“Palestinianism” — the complete erasure of Judean identity—has now centered itself in the woke regime. Examples run from teachers’ unions boycotting the one Jewish state to the firing of a black Jewish diversity officer because she dared to condemn anti-Semitism. Want to watch the U.S. and Israeli flags burn simultaneously? Skip a trip to Tehran and head straight to the Chicago Dyke March.
One could spend years analyzing how this happened so quickly—weren’t we just talking about “anti-racism” a second ago—but does it really matter? What began with a Soviet-funded Egyptian named Yasser Arafat in the late 1950s and was “academically” formalized by the anti-Western Columbia University professor Edward Said in the 1970s has finally reached its pinnacle. Anti-Zionist activists pretending to be professors and journalists were just waiting for the right set of people to glom onto. Unthinking leftists were a perfect fit.
With the silence of many real liberals (today’s Good Germans), the fact that a raging millennial would seamlessly go from calling for reparations to shouting about “Palestine”—without having a clue about either one—is not terribly shocking.
The only question now is how bad will it get before it gets worse. It’s quite apparent which U.S. party has willingly been used to create incitement against American Jews and which one has begun to fight this. The difference couldn’t be more stark. As well, we have learned that we need to watch for a normalization of anti-Semitism in our systemically woke educational venues.
But the recent attacks on Jews in New York City and Los Angeles during the latest Hamas assault—and the non-response from every group that demands Continual Victimization Status—did lead to questions. How could other communities understand that this is part of a millennia of injustice if so many Jews didn’t understand it? And if so many Jews didn’t want to understand it?
From a Biblical perspective, one could see this as God’s final showdown. Enough with the Hellenistic Reform Movement. Enough with the ‘As a Jew’ masks that allow Jews with platforms to defame Israel—or as Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy call them: the un-Jews. Enough with the false idol of assimilation.
Could this be a divine push to shed 3,000 years of colonization and finally reclaim Judean identity?
Whether a sign or not, it is certainly long overdue. I understand why the first and second generations after the Holocaust were focused on creating, as my Dad would put it, “the good life” for their children. As a result, I was told that our family was “from Russia.” That’s it, end of story.
But of course Russia was just the middle of the story for many Jews, as Spain, Iraq, or Germany were for others. As I only began to learn later in life, Judaism is not just a religion. Jews are a people, an ethnicity, a nation: Judea, otherwise known as Israel. As Micha Mitch Danzig and Yirmiyahu Danzig well detail, Judeans were thrown out of our homeland multiple times and then persecuted in every country we ended up in. Even in the United States.
Soviet Jews learned the hard way that Judaism was more than a religion. While they were robbed of their temples and freedom to worship, their Soviet-issued passports read “Jew” under Nationality.
But despite violent foreign occupations, Judeans maintained a continuous presence in the land of Israel. Nearly a dozen studies published in the past decade show that all Jews are more biologically related to one another than they are to their local populations—and that we share a common Middle Eastern ancestry.
I do not tell my son, 11, that he came from Russia. I tell him that our people hail from Judea, the land of the Maccabees, and that we are Judean. I tell him that Judeans, in part because of the persecution, come in every hue, but our own olive skin should be treasured: it represents a constant reminder of who we are and where we came from.
I teach him that no matter what anyone says about us or about Israel, we should be proud—so proud to be part of a people who, no matter what the world does to us, continues to create light.
One day at his school during the recent Gaza conflict, both students and teachers were misrepresenting the facts in a current events discussion. He raised his hand, stood up, corrected the record, and sat down. Knowing how vociferously he can argue about bedtime, I wasn’t surprised to hear that no one even tried to refute him.
Zionism hoped to re-create the tough Maccabean Judean, and in Israel it succeeded. But it’s now time for Diasporan Jews to follow suit—to turn the dangerous inanity of leftism into a positive. So much of our identity has been imposed upon us: fully embracing our true identity is empowering, both personally and as a people.
What we don’t need is to create new symbols. We have the Star of David, the flag of Israel, Hatikvah. Here’s the start of a decolonization plan:
- First, learn. Learn your personal history; learn our people’s history. Ask your synagogue to develop materials on our history. It’s well past time for synagogues to teach our children the truth.
- Begin to call yourself Judean. Write that into the Ethnicity box on forms.
- Wear something visibly Judean. With pride. Despite everything going on in NYC, I wear my great-grandmother’s Star of David every day. No one can take away from me what that star represents.
- Learn conversational Hebrew. Make sure your synagogue is teaching it to your kids.
- Acknowledge our persecution, but never play the victim. We have the chance to show other persecuted minorities precisely what that means.Maccabean identity requires bravery: silence is simply not an option. But be strategic, not reactive. Arguments on Twitter are useless. Create videos, songs, art about our past. A song like Westside Gravy’s “Diaspora” is so powerful in its fearless embrace of the truth.
- Understand that the Torah is the most “social justice” document you will ever need. B’tzelem Elokim—we are all created in God’s image—is central to Judaism. Rather than trying to erase Judaism, leftists should start learning from it.
- Embracing Judean ethnicity doesn’t mean we lose our individuality. We are a tribe of true diversity, not a cult. We’re going to differ politically and religiously, but what we must never do is harm the heart and soul of Judaism: Israel.
- Feel at peace, with yourself, with the universe. As Rabbi Rachel Cowan wrote: “I am blessed to be a voyager on an ancient pathway.”
We are now redirecting that pathway. It’s a big job. But we were blessed with the opportunity to do it. And with 5,000 years of surviving and thriving behind us, we can.