US is not Europe, but creep­ing fear is here

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - LET­TER FROM NEW YORK BY JOSH GLANCY

be fo­cused on the Jews on the ground across Amer­ica who are at the sharp end of the threats and dis­rup­tion.

“We go to work ev­ery day ready to fight to pro­tect Jewish peo­ple, so it’s our ex­pec­ta­tion that we are on the front line. Not on the front line is a mum who drops her daugh­ter off at pre-school or a du­ti­ful son who brings his el­derly fa­ther to a re­hab pro­gramme, so it’s those peo­ple who feel it much worse than we do.”

De­spite his crit­i­cisms, Mr Green­blatt recog­nises the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to re­as­sure US Jewry.

“We have a pres­i­dent of the USA with a Jewish son-in-law and a daugh­ter who is Jewish by choice. They are shom­rei Shab­bat and his grand­chil­dren go to a Jewish day school. We have never had, in the his­tory of this country, a pres­i­dent with such an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship with Jewish peo­ple.”

He also com­mended the pres­i­dent’s ad­dress to a joint ses­sion of Congress which opened with a con­dem­na­tion of an­ti­semitism, as well vice-pres­i­dent Pence’s re­cent trip to Dachau.

“Th­ese are prob­a­bly sym­bolic signs that should be cel­e­brated and el­e­vated be­cause they are mean­ing­ful words,” he said.

“We hope the present ad­min­is­tra­tion will pivot from words to ac­tion and take con­cen­trated mea­sures to pro­tect the Jewish com­mu­nity.”

Later on Tuesday, Mr Green­blatt spent around half an hour ad­dress­ing the APPG, with MPs Michael Gove and Iain Dun­can Smith present.

The group’s chair­man Tom Tu­gend­hat told the JC: “Mr Green­blatt has a very im­por­tant and in­ter­est­ing voice, so it was great to have him come and talk about some of the lessons of the USA and how they can be ap­plied to us.”

WHEN I moved to Amer­ica six months ago, to take up a job as New York cor­re­spon­dent for The Sunday Times, my pri­mary con­cerns were mas­ter­ing the sub­way sys­tem and the minu­tiae of the Trump move­ment. It was all red caps and racism and ral­lies in Raleigh.

I didn’t re­ally think about what it would mean to be a Jew in my new city. Lon­don and New York have so much in com­mon: the same bars with ex­posed brick­work and hip­ster cock­tails, the same anx­ious mil­len­ni­als tap­ping away on their Ap­ple Macs in ev­ery cor­ner café. They are global sib­lings.

But af­ter be­ing here about a week I started to re­alise that on the Jewish front at least, things were very dif­fer­ent. Lit­tle signs of Ju­daism were ev­ery­where, wo­ven into the very fab­ric of the city. The Mex­i­can woman who made the tea at my favourite cof­fee shop wished me Shab­bat shalom. Huge swathes of Brook­lyn seemed to re­sem­ble 18th-cen­tury Lviv. I even ended up go­ing on dates with Jewish girls, some­thing I had long sworn off in Lon­don. It just sort of hap­pened.

It took com­ing here to make me re­alise how re­strained and re­pressed my An­glo-Jewish iden­tity is. I may have grown up in leafy north Lon­don, but it sud­denly be­came clear to me the ex­tent to which the mind­set of many Bri­tish Jews is still rooted in the Euro­pean ghetto. We still whis­per the word “Jewish” in pub­lic. If you want to suc­ceed in Bri­tain and join the es­tab­lish­ment then you leave a lit­tle bit of your Ju­daism at the door. You’re quiet about it. That’s the trade. I was not the first to make it.

But now I could sit in a restau­rant in Man­hat­tan and lis­ten to two Jewish princesses rem­i­nisce loudly about their bat­mitz­vahs and in­stead of cring­ing and wor­ry­ing about a shanda fur die goyim, I could just smile at the fa­mil­iar­ity of it all. Ju­daism in New York is a civil­i­sa­tion, not a guilty se­cret.

I re­alised why Amer­i­can Jews look at Euro­pean ones with pity. Why stay in a place where your iden­tity is clos­eted and your ceme­ter­ies are reg­u­larly daubed with swastikas, those nasty lit­tle re­minders that they are still out there, and they still want to get you?

But re­cently things in Amer­ica have started to change. The gold­ene med­i­nah may be los­ing just a lit­tle of its sheen. Last year, Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion cam­paign sparked a wave of on­line Jew-ha­tred, much of it aimed at prom­i­nent jour­nal­ists. Since his in­au­gu­ra­tion the calls have started, bomb threats to Jewish Com­mu­nity Cen­tres around the country. The an­cient ha­tred has reached into the places where tod­dlers go to cheder and women do their wa­ter aer­o­bics to re­mind Amer­ica’s Jews that they are still out there, and they still want to get you.

The ceme­ter­ies came next, that vile and most craven of des­e­cra­tions, in St Louis and Philadel­phia, hun­dreds of head­stones split and crunched. Will vi­o­lence fol­low?

Some of th­ese peo­ple may be feed­ing off Mr Trump’s nox­ious rhetoric about colour and creed, which has em­bold­ened big­ots and con­spir­acists. But it may also be sub­tler than that: his­tory teaches us that in times of stress and so­cial frac­ture, some­one usu­ally de­cides to give the Jews a kick­ing.

Amer­ica will not be­come Europe. But it’s there again, at the mar­gins, the creep­ing fear, gnaw­ing away at the con­fi­dence and com­fort that has for so long been the birthright of the Amer­i­can Jew. This may well be a phase, I sin­cerely hope so. But for me it’s served as a re­minder that even in the land of the free, some small part of us will al­ways be im­pris­oned by the ha­tred of our en­e­mies.

The an­cient ha­tred has reached into places where tod­dlers go to cheder

Josh Glancy is New York cor­re­spon­dent for The Sunday Times

PHOTO: AP

Mount Carmel Ceme­tery in Philadel­phia af­ter it was des­e­crated last week

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