Rabbi Paul Plotkin
7 min readDec 1, 2023

78 years after the holocaust its starting all over again.

Imagine you are 23 years old and working in your first job after college. You can’t stand the job your boss is doing on a specific project, so you anonymously send a letter to the editor of the local paper condemning him on his actions. In the ensuing brouhaha your name is leaked out to the public. What are the chances that you have a job to go to the next day?

In my day the chances were zero. You would be out so fast you wouldn’t know what hit you and no one would sympathize with you.

When I was 23 and you had a disagreement with your boss you would either keep your mouth shut while looking for another job or you went to him to discuss it and if he didn’t agree or like the way you were handling yourself you may still be out of a job but at least you stood up for what you believed in.

The one thing you were entitled to was your opinion. What you were not entitled to was control of the consequences of your actions.

On November 13, 2023, the New York Times described the following actions by young congressional aids in Washington.

“The carnations arrived by the wheelbarrow. Blood-red, pink, orange and yellow, more than 10,000 stems were laid on the steps at the base of the Capitol against a clear blue sky.

Each was meant to represent a civilian life lost in the Israel-Hamas war one month in, encompassing Israeli and Palestinian people alike. They were brought over by more than 100 congressional staff members, all wearing masks to obscure their identities, for a walkout last week honoring the civilians killed in the conflict and calling for a cease-fire and the release of more than 200 hostages abducted by Hamas.

‘We are congressional staffers on Capitol Hill, and we are no longer comfortable staying silent,’ three of the aides, all of whom declined to give their names, declared, the Capitol dome towering behind them. ‘Our constituents are pleading for a cease-fire, and we are the staffers answering their calls. Most of our bosses on Capitol Hill are not listening to the people they represent. We demand our leaders speak up: Call for a cease-fire, a release of all hostages and an immediate de-escalation now.’”

You “demand”? Who the hell do you think you are? You are in your 20’s you have a job on capitol hill as a staffer to a US congressman and you demand?

The Times continues, “The walkout was the latest in a series of actions congressional aides have taken, almost all of them anonymously, to publicly urge members of Congress — their own bosses — to call for a cease-fire in Gaza…..

And many have concluded that they have no choice but to speak out — albeit most without using their names — in a remarkably open break from the cardinal Capitol Hill rule that holds that aides should stay in the background and never publicly contradict the boss.”

Well at least they had the courage of their convictions and stood up for their values, except they don’t.

“according to interviews with more than a dozen aides and strategists, most of whom spoke on the condition that their names not be used for fear of imperiling their jobs and prompting personal attacks.”

So, you violate the rules of protecting your boss, but you don’t have the guts to stand up for your views and take the consequences. Hardly a profile in courage.

Who are these people and how did we get here? Its actually not surprising at all when you look back at how they were raised, and it also explains the younger members of their cohort who are now in college and are now protesting in favor of Hamas.

They are an entitled generation who were raised by parents who taught them the centrality of their own feelings over everything else. Let me emphasize “feelings” over fact based critical thinking.

When they were born their parents instilled in them a sense of how special they are just because. When they entered little league, they often played not for a championship trophy but for a participation award that everyone received. Validation for their participation was all that mattered. Victory of one side was unimportant because losing would hurt their feelings and God forbid that should ever happen.

When they had a problem or conflict in school their parents went to bat for them, and it was somehow always the teacher’s or the school’s fault but never the child’s fault.

Standards were lowered and meritocracy was secondary to not hurting their feelings. They were taught that their opinions mattered just because it was their feelings. Well argued analytical thinking was not as important as validating their feelings. When these children went to college it became the college’s responsibility to protect them from disagreements or any challenges that would make them think and in so doing would cause them discomfort.

I remember Bill Mahr talking about how edgy comedians were no longer doing stand up at Universities because the students would complain afterwards about how upset they felt at the event. Satire and criticism in comedians could not be tolerated because it upset them.

When I was in college in the late 60’s it was a time of much political debate and many speakers and teachins disturbed me, but my response was to engage in the debate no matter how painful it was to defend my position. I could disagree with a faculty member and then later have a cup of coffee with them to continue the discussion. I didn’t ask to censor them or worse cancel them from speaking. I wasn’t worried about them lowering my grade because they encouraged me to enter the debate. I was there to learn critical thinking and the better I got at it the better I could take them on. That was how the academy was supposed to work, but what changed?

We now have social media.

If one thinks the university is not doing something they like they post about it on social media. They might get 10,000 likes to a post that says my professor is a fascist sympathizer with Israel which is conducting a genocide of the Palestinian people. No proof is needed to post and if I have a video to go with it my post could go viral.

I could do the same naming the president of my school. He or she does not want 10,000 views to go viral and become a million views. New student applications might diminish and affect their job performance and their contract. The board might call them in for an explanation.

If the president of the school puts out a condemnation of the Hamas pogrom he might offend a whole slew of student groups who will come after him with a massive social media campaign whose strongest arguments will be that “ he offended my long held feelings about the apartheid Israeli treatment of the poor indigenous people of Palestine. After all my professor of history taught me white colonial history that showed that the Jews in Palestine are white colonialists who stole the Palestinian’s land. There is a cartoon going around that Jewish Jesus was born 2023 years ago in Bethlehem Israel, but somehow the Jews are 19th century colonialists who stole the ancient indigenous Palestinian people’s land. And by the way, don’t you have to have your own country before you can be a colonial power taking away indigenous land to set up a colony?

The Oakland City Council on Monday passed a carefully crafted resolution calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war after hours of hearing impassioned rhetoric about the deaths of thousands of civilians in Gaza.

Before the vote, the council voted 6–2 to reject proposed amendments that specifically condemned killings and hostage-taking by Hamas

Harsher language was used by most of the dozens of speakers, including Jewish anti-Zionist activists, who argued for passage of the measure. They accused Israel of colonization of Palestine and of apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

These anti-Zionist Jews have their views and of course they were taught to cherish their views even if they are devoid of the facts. I asked the following question of an 18-year-old Israeli girl in Toronto on a special gap year program to be a resource person for a Jewish group in the diaspora before joining the IDF.

How do you relate to Jewish people who praise Hamas and the Iranian backed resistance group? Her answer has stayed with me every day since. She said,” They are so privileged they don’t realize that after they finish with us, they will next come after them.

That is why Hamas needs to be eliminated no matter the cost. First it will be the Jews of Israel then the Jews of the world. When was it ever different?

Please share with family and friends and to join this blog send an email to ravpp1@gmail with you full name and email requesting to join.

Chanukah is around the corner and Wisdom Grows in My Garden would make a wonderful gift. Available on Amazon or Barnes and Nobles.



Rabbi Paul Plotkin

I am a retired Conservative Rabbi. I was a pulpit Rabbi for 40 years. I supervise a chain of kosher Delis called Ben's .