This will be my last column for the year, and it will be more personal than most. It’s an effort to explain, to myself as much as to readers, why I can’t stop writing about Oct. 7 and its aftermath.
A few weeks ago, my mother was watching footage of a Jewish student being taunted and mobbed by anti-Israel demonstrators at Harvard after he tried to film them. “I was born in hiding,” she told me. “I don’t want to die in hiding.”
My mother was born in Milan in 1940, to a family that had fled the Bolsheviks in Moscow and then, a few years later, the Nazis in Berlin. She was baptized to avoid suspicion; one of her earliest memories is of being abruptly hidden under a nun’s habit. It was only after the war, after she arrived in New York as a refugee, that she learned she was Jewish. America, to her, was the land in which you didn’t have to hide.
That’s no longer true. Well before Oct. 7, Jews were tucking their Stars of David under their collars or hiding their kipas under baseball caps to avoid being shunned or harassed. Synagogues and Jewish community centers were under constant armed guard. The ultra-Orthodox — who, courageously, do not hide their identity from anyone — were routinely assaulted in their communities by bullies who think it’s fun to sucker-punch a Jew. But that reality was shamefully underreported by news organizations that otherwise see themselves as champions of the marginalized and oppressed.
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