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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How I Became An Activist

I had gone to the White House for a meeting and on the way remarked to my boss that my father raised us to stay away from rallies. When I was young I wanted to protest for the Soviet Jews, to free them but he was afraid that the FBI would take my picture and I would be put into a database of enemies of the state.

He told me I had a right to be an activist.

Now you have to understand that my Zayde, a"h, was there when the Sharmash Massacre took place in 1944 in Hungary and the "paramilitary" looted, tortured and executed Jews. He did what he could, including serving on the committee to ensure those massacred received a decent burial.

My Zayde, an unassuming man, had been a military officer. During the war he protected the Jews as best he could, by hiding them in horse-manure-riddled hay to prevent them from freezing to death.

My Bubbie, a"h was in Auschwitz.

So we knew very well that the State could turn very ugly very fast and as a survival tool we learned, first of all not to talk about the Holocaust (or else we could not go on) and second not to make any trouble if we could avoid it.

I didn't say all of this to my boss, but some of it.

I didn't go in to the details about how, in my heart, I always wanted to be a social activist.

In my youth I read the Jewish Press and the columns there by Rabbi Meir Kahane, z"l, who was assassinated in 1990 by El Sayyid Nosair, may his name be erased from the history books. Despite the fact that he was guilty, Nosair was acquitted; he then went on to conspire with other terrorists. The result was the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

Clearly Rabbi Kahane was not a saint. My own view is that, like many geniuses, he was brilliant and a little crazy, which explains statements like "there's no coexisting with cancer," referring to Israel and the Arabs. And the Jewish Defense League, which started out with noble aims, eventually descended into violence and terrorism. In Israel, the Kach party he founded was eventually banned from parliamentary elections for being "racist and undemocratic."

But as the Palestinians themselves will tell you, "strangely enough, this racist right wing Jew conveys more respect to Palestinians and Arabs than his ‘humanist’ opponents who actually dismiss Arab and Palestinian nationalist aspirations."

Rabbi Kahane never pretended that Palestinians and Arabs should have equal rights in Israel. His approach to the issue of coexistence was simple, clear and based in Jewish law. It's articulated well in Wikipedia:
"Kahane proposed enforcing Jewish law, as codified by Maimonides, under which non-Jews wishing to dwell in Israel would have three options: remain as "resident strangers" with all rights but national ones, leave Israel and receive compensation for their property, or for those who refused either option, be forcibly removed without compensation."
Taking the halachic (Jewish legal) approach neatly addresses the Western secular democratic pretense, the hypocrisy, of arguing that non-Jews theoretically are equal citizens in the Jewish state when in fact the Israeli national interest lies fundamentally in keeping them out of power.

Yet for being an unabashed defender of the right of the Jewish people to exist, in safety -- everywhere and anywhere -- for being an unabashed defender of keeping the Jewish state Jewish, Kahane was branded a racist.

Eventually, he was assassinated by the very kind of terrorist he tried to warn us about.

For 90% of my life I avoided becoming a social activist, because I didn't want to "get in trouble," "cause trouble," "make trouble," or "become labeled as trouble."

But around 2009, two things happened that began to change me.

  • As a civil servant in the Obama administration, and particularly witnessing the events pertaining to the "Fast & Furious" scandal unfold, it became clear that something very wrong was happening and that the mainstream media and some in Congress were being enlisted in covering it up. It was the efforts of brave reporter Sharyl Attkisson and blogger David Codrea (blog now defunct) -- both of them harassed for their integrity -- that blew the scandal wide open. I read a lot, saw a lot, but kept my mouth shut for fear of losing my job.
  • Within the Jewish community, I became aware that sexual abuse of children by rabbis was not just an occasional problem but rather a rampant disease. Reading the book Sexual Abuse, Shonda and and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities, the blog Failed Messiah and watching the birth of Jewish Community Watch, I saw the same pattern of brave activists being shouted down and shut down by the mainstream community, and victims dismissed in favor of those in power.
In 2015 I attended my first public protest ever, to support Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu against all the critics of his speech to Congress against the Iran deal. As it later turned out, President Obama's speechwriter architected a fraudulent story about the plan that was used to sell it to the world.

The pattern keeps repeating itself. People who say uncomfortable things are shushed by the politically correct -- who refuse to even name the source of terrorism. Who, in the case of Jewish rabbinic sex abusers, refused to acknowledge the simple fact that it is the Orthodox themselves who facilitated serial pedophilia against their own community, by shoving the problem under the rug.

Social activism woke up the Jewish community, and it is still waking up.

And social activism woke up the American Nation, which also is still coming to consciousness.

Thank you to the boss who encouraged me to exercise my freedom of speech and assembly, and to become a social activist.

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All opinions my own.