Why this night is no different than any other – vile anti-semitism persists

Tonight, I know, is the first night of Pesach-Passover, the Jewish festive celebration of the historic/mythical tale of escape from slavery in Egypt. Being an atheist with a complete lack of interest in any religious or pseudo-religious customs, Passover has never been a holiday that I’ve really celebrated. In fact, I don’t celebrate much on any Jewish holiday (although I am interested in the history and culture of the Jewish people); but that doesn’t make me any less Jewish.

It was the Nazis who proved that Jews can’t convert, intermarry or recant their Jewishness. A Jewish grandparent on either side of the family was sufficient to merit being sent to the gas chambers, despite one’s belonging to a church.

One of the key passages in the Passover Haggadah (the guide to the evening Passover service) is a song about “what makes this night different from all the others.” Unfortunately, the answer is “nothing.” This time it was demonstrated by a vile white supremacist and antisemite who murdered 3 completely innocent and defenseless people by cowardly shooting them in cold-blood – just because he (mistakenly) believed they were Jewish. No other reason. Just because they were supposed to be Jews.

It happened only 180 miles from Omaha, at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City. One 14 year old boy with a passion and talent for singing. His grandfather, a respected family doctor. And an occupational therapist who worked with children who have impaired vision. Cut down by bullets fired by a cowardly loser, whose own life was dedicated to spouting absurd lies, hatred and violence toward others. It’s sickening to think that this coward should have been permanently jailed for incitement to murder, based on his many criminally revolting statements. He should also be tried for treason; praising Hitler, who was the enemy of the US (and many other countries) in World War II, should be grounds for treason.

Unfortunately, as the bereaved families mourn their incomprehensible losses, the Jews mourn with them. But we also mourn for centuries of this type of antisemitism. The Spanish Inquisition. The Cossacks in the Pale of Settlement in eastern Europe who gave my grandmother nightmares. The murder of ~11 million people, among them 6 million Jews. And the knowledge that, no matter who we might want to be,  even if we cast our Jewishness aside – we will always need to look over our shoulders for the antisemitic white supremacists – who will cowardly murder any innocent unarmed person, as long as they can justify that their target was killing Jews.


About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery. "Saving One" is my most recent novel set at the National Institutes of Health. Now IN PRESS: Today's Curiosity is Tomorrow's Cure: The Case for Basic Biomedical Research (CRC PRESS, 2021). https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B006CSULBW? All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising.
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4 Responses to Why this night is no different than any other – vile anti-semitism persists

  1. cromercrox says:

    There is another perspective on this, possibly distinct from anti-Semitism, and even Israel-hatred, though overlapping with both, and that’s ‘anti-Judaism’. The core beliefs of Christianity and Islam, and in many ways the reason for their self-justification, is that although they both have their roots in Judaism, they set themselves apart from it. The consequence is that they will do anything to denigrate Judaism and its adherents. I do not think this is confined to extremist Muslims or fundamentalist Christians. Chag Pesach Sameach.

  2. Steve Caplan says:

    Although there is truth in that, I think you are giving too much “intellectual credit” to a loser who simply hates anyone and anything that is different from him. Skin color, religion, or choice of favorite bagels, this is a ‘person’ who thrives on hatred of anything that is not him. I doubt he has the intellectual capacity to realize that Christianity even sprung from Judaism. Just a cowardly loser who will go down in history as having snuffed out the lives of 3 worthy people in an act of miserable, cowardly and stupid blind hatred.

    • cromercrox says:

      Sure, but I am not giving this criminal ‘intellectual credit’. I am pointing out that his is not an isolated case, but one extreme of a continuum in which antisemitism is found in all Christian and Muslim societies, so deeply ingrained culturally that antisemitic attitudes are found even among atheists. As someone said, it’s a beast that sleps but lightly.

  3. Fred says:

    In his quest to scale Mount Hubris, the person arrested in connection to these attacks apparently stood for election in the state of Missouri in 2010 as an independent candidate. He was interviewed by a minor radio show at the time, in a mocking style reminescent of Louie Theroux. Listening to the suspect speak underlines his utter stupidity and beligerance – He can’t string together a coherent argument when challenged.

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