I don’t know if there is factual proof for the idea of “six degrees of separation,” stating that everyone on the planet can be connected to anyone else by no more than six contacts. Certainly, it seems reasonable to think that it would be more true within one country than, for instance, my being able to link to someone in the Mongolian Desert. However, when it comes to Israel and the Jewish people, I have to think that a maximum of three degrees of separation is quite likely.
We are, numerically, a very small people. A favorite sport at weddings, summer camp and other gatherings is ‘Jewish geography.’ Rarely, even on line at a kosher bakery, have I ever met anyone with whom I cannot find a connection. At summer camp one year, the girls in our daughter’s bunk took only one evening to find ways that all fifteen girls were related.
This means that when a terrorist attack takes place in the Jewish community, whether in Israel or around the world, it is personal. We know the neighbors and relatives of the men murdered and injured in Jerusalem this week. The 26-year-old girl assaulted and knifed to death at a bus stop last week was the cousin of close friends. The mohel who performed our grandson’s circumcision a few years ago was the father of a boy killed at school in 2008.
I’m not telling you this as a plea for pity. I am telling it to you, because like most Jews I grew up with the reality that in every generation there are people who want to kill Jews. Despite living in a blessed country at a wonderful time, I never took for granted putting my children to sleep with the relative assurance of a peaceful night.
Yet, today’s twin enemies, radical Islam and radical secularism, are not only the enemies of the Jews. They are Christianity’s enemies as well. While clearly not every Moslem or secularist is radicalized, only those living in a bubble can pretend that terrorism is equally distributed among all religions. Only those who choose blindness can think that media bias, exemplified by CNN’s headlines after the synagogue massacre, was an innocent or atypical piece of propaganda.
I appreciate the heartwarming words of support and sympathy that we get when Jews are murdered. What I don’t think everyone has yet internalized is that the target is being drawn on us all. Not everyone has experienced being hated for his or her beliefs. Had Hitler succeeded in dominating the world, his well-documented hatred for Catholics and Protestants would have been unleashed. As it happened, he only got around to the Jews.
In the past, Catholics and Protestants have killed each other. Both have hated and persecuted the Jews. The past is not the present. There is a threat today that has already deeply infiltrated Europe and that is growing in America. When a massacre happens in a synagogue in Jerusalem, it is part and parcel of the 2009 Ft. Hood shooting, of 9/11, and even of what is going on in Ferguson, MO right now. Sharing in grief is a start, but we must move on to connecting the dots and taking appropriate and forceful action.