Worst enemies

Oh. My. G-d.

Well, I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll have many occasions to say it again.

Whatever we have to fear or worry about from the outside is nothing compared to what we have to fear or worry about from the inside.

We truly are our own worst enemies. Any doubt of that was erased forever with the news that the creep who had made dozens of calls to JCCs all across the country issuing bomb threats and so causing havoc and a sense that anti-Semitism was back big time, is, yes believe it or not, a Jew.  And to make it all even ohmyg-dier, he is a Jew who lives in Israel.

A Jew living in the Jewish state has been terrorizing Jewish Community Centers all over America. Oh. My. G-d.

How very, very sad. And, of course, in many ways, what a relief.

The sad part is that anyone could be sick and evil enough to make call after call, issue bomb threat after bomb threat at targets just because they are Jewish. The heartbreaking part is that that anyone is a Jew.

You would need a team of Jewish psychiatrists to get inside that Jew’s psyche. What makes it all the sadder is that his handiwork gave Jews in America the sense that anti-Semitism was running rampant, that we were a target everywhere, that there wasn’t much we could do against this unknown, unnamed threat. It seemed like things were really bad, had not been this bad for a very long time.

And that feeling was very not good for us. We are quick enough to get worried, quick enough to feel under siege for so many reasons, most of them not valid, that the last thing we needed was what seemed like a very good reason to be worried, feel under siege.

And also very bad is that the fact that it was a Jew, made Donald Trump look like he knows what he’s talking about. And that is not an easy thing to do.

We all got really upset when The Donald was downplaying the wave of anti-Semitic attacks, was very slow to half-heartedly condemn them. And we were really outraged when he suggested it may have been one of our own doing it, just to make him look bad.

Well, and it is very hard for me to say this, it turns out he was right. What he said and what we now have learned, makes him look good. And that’s not good.

But the truth is that for all the sad and bad of how this story turned out, in the end it is, in fact, very good news. No, anti-Semitism is not back and badder than ever. No, there is not some evil neo-Nazi out there terrorizing JCCs, no, Jew hatred is not running rampant, no, our place in this country is not endangered.

It was a meshuganneh Jew who was causing us all this tzuris. It was not a skinhead, a neo-Nazi, an anti-Semite. It was a Jew. And while we can’t feel real good about that, we can feel real good about who it was not and what it was not.

But while we should feel good about that, we also need to examine our tendency to so quickly go to DefCon5, so quickly, led by joke leaders like Malcolm Hoenlein and Mort Klein, decide it’s the Holocaust all over again. Leaders are supposed to lead us, not frighten us, and yet too many too much did.

“We’ve never seen, ever, the volume of bomb threats that we’ve seen,” Oren Siegel, the director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said. “White supremacists in this country feel more emboldened than they ever have before because of the public discourse and divisive rhetoric.”

Easy there. We need to be more careful before we proclaim that the sky is falling. Even if it was an anti-Semite behind the 150 bomb threats to JCCs, it still would not have meant that it was all over for us in this country. We still would be incredibly safe, protected, respected, able to be fully Jewish even as we are fully American.

We also need to be careful to not overreact to the fact that it was Jew who did this.  We need not to say what one Jewish leader said, namely that “now people will have another excuse to not take anti-Semitism seriously.”

People take anti-Semitism very seriously in this country. Saying anything anti-Semitic is immediately condemned. And law enforcement authorities are not against us but with us in the fight against anti-Semitism.

And we also need not to use this as a political weapon against each other. We need not to say, as did Marc Zell, the co-chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel, that “The Ultimate Self-Hating Jew, a 19-yr old Israeli-American, was behind the JCC bomb threats. The US Jewish leadership owes @POTUS an apology.”

No, we don’t. Yes, he was right in this case (hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day) but he still has been way too slow to condemn anti-Semitism, still did not mention the Jews in his statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

What we do need to do is once again remember how great we have it in this country, not be so quick to assume everyone is out to get us, not be so quick to get scared.

There were two other glaring examples recently which showed how much and how often we are our own worst enemies.

First, there was Israel’s first-ever national survey of iodine levels in the population which revealed widespread deficiencies, which could mean millions of children are at risk of stunted development.

The survey found that 62 percent of school-age children and 85 percent of pregnant women have iodine levels below the World Health Organization minimum. The numbers are among the highest in the world and signal a major national health problem likely related to Israel’s world-leading use of water desalination.

This isn’t a small matter. Millions of Israeli children are at risk of stunted development. As the Jewish news service JTA reported, “Even mild iodine deficiency can limit intellectual development, and mild to moderate deficiency has been linked to decreased cognitive performance. In the womb or early childhood, iodine deficiency has been shown to impair brain development and in severe cases cause physical malformation, dwarfism and intellectual disability. Previous studies have found the children of iodine-deficient mothers perform much more poorly in school.”

You know, Israel has much to be proud of, has accomplished many amazing things. But it still takes some very serious things way too lightly. One of them is the environment, which is being destroyed in many ways in the country, with the government doing nothing about it, indeed being the cause of much of it.

Similarly, consumer protection is virtually non-existent in the Jewish state. All of that matters, can have very serious consequences. One wonders if the government devoted any energy at all to gauging the health effects of water desalination before embarking on massive efforts to do so. My guess is that it didn’t. Too often the government doesn’t worry about effects on the environment, or on people. Indeed, until this survey, Israel was one of only a few countries to have never before gathered nationally representative data on its residents’ iodine levels. Not doing so is an example of being our own worst enemies.

Another example of that was the recent arrest of 22 haredi Orthodox men in four Israeli cities. All are suspected of sex crimes against women and minors over the past two years. All were sheltered by religious leaders.

The men, aged 20-60, were arrested in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Betar Illit and Bnei Brak, all cities with large haredi populations. Residents of the communities tried to prevent the arrests, throwing rocks and other projectiles, damaging some police cars.

Police believe haredi leaders helped conceal the crimes, choosing instead to deal with the men on their own rather than reporting them. That happens way too much and one would have thought it would have stopped by now. There is way too much evidence of how many lives have been ruined by sex offenders in the Orthodox community and how way too often the criminals have been protected. For some reason, too many leading Orthodox rabbis do not allow the reporting of crimes to the proper authorities, but rather think they can deal with the problem, when they are not equipped to do so.

Too much are they more concerned about the perpetrators than the victims. Too much are they worried men who commit sex crimes against women or children will be ostracized as a result, won’t be able to find marriage partners for their children, and so they keep it a secret, deal with it internally, don’t bring it to the police.

It is beyond being our own worst enemies when Jews are more concerned about the reputations of perverts than they are the welfare and protection of innocent women and children.

This kind of distorted thinking and doing has to stop. We need to see that criminals are to be treated as such, that the appropriate parties to deal with crimes are the law enforcement authorities, not the rabbis.

You know, I’ve received much criticism over the years by those who say I am naïve, am too positive about how good Jews have it in this world, how we really don’t need to be worried about the world around us.

I believe that and believe there is so much proof that is so. But what I am very worried about, and what I believe the Jewish community should be very worried about, is the Jewish world, about us and how we behave within it.

It scares the hell out of me that a Jew living in Israel can terrorize JCCs with bomb threats. It scares the hell out of me that the government of Israel leaps head first into massive desalination of its water, without first trying to determine its possible effects on those who drink that water, and without later checking its actual effects on the population that has been drinking it. And it scares the hell out of me that rabbis can coddle sexual deviants ruining the lives of innocent Jewish women and children.

Oh. My. G-d.

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