive of the State of Israel can be an effective starting point. A senior DHS official said during a recent briefing that Americans who have become radicalized by violent ideologies are a “persistent and lethal threat.” The advisory was a summary of the latest terrorism threats from domestic extremists. The senior DHS official confirmed that recent anti-Semitic remarks by Kanye West have led to increased threats against the Jewish community. The official added that any celebrity or high profile figure who makes similar statements encourages violence from extremists. The advisory stressed that there continues to be an “enduring threat” against the American Jewish community.
Only this past week conspiracy theorist Alex Jones filed for bankruptcy after the judicial system ruled against him in the tune of one billion dollars for alleging that the Sandy Hook massacre never happened. There is no legal or judicial prohibition on the part of the United States Attorney’s Office-Southern District of New York from charging Kanye West or others who have expressed Jew hatred that falls within the threshold of a hate crime against Jews. As we have seen with the indictment against the conspirator Alex Jones, first amendment restrictions do not have to prevent exhaustive legal action against anti-Semites and Jew haters.
Public expression of support for anti-Semitism/Jew hatred or championing the Palestinian Arabs should no longer be an acceptable excuse for attacking Jews. Expressions of Jew hatred can easily fall within the jurisdiction of hate crimes. Now is the time for American Jewish leadership to publically demand zero tolerance for antisemitism on the streets, on the campuses, and in social media. The “canaries” can show them the way.