What if I asked them why they support murderers and rapists?

Apr 23, 2023 | Read Now, Voices

A young woman danced and whirled like a dervish, another sat cross-legged, beating on a drum; around them, 28 dupes marched in a circle chanting every vacuous slogan. I set my iPhone on video to ask: “What does it feel like to be the useful idiots of Palestinian murderers and rapists?”

Then I rephrased it in my mind. Not Palestinian, but Hamas. After all, not all Palestinians agree with the Islamic killers. But these young Americans clearly do.

It was a mild little demonstration of students outside The New School on New York’s 5th Avenue and East 13th Street. Of course, they chanted from the river to the sea, and divest, and we will not stop, and blew horns and cursed Israel, while a bored NYPD officer made sure people could still walk by.

They’re not bad kids, I thought. They’ve found something to be passionate about, much like myself at their age, a young Brit marching barefoot to Aldermaston yelling Ban the Bomb, a useful idiot of Soviet agents whose own country was hell-bent on building up its nuclear arsenal.

[The Times of Israel Op-Ed continues]

Today, everywhere, Jews ask themselves the generational question: Where can we be safe? Where do they not hate us?

Many answer: But most don’t hate us. It’s just a vocal minority who conflate the actions of Israel with the Jewish people everywhere.

Really? So where are they? Where are the demonstrations against the killers and their useful idiots who preach hatred and fear? If they are the silent majority, is it not time to speak out, to voice their rejection of murder and rape?

So I swallowed hard and prepared to ask my question of how could they support murderers and rapists. I hesitated. How would they react? Would they really beat a slightly disheveled, elderly Jew. I didn’t want to sugarcoat my question, because it is the only question worth asking. Or would I chicken out?

I vacillated. What was the point? Would I change anybody’s mind? I was just a face in the crowd, watching and wondering. Should I speak up?

That took me back to 1938 in Vienna. I wondered, was there a face in the jeering crowd that wanted to speak up, to stop the spectacle, when Nazis forced my grandmother, and other Jews, to clean the street with a toothbrush? Later my mother collected her mother, shaken and disoriented, from the police station.

Nobody spoke up then. Would I speak up now? Would I ask the only honest and worthwhile question, my little way of standing up for my people? Would I endanger myself and my wife?

For what? A provocative and ultimately useless question? But if I don’t ask, who will? If I, a Jew, don’t speak up for the Jews, why should anyone else? Should I challenge the more numerous ignorant youth, emboldened by their false righteousness, or slink away, my tail between my legs.

In the Middle Ages it was known that Jews had tails and horns, and the proof that they were agents of satan was that when they were killed and their naked bodies displayed, their horns and tails had been magically conjured away.

In the end, I didn’t ask my question and continued on to dinner with friends on the Lower East Side, and I was ashamed.
Martin Fletcher served as NBC News Mideast correspondent and bureau chief in Tel Aviv for 28 years, winning almost every award in television journalism, including five Emmy’s. He has written seven books. Walking Israel won the National Jewish book Award in America for non fiction and Promised Land was a finalist in the fiction category. He is the only author to be honored in both categories.

View this Times of Israel Op-Ed from April 23rd