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Look both ways when crossing the street

05/02/2019 02:20:17 PM


Rabbi Shalom Lewis

On a recent trip to London, when crossing the street, I noticed some assistance for the bewildered pedestrian. Stenciled on the road surface, just beyond the curb where one steps off, were stenciled the words ‘Look to your right’ or, depending on the traffic pattern, ‘Look to your left’. As a tourist hoping to make it across the street alive, it was a helpful reminder that the red Double Deckers, the Land Rovers, the black London Cabs…would come from unexpected directions and that we best look to the right and to the left if we wished to survive the mean British streets. When strolling through Covent Garden or staring up at Big Ben, I found the cautionary messages charming but soon realized that the warning was more than a helpful hint to walkers, but a powerful exhortation about the nasty world in which we now live.

Shiva for the murdered victim of the Poway Synagogue has not yet ended. Kaddish is still recited for the slaughtered of Squirrel Hill. Charlottesville and the chilling rants of “Jews will not replace us” still stings. Other episodes of toppled grave stones and scrawled swastikas brings us sadness and concern. The hate filled rhetoric from the likes of David Duke and Richard Spencer. There is no subtly in the message of the Klan. Of the neo-Nazis. Of the white supremacists. We look to the right.

The inability of Congress to condemn IIlan Omar. B.D.S. Farrakhan admired by the leaders of the Women’s March. Campus suppression of Israeli speakers. AOC praising Jeremy Corbyn. The New York Times op ed hostility to Israel and publishing a Der Sturmer like editorial cartoon. Jimmy Carter’s book, Peace Not Apartheid. Airbnb’s boycott of Israel. Black Lives Matter. Dyke March ban of the Magen David but not the Palestinian flag. We look to the left.

Though the hard right and the hard left occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, their divergence fades when it comes to the Jew. These odd bedfellows find common cause in their anti-Semitism. Whether goose stepping citizens of the hard right or morally bankrupt citizens of the hard left they share an agenda of hatred, intolerance and ignorance. The hard right is unashamed of their violent, Aryan bigotry, indeed proud of it. While the hard left claims unassailable virtue in their distortion of free speech, white privilege, Zionism, compassion, equality and truth. We Jews have enemies banging on our front door and on our back door who wish to destroy us. Neither are our friends and we had better accept that fact sooner than later.

Folks, I learned a critical lesson in London. If we wish to survive when crossing the street we had best look to the right and to the left.

Mon, June 1 2020 9 Sivan 5780