January 11, 2007
I rode on the wild side—when road rage met anti-Semitism
(Page 2 - Previous Page)"Never have Jews lived with such freedom and openness," I recall one of the professors saying.
Israel was in a peace process. Jewish life was forming across the former Soviet Union. Israelis were attending conferences in Qatar. Here in Los Angeles, Peace Now was sponsoring dinners between its members and members of local Arab organizations. Israelis were spending their Saturday afternoons shopping in the casbah of Nablus. Walls were coming down everywhere.
Indeed the driver was right about something -- the tables are turning, mon. People in high positions and people living at the grass-roots level are feeling empowered to hate Jews and articulate their feelings.
Perhaps the greatest resonance of the Gibson affair is that when a Hollywood somebody of such fame feels free to let fly his anti-Semitic beliefs, it gives permission to others to do the same. There is no doubt in my mind that the golden era of our acceptance is in decline. As Jews, we must see what its implications could be.
Personally, I am now faced with a terrible moral dilemma. This man knows where I live. My wife stays in our house alone when I am away on frequent business trips. He is crazy, and I believe has great potential for violence.
If I report him, are we in danger? If I don't, is someone else? How safe are we in the world today?
Gary Wexler is founder and president of Los Angeles-based Passion Marketing, consulting with Jewish and general nonprofit organizations throughout the world.
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