On Monday, Aug. 24, actor and comedian Elon Gold penned a story for the Jewish Journal recounting an incident that happened to him and his family the previous Friday night, writing, ”We were walking home in Los Angeles after a Friday night dinner at a friend’s house, dressed nicely for Shabbat, easily identifiable as a Jewish family. We waited for a light to change at the corner of a major intersection when a black Mercedes SUV pulled up alongside us. Four Middle-Eastern men in their 20s were in the car. The one in the back rolled down his window and yelled, ‘Free Palestine!’”
That wasn’t the only thing that was said to Gold and his family.
He continues, “Then this Arab young man opened the car door, stepped onto the street and yelled at me, my wife and four young children: ‘I hope your children die! Just like you are killing children in Gaza!’
“We stood silently in utter horror and fear.
“Then he got back in the Mercedes and they drove off. We were in a state of complete shock. My 10-year-old daughter immediately started crying and couldn’t
stop. She kept yelling, ‘I’m scared.’ My 5-year-old daughter asked me why they wanted her to die. My other kids were too rattled to say anything.
“I was stunned that I can no longer feel safe walking on Shabbat with my family in my city. I kept reading about all the anti-Semitism all over Europe, but here in these United States? That my innocent children had to be exposed to this level of anti-Semitism has shaken me to my core. These people weren’t just yelling ‘Jew bastard,’ as I’d experienced growing up in the Bronx; they were wishing my children dead, right to their angelic faces. This is beyond appalling.”
Gold goes on to describe his feelings about the conflict in Gaza and Israel, and his experience with reporting the crime to the LAPD.
He writes, “It was explained to us that it would’ve been a hate crime if they had said they were going to kill us, instead of merely hoping we got killed, which makes it a hate incident. Try explaining that differentiation to a 10-year-old girl who was just told to die.”
Click here to read the rest of the story.
At one point, Gold references the killing of an Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn while he walking to synagogue on Saturday, Aug. 8, in North Miami Beach, Florida (which I wrote about here and here for Breitbart.com). Although police have not labeled that a hate crime, it came in the wake of several incidents in the area of vandalism directed at Jewish temples and individuals.
And Gold is right about Europe, where anti-Semitism is on the rise across the continent.
This story from the U.K. Guardian is titled “Antisemitism on the rise in Europe ‘in worst times since the Nazis’”
This one from USA Today is titled, “Anti-Semitism flares in Europe amid Gaza War,” and recounts incidents in Germany, France and other countries, including physical threats, vandalism and anti-Jewish graffiti.
While the Catholic Church hardly has an unspotted history dealing with Jews, enormous strides were made especially in the 20th Century, and now-Saint Pope John Paul II famously referred to the Jewish people as our “elder brothers” in faith.
A 1986 New York Times story recalls ”the first recorded papal visit to a synagogue,” in which John Paul II (seen above greeting Elio Toaff, the former Chief Rabbi of Rome) spoke at the central synagogue in Rome.
The saint said, “The Jews are beloved of God, who has called them with an irrevocable calling.”
He continued, “The Jewish religion is not ‘extrinsic’ to us, but in a certain way is ‘intrinsic’ to our own religion. With Judaism, therefore, we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly beloved brothers, and in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.”
Most recently, Pope Francis visited the Holy Land in May, focusing on Catholic and Orthodox communities in the region, but also meeting with Jewish and Muslim religious figures and officials. And of course, in June, Pope Francis invited both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to join him and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for a prayer service for peace in the Vatican Gardens.
Our Faith is built on a Jewish foundation, and Jews and Christians petition the same God, so it is heartbreaking to see ancient hatreds bubbling back up and erupting in threats and violence.
In a homily on Dec. 31, 1986 (from an excerpt posted in the archives of the Anti-Defamation League) John Paul II said, “I thank Divine Providence that I was able to visit our ‘elder brothers’ in the faith of Abraham in their Roman Synagogue. Blessed be the God of our fathers! The God of peace!”
As both Jews and Christians would say, “Amen.”