Over the past 25 years, I have spent an increasing amount of my time in the non-profit sector. While my earliest involvements were in the secular world, more recently, I have begun to invest my time and money into Jewish charities.
This was not something I planned, nor something I expected would happen. I am a relatively non-observant Reform Jew, a secular Canadian Jew who started my career as a high school teacher in the public sector.
I was drawn into the Jewish non-profit world for two fundamental reasons. One was to ensure the survival of the Jewish people in the Diaspora, who are increasingly becoming assimilated. But the largest amount of my time, money and attention has gone to our other challenge – the continued attacks on Israel and the Jewish people.
I say this with regret. The Jewish people have added value to the world for many thousands of years. I regard it as my obligation to do what it takes to pass the torch to the succeeding generations, so they too can work for the empowerment and the continuation of the Jewish people. But I regret that I, along with many others, have been forced by circumstances into major efforts to protect ourselves, our people and the Jewish state from the many who would diminish or eliminate us.
In many parts of the world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to be observably Jewish. Showing an Israeli flag is a non-starter in many places. The far right has become that much more prolific in recent years, as our Western society becomes more polarized. But while the neo-Nazis and skinheads have always been there, what is taking place on the left is far more troublesome, because it has the potential to morph into a far greater threat.
Nowadays, Jews are lumped into the mix of the newly despised “white male wealthy” group, despite the fact that the levels of measured Jew hatred are among the highest, pro rata, compared to any other group. How can you survive if you are being labeled as a perpetrator, when you are in fact more of a victim? It’s a bizarre circumstance that has a lot of us scratching our heads in consternation. Unfortunately, the only answer that seems to make sense is that we are being attacked because we are Jews.
Overlapping with this phenomenon are the physical and media-based attacks against Israel. Physical attacks have been taking place for decades, initially from the Sunni Arab world, and more recently from Shiite Iran and its various proxies. Israel should not have to fight for its existence against Iran or its proxies, but it must, because Iran’s rulers are so obsessed with Israel’s existence that they invest more in empire building and attacking the Jewish state than they do in their own people.
Israel is also attacked relentlessly in the press and on social media. The BDS movement reflects the worst of what humanity has to offer, with attacks on the Jews of Israel and, indirectly, anyone who supports the Jewish state.
Against that backdrop, what is a Jew to do? While I am drawn to many charities in the secular world, I divert my focus to protecting my people, and ultimately my own family and Jewish friends, from the long-term potential impact of the actions of those who wish us ill. How much is being wasted by the Iranians and those in the BDS movement, by the Israelis in self-defence and by people like you and I in defending against pointless attacks?
Israel deserves to exist as a Jewish state without threats. And Jews deserve to live as Jews anywhere they wish, without being under the constant threat of attack. The cost of Jew hatred is enormous – to the Jews, but also to the remainder of the societies we inhabit, and the entire world.