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Facing anti-Semitism in Kansas

When a known white supremacist targeted the Jewish Community Center and a Jewish retirement home in Kansas on the eve of Passover, yelling “Heil Hitler” after shooting three people, American Jews felt violated and shocked.

This Jew hater has a long history of virulent anti-Semitism and no one can say for sure what triggered these specific murderous attacks, but clearly such an incident is hardly surprising given the current atmosphere in which the world’s only Jewish state is repeatedly, unjustifiably and irrationally singled out for boycotts, sanctions, condemnations and de-legitimization campaigns by the BDS Movement and its vocal and hypocritical supporters in the media, academia, Europe, as well as the American Left.

This is not a freedom of speech issue or human rights issue, but a modern version of age old anti-Semitism. In Nazi Germany, boycotts of Jewish businesses and anti- Jewish libelous hate speech preceded the killings of six million Jews in Europe. This tragedy is perhaps an isolated event in Kansas, but sadly this incident is the continuation of the re-awakening of the campaign against all Jews all over the world. If it is not stopped now, this daily anti-Israel defamatory rhetoric has the potential to incite violence against Jews everywhere.

The BDS Movement, which stands for anti-Israel Boycotts, De-legitimization and Sanctions, is in fact an anti-Semitic movement aimed at dehumanizing Jews as well as denigrating and demonizing Israel.

As Alan Dershowitz, an outspoken liberal who supports the two-state solution, wrote in his article “Ten reasons why the BDS Movement Is Immoral”: “The BDS movement is immoral because it promotes false views regarding the nation state of the Jewish people, exaggerates its flaws and thereby promotes a new variation on the world‘s oldest prejudice namely anti-Semitism. It is not surprising therefore that the BDS movement is featured on neo-Nazi, Holocaust denial and other overtly anti-Semitic websites and is promoted by some of the world’s most notorious haters such as David Duke.”

Roger Cohen, another liberal columnist supporting the end of Israeli “occupation,” wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Times, titled “The BDS. Threat”: “Mellifluous talk of democracy and rights and justice masks the BDS objective that is nothing other than the end of the Jewish state… The movement’s anti-Zionism can easily be a cover for anti-Semitism.”

In addition to the BDS and its supporters, the blame for the rising anti-Semitism mostly in Europe lies with the European Union, which finances many of these haters and repeatedly imposes the entire blame for lack of peace on the Jewish state and the settlements while ignoring the Palestinians’ rejection of repeated Israeli offers to end its “occupation.”

What is worse is that President Obama and US Secretary of State Kerry have jumped on the European bandwagon of anti-Israeli bashing and threats, instead of leading the Western world in rejecting these groups and campaigns as immoral and revolting. On March 2, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg.com, President Obama issued what look like a veiled threat to Israel that it could face a bleak future of international isolation if there is no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction. While threatening Netanyahu, he applauded Abbas as the most politically moderate Palestinian leader ever.

In February, in a speech in Munich, John Kerry for the second time shamefully tried to incite fear among Israelis of potential boycotts and de-legitimization campaigns if the ongoing “peace” talks fail with the Palestinians. Just this month, during a congressional hearing, Kerry put most of the blame for the recent breakdown in the Israeli-Palestinians negotiations on Israeli construction in its capital of Jerusalem and for not releasing additional imprisoned murderous terrorists while ignoring Palestinians incitements to hatred and refusal to continue the ongoing negotiations.

Hopeless and helpless

Fortunately, few of us have had to directly face rabid anti-Semitism or know what irrational hatred looks or feels like. A known KKK leader came to the JCC looking for Jews to kill. He shot a 14-year-old boy in the head and his physician grandfather who brought his grandson to audition for a music competition and a woman who came to visit her mother in an elderly home.

As a resident of Kansas, I can attest that this attack robbed the community of its collective innocence and the delusion that the world, especially in quiet and peaceful Middle America, is devoid of hate and bigotry. It reminds all of us that Jews are never truly safe anywhere. We wonder if we are all alone and if we could rely on anyone to protect us except ourselves.

The Jewish Community Center in Kansas is a home away from home for most Jewish kids and adults in the Kansas City area. The JCC in Kansas houses a Jewish day school and a daycare and a gym. Hundreds of kids aged one to 18 years old run around in its hallways. When this Jew hater invaded the JCC and randomly started shooting anybody because he thought they were Jews, he violated our home and scarred our kids.

How do you explain to your kids why a stranger wants to kill Jews? We felt hopeless and helpless, wondering what the future holds for many Jewish generations to come. It caused us to be pessimistic while living in the land of promise and hope.

Hopefully, the silent majority, of Jews and non-Jews alike, who believe in fairness, morality, and truth will reject the boycotters and threats of boycotts and be outspoken, vocal and intolerant of their actions, lies and libelous hate speech every time, everywhere.