'Never fight a Jew in the desert’


In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the world stood united in shock and grief. Americans came together to support one another in the face of an unprecedented tragedy. Yet even in those dark days, there were voices around the globe that cheered for the destruction of what they called the “great Satan.”

Fast-forward to the present, over 100 days after the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel, and a chilling similarity emerges. This time, however, the cheering for destruction and massacre is a chorus that reverberates through academia and the global community.

Reflecting on the alarming rise of antisemitic sentiments, it’s simple to draw parallels between the aftermath of 9/11 and the present climate. But there is one massive difference: the hostility toward Jews hasn’t been a delayed reaction, but rather an instantaneous outpouring of hatred, echoing across educational institutions and the broader world.

The question that looms large is, why the Jews? There are complex layers of historical prejudice and animosity that have targeted the Jewish community for thousands of years. Jews and Israel are a smaller and easier target than Christianity and America, a simpler fight. But the Jewish people are one of history’s most successful and influential groups, contributing significantly to every facet of human life. This “success” often breeds jealousy, and this jealousy manifests as hatred.

For Jews, there is a tendency to rationalize, make excuses, and view the hatred through rose-colored glasses and appeasement. I suggest that we as a people take a different approach — one of self-awareness. It’s time to stop rationalizing, stop the “bleeding heart” for those who look to destroy us. It’s time to stand up and push back against the rising tide of antisemitism, recognizing that the roots of this hatred run deep and must be combated by physical and economic strength, by pushing back twice as hard as it’s being spread.

In the turbulent landscape of the Middle East, the tiny nation of Israel has consistently defied the odds, earning both fear and respect with a series of remarkable victories and daring feats. The aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and the miraculous rescue at Entebbe in 1976 stand as testament to Israel’s, and the Jewish people’s, success when strength, might and resolve, not pontification, are employed.

The Six-Day War was a turning point in Israel’s history. Faced with the looming threat of annihilation by surrounding Arab nations, Israel pre-emptively struck with lightning speed and devastating precision. The Israeli Defense Forces displayed unparalleled military prowess, swiftly overcoming the combined forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Over the course of just six days, Israel said to the world, “Don’t mess with the Jewish people.”

The world watched in awe as Israel transformed from a vulnerable nation to a formidable force. The fear emanating from the decisive victory in 1967 was twofold — a fear of Israel’s military might, and a fear of the strategic and tactical brilliance demonstrated by the IDF and the Jewish people. They had not only survived the Holocaust, but had become a force to be reckoned with.

In 1973, the Yom Kippur War posed another severe test. Faced with a surprise attack on the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Israel once again demonstrated its resilience. The initial setbacks only fueled its determination to defend its existence. The IDF rallied and pushed back the invading forces, reclaiming lost territory and securing a hard-fought victory.

Perhaps one of the most daring and celebrated episodes in Israel’s history occurred in 1976, with the Operation Entebbe rescue mission. When an Air France plane was hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists and diverted to Entebbe, Uganda, Israel faced a critical moment, but Israeli commandos executed a lightning-fast rescue, saving over 100 hostages. The audacity and success of the mission sent shockwaves throughout the world, solidifying Israel’s reputation as a nation that would go to any lengths to protect its citizens.

Decades later, we as a people seem to have forgotten these lessons. We must reflect on these pivotal moments in Israel’s history, and recognize that the fear and respect this tiny nation has earned are rooted not just in military victories, but also in the spirit of a people who refuse to be defeated. The Jewish story is one of triumph against all odds, a beacon of resilience and determination in a world fraught with challenges. It is time we reignite and take back that respect. To quote Frank Sinatra, “Remember, never fight a Jew in the desert.”

Ari Brown represents the 20th Assembly District.