May 27, 2024
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What Happened to Our Jewish Leadership and Organizations?

The August 12 issue of The Jewish Link has a number of pieces related to a variety of antisemitic and anti-Israel issues at home and abroad. Although the specific issues vary, there is a common thread that can be applied to all of them, which Howard Cohn so succinctly asks in his letter in the same issue: “Where were other Jews? Jewish Federation? ADL?”

I, along with Cohn and others, have repeatedly voiced my dismay at our leadership’s falling prey to the lure of intersectionality and support for other “oppressed” people and minorities—including even some of our sworn enemies—at the expense of support for our own tiny minority of Jews in the world, and the only Jewish State in 2,000 years. Tiny Israel has been attacked, defamed, demeaned and discriminated against by much of the greater world’s population, countries and organizations.

Our local and national organizations are quick to offer public expressions of outrage, shock horror, or protest whenever calamitous or particularly atrocious antisemitic or anti-Israel actions occur. However, wars are not won by submitting carefully worded press releases from behind desks. They are won by the troops fighting in the muddy trenches. And make no mistake, Jews and Israel are in a battle today against an existential threat to their existence.

Just in our small community of Highland Park, Edison and East Brunswick, we in the last few years have had bruising fights against antisemitic faculty and administration of Rutgers University, a pro-Palestinian program in our Highland Park library, and getting a BDS resolution passed by our Highland Park Borough Council. These tough battles were waged mostly by a small number of local activists. In spite of their importance, there was disappointingly little help from much of our local Jewish community individuals, shuls or Federations, or by national organizations. By contrast, outside groups were present and provided much greater support for our adversaries.

The overall result was that we were able to stem the tide of a massive outside invasion of our community by antisemitic, anti-Israel groups, but many of the underlying issues still remain. These struggles were documented in a number of letters and articles in The Jewish Link (December 7, 14 and 21, 2017; June 27, 2019; October 24, 2019; November 7, 2019; February 20, 2020; March 11, 2021).

It is particularly ironic that this letter is being written just after we read Parshat Shoftim, where Moshe outlines the structure and duties of Jewish leadership. Would that the Torah’s message was heeded more today?

Max Wisotsky
Highland Park
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