19 July 2019 / 16 Tammuz 5779
In the 21st century, armed guards have become commonplace in front of synagogues and Jewish communal organizations have instituted tight security measures. In some parts of the world Jews cover their heads with baseball caps rather than skullcaps to try to avoid revealing their religion.
In her new landmark book, Antisemitism Here and Now, Deborah Lipstadt, Professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies, explores the many faces behind anti-Semitic attacks, including the left, right, neo-fascist, radical Muslim, thrill offender, and white supremacists. Lipstadt awakens readers to the variety of disguises anti-Semitism adopts.
She cites a 2013 study by the University of Berlin, where the university examined the hate letters, e-mails and faxes that the Israeli embassy in Berlin and the Central Council of Jews in Germany received during the previous decade. She found that sixty percent of the diatribes came from educated, middle-class Germans, including attorneys, scholars, doctors, priests, professors, and university and secondary school students. No matter which side of the political fence they hailed from, their communication invoked classic anti-Semitic stereotypes. Anti-Semitism continues to be the world oldest and most enigmatic hatred and today social media gives these views wings.
The Jewish people have suffered anti-Semitism by Pharaoh, from when they became a people back in ancient times in Egypt. Then Amalek brazenly attacked Israel after the miracle of the Red Sea.
In this week’s Parsha, Balak, King Balak and the evil Prophet Bil’am are two further examples of classic anti Semites. King Balak did not want the Jews to enter the Promised Land. This was not enough for Bil’am, who wanted the Jewish People completely annihilated. The Torah reading concludes that neither of their evil plans succeeded. We entered the Promised Land and Bilam was forced to bless the Jewish people.
Hatred toward Israel is nothing new. Yesterday it was Pharaoh, Amlalek and Bilam. Today it comes in a variety of different forms. Then we saw the overpowering strength of G-d’s blessing on Israel. Although Balaam intended to pronounce a curse over Israel, he found he could only issue a blessing, saying, “How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?” We the Jews are an eternal people. Despite the evil intentions of those who continue to seek our downfall, Hashem will thwart their evil plans.
Rabbi and Sheyna Riesenberg