Jump to content

Being Jewish in an Unraveling America


Recommended Posts

Common Sense With Bari Weiss

The bad guy was killed. The good guys were saved. But the reaction to the hostage-taking in Colleyville, Texas, should alarm American Jews.

Bari Weiss

Jan. 17 2022

Last week, I met a rabbi in Los Angeles. We talked about surfing where to get the best pizza in the city and her kids and politics. At the end of the evening, she was making plans with a colleague, and they extended an invitation. Would I want to go to the shooting range with them next weekend?


What I now see is this: In America captured by tribalism and dehumanization, in an America swept up by ideologies that pit us against one another in a zero-sum game, in an America enthralled with the poisonous idea that some groups matter more than others, not all Jews—and not all Jewish victims—are treated equally. What seems to matter most to media pundits and politicians is not the Jews themselves, but the identities of their attackers.

And it scares me.


No one in my social media feeds, to say nothing of mainstream reporters, wanted to look very hard at the killers’ motives or at the responses among some members of the community. In one video I came across, a local woman said that her “children are stuck at school because of Jew shenanigans. They are the problem . . .  I blame the Jews. We never had a shooting like this until they came.” 

Joan Terrell-Paige, a school official in the city, explained on her Facebook page that the murderers effectively had no choice. The Jews (she called them “brutes”) had caused their killers to murder them. “I believe they knew they would come out in body bags,” she wrote of the killers. “What is the message they were sending? Are we brave enough to explore the answer to their message? Are we brave enough to stop the assault on the Black communities of America?”

The governor of the state and the mayor of Jersey City called for Terrell-Paige’s resignation, but until earlier this month, she remained in her job. Shortly after the attack, John Flora, a Democrat running for Congress described her comments as “an invitation for the entire city to discuss honestly what led up to such a horrific event,” going on to talk about various ills like gentrification.


Today is Martin Luther King Day and I’m thinking of his understanding that the demand for equal treatment comes at no one’s expense because justice is not a zero-sum game. “We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity in this Nation,” he said. “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men—black men as well as white men—would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Jews thrived in an America that had confidence in its goodness. Jews are not safe—no one is—in one which does not.

Five years ago, the rabbi’s invitation to the gun range would have shocked me. Now I think: I’m glad I saved her number.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • 1696142311
  • Create New...