In Aalst, a small city northwest of Brussels, Belgium, the Carnival parade, which takes place on the Sunday before Lent, is one of the main events of the year, where people are made fun of and drunkenness is the order of the day. But this year, the floats presented were especially distasteful. One float carried two giant figures of Orthodox Jews with pei’os and large hooked noses sitting on bags of money. Another group of people paraded with white hoods and robes depicting the Ku Klux Klan. This is supposed to be funny, but I don’t see any humor in the depicting of Jews in that manner.

For more than two years and more than $25 million of taxpayer’s money, the country has been taunted with the notion that President Trump was in collusion with the Russians with regard to the 2016 elections. The Democrats had hoped that the findings of the Mueller investigation would prove the president unfit for office and impeachment proceedings would take place. But the Mueller report found no such thing. Despite the 448 pages explaining this, the Democrats went at it again this past Wednesday with hearings by the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees of the House of Representatives. Democrats had hoped Robert Mueller would say that he would have charged President Trump with obstruction of justice were it not for Justice Department guidance instructing that a sitting president may not be indicted. But Robert Mueller was not up to the task. He was seen stumbling through questions and at times unclear about the contents of his own much-heralded report. Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe said, “Far from breathing life into his damning report, the tired Robert Mueller sucked the life out of it.”

January 27 has been designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as a day the world vowed never to allow anti-Semitism and hate to occur again. Yet, it’s been 75 years since the liberation from the Shoah, and one would think that the world would have learned a lesson or two in how to keep hate from raising its ugly head. But that is not the case. Hate and anti-Semitism have spiked all over the world. There was a time when those who harbored negative feelings against Jews understood to keep them to themselves. Now things have changed, unfortunately, for the worse. People seem free to spout their ugly venom publicly without any conscience or remorse. Attacking Jews is now socially acceptable across every ideological spectrum.

There is nothing more disturbing and infuriating than the events that have taken place during this past week that disrespected our country. There were two incidents that sought to discredit the importance of the Pledge of Allegiance. One was the original decision by the city council of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, to stop reciting the Pledge at the beginning of each meeting. The skewed reasoning behind that decision was because it might offend newcomers to the community. But that logic is what my mother would have described as “Meshuga iz nit ken krank (Being meshuga is not a malady – it is just plain nuts). Those who come to this country (and we see how many are coming to the southern border) understand the virtues of what the US represents. The thought that anyone who has come here for a better life and/or freedom would be offended by the Pledge is ludicrous. If that be the case, they shouldn’t be here in the first place.

They say that “timing is everything.” I have always believed that, and that is why I am always quite nervous and apprehensive of anything that is happening to Jews and our community during the Three Weeks and especially during the Nine Days, knowing that this time in the Jewish calendar doesn’t bode well for us. It is historically the season of bad tidings for the Jewish people. I look forward with a great sigh of relief when Tish’ah B’Av is over and done with, and we have come out of it unscathed.

When I first got involved with community activism many years ago, the elected officials courted the Jewish community. We were a strong political voting bloc (measured by numbers) that the politicians curried favor with, and sought our endorsement. Knowing our painful history, where citizenship and the ability to cast a ballot were denied us countless times throughout the years, we Jews took the precious freedoms granted to us in the United States very seriously. We cared about our community and our country, and the elected officials knew that. We wanted to make sure that the values that we held dear were preserved, and we chose to support those seeking political office who agreed with us. One didn’t have to be Jewish to receive our endorsement, but he or she had to be a mentch. But that is not the case anymore.

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