At sunset on Friday, the streets fill with beautifully dressed families on their way to the synagogue a few hundred metres from my house, the girls in billowing dresses and ribbons in their hair, the boys in pants, collared shirts and neatly pinned yarmulkes.
On the south side, the Russian section, the orthodox men and boys in their oversized black felt hats and with side locks – the peyote – spilling down their cheeks, march purposefully, though deftly avoiding the use of traffic light assistance, toward one of two synagogues.
Shabbat always sets off a kind of historical sentimentality inside me.
I can’t help but think that these same kids, only a few generations before, were getting trucked to extermination camps to be gassed, shot, tortured and butchered.
But that was a quirk of history wasn’t it?
A mad dictator and a repressed, beaten-down populace, ready to believe anything including the myth of the devious, murderous Jew?
Yeah, you’d like to think so.
And closer to home?
Late last year a family in Bondi was walking home from a Shabbat dinner when they were attacked by a gang of eight youths yelling “F–king Jews!”
Five members of the family were hospitalised with injuries ranging from concussion and broken bones to bleeding on the brain.
“My son isn’t racist,” said the mother of one 17 year old, allegedly involved.
When I wrote a column from a Tel Aviv cafe a few weeks about the miracle of that brave little country the comments were predicable.
“I get so tired of constantly being told how the Jews suffered in World War II,” said one.
“The Jews need to move on and lose the victim mentality.”
Could it happen here? Does a simmering anti-Semitism exist?
The Jewish high schools a few streets away look like prison blocks with check points and barbed-wire fences.
The synagogues, even the day-care centres, are guarded by formidable looking security guards.
In 2009, the just-crowned world champion of surfing, Mick Fanning, called a reporter whom he didn’t like, “a f–king Jew”.
I remember an argument I had with one of those simpering left-wingers who seem to regard Israel as the font of all evil on the necessity of guards at Jewish temples and schools.
“It’s a sad fact that there are people out there who want to do violent things to people just because they’re Jewish,” I said.
“They bring it on themselves,’ she replied, in a curious, but not unusual, bolt of hatred from someone whose life revolves around the promotion of gay rights, the environmentalist and freedom of speech.
I see it, and I feel it, all around me.
Maybe it’s because my neighbourhood is Jewish and therefore I get a small porthole into what it feels like to walk the earth as a member of the world’s first monotheistic religion, the creator of the book that spawned Christianity and, later, Islam.
But it’s worth asking, is our default setting anti-Semitic?
Read the entire thing.
This column is mandatory reading, but especially for all the Israel-haters out there.
The same kinds of people who are quick to accuse pro-Israeli advocates of crying out “antisemitism” to stifle debate.
They really need to ask themselves why is it that they single out Israel for “special” treatment.