As recently as this past past month, the following attacks occurred seemingly one after another; a Jewish woman in Brooklyn, New York was attacked and slapped in the face by a random assailant who accosted her. The attacker, a young woman in her 20s, asked the Jewish woman: “Are you a Jew?”, then attacked the victim, slapping her. A few days later, a suspect was arrested by the NYPD for an anti-Semitic spitting attack in Crown Heights. In late October, the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit announced it had opened an investigation after a Jewish man in Crown Heights was hit in the head with an unknown projectile. On November, 4, a visibly pregnant 33-year old Jewish woman was assaulted by a man in Crown Heights while walking on Eastern Parkway. The man opened a juice bottle and threw it at her face. He also yelled, “You people disgust me.” Several days later, a 25-year old Jewish man in Crown Heights was assaulted by five men, one of whom punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground yelling, “You dirty Jew”. How are we to understand the empowerment and lack of inhibition enjoyed by Jew haters in the public domain?
As we seek out answers, the natural inclination is to look outwards and demand accountability by politicians, intellectuals, celebrities, or just about anyone outside of the Jewish tribe. Little if any effort has been made to point out how members of the tribe, primarily liberal and progressive Jews have contributed to the rapid rise of Jew hatred. The normalization and trivialization of the Holocaust and Jew hatred might be a good starting point. Progressive Jewish organizations have for many years vilified Israel and compared the Jewish state with Hitler’s Germany. However the entertainment industry and specifically Jewish celebrities have contributed more than their share in diluting and trivializing the significance of the Holocaust and delegating Jew hatred to a punch line.
“The Soup Nazi” was the sixth episode of the seventh season of Seinfeld. It first aired November 2, 1995. A new soup kitchen opens, but the owner is extremely strict: so strict that he is nicknamed "The Soup Nazi". The term "Nazi" is used as an exaggeration of the excessively strict regimentation he constantly demands of his patrons; its owner is referred to as the "Soup Nazi" due to his temperament and insistence on a strict manner of behavior while ordering. The Soup Nazi yells out, “NO SOUP FOR YOU!”. The producer, script writers, and Seinfeld were all Jews.
The movie “The Producers”, a classic, was a musical with the music and lyrics written by Mel Brooks. The story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by fraudulently overselling interests in a Broadway flop about Nazi Germany. Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful. The humor of the show draws on caricatures of Nazis. An example of the lyrics in the movie;
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Deutschland is happy and gay
We're marching to a faster pace
Look out, here comes the master race
Larry David, a producer and writer for Seinfeld at the time, did a monologue this past year on Saturday Night Live. David’s monologue resonated with a message that should be entitled; Why it’s time for Jews to Get Over the Holocaust, or even; Now is the time that Jews move on and stop making the Holocaust the most pivotal event in Jewish history. In that Saturday Night Live monologue he quipped: “I’ve always been obsessed with women, and I’ve always wondered: If I’d grown up in Poland when Hitler came to power and was sent to a concentration camp, would I still be checking out women in the camp? I think I would." And continuing, he said: "Of course, the problem is there are no good opening lines in a concentration camp. ‘How’s it going? They treating you OK? You know, if we ever get out of here, I’d love to take you out for some latkes.’” I was surprised that he didn’t conclude his monologue with “The Shoah must go on.”
Last month was the 83rd commemoration of “Kristallnacht”, a pivotal event, a major pogrom in the history of Jew hatred and the formative period of the Holocaust. It was 80 years ago this month that the SS established killing centers to carry out the mass murder of Europe's Jews. The SS established killing centers devoted exclusively or primarily to the destruction of human beings in gas chambers. Chelmno was among these killing centers. It was the first stationary facility where poison gas was used for the mass murder of Jews. The Chelmo killing center in German-occupied Poland was the first stationary facility where poison gas was used for the mass murder of Jews. The SS and police began killing operations at Chelmno on December 8, 1941. At least 172,000 people were killed there between December 1941 and March 1943 and in June/July 1944.
Anti-Semitic attacks have become common day events throughout the United States reaching every corner of Jewish life, no one is immune. Residential neighborhoods, Synagogues, Campuses, schools, and cemeteries are all equally desecrated by Jew haters. The sheer volume of these attacks is slowly approaching a critical mass that will bring upon us a wholly different understanding of the period that we are living in.
Albert Einstein fled the German capital, Berlin, in 1922 in fear and haste, he penned a letter that has lost little of its relevance since, even almost 100 years later. “Here are brewing economically and politically dark times, so I’m happy to be able to get away from everything,” Einstein wrote in the long-forgotten letter to his sister Maria. Einstein’s thoughts almost a century ago serve as a powerful reminder that the Holocaust was preceded by years of mounting anti-Semitic attacks and the demonization of Jews. It didn’t come out of nowhere.
As we commemorate this week the “Yom HaKadesh HaKlali”, a day in which we recite Kadesh for our family members that perished in the Holocaust, it seems imperative now more than ever that we look within, among our own. We must ask ourselves how have we contributed to the trivialization of Jew hatred and how this has manifested in empowering Jew haters to act without inhibition or remorse. The “Soup Nazi” syndrome is very much a Jewish syndrome that allows others to belittle and joke about the killing of Jews. Taking the next step and carrying out an anti-Semitic attack on some unsuspecting Jew going about his daily business is only one step away.