Random Thoughts From a Jew Who Has Never Felt So Vulnerable

Rabbi Paul Plotkin
4 min readNov 2, 2023

Have you and your Jewish friends started talking about being afraid as Jews in this country?

It isn’t just you and it isn’t just this country. A solidarity trip by the Jewish leaders of Great Britain recently went to Israel. They went to stand together with the Israelis and give them support. The one thing they didn’t do was tell them how afraid they are becoming as Jews back home. It seemed so trivial while standing in Israel with Israelis at war, but the feeling was there.

Tonight, on the NBC news there was a story about a group of Jewish women in Miami who are taking a class in gun management as they contemplate buying a gun to protect their family.

I know that a lot of people are sickened by the sight of Palestinian civilians lying dead in the streets. I can explain Israel’s position, I can justify it, but I can also understand their feelings. What I can’t understand is their selectivity? 1400 of my people were killed tortured mutilated burned and the masses in the world maybe expressed sympathy for a few days. I don’t remember masses in the streets of France or England and certainly not in Turkey or Egypt or New York marching in angry condemnation. I didn’t see the campuses of what to me going forward will be known as, “used to be elite universities” demonstrating on campus. I barely saw any college presidents condemning the grotesque violence perpetrated on my people. There were even professors of these “used to be elite universities” celebrating the Hamas actions.

Many people don’t like seeing bombs landing on the buildings of civilians and killing women and children. I can understand that, but how come in a year and a half of bombings on civilian targets in Ukraine by the Russians, who are the initiators of the war and the invaders of a sovereign nation, there are no marches in the streets, no condemnations from professors and no student organizations voting to condemn the Russians?

It is not a military target when you blow up dams and electric plants and threaten a nuclear holocaust by attacking a nuclear power plant.

When you kill the electric grid not to harm combatants but to intimidate civilians as was done in the Ukraine why is there no outcry like there is for Gaza.

Where have the masses in the streets been against Russia and they have had a year and a half or more to organize?

Could it be that as long as the victims are white, nonindigenous, non-intersectional partners in the LGBQT community, or the BLM community, or the women’s reproductive rights community, and the rest of the deemed to be oppressed populations, then they don’t care? But if the victims are deemed to have suffered by colonialists, or to have been disenfranchised by white elite males, then the progressive left all over the world is mobilized to condemn.

I should point out that none of this intersectionality applies to the protestors in Jordan, Turky, or any Muslim country in the world as they don’t have an abortion problem, a gay rights problem, a freedom of religion problem, because they don’t tolerate any of these rights. They are protesting because they just hate Jews.

Antisemitism is back and its back big time. The genie is out of the bottle. No one needs to be ashamed anymore when they call for the massacre of Jews. The Jews, they argue, earned the right to be hated, oppressed, and annihilated.

Why?

Because antisemitism is a social virus that never goes away. Apparently, the inoculation and the antibodies generated to protect us from Nazism are no longer working. While waning in recent years it seems that after 78 years there is no immunity left in the world.

Sick or sane, and does it really matter, people all over the world want to kill Jews again, and I say it doesn’t matter if you are sick or sane because sick people could choose in their insanity any enemy to kill, but they choose the Jews. It is in their blood.

The disease is so potent that in the highly cultured and highly developed population of Germany, Hitler used this hate to galvanize a nation. Many a doctor, a judge, a lawyer, or a college professor went along with it.

We can no longer say “Never Again” we should say “It Could Happen Here”.

Everyone I speak to has a sick sensation that we are vulnerable.

When a leading member of the house MAGA group can talk about Jewish Space Lazers, or members of the Democratic Squad can blame Israel for even existing, how can we feel safe?

Maga started out as an extreme wing of the republican party and 8 years later they are the Republican party.

The future of our country will lie in great part, on where the educated of the next generation takes us. That generation is in college now. Where will they take us and our beloved Israel?

Israel must not only be strong it must be seen to be strong, otherwise no Jew, right or left wing or center, religious or secular, will be safe.

I had my six-month checkup today and my doctor was concerned that my blood pressure is creeping higher. How could it not and for what I currently have there is no medication. Pray for the state of Israel and help in any way you can from standing up to lies and misinformation to contributing to an Israeli charity.

Am Yisrael Chai.

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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 .