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October 26, 2022 11:18 am
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With Vile Attacks on Reality TV Star, Haters Push Anti-Jewish Alternate Reality

avatar by Sheila Nazarian

Opinion

Poster held by a protester at a UC Berkeley student senate meeting on Feb. 3, 2020. Photo: Moi Stern Weisleder.

By now, American Jews have gotten used to progressively being excluded from more and more public spaces, especially if they refuse to disavow support for the Jewish nation — Israel.

Last December, two Jewish students at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz were pushed out of a sexual assault awareness group and harassed because of their Jewish and pro-Israeli identities. More recently, nine affinity groups at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law — including those for female and LGBTQ+ law students — adopted a bylaw excluding all supporters of Israel’s existence, becoming what alumnus Kenneth Marcus has termed “Jewish-Free Zones.” Now, the antisemites are coming after Jews in the media, starting with reality TV.

On October 16, executive producer Andy Cohen announced the cast of the reboot of the hit show “Real Housewives of New York City.” One of the seven cast members is Elizabeth “Lizzy” Savetsky, mother of three and self-described “Proud Jew and Zionist.” She is also known for being religiously observant, and frequently posting about practices related to Jewish holidays and occasions. The presence of this inspirational figure offers visible representation to the one million Jews who live in New York City’s five boroughs, not to mention the over 2.1 million Jews living in the greater New York area.

However, representation of Jews is exactly the problem — definitionally — for the antisemites. The amount of misogynistic and racist vitriol directed toward Savetsky would be shocking to anyone who hasn’t noticed the abuse directed at other Jewish celebrities online over the past few years.

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The comments that should be unprintable have been nonstop. Andy Cohen, the executive producer, was forced to tweet: “[t]he amount of antisemitism coming from all corners is f***ing alarming[.]”

Surely, these bigots are aware of the basics of the Jewish faith: how Jews not only pray facing Jerusalem, but pray for the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem. Even the radical religious fringe that rejects the State of Israel, like the Netorei Karta faction, does so because it is still awaiting the miraculous messianic restoration promised in Jewish scripture, not because it rejects the concept of the restoration of Jewish sovereignty.

To find Jews that are that hostile to Israel, you must inquire with the nebulous group of disaffiliated progressives that Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy term “the unJews.” As Sharansky and Troy show, these fierce enemies “know exactly what they are doing, and what they are undoing. They are trying to disentangle Judaism from Jewish nationalism, the sense of Jewish peoplehood, while undoing decades of identity-building … amplified by a militant progressive superstructure that now has an ideological lock on the discourse in American academia, publishing, media, and the professions.”

As Israeli novelist Amos Oz has written, he’s haunted by his father’s observation that, before the Holocaust, European graffiti read, “JEWS TO PALESTINE,” only to become in modern times, “JEWS OUT OF PALESTINE.” The message, says Oz: “Don’t be here and don’t be there. That is, don’t be.”

The anti-Zionist line, rejecting the right of the Jews — one of the world’s oldest indigenous people — to sovereignty in their own historicallyattested homeland, requires one to follow a conspiracist rabbit hole according to which the Jews of today are not connected to the Jews of the past.

If the Israel haters get their wish and Israel is dismantled, where are the flesh-and-blood Jewish people, with their Jewish bodies and Jewish souls, to go? As German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine presciently wrote in 1822: “Dort wo man Bucher verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.” In English: “Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too.”

Dr. Sheila Nazarian is a Los Angeles physician, and star of the Emmy-nominated Netflix series “Skin Decision: Before and After.” Her family escaped to America from Iran.

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