Ethno-nationalism, petty politics,
BLOOD FOLLOWS us. And yet antisemitism is not like it was. The ancient hate is now thoroughly intermingled with other strands of geo-politics.
Periodically throughout this decade, I have had to explain to my American family and friends why violence against Jews in France or Belgium did not mean the entire Jewish community in Europe is under threat. I had to refute overwrought articles in the right-wing Israeli press. Tens of thousands of Jews are not fleeing Britain for Israel because Jeremy Corbyn might become prime minister.
What I told my family is that Jews are a soft target for jihadi cells. I reminded them to look at the extraordinary outpouring of solidarity from the state and society after each atrocity, several of which were linked to attacks on other targets: police barracks and the magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Now, I have to explain to my British friends the particularities of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue.
I have to place this heinous event in its American political context to understand its particularity.
The first thing to say is the obvious: not since Solomon was building the Temple in Jerusalem has there been a time or place where Jews have been more secure than in the US over the last 35 years. And I do mean the US, not Israel. That has not changed.
In my boyhood and adolescence, the 50s and the 60s, the antisemitism I experienced was the old-fashioned, pre-Holocaust kind, the type my father dealt with growing up in the Bronx: name calling, occasional fistfights. My younger brothers endured a knifepoint ordeal — promise to convert or we’ll kill you.
There was quiet social antisemitism. Having to give a fake name on the door in order for a friend to sneak me into Merion Cricket Club (yes, cricket club) to watch a tennis tournament.
But as the decades went by, much of this antisemitism seemed to fall away.
With a new feeling of security, the old Jewish habit of keeping the head below the parapet on questions of politics ended. Jews entered political life.
Antisemitism in America is not like it was
When I was a kid, the idea that the Treasury Secretary could be a Jew was impossible to imagine. We stayed in our lane, no need to wake up old stereotypes about Jews controlling all the money.
But by the 1990s, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers (a boy from my ’hood, he and my younger brother were classmates) ran the Treasury. The revolving door between Goldman Sachs and government whirled regularly. Steven Mnuchin, who worked for 17 years at Goldman’s, is Trump’s Treasury Secretary today.
One of the first great fortunes