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Day 2 (Kanfer): Is Zionism Still Relevant to the American Jew?

From: Stefan Kanfer To: David Shneer Subject: Unmissable parallels Dear David, I will set aside my feelings for the youth who are to be “running Jewish institutions in the not too distant future,” nor will I comment on the validity … Read More

By / November 30, 2006
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From: Stefan Kanfer To: David Shneer Subject: Unmissable parallels

Dear David,

I will set aside my feelings for the youth who are to be “running Jewish institutions in the not too distant future,” nor will I comment on the validity of those “institutions” beyond a withering glance at the magazine Tikkun.

The heart of my letter, you write, sounds very much “like the speeches made in 1887 by Theodor Herzl and his buddies.” You deride Herzl’s sentiments: “The world isn’t a safe place for Jews, as long as Jews are not running their own affairs, so get us out of Europe.”

I had to pause in disbelief when I read that. Six million Jews died in Europe, most of them because they were Jews. Among the handful who escaped, a visionary group had gone to Palestine, heeding Herzl.

Most could not go to the U.S. or Canada or Britain or anywhere else considered a safe haven because of the restrictive laws against such immigrants. The American laws were particularly antisemitic.

Herzl saw the handwriting when others could not even see the wall. He had been a journalist reporting on the Dreyfus affair. Yet even he could not have seen the horror to come. He only knew that something ominous was in the European air, even before World War I, and that yes, getting out of Europe was an essential, vital desideratum.

He was scoffed at, especially in Germany, especially after World War I. Why, Jews had fought in the Kaiser’s army, it was pointed out. Surely they would be considered patriots. This loutish Adolf would soon be gone.

Had the German Jews listened to Herzl (a tiny fragment did), many more would have been saved.

But enough history lessons. Let’s concentrate on today, and the greatest danger to Jews, and eventually to the Western world itself, radical Islam. I realize that “diversity” is a favored term in academia, but that word has its limits, and those limits are growing more pronounced by the day.

Not to recognize that the U.S. is a safer haven to Jews today because it has only a small percentage of Muslims, and that most (though by no means all) of those Muslims are absorbed into American society, is to wear blinders.

In August, Britain reported the foiling of a plot to send planes to the U.S. where they would be blown up, either in mid-air or on the ground. Who do you suppose was involved in the plot? Ubangis?

Right now the world is at war. Israel is on the front lines. There is no more relevant group of Jews in the world than those in the Jewish State, and deriding the sentiments of the early Zionists, and failing to see the parallel with today’s events is a strange way to teach.

In any case, welcome home. Perhaps when you are settled in, back in Denver, you can look across the sea and realize that the enemy is as close as the officers who stripped Alfred Dreyfus of his medals in a public ceremony, while through the fence at the Hotel de Ville, a bearded Jew made notes….

Warmest regards,

Stefan

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