Has Jew-bashing become respectable after Sept. 11?
If it is wrong to hate Arabs – because after all, they are people too – then it ought to be wrong to hate Jews. They, too, are people. And if the separation of church and state means that neither the Bible of Christianity nor the Torah of Judaism can be taught, then it ought to mean that the Koran may not be taught, either. But this is not the world that I am experiencing.
Jew-bashing has become fashionable, or it is at least tolerated, as the events at San Francisco State University make clear. And educational institutions are tripping all over themselves to introduce students to the Koran.
In regards to Jew-bashing, people who can normally see wrongdoing in the patterns of raindrops have not lifted a single voice of criticism. Where is the voice of the mighty Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition? Or do Jews not count? Where is the voice of Cornel West, who considers everyone a brother? Or again, do Jews not count?
As regards the separation of church and state, the silence of the ACLU is absolutely deafening. It was just recently that the ACLU decried the display of the 10 Commandments in a public school in Ohio, because it would cause great distress to non-believers in the Judaic-Christian God. But I guess it is to hell with those who believe in the God of Moses or the God of Jesus.
In France, I am now told to be discreet as a Jew. Wearing a yarmulke in public has become an act of courage. The one thing that I simply did not expect after Sept. 11 is that the very same advice would perhaps be applicable in America.
Some of my Syracuse University colleagues expressed deep concern over Arab-bashing after the events of Sept. 11. Sharing that concern, I offered my home as a haven for Arabic students who felt uncomfortable. I have no regrets in having done so. I would do it again.
But now I have to ask: Where are the imams and the leaders of the Arabic community to speak out against Jew-bashing? Where is the moral outrage of the Arabic community in the face of this despicable behavior?
Regarding Israel and Palestine, Arabs and I may never see eye to eye. But that was not, should not, and will not, be an excuse for me to mistreat either my Arabic students or colleagues. And the Arabic community must return the moral compliment. Nothing is more despicable and worthy of condemnation than wallowing in the sea of victimization whilst paddling in the stream of indifference in the face of blatant wrongdoing.
On Sept. 11, I as a Jew had to answer a moral call: There would be no Arab-bashing in my classroom. None whatsoever. Today, I as a Jew tremble at the silence of those, be they Arabic or black or white or Latino or Asian, who have managed to convince themselves that at least for the time being, Jew-bashing is not nearly as bad as Jews make it out to be, or who think that their political commitments regarding the Middle East justify turning a deaf ear to such hatred.
Is this the politically correct way to behave? If so, then political correctness has become the handmaiden of nothing other than vomitous hypocrisy and vitriolic hatred.
Laurence Thomas is professor of philosophy, political science and Judaic studies at Syracuse University; he divides his time between his homes in Syracuse and France.