‘Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment.”
This was George W. Bush’s call to America in the wake of September 11. Twenty years later, Joe Biden pulled American forces out of Afghanistan in a world-historical blunder that was the result of his desire to play the hero by ending that mission and that moment. Now we find ourselves two yeaars later in a world on fire. Russia is trying to swallow Ukraine in a barbaric and unjust war Russia would never have begun if Biden had simply allowed Bush’s mission to continue quietly. And then there’s the Middle East.
In another effort to take that mission and that moment and stomp them to death, the Biden administration spent years trying to find some kind of accommodation with Iran—the partial result of which was Iran’s triggering Hamas to fire the opening salvo on October 7 in a war of extermination against the Jews. That’s the same war it’s been promising since Iran’s president said in 2006 that Israel would one day be “wiped out” and then six years later said Israel would soon be “eliminated.”
The Jewish people now find ourselves in a position of literal existential peril for the second time in a century. Iran may not yet have a nuclear bomb, but it can in a matter of months if it chooses. And in unleashing Hamas as it did, Iran is telling the world the rhetoric it uses cannot and must not be divorced from the reality it wishes to remold and the world it wishes to re-create.
And the world seems all too nightmarishly ready for that re-creation.
The October 7 attacks not only ended with 5,000 mostly Jewish casualties, they began a worldwide assault on Jews. First the attacks began rhetorically, with marches and statements. Soon the anecdotes started piling up. Stars of David were painted on homes in Paris before a Jew was murdered on a Paris street. A student was arrested at Cornell for threatening to blow up the kosher dining hall. A kid in New Orleans was beaten with a megaphone one week before a man in Los Angeles was murdered in a megaphone beating. A Harvard kid was menaced and assaulted on the Harvard campus by a Harvard Law Review president. A synagogue president was murdered in Detroit, and the cops rushed to the microphones to say there was no evidence it was a hate crime—but have no suspect and no motive and had no reason to do what they did other than simply not wanting to think a Jewish woman of 40 was murdered simply because she was a Jew.
And who knows how many injuries will have been done to Jews between the time I finished writing this sentence on November 6 and the time you began reading it.
Joe Biden rejected the mission and the moment. I will not.
What is happening here to the Jewish people is the mission of COMMENTARY now and henceforth. This magazine is 75 years old. It was created to analyze, locate, and promote the purpose and meaning of American Jewry. Or maybe it came into being to build its strength and its longevity to be here and strong at this time so that we can do what must be done to serve the cause of the defense, the protection, the salvation, and the enduring strength of the Jewish people and our ancient, God-given homeland.
And our homeland here in America too. For if the disease of Jew-hatred that is spreading in our culture and our streets is allowed to become an epidemic, it will truly mean the end of the American experiment.
COMMENTARY will use argument, polemic, satire, invective, praise, wit, rage, and whatever else is at hand rhetorically to serve in the cause of saving America, saving Israel, and saving the West. Daily, we conclude our podcast with the phrase “Keep the candle burning.” I have to be honest. I never quite understood what it meant. It just sounded good.
Now I know. I wish I didn’t. But I do. We all do. They want to extinguish us. Our candle—the eternal light in every sacred Jewish space, the ner tamid—must burn.
Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty
We want to hear your thoughts about this article. Click here to send a letter to the editor.