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A war for how we want to see humanity

November 11, 2018

I have to start by saying that I truly did not want to write this. But I had no choice. The coldblooded killing of 11 innocent people — all of them my brothers and sisters — at a synagogue in Pittsburgh made me decide that as the consul general of Israel to the Southwest and the official representative of the state of the Jewish people, I had to sound out loud.

Even so, my decision to speak up is not because I have the strength to talk, rather because I don’t have the power to keep silent.

One basic thing should be crystal-clear — anti-Semitism is on the rise in the United States of America. These despicable anti-Semites don’t need any internal or external reason to implement their actions. That is why they are not and cannot be part of the equation. I am addressing the decent average American. The one who loves his or her country, but does not hate people who do not share his or her beliefs — the one who understands that a true democratic state means all citizens are equal regardless of their faith. And, more important, one who knows that there should be zero tolerance for individuals or groups who exploit freedom of speech, thought or religion for their twisted and dangerous goals.

Thousands of years of history, from the days of Abraham, teach us that the Jewish people, where and whenever they lived, suffered violent attacks for one reason only: They were Jews. Being Jewish meant being a sinner. Unfortunately, until about 70 years ago, the Jewish people could not stand up and fight back. My people did not have the power or the ability to protect themselves.

No more.

Today the Jewish people have their Jewish state. The state of Israel belongs to all Jews worldwide. Today the rules have changed. Jews are no longer victims dependent on the mercy of others. No more endless fear of haters. Today we stand firm against our enemies. Just like the state of Israel fought and won, in the battlefield, all our wars against our enemies, so, too, we shall fight and beat anti-Semitism and anti-Semites. We will defeat them because we have no other option.

But this is not only a Jewish issue. Hatred never stops by itself. There was a pastor who lived in Germany during the Second World War, when the Nazi regime perpetrated the worst atrocities in human history against the Jewish people. They killed and murdered more than 6 million Jews in death camps throughout Europe in what is known today as the Holocaust.

The German pastor, Martin Niemöller, said, “They came for the Communists, and I did not object for I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not object for I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not object for I was not a Jew. When they came for me, there was no one left to object.”

We must all understand that haters stop their wrongdoing only when they are forced to. When they see and understand that they face a rival who will not only fight back, but will eventually confront and destroy them. Only then will they stop. That’s because fighting anti-Semitism is a zero sum game. One who wants to live cannot negotiate with a disease but rather fight and defeat it. The same applies to dealing with anti-Semitism and anti-Semites. No negotiation is acceptable. Only waging absolute war, deterring them and forcing them to stop,

American society is a moral and just society. The vast majority of Americans are decent and humane people. But that is not enough. It is time for the good and the light to defeat the bad and the darkness. It is in the hands and minds of each and everyone of you readers, your family and community members. Because this is not a fight for the Jewish people; this is a war for how we want to see humanity. This is a battle that will define in which world we want to live — a world of bigotry, hatred and confrontation, or a world of partnership, cooperation and understanding.

It is the time for all of us to stand shoulder to shoulder and show ourselves and others why the United State is a great nation and a great country.

Gilad Katz is consul general of Israel to the Southwest.

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