People of the twitch

Joseph Aaron

I call it the Jewish twitch.

The minute things start to look good for the Jews, the minute things start to feel good for the Jews, we get the twitch.

No matter how hard we have to try, how far we have to stretch, we find a reason to worry.

I was having Shabbat lunch with a family when the father brought up the four Congresswomen known as ‘The Squad’ who Trump has been savagely attacking, doing his usual anti-woman, racist thing, but even more shamefully pretending he was doing it for the Jews, constantly referring to the four as anti-Jewish anti-Israel Jew haters Israel haters.

The father explained to his kids that the four Congresswomen show how unsafe things are for the Jews in America, just as things have always been for Jews in all times and all places.

Congress, he went on, is full of anti-Semites. Just look at ‘The Squad.’

I can’t begin to tell you how much I hate when Jews talk like that, how sick I am of Jews talking like that, how destructive it is to us when Jews talk like that.

But the Jewish twitch has to be scratched.

If one had any sense of historical perspective, if one had any sense of the realities of life for Jews today, if one had any sense, one would realize that our twitching days are over, that yes, while bad things do sometimes happen to us, we don’t have to always go looking for signs that things are bad and bound to get worse just because things for us are so good in so many ways.

But no, we can’t seem to shake our history, can’t seem to realize that things are different for us and so we have this incredible Jewdar that can always find cause for worry.

And so what a ripe opportunity for worry when you have four Congresswomen of color who have big mouths and say stupid things about Israel and about the Jews. Man, that is just perfect for Jews looking for something to get all tingly about and frightened by.

Oh no, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and AOC are coming to get us. Listen to how they talk, who knows what they will do to us. Be afraid, be very afraid.

As one who finds the Jewish twitch the least attractive, most harmful thing about Jews, I pushed back on the father. I pointed out that ‘The Squad’ are but freshmen members of Congress, which means they have absolutely no power whatsoever and won’t for at least another 20 years, if they manage to last that long.

I also pointed out that a woman in Congress who has actual power, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has on several occasions and just recently dismissed the members of ‘The Squad’ as “just four votes,” meaning pay them no mind, in the powered corridors of Washington, they mean nothing.

I further pointed out that much of the power of ‘The Squad’ derives from the fact that we Jews make such a big tsimess out of them. When AOC says that Congressional support for Israel is ‘all about the Benjamins,’ when Tlaib supports the BDS movement, when Omar says whatever insane thing about the Palestinians and the Israelis, the Jews go nuts, scream and shout and jump and send out press releases and hold meetings and launch fund raising campaigns and issue emergency warnings, thus greatly amplifying what ‘The Squad’ said, thus indeed if inadvertently abetting them in getting their ugly words out.

I know it’s hard, but if we just ignored them, they would get much less attention. Of course, if they got less attention, that would deprive us of a reason to deploy the Jewish twitch.

We seem to never learn that you have to know when to make a big deal out of something, when to scream gevalt about something and when to say nothing, turn away.

‘The Squad’ is no threat to Israel or the Jews, just as Farrakhan has never been a real threat to the Jews, just as Austrian politician Jorg Haider was no threat to the Jews. Indeed, you probably don’t even know who Haider is, but believe me, at the time, the Jewish world had its hair on fire about him. Same with Iran’s Ahmadinejad who many Jews at the time proclaimed the next Hitler but who today is out of power and forgotten.

I further pointed out to the father at the table that Congress, where the four members of ‘The Squad’ serve, is unbelievably, overwhelmingly, amazingly pro-Israel and pro-Jews. Indeed just recently the House codified an agreement that the Obama administration announced in 2016. Writing the agreement into law keeps any current and future presidents from walking it back. The Senate passed a similar measure.

The law ensures that Israel will receive $38 billion in defense assistance over the next 10 years, by far the most money this country has given to any country anytime in our history.

And so it goes. In just the last month, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House that will prioritize health care and nutrition services for Holocaust survivors. The bill, the Trauma-Informed Modernization of Eldercare for Holocaust Survivors Act or “TIME for Holocaust Survivors Act,” was first introduced in the Senate. It increases the chances that survivors could age in their own homes rather than in an institution.

In just the last month, the House overwhelmingly condemned the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel. The House vote was 398-17. Yes, Tlaib and Omar were among the 17, but the vote was 398-17. So much for them being so powerful, so scary, so influential.

In just the last month, a bill passed which imposes new sanctions on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, two terrorist groups that have fired missiles on Israeli civilian areas. In just the last month, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution to remember the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994. The attack on the AMIA Jewish center left 85 people dead and hundreds more injured. The perpetrators have still not been brought to justice, which is why the bill commits Congress “to helping the Government of Argentina seek justice for the victims and their families.”

In just the last month, a bipartisan slate of senators introduced a bill that would fund Holocaust education in schools. The Never Again Education Act would establish the Holocaust Education Assistance Program Fund in the U.S. Treasury. The bill would “finance grants to public and private middle and high schools to help teachers develop and improve Holocaust education programs.”

So after mentioning all that, all those bills, that a Congresswoman who really counts is on our side, namely Nancy Pelosi, I said to the father please don’t make like “The Squad’ controls what Congress is all about when it comes to Jews and Israel.

Fascinatingly, he immediately said, “well look at Britain where you have Jeremy Corbyn who is really an anti-Semite and might be the next prime minister.”

That Jewish twitch is always able to find something to be scared about.

Now I don’t exactly know why, but I am fascinated by British politics. I am constantly watching the BBC on YouTube and so can tell you why so many members of the Cabinet were recently sacked (British people talk funny!) why the right honorable lady the member for Maidenhead (British people live in places with funny names!) was forced to resign as prime minister and why it makes perfect sense that Clement Attlee defeated Winston Churchill in the 1945 election, just months after the end of World War II. Indeed, I was recently at another Shabbat lunch with someone from Britain and we had a contest whether he could name more American presidents or I could name more British prime ministers.  I won.

Anyway, I think you can say that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite (pronounced see-mite in Britain) but you can also say the chances of him actually becoming prime minister are about as good as me becoming British prime minister. It ain’t gonna happen. But no reason that little fact should stop this father from citing him as an example of how anti-Semitism has taken over the world and why Jews yet again are under siege and are a target.

I am so sick of the Jewish twitch. We are, in a word, nuts. Just how nuts was yet again shown by our Supreme Leader, The Bibi. Every time I think he can’t sink lower, he does. And so he did recently. Talk about a Jewish twitch, The Bibimeister is the master of masters. As we all know, he has a psychological condition when it comes to Iran. He sees Iranians under his bed, is terrified of them and so has done much to make us all terrified of them. But what he just said takes the cake.

All the signatories to the Iran nuclear deal are sticking with it, even after Trump, at Bibi’s urging, pulled out of it, even though Iran was scrupulously abiding by it. Now because of Trump’s pullout, they no longer are abiding by it and so Bibi went after the European Union for still supporting the deal.

What the EU is doing, he said, “reminds me of the European appeasement of the 1930s.” Appeasement. There are few more potent words. It is a word that evokes the choice by Britain to try to curry favor with Hitler in order to avoid conflict, which instead allowed him to develop his military ahead of World War II. To accuse someone of appeasement is to accuse them of laying the groundwork for someone like Hitler.

Memo to Bibi. The ayatollah is not Hitler, Iran is not the Nazis. Stop it. You jerk, Iran was keeping by the deal, their nuke program was neutered. Now, thanks to Trump pulling out, Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile has exceeded 300 kilograms, which the deal did not allow, and Iran is reactivating two of its nuclear sites, which the deal did not allow.

So it’s actually Trumpbibi who created the very monster they feared. That ain’t appeasement, that is jackassry.

Can we please cool it with the Jewish twitch? ‘The Squad’ is nothing to worry about, Corbyn is nobody to fear, and we had Iran contained.

I know it’s hard to accept, but things are good for us. It’s time to stop twitching and deal with that reality.

3 Comments on "People of the twitch"

  1. Lori Lippitz | August 1, 2019 at 4:32 pm | Reply

    Wikipedia tells us “A counterirritant is a substance which creates irritation or mild inflammation in one location with the goal of lessening discomfort and/or inflammation in another location.”
    Trump is providing a counterirritant to the American Jewish community to keep our skins from crawling at the very real neo-Nazi movement rising in America–a movement he tolerates because it is a part of his base. Who slaughtered Jews in Pittsburgh? The Squad? White supremacists–a movement which is responsible for most terrorist acts in the USA since 9/11. For some reason, FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony on this subject flew under the radar last week. If we’re gonna twitch, let’s at least scratch the actual itch.

  2. Iran was keeping its commitment? You stand by that statement?

  3. Michael Gilbert-Koplow | August 5, 2019 at 8:17 am | Reply

    When AOC says that Congressional support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins.”

    That was Ilhan Omar, not AOC. This is a matter of documented fact, not of opinion or interpretation. Since you sometimes mention Medill, I asssume you’ll publish a correction.

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