The Kosher Restaurant I Work at Was Attacked; America Is Not Safe for Jews

The Kosher Restaurant I Work at Was Attacked; America Is Not Safe for Jews

Elishama Marmon

Pro-Hamas activists gather in Washington Square Park for a rally following a protest march held in response to an NYPD sweep of an anti-Israel encampment at New York University in Manhattan, May 3, 2024. Photo: Matthew Rodier/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

In the past eight months, I’ve personally experienced what we’ve all come to know: Jews in America are no longer safe.

Of course, this story has repeated itself countless times over the generations. In every era, in different parts of the world, Jewish communities have faced persecution, discrimination, and violence. Around the world, since the Holocaust, diaspora Jewry continued to face persecution. From the persecution of Soviet Jewry to the Kielce Pogrom in Poland, from the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires to the expulsion and persecution of nearly all the entire Jewish communities of the Middle East outside Israel, it never really went away.

In recent years, this hatred surged again in Europe, with Jews widely being afraid to wear a kippah or a Jewish star. But America always stood as a beacon of hope amidst the darkness of the diaspora.

In the words of the renowned late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, America was a “country of kindness.” Despite the occasional attacks and bouts of antisemitism cropping up in America, from the Klu Klux Klan to Henry Ford to Charldes Lindbergh, America has always had a good relationship with its Jews.

No more. The current climate in America, post-Oct. 7, is a chilling echo of the past. Hate crimes against Jews have surged, and the sense of security that once existed is rapidly eroding. The rise of antisemitic rhetoric and actions are no longer confined to the fringes, but have permeated mainstream discourse.

Many of the students and faculty at elite universities, America’s staging ground for the future leaders in politics, industry, and thought, have expressed support for Hamas, a terrorist organization. In a recent poll of college students, 40 percent say they sympathize with Hamas, compared to only 33 percent who don’t. Students call for the death of Jews, make them scared to be on their own campuses, and celebrate terrorism.

I have friends at these universities, including the world-famous ones with billion-dollar endowments. They are scared to walk around on their own campuses, attacked by radicals who see a Jewish star and lash out. One friend had a flag violently taken from him, another was assaulted by several protesters, and others were harassed and made to fear for their safety.

This is not just happening on campuses, either. Swastikas have been spotted popping up outside of stores in New York, and an ever-growing group of online Neo-Nazis and antisemites harass Jewish people constantly.

A kosher restaurant that I work in recently had its door shattered, one of two such incidents to occur in a single day. I have spent countless evenings in that restaurant, watching Jewish customers comfortably eating their dinners and enjoying time with family and friends. I have sat there myself, and walked through that very door hundreds of times without a care. Now that comfort and security that we took for granted are threatened. The door is shattered. Shades of Kristallnacht cannot but appear before our eyes.

And, of course, this ideology has infiltrated the halls of Congress. From accusations of “genocide” because Israel wants to stop future Hamas massacres, to lies that Israel is an apartheid state or committing war crimes, members of the far-left have used their platforms to promote hate against Israel and Jews. And — partly due to the indoctrination on campuses — the numbers of those in power who call for the eradication of the Jewish state only continue to grow, as younger and more radical activists take their places as staffers, legislative aides, and Members of Congress.

Jews in America must continue to advocate for Israel and the Jewish community, but a glance at the age-segmented opinion polling shows that the future looks bleak. We must find a way to change the conversation, and interact with these future leaders in a way that can change their minds.

A few years ago, I asked a prominent rabbi with knowledge of the topic how long he thought America would remain safe for Jews. He said it would be just 10 or 15 years. At the time, I thought that was pessimistic. I was wrong. America — Di Goldene Medine (the Golden Land) — has been tarnished at last. America is no longer safe for Jews.

The author is a 2023-2024 CAMERA On Campus Fellow and a graduate of Yeshiva University.

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