In Antisemitism, we try to explore ideas including:

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  • why don’t people like the Jews
  • why do people hate Jewish people
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  • Antisemitism
  • Antisemitism definition
  • A history of antisemitism

American White Supremacism

An uncomfortable history lesson.

On July 4th, 1776 the famous American Declaration of Independence was signed. It states, amongst other things:

 “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.[1]

This paragraph is relatively brief, but it explains so much of the modern day ‘schizo’ character of the United States. Firstly, 41 of the 56 signatories to the Declaration of Independence owned slaves at the time of signing.[2]

Just think about that for a moment, that 41 people in high office could put their name to a document stating ‘all men are created equal’ whilst at the same time owning human beings as chattel and complaining about “merciless Indian savages” a little later on in the text.

But it’s really the second highlighted passage that I want to draw to your attention, because when the Founding Fathers said:

“[W]henever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it” – they were basically enshrining the ‘right’ of Americans to violently overthrow their government, if they felt it wasn’t delivering enough ‘life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’.

And that probably explains a lot about why the United States has a huge problem with White Supremacist movements who are looking for ways to overthrow the government: history is repeating itself.

American white supremacism

Like all good patriots, Americans like to believe the best about the country they call home.

That’s natural, it’s human nature. But, when you really lift the cover and take a peek at the violent history of what came to be known as the United States of America, it explains so much of why today, the country is standing on a very dangerous precipice.

The official history always painted the white settlers as the ‘good guys’ who were fending off attacks from bloodthirsty redskins. But there was another side of that story that got airbrushed out of history, namely how millions of indigenous people were murdered in cold blood to make it easier for the Europeans to take their land.

No-one was around to document the violence and murder at the beginning of this process, or to know the scale of what was really going on. But by the mid-1800s, there was enough information circulating for modern historians to have a much clearer view of what was occurring in what became the modern State of California.

Historian Benjamin Madley wrote a book in 2016 called “An American Genocide”.

The book sets out some highly disturbing facts about what occurred in the State of California then, that are rarely taught in American schools, including:

  • 120,000 California Indians met the deaths between 1846 and 1873;
  • A very large proportion of these Indians, including women and children, were brutally murdered by white settlers enticed to California by the goldrush.
  • The American press and most American politicians lauded these murderers (many of whom perpetrated their atrocities wearing the uniform of the American army.) Instead of deriding these wholesale massacres of whole communities as atrocities, they referred to them as ‘battles’, even when they were carried out by vigilantes, and even when the Indians being murdered had not acted with any prior aggression.
  • The US government tacitly and openly encouraged these murders. In 1851, the first California Governor Peter Burnett said in his Governor’s message:

“[A] war of extermination will continue to be waged between the races, until the Indian race becomes extinct.”

  • The State of California started paying high wages to people who would volunteer to participate in ‘anti-Indian’ militias, full expecting the Federal government to reimburse the cost. The US government paid vigilantes money for every Indian scalp, or severed head they presented them with. Many Indians were also deliberately poisoned by food laced with strychnine.
  • The Native people in California were denied the most basic rights by the courts. White people who killed them, enslaved them, stole from them, kidnapped them would not be arrested or imprisoned for their crimes against Indians, because the courts refused to accept any testimony from Indians.

By the end of the 19th century, the few Indians who had survived the massacres understood that moving to a reservation and giving up their rights to their own land was really the only workable option on the table, if they didn’t want to be totally and completed annihilated by the white settlers.

No-one knows how many Indians were killed between 1600 and 1900.

The matter is still being hotly debated. On the low end, historians say there were two million natives in what is now the USA before Europe conquered America, on the high end, that there were 18 million[3].

But what is not in dispute is that by 1900, only 250,000[4] native Americans remained in the whole of the USA, while the rest of the population in the 1890 Census had grown to 63 million.[5]

THE TAKE HOME FROM THIS SECTION:

White settlers from Europe brutally disposed of the native inhabitants of the continental USA, because they wanted exclusive ownership of their land.

American white supremacism

“MANIFEST DESTINY”

In 1845, just prior to the genocide of America’s West Coast natives, an American journalist named John O’Sullivan coined the phrase ‘Manifest Destiny’ to explain the widely-held belief that America and its white, Protestant population were the new ‘chosen people’, and that God had “destined” America to “expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent.”[6]

But only for whites.

Nearly all of America’s early economic success was built on the back of non-white slave labor. Some historians estimate that between 6-7 million black slaves were shipped to North America from Africa during the 18th century alone. To give some contrast, the official census figures for that same period of time (white only) show that the white population in the US grew from 250,000 in the year 1700, to 5.3 million people by the year 1800.[7] Most of these slaves were literally worked to death.

Officially, the US Congress outlawed the slave trade in 1808, but still permitted domestic trade in slaves, not least because the tobacco and then cotton-based economy of the Southern states was totally dependent on slave labor to continue to run.

This 5 minute video will tell you more about Manifest Destiny:

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How ‘Manifest Destiny contributed to the American Civil War

By 1840, the US population stood at around 17 million, and it was at this point that a decision was made at the political level to pursue ‘manifest destiny’ and expand West-ward. When gold was discovered in California in 1848, this accelerated the pace of settlement, and brought ever more rapacious, greedy and brutal prospectors out to the US looking for gold.

With the increase in the size of the continental US, and the murder of millions of Indians who previously had been used by the Spanish on the West Coast as slave laborers, the US ran into a problem:

There was no way these massive additional tracts of land could be farmed properly, without expanding the US slave trade.

The abolitionist movement had started to pick up steam in the Northern states, who were economically far less dependent on slave labor, but even there, it wasn’t only human rights considerations that were in play. This from history.com:

“While many abolitionists based their activism on the belief that slaveholding was a sin, others were more inclined to the non-religious “free-labor” argument, which held that slaveholding was regressive, inefficient and made little economic sense.”

For many abolitionists, it boiled down to an economic argument, rather than moral one. So on the one hand, there were a number of states who were reliant on slavery for their economic growth, and who wanted to continue and expand it, and on the other, there were a number of states who felt that slavery was economically inefficient, and also (incidentally….) not a very nice thing to do.

That set the stage for America’s civil war, which the Unionists managed to win not least because 186,000 former black slaves from the secessionist South joined the ranks of the Union army – accounting for 10% of its forces.[8]

Slavery was ‘officially’ abolished in the US in 1863, but the ‘white supremacist’ and ‘manifest destiny’ attitudes that underpinned slavery, genocide, and the ruthless economic exploitation of non-whites would continue to flourish in America in many other ways.

And now, we start to bring this story into the modern era.

TAKEAWAY FROM THIS SECTION:

The American economy was built off the back of slave labor. From the middle of the 19th century on, white Americans also came to see themselves as a new ‘chosen people’ who’d been chosen by God to conquer the whole of the continental USA – and beyond.

American white supremacism

SOCIAL DARWINISM AND WHITE SUPREMACISTS

Around the same time that Abraham Lincoln was formally abolishing slavery in the US, in the UK a rich industrialist with scientific ambitions was trying to put together a ‘theory’ to explain why only certain ‘races’ of men deserved the vote, and why it was OK that the rich people at the top of the pyramid continued to exploit and enslave the poorer people underneath them.

This theory came to be known colloquially as ‘survival of the fittest’, and despite the great paucity of any real ‘science’ to back it up, it was swiftly adopted by the great thinkers of the time, as an easy ‘get out’ clause for their consciences.

The pseudo-science behind the “survival of the fittest” arbitrarily divided humanity up into ‘races’, and suggested that the more aggressive and greedier peoples who were exploiting everyone else were ‘the fittest’ specimens that were being naturally selected. Of course, that fit the colonial mindset very nicely, and it made ‘racism’ a virtue.

From the close of the 19th century onwards, Western science strove mightily towards this ideal of creating and perfecting the ‘fittest’ race.

Darwin’s theory led to the creation of the pseudo-science of eugenics, and had white supremacists all over the world preening themselves about their ‘superlative’ gene pool, which they felt entitled them to much greater shares of the world’s wealth and resources than the ‘inferior’ races they were displacing, exploiting and killing.

In a nutshell, Darwin’s ‘theory of evolution’ and ‘natural selection’ bunkum told the European white people who were exploiting everyone else exactly what they wanted to hear: carry on doing what you’re doing, it’s the natural way for the ‘strong’ to oppress and kill the weak, and for the ‘fittest’ to grab the food out of the ‘unfittest’s’ mouth….

For a nation that already believed it was the new chosen people, and that it had a mandate, or ‘manifest destiny’ from God to rule the world, this was music to the ears.

TAKEAWAY FROM THIS SECTION:

‘Natural selection’ and the theory of evolution was invented to give wealthy, white Europeans with a pseudo-scientific excuse for why it was ok to go around killing and exploiting brown and black people, and stealing their land and natural resources.

American white supremacism

AMERICAN EUGENICS

So now we’ve set the scene a little bit more, let’s skip forward to 1916, where a blue-blooded American lawyer called Madison Grant had just published a book called:

THE PASSING OF THE GREAT RACE

Grant was part of an elite set that included the crème of American society, including many wealthy elites, intellectuals, academics, politicians and presidents. At the beginning of the 20th century, this group of well-connected people in America started to feel increasingly upset about the number of non-white ‘inferior’ races that were crowding America’s shores.

In 1916, when the book was published, America’s population stood at a touch under 102 million[9]. Already at this stage, Grant and his group in America started sounding alarms that the proud ‘Nordic Races’ who had founded America were committing what he termed ‘race suicide’ by letting in so many ‘inferior’ races – and Jews were top of the list.

Grant wrote:

“The man of the old stock is being driven off the streets of New York City by the swarms of Polish Jews.”

He continued:

These immigrants adopt the language of the native American, they wear his clothes, they steal his name, and they are beginning to take his women, but they seldom adopt his religion or understand his ideals and while he is being elbowed out of his own home the American looks calmly abroad and urges on others the suicidal ethics which are exterminating his own race.”

In another passage, he wrote:

The cross between a white man and an Indian is an Indian; the cross between a white man and a Negro is a Negro; the cross between a white man and a Hindu is a Hindu; and the cross between any of the three European races and a Jew is a Jew.

Grant was a big fan of eugenics and euthanasia.

In that same book, he wrote:

“Mistaken regard for what are believed to be divine laws and a sentimental belief in the sanctity of human life tend to prevent both the elimination of defective infants and the sterilization of such adults as are themselves of no value to the community. The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit, and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race.

(Today, when the State of New York has passed a law enabling parents to murder their newborns right up to the moment of actual birth, it’s becoming clearer and clearer how this awful lack of morality was inspired and encouraged by Darwinian pseudo-science and its associated ‘ethics’.)

Grant concluded:

We Americans must realize that the altruistic ideals which have controlled our social development during the past century and the maudlin sentimentalism that has made America “an asylum for the oppressed,” are sweeping the nation toward a racial abyss. If the Melting Pot is allowed to boil without control and we continue to follow our national motto and deliberately blind ourselves to all “distinctions of race, creed or color,” the type of native American of Colonial descent will become as extinct as the Athenian of the age of Pericles, and the Viking of the days of Rollo.

American white supremacism

Grant’s message fell on very receptive ears – both in the USA itself, which went on to pass laws severely curtailing immigration to the USA in the 1920s – and also in Germany, where one A. Hitler wrote to tell Grant how much he’d enjoyed his book.

Lothrop Stoddard was one of Grant’s acolytes, who was inspired to write his own book warning white Americans against the dangerous ‘colored tide’ about to flood in. In 1921, President Warren Harding (Republican) told a crowd of 10,000 people in Alabama:

“Whoever will take the time to read Mr Lothrop Stoddard’s book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy…must realise that our race problem here in the United States is only a phase of the race problem that the whole world confronts….if we mean the things we say about democracy as the ideal political state.” In that same speech, Harding stated: “Racial amalgamation there cannot be.”[10]

The next president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, (Republican) was even more unabashedly ‘pro’ white supremacy. Writing in Good Housekeeping in 1921, he said:

“America has…been an asylum for those who have been driven from their homes in foreign countries because of various forms of political and religious oppression….It is a duty our country owes itself to require of all those aliens who come here that they have a background not inconsistent with American institutions. Such a background might consist either of a racial background or a national experience. But in its lowest terms it must be characterized by a capacity for assimilation.”

Coolidge continued:

“[I]t would be suicidal for us to let down the bars for the inflowing of cheap manhood.”[11]

(In case you’re worrying that racism and white supremacy was only a Republican party problem, this is probably a good time to tell you that the Ku Klux Klan was started in Southern America by Democrats seeking to limit Republican political power in the South after the civil war, as so many blacks were voting for the party who’d emancipated them.)[12]

TAKEAWAY FROM THIS SECTION:

America at the turn of the 20th century introduced a number of very restrictive immigration laws, to make it as hard as possible for ‘inferior’ races to enter America and amalgamate with the ‘superior’ white stock. White superiority and a ‘race’ problem were freely and openly talked about by presidents, politicians, lawyers, judges and the cream of American society.

American white supremacism

AMERICAN NAZIS

As we mentioned, Hitler was highly impressed by all this incredibly racist, pseudo-scientific, eugenicist talk coming out of America, much of which went on to actually shape American immigration policy and suffrage.

In 2017, Yale Law Professor James Q. Whitman wrote a book called: Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law. In THIS article, Whitman explains his main thesis, and tells us something incredible about a meeting that was held in 1934 by the Reich’s top lawyers, to plan the Nuremburg Laws that would decide ‘who was a Jew’:

“Throughout the early 1930s, the years of the making of the Nuremberg Laws, Nazi policymakers looked to US law for inspiration. Hitler himself, in Mein Kampf (1925), described the US as ‘the one state’ that had made progress toward the creation of a healthy racist society, and after the Nazis seized power in 1933 they continued to cite and ponder US models regularly.”

Whitman continues:

“Throughout the meeting the most ardent supporters of the US model were the most radical Nazis in the room.”

All this should give massive pause for thought as to what the US really stood for then, and continues to stand for today.

But there’s more. Recently, new footage came to light that shows 20,000 American Nazis gathered together in Madison Square Garden in 1939, a few short months before World War II broke out.

You can watch it HERE – and I highly recommend that you do. And then take a breath, and remember that this took place not in Berlin, but in New York City, in 1939. Here’s some of what the leading American Nazi, Fritz Kuhn, had to say in his speech to the audience on that night:

“We, with American ideals, demand that our government shall be returned to the American people who founded it. If you ask me what we are fighting for under our charter, first: a socially-just, white, gentile-ruled United States. Gentile-controlled labor unions, free from Jewish, Moscow-directed domination.”

That night in Madison Square Garden, Kuhn appeared under a massive 8 metre tall picture of George Washington, who Kuhn liked to call: “America’s first fascist”.

American white supremacism

WHY DIDN’T AMERICA SIDE WITH NAZI GERMANY?

Given the institutionalized racism in America, given the prominent, reverent place accorded to ‘white supremacy’ and ‘manifest destiny’, it’s clear that it wasn’t an automatic choice for the USA to oppose the Germans. Close to 25% of the American population in the 1930s were either German immigrants themselves, or the first generation children of German immigrants to the US[13].

Even after World War II began, there were still Nazi ‘summer camps’ for children – organized along the same lines as the Hitler Youth – operating across many States in America.[14] These were only closed when America actually joined the war in December 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

In the run-up to World War II, there was a sizeable contingent of Americans who shared many of the same views and opinions as the Nazis in Germany.

These views were based on Darwin-inspired eugenics and other horrific theories of ‘race suicide’ (which today has morphed into the term ‘white genocide’, amongst modern white supremacists). These people wanted America to stay out of the war in Europe, and to let Hitler get on with the job of ‘cleansing’ the continent.

Photo by Harris & Ewing

One of the most vocal groups at this time was called the ‘America First Committee’, which had Charles Lindbergh, one of early America’s biggest celebrities, at its head. Lindbergh became famous in 1927 for making the first successful solo flight across the Atlantic, and he was adored by large swathes of the American public.

With his backing, America First quickly swelled to 800,000 members. In May 1940, a week after Nazi Germany had invaded Belgium, the Netherlands and France, an opinion poll was taken in America to see who was in favor of the US entering the war. The results:

“showed that Americans overwhelmingly opposed entering World War II.”[15]

According to Lindbergh and the millions of people in the US who shared his outlook and beliefs, the only people who wanted America to enter the War was the Jews. On September 11th, 1941, Lindbergh denounced American Jews as being ‘war agitators’ in a speech he gave at Des Moines Iowa.

Three months later, in December 1941, America entered World War II, and that’s when ‘America First’ was officially disbanded. But ingrained dislike of Jews, and the racist attitudes about saving the (white, Protestant) American people from ‘race suicide’ continued throughout the war – and beyond.

TAKEAWAY FROM THIS SECTION:

American laws and racist policies inspired the Nazis, when they formulated the Nuremberg Laws to dehumanize the Jewish population, before World War II. Much of the American population shared the Nazis views on race and white superiority, which may partially explain why it took America two years to enter the war on the side of the Allies.

American white supremacism

WHY DIDN’T AMERICA DO MORE TO SAVE EUROPE’S JEWS?

There is currently an exhibit being shown at the United States Holocaust Memoriam Museum called: Americans and the Holocaust which encapsulates the problem facing America today, because there is currently a tug-of-war between historians about whether Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an anti-semite who deliberately minimized the number of Jews reaching American shores, or whether he was just making the best of a difficult hand.

Critics point to how FDR’s administration turned boat-loads of German Jews – like the St Louis –  away from America’s shores, and stymied attempts to have 20,000 Jewish children shipped from Europe to the US.

It’s always easier to try and portray national dysfunction as the problem of the leader alone, but FDR was a politician before he was an anti-semite, and like all good politicians, he was giving his voters what they wanted. According to THIS article:

“A Gallup poll from January 1939 asked if Americans would support bringing even 10,000 German refugee children into the country, public opinion ran 2:1 against.”

The article continues:

“The wife of the US’ immigration commissioner (who also happened to be a cousin of President Roosevelt) testified that “20,000 charming children would all too soon grow into 20,000 ugly adults.””[16]

If you take FDR in context, if you take a clear look at how the US built itself up on the back of black slavery and Indian genocide, and how white supremacists with guns and pseudo-science about ‘racial purity’ were always a defining characteristic of the country, FDR’s behavior becomes far more understandable:

He was reflecting the will of the people he governed.

 

Was FDR, personally, an anti-semite?

Probably, yes. In 2018 new documents[17] were revealed to the public from the FDR Library which revealed Roosevelt’s plans to “spread thing all over the world” the remnants of Europe’s Jews. ‘Project M’ was begun in 1942, when there was no longer any doubt about the mass murder of Jews going on in Europe. At that time, FDR asked his closest advisors to put together options for where to dump all the Jews who might still manage to survive the war – because he certainly didn’t want them crowding into America.

Roosevelt turned to one Aleš Hrdlička, the curator of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and a rabid eugenicist and white supremacist in the best ‘pseudo-scientific’ Darwin style, to investigate the options.

In their correspondence, Roosevelt suggested:

“that while most South American countries would be glad to admit Jewish immigration, it was on the condition that the Jewish group were not localized in the cities, they want no ‘Jewish colonies,’ ‘Italian colonies,’ etc.”

When things didn’t progress with Hrdlička – who wanted the last say on the final contours of the project – Roosevelt next turned to Isaiah Bowman, then president of Johns Hopkins University. Bowman had fired a number of Jewish professors at Johns Hopkins, because:

“There are already too many Jews at Hopkins.”

On another occasion, Bowman opined that:

“Jews don’t come to Hopkins to make the world better or anything like that. They came for two things: to make money and to marry non-Jewish women.”

Bowman tried to ‘solve’ his own Jewish problem by placing quotas on Jewish students, particularly in the fields of maths and science. Roosevelt clearly felt he was just the man for the job, writing to him:

“Frankly, what I am rather looking for is the possibility of uninhabited or sparsely inhabited good agricultural lands to which Jewish colonies might be sent.” When he described the M Project to Winston Churchill, Roosevelt explained that it was looking at: “the problem of working out the best way to settle the Jewish question,” and that he believed the solution “essentially is to spread the Jews thin all over the world.”[18]

So FDR probably was an anti-semite and a white supremacist – but so were so many other ‘good Americans’ of that time.

For example, American Poet Ezra Pound was considered to be one of the most original writers and “master critics” of the 20th century in America:

the writer most responsible for making modernism in literature part of our lives.”[19]

That didn’t stop Pound from taking to the airwaves twice a week for Italian Fascist Radio, where he shared gems like these:

“That any Jew in the White House should send American kids to die for the private interests for the scum of the English earth… and the dregs of the Levantine [a term used to describe the Middle East].” – February, 26, 1942.

And this:

“Don’t start a pogrom – an old-style killing of small Jews. That system is no good whatever. Of course, if some man had a stroke of genius, and could start a pogrom up at the top, there might be something to say for it. But on the whole, legal measures are preferable.” – April 30th, 1942.

Which brings us to the core conclusions of this post.

There is so much more to say about ingrained American white supremacism, racism and anti-Semitism. There is so much more to say about a country which made its own ‘pursuit of happiness’ – and economic benefit – the main criteria for its actions both at home and abroad.

American white supremacism

But here are the takeaway points:

  • The United States of America was built on the creed of ‘white supremacy’ and ‘manifest destiny’. And it’s impossible to totally eradicate those ideas from the American psyche, especially as the brutal roots of modern America are still being largely whitewashed and romanticized.
  •  The United States has a very long history of preaching about human freedom, civil rights and equality – but its unpleasant actions have always belied it’s saintly-sounding rhetoric.
  • Hitler and the Nazis were inspired by America’s racial laws and ‘progress’ in the field of applying the Darwin-inspired, pseudo-scientific principles of eugenics in real time. Nazi lawyers studied American laws in great detail, to help them formulate the Nuremburg laws that would turn Jews into dehumanized second-class citizens.
  • FDR and ‘Middle America’ didn’t do more to stop the destruction of Europe’s Jews, and to let more Jews into America because they didn’t want to. Remember, barely two decades before President Calvin Coolidge wrote a piece where he stressed that America could only take in immigrants who were: “characterized by a capacity for assimilation.”
  • After the Nazis lost World War II, eugenics became discredited, and America (and the rest of the West…) rushed to ‘whitewash’ its historical attachment to ‘white supremacy’ and the American belief that God had given it permission to crush other ‘races’ to extinction. Post World War II, that sounded far too ‘Third Reich-y’, so American politicians like John Foster Dulles turned to the ‘Commie Threat’ to explain why America had to keep toppling democratically-elected governments all over the world that were trying to protest American control and exploitation of their natural resources.
  • ‘White supremacy’ in the United States is not an aberration, it’s woven into the very fabric of the country – and it’s not going away any time soon. All the people who are blaming Trump for ‘causing’ a surge in neo-nazi behavior, anti-Semitism and white supremacist activity in the US kind of have things backwards. Half the country (at least…) hold those beliefs, and they elected someone who they felt better represented them.

——————————————————

Do I think Trump is an anti-semite?

On balance, no I don’t. (But I could be wrong.) Trump is a business man who understands that America was ‘made great’ on the back of policies that put the white people in America first, at everyone else’s expense, and he’s trying to turn back the clock.

One thing I can tell you for sure: If it serves America’s economic interest to throw Israel under a bus, he will do it in a heartbeat – but it won’t be anything personal. Just money is the main motivation for people like Trump, and many others like him.

American white supremacism

What does all this mean for America’s Jews?

I’ll expand on that, God willing, in another post, but you can sum the situation up like this:

America is home to millions of ‘entitled’ white supremacists who generally dislike Jews, and who have free access to semi-automatic weapons.

And that’s not going to change anytime soon. The main reason anti-Semitism has stayed so minimal in the USA until recent times is because post World War II, the Nazis gave white supremacy a bad name. Also, the American economy was booming over the last 50 years, so fewer Americans felt aggrieved about ‘immigrants’ stealing their jobs and their wealth.

Things have changed now.

American debt is at catastrophic levels and even a good business man like Trump can’t really turn the tanker around and ‘make America great again’ because internationally, America is no longer in a position to impose its economic will on other countries via its army and covert ‘regime change’ (although it’s still trying…)

At most, Trump just bought America some time.

So now, this is the scenario unfolding in America:

On the one side, all the white supremacists with AR-15 semi-automatic rifles and a very long history of using guns and violence to try to solve their social and economic problems.

On the other side, a growing tide of ‘anti God’ and ‘anti-organized religion’ liberals who are trying to totally trash the family unit and any concept of traditional morality. There’s also a growing number of immigrants who want a piece of the American economic pie, some of whom are Muslim and some of whom (not necessarily the Muslims) are also anti-Semitic and / or anti-white.

And American Jews are in the middle of all this mess.

Historically, the trigger that causes the opposing forces in American society to clash violently is the economy. For as long as the money keeps flowing Stateside, they will be able to keep a lid on the white supremacists agitating that ‘immigrants’ have stolen their jobs. But if the economic situation starts to radically deteriorate – as it so easily could! – then it’s going to get very dangerous for Jews in America.

There are people on both sides of the divide that will try to use the Jews as the scapegoat for the problem.

The white supremacists will target the ‘liberal’ Jews in the US who they say control the media and the economy. And the ‘liberals’ and anti-semites in the other camp will target American support for Israel as being the main problem.

There’s more to say, there’s always more to say. But I wanted to set out something of a ‘potted history’ of white supremacy in the US so that more of the Jews living there understand what they are really dealing with, and that it’s not going away any time soon.

Poway and Pittsburgh could really only be the beginning of a culture clash that could leave American Jews reeling, whichever way it goes.

You don’t need an anti-Semitic president, or an anti-Semitic Congress or Senate, for violent anti-Semitism to become a huge problem in the US, lo alenu, God forbid. God doesn’t do the same thing twice, there will be no new ‘elected’ Hitler arriving on the scene.

There doesn’t need to be. There are already millions of white supremacists with guns in America.

And there is nothing anyone can do to disarm them, or make them go away.

American white supremacism

NOTES:

 

[1] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Declaration-of-Independence

[2] http://www.mrheintz.com/how-many-signers-of-the-declaration-of-independence-owned-slaves.html

[3] While it is difficult to determine exactly how many Natives lived in North America before Columbus,[6] estimates range from a low of 2.1 million[7] to 7 million[8] people to a high of 18 million.[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_history_of_indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas

[4] https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/7302

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1900_United_States_Census

[6] https://www.history.com/topics/westward-expansion/manifest-destiny

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_history_of_the_United_States

[8] https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/civil-war-facts

[9] https://fusiontables.google.com/DataSource?dsrcid=225439#rows:id=1

[10] https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1921/10/27/98760670.pdf

[11] http://hearth.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=hearth;rgn=full%20text;idno=6417403_1366_002;view=image;seq=15

[12] https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/grant-kkk/

 

[13] https://gizmodo.com/how-american-nazis-used-summer-camps-to-indoctrinate-th-1743267747

 

[14] Ibid.

[15] https://exhibitions.ushmm.org/americans-and-the-holocaust/main/us-fear-of-spies

[16] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/27/14412082/refugees-history-holocaust

 

[17] http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/_resources/images/psf/psfc0232.pdf

[18] https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/FDR-wanted-Jews-spread-thin-and-kept-out-of-US-documents-reveal-553336

 

[19] Page 31, ‘New York Jew’, by Alfred Kazin, published 1978

Forty years ago, on the eve of Pesach, 1979 (April 12th), a young Jewish man named Steven Finkelstein was found horrifically mutilated and dead, at the base of Haystack Rock, off the Oregon coast.

Haystack Rock measures around 300 foot tall, and is located a little out to sea off the coast at Cannon Beach. At high tide, it’s surrounded by water. On the evening of April 12th, 1979 when the police were called to the scene, they were told by a man named Mills – the only witness to what had occurred – that Steve Finkelstein had decided to climb up the rock, and had slipped and fallen to his death.

There were a few things that made this story unlikely:

  • That day, the weather had been awful – it was sleeting, hailing and the winds had reached 50 mph. Not the sort of weather you go climbing up rocks.
  • According to his father, Herschel (who you will hear more about in a moment) Steve was not a rock-climber. But if he’d chosen to climb a rock as dangerous as Haystack Rock, he certainly would have prepared himself better to do it, than by wearing his trademark slippery-soled cowboy boots.
  • Steve’s throat had been slit, and his body was so badly mangled that the acting coroner found it difficult to believe that even a fall off a rock in bad weather could account for the injuries, and suspected foul play.
  • Mills was an obvious anti-semite.
  • The year before, a notorious white supremacist located in Oregon called William Pierce had published a dystopian novel novel called The Turner Diaries, which advocated the mass ritual killing of Jews in America.

Strangely, the Oregon police force didn’t press for an autopsy, the case was never properly investigated, and they accepted Mills’ account of a ‘bad accident’ without any further investigation.

Steve’s father, Herschel, spent a lot of time and money investigating what had actually happened, and much of what he discovered he wrote up in a book he recently self-published, called The Adventures and Travels of a Poor Chemist. Today, Herschel lives in a nursing home in Jerusalem, and that’s where I went to visit him, to interview him about his book a couple of weeks before Pesach.

Herschel believes that neo-Nazis killed his son, and that this was covered up by the authorities at the time, not least because the two main suspects were soldiers in the US army.

(You can see an excellent article that covers a lot of the details of Steve Finkelstein’s death HERE.)

THE TURNER DIARIES

Three days ago, after the shooting at the Poway synagogue in Chabad, I finally sat down to start putting Herschel’s story together, and to do a little more research into one “William Pierce”, a former Physics Professor from Portland, Oregon, who had written something called “The Turner Diaries.”

The Turner Diaries were first released by Pierce in 1978 – the year before Steve died – writing under the pseudonym ‘Andrew MacDonald’. Here’s a very brief overview of the plot. (Go HERE to see a fuller version)

THE BASIC PLOT

In 2099, the diaries of one ‘Earl Turner’ are discovered, which describes how white supremacists in the US band together to overthrow the Federal government, and then undertake a ‘race war’ which spreads to the rest of the world. Here’s a chunk of what the Wiki entry says:

“The story starts soon after the federal government has confiscated all civilian firearms in the country under the fictional Cohen Act. Turner and his cohorts take their organization underground to engage in a guerrilla war against the System [the US Federal Government], depicted as dominated by Jewish control.[4] The “System” begins by implementing numerous repressive laws on various forms of hate, by making it a “hate crime” for white people to defend themselves from crime by non-whites even after all weapons are confiscated, and by pushing for new surveillance measures in order to monitor its citizens, such as a special passport required at all times and in all places to permanently monitor where individuals are. The “Organization” starts its campaigns by committing acts such as the bombing of FBI headquarters, then executing an ongoing, low-level campaign of terrorismassassination, and economic sabotage throughout the United States.”

Long story short, the fictional Turner and his neo-nazi, White supremacist buddies (many of whom formerly joined the US military in order to get properly trained up for the coming ‘Race War’), decide to start a violent uprising aimed at “fomenting racial conflict” in the US, which eventually leads to a full-scale civil war.

They do this by shooting up all different houses of worship, executing thousands of black people, making non-white people “Public Enemy Number 1”, and of course, by beating, lynching and shooting any Jews they can find. All these acts of violence are filmed “for propaganda purposes”.

The white supremacists then get their hands on nuclear weapons, and use them to nuke NYC and Tel Aviv. Then a bunch of other countries start to collapse, including France, Netherlands and the former USSR, as anti-semitism soars. The US becomes a military dictatorship ultimately run by White Supremacists, and 75% of the world – i.e. everyone brown, black or Jewish – is totally destroyed.

==

ANY CONNECTION WITH THE RECENT SHOOTINGS AGAINST THE JEWISH COMMUNITY?

So, as I’m reading this, I can’t help thinking about the recent shooting that happened in the Poway Chabad Synagogue in San Diego, and the shooting that happened at the ‘Tree of Life’ synagogue in Pittsburgh back in October 2018. And I started to wonder to myself: Did the shooters at those events have any knowledge of these ‘Turner Diaries’?

According to THIS article:

““The Turner Diaries” …. has been cited by numerous white supremacists since the late 1970s, including the Oklahoma City bomber. The mass shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, paid homage to the book by writing a reference to it on his gun.

“The Turner Diaries” — known as the “Bible of the extremist right” — depicts the birth of a new world order through the actions of a few paramilitary warriors who manage to overthrow powerful governments by motivating regular people to their own violence acts. That sentiment is littered throughout the Poway shooter’s letter, as he praises other men accused of murdering Jews and Muslims.”

FICTION OR REALITY?

Back in March 2019, a white supremacist opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, killing 50 worshippers and wounding hundreds more. Exactly as per the ‘instructions’ in The Turner Diaries, this act of violence was filmed “for propaganda purposes”.

The Poway shooter also wanted to film his shooting spree, too, but apparently couldn’t figure out the logistics in the heat of the moment. And Robert Bowers, the Tree of Life shooter, posted before the attack that he’d been inspired to kill Jews because Jews were “bringing in invaders that kill our people.”

Again, this plot line is straight out of The Turner Diaries. More digging turned up the disturbing nugget that researcher JM Berger estimates that at least 200 people have been murdered off the back of Turner Diary devotees, since it’s publication in 1978 – and that’s not even including unsolved murders like Steve Finkelstein.

IT’S EASY TO DISMISS THIS AS A PROBLEM OF THE LUNATIC FRINGE

But that would be a grave mistake. In February 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Centre published a report showing that the number of White Supremacist hate groups in the US had jumped from 100 in 2017 to 148 in 2018.

There are millions of people in the US who believe that ‘White Genocide’ –  a term white supremacists use to describe a conspiracy where white people are being ‘deliberately’ outnumbered and outbred by non-white people – is happening right in front of their eyes. They read projections from the Census Bureau in the US that ‘Caucasians will lose their majority by 2044’ – and we’re straight back to the plot in The Turner Diaries.

According to THIS article on the Missouri State website, there are an estimated 25,000 ‘hard core’ white supremacists in the US, with a further 200,000 people attending marches and rallies, or donating money to White Supremacist organisations.

Personally, I believe that figure is a gross understatement. According to the Factchecker website:

“In an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken just after the Charlottesville rally in August 2017, 9 percent of the respondents said they thought it was strongly or somewhat acceptableto hold neo–Nazi or white supremacist views. As ABC News reported at the time, that’s equivalent to about 22 million Americans.”

John Earnest, the shooter at Poway Chabad wouldn’t have shown up as an official ‘white supremacist’ before the attack. And Herschel Finkelstein’s story shows that the true level of white supremacist violence and attacks on minorities may well be under-investigated and under-reported in the US.

No-one really knows how many people are reading The Turner Diaries in the darkest corners of the net, and being ‘inspired’ to plan their own killing sprees against Jews and other communities, God forbid.

But just think about 22 million people holding ‘white supremacist’ views in a country where anyone can legally buy a semi-automatic rifle, and understand what that portends for the Jews in America.

The more I research this, the more I’m convinced that the Tree of Life and Poway are not just unfortunate ‘blips’ on the social radar of a country that’s known for its mass shootings. They are the sign of things to come, as more and more ‘white supremacists’ start trying to make the fictional plot of the Turner Diaries into an awful reality.

==

So many of the people on the left like to blame the rise in white supremacy on Trump.

They believe that if Trump was out of the way, this whole problem would die back down and disappear, but this view is based far more on wishful thinking, than a clear grasp of the facts.

Over the last 150 years, the US has excelled at believing its own propaganda about being the most benign and ‘good’ country in the whole world. But the more you research the history of the Modern USA, the more you find a country built on the assumption that ‘white christians’ are superior to everyone else, and that America can justifiably take any action against anyone who opposes them to maintain their status as the world’s economic superpower.

The ‘supremacy’ of white people (preferably christian…) is not just the belief system of a ‘fringe group’ of far-right radicals who only appeared on the scene after Trump became president. This is one of the main foundations that the USA was built on, and you can follow its thread throughout at least 200 years of American history.

That’s an unpleasant truth, it’s an unpalatable idea to many people, I know. Like all countries, America teaches the version of history that makes it look good, and that brushes all the ucky stuff under the carpet. Of course, America has also done a lot of good things in the world, and the picture is by no means starkly black or white.

(For some reason, the Life of Brian scene “What have the Romans ever done for us?” has just flashed before my eyes.)

But in the next post, I’m going to set out some of that darker side of American history – the stuff they don’t teach in the schools, and that is routinely down-played and whitewashed.

We’ll take a look at how the US passed laws to encourage the mass-murder of millions of native Indians; how no less a personage than Hitler, yimach shemam, was ‘inspired’ by the US’s restrictive and discriminatory racial laws in the 1920s; how 20,000 American Nazis crowded into Madison Square Garden on the eve of WWII, in February 1939; and how so much of the “American Dream” has been built against the backdrop of rapacious greed, exploitation and ‘justifiable’ murder and persecution of anyone who stood in the way of American economic interest and expansion.

The time when we could stick our head in the sand and pretend all this is someone else’s problem is long gone. American Jews are in the greatest danger they’ve ever been, and it’s time to take a long, hard look at what America really stands for, and why God is sending ever-clearer messages to the Jewish community there to clear out and come home.

BH I will try to pull much more of these facts together in the next post.

Off the back of the discussion that’s been taking place around the Deconstructing Geula post, I thought I’d write something deconstructing the whole idea of aliya.

This is such a fraught topic, and so many bad middot and other subconscious impulses come into play with this subject, which is why I’ve generally stayed away from it in my writing. But, after that atrocious book was published to great acclaim in the orthodox Jewish world, which was ‘anti aliya’, to the point of degrading it even as a God-given mitzvah, I think it’s time to look at this subject in some depth, and to deconstruct what’s going on with it.

The first, and really primary, place to start is this:

Does God want Jews to live in Eretz Yisrael, at this stage in time?

Because if the answer is ‘yes’, then there has to be an extremely good reason for not moving here, if you consider yourself to be a God-fearing Jew.

So, without any further ado, let’s dive in the deep end, and see if we can answer the two parts of the question:

  • Does God want Jews to live in Eretz Yisrael generally; and
  • Does God wants Jews to live in Eretz Yisrael now.

THE BIBLICAL MITZVAH TO DWELL IN THE LAND

The following comes from 110b in Ketubot (Artscroll Translation):

“A person can force all the members of his household to go up to Eretz Yisrael to live there, but he can force none of them to leave there.”

The footnote to this clear pronouncement says the following:

[According to Rashi] If a family is living in some country outside of Eretz Yisrael and the father or mother decides that the family should move to Eretz Yisrael, the entire household is coerced [by the Rabbinic Court] to accede to the wishes of the parent and to go and live in Eretz Yisrael….According to some Rishonim, there is a biblical mitzvah to settle Eretz Yisrael…..[o]ther Rishonim maintain that there is no positive commandment to settle Eretz Yisrael.

However, even those authorities agree that it is a worthy cause to live in Eretz Yisrael.

(Which is why they enacted the law that would enable someone to ‘force’ his family to move there, with him. Or her.)

By the way, the mitzvah of settling the land doesn’t depend on ‘the land’ being an easy place to live.

When Moshe’s 12 spies go to take a look at Israel, 10 of them can only see the negative points of the country.

It’s hard there, there’s giants. The land devours its inhabitants. The people are really rough and rude. It’s full of wife-beating Arabs and awful daycare centers. The bureaucracy’s a nightmare, it’s too hot, I can’t get a decent job and my wife will miss her parents too much….

What does Caleb, the spy who figured out that you make it in Israel by doing a lot of hitbodedut and praying at the tombs of holy people tell them, in reply?

We can do it, if God is with us, we’ll eat the Caananites for lunch! There’s no problem that God can’t solve! Israel is where we’re really going to discover if we have emuna, or not, where we’re really going to grow into believing that Ein Od Milvado, there is only Hashem!

Come on, guys, the last 40 years you’ve been giving all these Torah sermons about ‘what God requires from us’, and ‘living our emuna’, and having faith – now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is, and to really live it! So what, you’ll lose your social status?! So what, you don’t speak the language properly and no-one appreciates your PhD?! So what, you can’t even figure out how to ask for a stamp in the post office?! 

All that stuff is humbling, and we know a humble person is much closer to God. God can’t dwell with an arrogant person, we know that! This is your chance to really get humble, and then to get real and stop thinking you’re such a big tzaddik and success, and then to get closer to God. Whaddya say?

 

We know what the spies said: Thanks, but no thanks.

They had prestigious, well-paying positions outside of Israel. They had respect. They had ‘their’ seat in shul, they had their established set of friends, they knew where to get the best chicken. They had nothing against visiting Israel every year for Pesach – still cheaper and nicer than having to clean their own home and cook everything themselves – but that’s as far as it goes.

Was God happy about this?

Nope.

The spies got punished awfully for slandering the land, and putting their fellow Jews off from moving to Israel.

But, your kid is going to struggle in school! Your husband is going to miss out on his amazing Rav, his amazing chavruta! You have a nice bunch of friends here, in the desert! But, you don’t speak the language, you can’t get a good job there, you won’t be able to afford your own home if you move to Israel, the place is full of wife-beating, idol-worshipping Canaanites, the divorce rate there is 80%….

Everybody has the same fears, the same concerns. People can’t live on thin air, it’s true. But again, God often expects some mesirut nefesh, some self-sacrifice from people, in order to keep His mitzvahs.

If someone is interested in working on their soul dimension, then Israel will be appealing to them for a lot of reasons (and if they aren’t, it won’t be, also for a lot of reasons.)

Let’s explore that idea a bit more, tachlis.

ISRAEL IS THE LAND OF EMUNA

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches that Israel is the place where you’re going to learn some real emuna. How? Because you’ll be surrounded by miracles and challenges every second of the day.

In Chutz L’Aretz, a person can sin and sin and sin again, and because spiritual matters are more hidden there, they don’t feel the effect of their sins until the end of their lives – usually when it’s way too late to change course and fix things.

There in the hospital, with a tube up their nose and a drip in their arm, they finally start to realize how much of their life they wasted, chasing after stuff, and holidays, and traif food, and non-kosher experiences, and money, and status, and their own bad middot, because God was out of the picture.

God can hide much easier in chul. You don’t keep Shabbat, you don’t keep kosher, you don’t pay your 10% to charity, you don’t pay any attention to what God really wants from you – you’ll just keep swallowing your Prozac, drinking your G&T and going on holiday, or shopping, or working like a dog to drown out any inner discomfort you feel as a result.

And God lets you.

That’s why being in galut is such an ordeal, spiritually such a test. Because it really can seem as though you can game the system, and live a good life even if you’re a bitter atheist with terrible character traits.

But in Israel, it’s not like that.

It says that you walk dalet amot, four amot, in Israel, and that atones for your sins. Do you know why? Because every dalet amot here, you’ll be faced with another rude person, another problem, another challenge, another issue, that has been 100% tailored by God to bring your bad middot to the fore, and to show you what you still have left to work on.

Really? You’re not so bothered about gashmius? Let’s see how you’re going to cope when every brand of kosher-for-Pesach mayonnaise in the country has kitniot in it. Let’s see how much you start craving all the brands in TX Maxx, let’s see how you cope with just one toilet between seven people, and no cleaning help.

And there’s more tests, too. Like, trying to find a school for your kid; and trying to deal with the wounded ego of your spouse, who used to be a ‘bigshot’ in shul, or at work, but is now scrabbling to hold it together as a relative ‘nothing’ in Israel; or dealing with the tremendous loneliness and boredom of being an Anglo in Israel on Shabbos, which used to be filled up with six hour long Shabbos lunches, and ‘kiddush clubs’ at shul (that went on to 1pm…) and yet more shiurim on how to keep super-machmir standards of kashrut. Etc.

And we didn’t even get into the tests involved with having rockets fired at you on a regular basis, or people trying to stab you just for being a Jew, or getting shot or run over as you wait for a bus.

All these things, all these difficulties, build a person’s emuna like nothing else.

Because if you don’t turn to God to deal with the difficulties in finding work, or finding a place to live, or the million and one other things that force you to get real in Israel very quickly, you can quickly sink without a trace.

That’s why Israel is the land of emuna – dafka, because it shows a person what they need to work on, and how far away they are from really having emuna, and really serving Hashem properly, 24/7.

So when people point to the hardships of living in Israel as a reason to not make aliya, they are kind of missing the point – if they’re really interested in the more spiritual dimension of life.

Which honestly, a lot of people really just aren’t. Even in the ‘orthodox’ world.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the halachic arguments underpinning the ‘anti’ aliya argument.

=======

TORAH-BASED ARGUMENTS FOR NOT MAKING ALIYA

This approach was basically set out by the late Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, z’tl, in his book V’Yoel Moshe.

Rav Teitelbaum wrote his book after going through the holocaust. He saw half a million of his Hungarian compatriots sold out by the Zionist government in Israel, who were offered the chance to buy the freedom and lives of the Hungarian Jews by the cash-strapped Nazis – and who turned it down.

The whole sordid tale is told in Ben Hecht’s excellent book, Perfidy, but the Satmar Rebbe was one of the brands snatched from the conflagration in Hungary, and he had personal experience of this most ugly face of secular ‘zionism’. The awful actions of the secular politicians in Israel before, during and after WW II almost certainly influenced the opinions he put forth in his book.

Remember, the Israeli authorities in the 1950s were irradiating the kids of Moroccan immigrants in the tent camps, and cutting off people’s payot, and selling Yemenite children to the highest bidder. They were yucky, ugly people in every sense of the word.

Many of our other leading orthodox leaders, within Israel and without, also recognized who they were really dealing with, and that the secular leadership in Israel was spiritually corrupt, and corrupting to a very high degree.

The Satmar Rebbe took this idea to an extreme in his book, where he puts forward the idea that the anti-Torah Zionists in Israel caused the holocaust to happen, at least indirectly, by their actions, and by ‘forcing the time’ for returning to the land. (We’ll look at what this ‘forcing the time’ is referring to, in a moment.)

First, there’s a partial translation of some of the Satmar Rebbe’s words in V’Yoel Moshe, HERE, which the following ideas are taken from. The Satmar Rebbe avers that:

  • The anti-Torah Zionist groups in Israel caused the holocaust by ‘informing’ on the Jews in Europe to the non-Jewish authorities, and making trouble for the Jews there, in order to turn up the heat and get these Jews to move to the fledgling State of Israel.
  • That these anti-Torah Zionist groups “violated the oath of hastening the end by claiming sovereignty and freedom before the time.”
  • That the secular Zionist groups performed several “cruel actions” before, during and after the war which also lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of Jews.
  • Furthermore, among those who have moved to Eretz Yisrael in these times, most of the immigrants from Arab countries were living peacefully and tranquilly in their countries, lacking nothing, until the establishment of the heretical kingdom in Israel. Through the establishment of that State they began to suffer hatred and persecution in their countries, and the Zionists themselves aided this through their wiles, so as to increase the persecution until they would be forced to emigrate to Eretz Yisrael, destitute and with nothing, and they glorified their saviors, but the truth was the opposite – that [the Zionists] had brought about all of the destruction in the first place. (Va-Yo’el Moshe 123)”

=====

THE THREE OATHS ‘PREVENTING’ ALIYA

The idea of the three oaths that prevent Jews from returning to Israel before God actually wills it comes from the Gemara (Ketubot 111a), where it brings a discussion between R’ Zeira, who wanted to make aliya to Israel from Bablyonia, and Rav Yehuda who said:

Whoever ascends from Babylonia to Eretz Yisrael transgresses a positive commandment, as it says: “They will be brought to Babylonia and they will be there until the day that I attend to them – when I shall bring them up and return them to this place.

Rav Zeira said that this verse is referring to the sacred utensils that were used in the Temple service, but that people are permitted to make aliya, still. Rav Yehuda disagrees, and says that the verse I have adjured you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by gazelles or by hinds of the field etc means that the Jews are bound by an oath not to ascend to Eretz Yisrael until the Final Redemption.

Rav Zeira says that’s not what this verse means. Rather, he says it means that:

The Jewish people should not converge upon Eretz Yisrael in a wall of force, but that an individual is permitted to settle there, if he wants to.

Rav Yehuda again disagrees, so then R’ Zeira explains there are three oaths, as follows:

  • The Jewish people should not converge upon Israel as a wall of force;
  • Hashem adjured the Jewish people to not rebel against the nations of the world [to try and force their way back to living in Israel before the time God wanted that to happen]; and
  • Hashem also adjured the idolaters (i.e. the non-Jewish nations) not to subjugate and terrorise the Jews more than was required.

R’ Zeira explains that any case, an individual is never adjured to not make aliya to Eretz Yisrael.

This discussion in the Gemara is ‘sandwiched’ between the following statements:

BEFORE: Whoever dwells outside Eretz Yisrael, it’s as if he worships idols.

AFTER: The people dwelling within Eretz Yisrael are forgiven of sin.

This discussion is the halachic basis for the Satmar position, together with some other groups, for why it’s not a mitzvah to make aliya.

But you’ll notice, even in this discussion, it’s clear that the main ‘problem’ being discussed is for groups of Jews to ‘ascend’ all at once. There is no problem for individuals to make aliya, and as is clear from the surrounding text and discussion in the Gemara, the Sages considered it a very praiseworthy thing, to move to Israel.

ARE WE AT ‘THE END’ OR NOT?

The main argument revolves around a discussion of whether we are at the ‘the end’ of the galut, as determined by God, or not. If we’re at ‘the end’, then there is no problem at all with making Aliyah en masse.

If we aren’t at ‘the end’, then it’s good for individuals to make aliya, but still problematic for large groups to come on aliya.

Here’s a few suggested reasons for why the 3 oaths have been superseded:

  • The nations of the world actually gave permission for the State of Israel to be created, back in 1948.
  • The Gemara in Sanhedrin (98a) says that “when Eretz Yisrael gives forth fruit abundantly, it is a sure sign that the redemption is coming”. This was already happening in the early 1900s, in the time of Rav Avraham Kook.
  • Only very large groups coming in a short period of time violate the ‘oath’, it doesn’t apply to a slow trickle of Jews moving here.
  • The Ari’s student, R’ Chaim Vital, said that the oath only applied for 1,000 years.
  • The Vilna Gaon states that the oath applied to rebuilding the Temple, not to resettling the land.

And then, there’s all the evidence we see with our own eyes today, and things that we feel with our own hearts, that tells us whether we are at ‘the end’ or not.

DON’T CONFUSE ‘THE STATE OF ISRAEL’ WITH ERETZ YISRAEL

Another important point to make here is that the State of Israel should not confused, or conflated, with Eretz Yisrael.

When we talk about moving to Israel, we’re not talking about the State. We’re talking about moving to the land that God gave to the Jews more than 3,000 years ago.

Sooner or later, the secular ‘State’ will fall away – as Rav Kook describes it, as the ‘peel’ around the fruit’.

SUMMING UP WHAT’S GOING ON WITH ALIYA, AND RELIGIOUS JEWS IN CHUL

This is a long post, I know (but still probably not doing real justice to the subject….) But let’s try to sum it up, and bring all this information together into something practical and easy-to-digest.

  • If you are a God-fearing Jew, and keeping mitzvahs is important to you, then moving to Israel is a big mitzvah for an individual.

Not one of the Rishonim or Achronim commentators disagrees with this statement.

  • If you want to come to Israel as part of a very large group of people moving here ‘all at once’, there is a Torah view that this is prohibited, as long as we haven’t yet reached ‘The End’.
  • If we’ve reached ‘The End’, the three oaths don’t apply anymore anyway.
  • There’s lots of things that suggest we are now in the stage of ‘the end of days’ – not least, all the pronouncements by the nations’ leading rabbis that we’ve reached ‘the End’.

That’s a basic sum-up of the halachah.

Now, I just want to spend a little bit of time, finally, to explore why more orthodox Jews aren’t moving to Israel.

GETTING REAL

There are three main reasons why more orthodox Jews aren’t coming to Israel:

  • They are scared to come out of the comfort zone.
  • They really do want to come, but God isn’t let them.
  • They actually don’t care so much about keeping mitzvahs, getting closer to God, or working on their emuna.

I won’t belabor this segment, as this is where things can get very sticky. Each person knows what’s really in their heart.

There are people who really do want to come, but are stuck outside for a whole bunch of reasons that really are out of their control. For these people, they are learning emuna and humility by being kept away from Israel.

Then, there are others who really don’t want to come at all, and are just looking for excuses to justify their own spiritual shortcomings – at Israel’s expense.

Then, there’s the third group, who would like to come in theory, and know that it’s good to be here, but are too scared that they won’t have the lifestyle, the money, the connections, the big house, or the career they currently have now, if they leave.

But if we truly have reached ‘The End’, then God will find a way to coax everyone who really can, to make aliya, and He will open the gates to the Holy land, one way or another.

I have to tell you, when Ori Ansbacher was brutally murdered in the Jerusalem Forest two weeks ago, I found it so upsetting, I kind of blocked it out.

Me and my girls went into shock for a few days, then we all tried to pretend that it was life as usual, because when you live in Jerusalem, and you are a teenage girl yourself, or the mother of one, really what else can you do?

But the fear and anxiety about what had happened still started to seep out, in all sorts of subtle ways.

All of a sudden, I couldn’t sleep easily again if my girls were out by themselves, and I started phoning them up and texting them every five minutes to check on them, which they both really hate.

And who can blame them?! They are 18 and 15 ½! But I’d gotten so nervous again, after what had happened with Ori.

After a couple of weeks of this, I realized I was driving my kids bonkers again, and I have to try and get a grip on the fear again.

God is running the world. God is deciding everything. OK, there is a certain amount of common sense that’s required when raising teens in our world, but ultimately, so many ‘bad’ things can happen in such normal circumstances in the middle of the day.

If God decides, you can be waiting for a bus near Beit El…or strolling on the boardwalk by the sea in Yaffo…or walking in the forest late afternoon near Ein Yael… and disaster can strike. God forbid a million times over.

As a parent, it’s so tempting to just try and bundle our children up in cotton wool, and to build big walls around them, and to try to monitor their every move and to keep them ‘safe’ in their rooms at home.

But we can’t.

Not if we want to raise emotionally-healthy people who aren’t going to spend their whole lives permanently looking over their shoulders, waiting for the hammer to fall.

God is running the world, not us.

It’s not always easy to accept that.

Yesterday, they held a huge concert just up the road from me at the First Station in Jerusalem, to remember Ori Ansbacher. There were a load of famous singers there, Ori’s mother spoke to the crowd, and there were also a lot of videos and ‘remembrances’ of Ori herself.

Half the teens of Eretz Yisrael tried to attend, so the roads around the First Station were closed to traffic, and swamped with thousands of people, many of whom couldn’t even squeeze in, so they watched the show on the big screens set up outside.

This morning, my kid told me all about it, and concluded:

She was a really good, kind person.

In so many ways, it would be easier if she wasn’t, wouldn’t it?

It would feel a bit more comfortable, if the murder victim had been some sort of low-life, so we could assuage our own fears by telling ourselves what happened was somehow ‘deserved’.

Instead, yet again, we buried the cream of the crop. The best of the best. The kindest of the kind.

God knows what He’s doing, God’s running the world, it’s all ultimately for the best.

But the heart still breaks.

And I’m still having trouble sleeping.

I was pondering something the other day: I can understand how Rav Berland is the last test before Moshiach comes for the Jews who have actually heard of him, but outside of Israel, and outside of the religious Jewish community, there aren’t a lot of Jews that you could say that about.

So what’s going to be their main test of emuna, before Moshiach comes?

As I was pondering this, I started to think about how these days, there’s barely a family who doesn’t have their own ‘frummer’ to contend with.

How an otherwise secular or irreligious person deals with their frum family members speaks volumes about that person’s value system and character. For example, if someone likes to refer to their observant relatives (and other observant people…) as ‘parasites’ and ‘scroungers’ that tells us that compassion, respect for a fellow human being and broad-minded acceptance and tolerance of differences are all sorely lacking in that particular individual.

Anyone who can dismiss a whole swathe of Jewish society as ‘parasites’ and ‘scroungers’ is simply mentally ill, and there’s no other way of putting it.

Then, there’s the people who aren’t that obvious about their dislike of observant Jews and Judaism. These individuals usually try to couch their criticism of their frum relatives in softer language. They’ll make comments about them looking like ‘penguins’, or mock them for not being able to wear anything except a white shirt.

They’ll also make a lot of side-ways comments about ‘unnecessary rules’, feeling sorry for the children who have to grow up in such ‘bigoted’ households, mutter about ‘narrow-minded religious people’ –  but then they’ll hurry to reassure you that of course, they don’t mean you! You’re not like all those other narrow-minded religious hypocrites who like to think they’re better than everyone else just because they keep the Torah’s commandments! No siree!

While it’s a more sneaky approach, it’s also still mentally ill, unaccepting, critical and fundamentally dishonest.

In the first case, at least you know you’re dealing with someone who hates you, and what you stand for. In the second, you have the uncomfortable feeling that something isn’t quite right here, but it’s much harder to pin it down.

And then we have the emotionally-healthy way of accepting a frum (or different…) relative: Easy-going acceptance. Love. Sincere interest in why they like their lifestyle, and what they believe it’s giving them. Respect for the other person’s ideas and opinions. Honest discussion, without barbed comments, criticism and insults.

In my life, I’ve experienced all three of these modes, and I can tell you that emotionally healthy people have a fundamental respect for a fellow human being that doesn’t depend on how that person looks, or how much money they make, or how many family events they show up to.

Of course, the opposite is also true: it also happens in the frum community that people don’t respect others just because their skirt is too short, or they don’t have a kippa on their heads, or they aren’t related to the right people.

We often don’t like to admit it, but this is also mentally ill behaviour.

So what does all this have to do with the last tests of emuna before Moshiach comes?

Great question!

I think it boils down to this: God is checking us out on the small stuff right now, the stuff that many of us don’t pay anywhere near enough attention to. He’s looking to see:

  • Do we respect our fellow Jew, our ‘different from us’ relatives, or not?
  • Do we mock them, and their hopes and dreams?
  • Do we speak badly about them, and also crucially, to them?
  • Do we try to build them up, or try to tear them down?
  • Can we see the other person? Can we hear them? Can we get where they’re really coming from, even when it’s a very different place from where we’re coming from?
  • Can we accept that we’re sometimes wrong about things? That we don’t have all the answers? That maybe, we need to apologise? That God is running the world, not us?

These are all the small, but really big, tests of emuna that every single one of us is going to have pass at this period of time.

In the orthodox Israeli world, many of these tests will focus on Rav Berland, because a person can’t get to the stage of speaking badly of him in a public forum if they aren’t already failing all these other ‘smaller’ tests, repeatedly, in their own private lives.

But outside of Israel, and outside of orthodox circles, it seems to me that the tests of emuna that decides who’s ‘in’ and who isn’t are going to be exclusively closer to home – and they are not going to be at all easy to pass.

Last week, I paid a visit to the city of M. (where I used to live, more than 10 years’ ago) to visit a family member who was staying with someone there. Unbeknownst to me, I mistakenly got the wrong building (many streets in M. have exactly the same buildings, repeated many times on the same street), and I walked up the steps of number 18, instead of number 14.

The hall lights were out, so I couldn’t really see properly as I’d just come in from the broad daylight outside, and was still wearing my sunglasses. I went over to apartment number 1, pressed on the bell, and was in the middle of switching over to my regular glasses when the door opened.

I couldn’t see properly, as I didn’t have my glasses on, but the very blurry woman who opened the door didn’t look like my family member, or anyone he was related to, but I thought maybe she was a friend who’d dropped by, and was opening the door on their behalf. In my still pretty bad Hebrew, I asked her:

“Is this the Plonis?”

Which is when this very secular, very angry woman let me have with both barrels of abuse.

How dare I buzz her door! (It was 6.30pm, not the middle of the night…) How dare I, when she had young children!

Dear reader, I lived in M. for long enough to know that there is an unfortunate breed of Jew there that absolutely HATES religious people. This doesn’t describe everyone there, by any means, but there is a small and very vocal secular minority that takes every opportunity to celebrate their Jew-hatred in any way possible – and apparently, I’d just knocked on the door of one of their cheerleaders.

I got in a nanosecond that this woman’s problem wasn’t that I’d knocked on the wrong door – mistakes like that do happen after all, even to rabidly secular people – the problem was that I was wearing a headscarf, which made me undeniably religious, and hence, Public Enemy Number 1.

The hatred coming off this woman was visceral – I literally felt like she’d punched me in the stomach.

In the meantime, I’d got so upset by her horrendous verbal abuse that I half wanted to punch her in the face…But instead, I simply turned on my heel, and fled outside.

What a psycho! What an anti-semitic nut-job!

I stood outside on the curb trying to calm down from my verbal GBH experience, and trying to work out what had happened to my relative. A quick call showed me that I’d simply gone to the wrong number – and that they were at number 14, flat 1.

But I was so unnerved by my encounter with the rabid hatred of this secular woman, I was still quite shaky, even when I was driving home two hours’ later. And then I really got to thinking:

Why is it, in our politically-correct, ‘equality’ obsessed world that so many secular Jews are willing to honour and respect murderous Arab terrorists; and, they’re willing to honour and respect missionizing Xtians (and even, to sell them Jewish holy sites like the tomb of King David); and they’re willing to respect Italian Catholics, and Greek Orthodox, and Arab Druse, and of course, Scientologists, Moonies, Reform and the Women-of-the-Wall – but they still permit themselves to openly hate and abuse orthodox Jews?

The last 2 weeks, there’s been a cabal of older secular woman sitting on the bench outside my home, loudly saying the most disgusting things about their more religious neighbours. These women have a problem with the amount of rubbish being dropped in the neighborhood – and honestly, there is a lot of rubbish.

Many families send their small kids to dispose of the trash, and they simply can’t throw the bags into the high, communal dumpsters, so they tend to just leave them places, and it is unsightly. By my o my, the amount of unvarnished hatred and plain old anti-semitism this rubbish is unleashing from these older secular matrons has been extremely shocking to me.

They sit there describing their fellow Jews in terms that would make any died-in-the-wool member of the Third Reich proud. Two things seem to upset them the most: that frum families have so many children (because frum children are like, vermin, or something) and that frum families are frum.

The ringleader of this cabal went beserk two weeks’ ago, and started smashing glasses all around her flat – while cursing everyone in the loudest, most coarse terms – in order to prevent small, frum children from playing anywhere near where she lives and dropping trash!!!. This same women complains incessantly at everyone, regularly abuses people in the worst ways, rules her own family with terror tactics, rage fits and hyper-critical abuse – and thinks she’s somehow superior to all the frum families living around her, because she does sponga three times a day and puts her trash in the bin.

If you’ve been reading even a little bit of the stuff I’ve been posting up here, and on my spiritual self-help website, you’ll know that she’s a classic example of someone who is literally mentally-ill, and has some very serious and disturbing emotional issues.

Which I guess is bringing me to the crux of this post, which is that I think that instead of just making more excuses for these anti-semitic, hate-filled, mentally-ill, Jewish psychos that we unfortunately all know, we have to start calling a spade a spade, and to start calling them out on their horrible racism.

Whenever anyone hates another Jew just because they look different to them, that’s a sign that something has gone seriously wrong with the empathy, compassion and a bunch of other things you need to just be a healthy functioning human being.

Regardless of whether someone is externally religious, or externally secular, whenever someone is relating to their fellow Jew like a piece of garbage, and emotionally or physically abusing them, that’s a sign they are seriously mentally ill. Full stop.

And when more of the ‘sane’ people on both sides of the religious / secular divide starts to truly get that, then all the false divisions perpetuated by the psychos will dissolve, and we’ll go back to being One People, with One Heart.

Ken yiyeh ratzon.

The place where I live in Jerusalem is a very unique mix of extremes.

There are extreme chareidim here – mostly Breslevers with long payot and big families. Then, there are extremely secular people here – with long hair and big tattoo collections. Then, there’s a third group made up of Mizrachi types that have lived here 50 years’ and are generally just plain bonkers.

We don’t fit into any of these groups, so we kind of watch the communal politics going on from the sidelines.

The latest battle lines were drawn over the garbage that keeps getting dropped by small kids.

Kids drop wrappers on the floor, that’s just what they do. But because some of the families here also send very, very small kids to take out the household garbage, and because they are too small to throw it into the communal dumpster, sometimes there is a lot of rubbish flying around.

The tension has been simmering under the surface for months, but the last few weeks it seems to have burst into the open. One of the more secular neighbours who’s lived here 50 years (as she keeps telling everyone loudly on the street…) suddenly went beserk and started smashing glasses all around her apartment to ‘stop kids from playing there and dropping rubbish.’

Sure, she tidied it up again half an hour later, but the message had been sent that hostilities were ratcheting up a notch.

It’s a strange thing that there are people who get very upset about environmental pollution and rubbish being dropped, but who apparently couldn’t care less about spiritual pollution.

So it is that for the last few days, there’s been an unholy gathering of self-appointed, demented ‘garbage watchmen’ getting together on the bench just next to my bedroom window.

The conversation is pretty standard: One complains about the ‘disgusting’ datiim in the neighborhood, and how much mess they make and how little responsibility they take. Then another starts yelling:

‘They have eight children!!!!! Eight children in one room!!!’

And then they start discussing their latest strategies to get all these ‘disgusting charedi people’ to clean up their act.

The first few times it happened, I yelled ‘Sinat Chinam!!’ as loudly as I could out my bedroom window, but I’m a softly-spoken Brit so no-one heard. When I tried to yell again, my husband came and gently escorted me to a different room.

“It’s not going to help,” he told me. “You can’t fight fire with fire.”

Hmmm.

Over the last two days, the chareidi women in the neighborhood have started to fight back.

I caught them having a pow-wow in my stairwell, discussing all the crazy secular people who keep coming up to them while they’re sitting on a bench, who start yelling at them for having so many children and making so much mess.

I have no idea what happens next, but what I can tell you is that I have days when my life feels like a bad episode of the Muppet Show. You remember those two cranky old men in the boxseat? That’s what’s going on by my bedroom window.

Eight children!!!! Who can put eight children in one room?!?!?”

When it started up again this morning, I seriously debated going down with my video camera to film them. ‘You have a very important message for Am Yisrael!’ I wanted to tell them.

‘Let’s record it, upload it to YouTube, and then you don’t have to keep repeating it (loudly….) every single morning.’

Sigh.

Is it just me, or are people getting more and more crazy and intolerant?

I mean, WHO smashes glasses around their house on purpose just to keep small kids away? Who cares more about dirty sweet wrappers than filthy speech? Sometimes I look around, and I think ‘How is Moshiach meant to come when things are still like this?

My husband tells me it’s always been this bad, and that God is going to redeem us because He loves us, and not because we deserve it. Maybe he’s right.

But I can tell you is that if the Muppet Show doesn’t give it a rest soon, I might just have a Miss Piggy moment myself, and start karate chopping the more annoying characters.

Hiiiiiiiiya!