In 2014, four people were shot to death at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium, two years after the killings of four Jews, including three children, at the Ozar Hatorah School in Toulouse in the south of France. These tragedies and others like them made it clear that anti-Semitism, that pernicious prejudice, was alive and well.
For Israelis, bringing teenage sons and daughters barely out of high school to the army induction center to begin their compulsory military service is one of the most fraught and difficult realities of life. Underlying the cheerful, almost celebratory sendoff is the terrifying possibility of one day being forced to join the crowds at Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery, part of the growing “family” who have paid the ultimate price for living in the world’s only Jewish country.
In the year since the Harvey Weinstein case hit the headlines and the #MeToo movement exploded in every direction, I’ve felt increasingly distressed by the number of prominent Jewish men among the accused. Aside from the obvious names—from Senator Al Franken to conductor James Levine, from actors and journalists to Judge Alex Kozinski—one that particularly troubles me is scholar-macher Steven M. Cohen, the sociologist whose in-depth surveys have helped American Jews understand ourselves better, and who happens to be my long-term acquaintance.
The news from Central Europe seems to be uniformly bad: democracy threatened, rule of law subverted, historical revisionism triumphant. It all carries a nasty 1930s flavor. To Western readers, moreover, most of that news seems to come from Budapest and Warsaw. We don’t hear much from such places as Bratislava, Bucharest or Ljubljana—and no news is good news, right? Look again.