When former U. S. Ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, listed his takeaways from Israel’s fending off the embattled nation’s first-ever direct attack by Iran, the diplomat’s fourth entry was this: “Iran literally attacked the Al Aqsa Mosque. Had Israel not intercepted the missile, 3rd holiest site in Islam destroyed.”

“Oof, number 4,” columnist Karol Markowicz responded on X. She savored the irony of Iran’s almost destroying this holy site in Islam and Israel’s saving it from destruction. The issues, Karol’s own story, and her talent have aligned to make Markowicz one of the most popular opinion journalists working right now. 

Markowicz is a New York Post columnist, Fox News Contributor, sometime London Spectator writer, and co-author with Bethany Mandel of “Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation,” published earlier this year with resounding praise from such heavyweights as Christopher Rufo, Abigail Shrier, and Matt Walsh. According to Shrier, “Mandel and Markowicz have written an indispensable field guide for parents, laying out the unique challenges of this cultural moment and equipping them to protect their families.” 

“As an American Jew, I worry about America first,” Karol says, “but I think that what happens in Israel necessarily affects what will happen in America and the rest of the free world. We are, as I see it, in a battle of civilization. I understand not caring about other countries. I understand wanting to focus internally on what the problems are here. But I think we forget that we share common enemies with Israel and that we have extremely similar goals for that free society that we take for granted. What will happen? I really hope that America continues to support Israel, which largely America does… I hope we will not fall prey to bad ideas and bad actors who want it to be otherwise.”

What does Markowicz make of the current eruptions of antisemitism? Is it something new? “It is partially garden-variety antisemitism,” she says. “Jew hatred is an old virus, and we’re seeing it rear its head right now and not be beaten back. The people who are open about their hatred for Jews are seeing support, and that makes them stronger and bolder; that’s absolutely a part of what we’re seeing on our streets. The other part of it is the woke mind virus that has taken control in so many different places, and so many different institutions, and across our culture. The woke virus necessarily looks for the oppressed and oppressor, and it pretends that the world is this black-and-white thing. In their version, because Israel has been successful, because Israel has grown and succeeded throughout its existence, Israel is the oppressor. 

“They also have this image of the Palestinian people as indigenous to the land, while Israelis are not indigenous, which is completely backwards. Entirely wrong. Jews have been in that part of the Middle East for centuries. When you find fossils and old artifacts, they’re all from Judea and the Jewish experience in that area. So, antisemitism now is a combination of political activism gone completely wrong coupled with hatred for Jews that has always existed.”

“As an American Jew, I worry about America first,” Karol says, “but what happens in Israel necessarily affects what will happen in America. We are, as I see it, in a battle of civilization.”

Markowicz has a fascinating history. She was born in Russia but raised in Brooklyn. “My parents met in Turkmenistan where they were both working,” she recalls. “My mother was sent there to be a teacher, my father was sent there to be a doctor, because when you were Jewish in the Soviet Union, you don’t have options. You weren’t going to be sent to Moscow. When the Soviet Union started letting Jews out in the 1970s, my father applied. I like to say that he was born an American but over there.” 

It took a while, with repeated setbacks, but Karol’s father was determined to bring his family to the U.S. “My father felt that if he could get out himself, it would be easier to get my mother and me out after that,” Karol recalls. “And so, that’s what ended up happening. At every stage, something could have gone wrong, and our family could have been separated, but it was absolutely worth the risk.” Karol came to Brooklyn as a small child. Her grandmother and great aunt, Sarra and Raya, the first members of the family allowed to emigrate, were there to welcome Karol and her parents. Their father, Aron Gelberg, died in a gulag near the Kuril Islands in the 1930s. “I was raised with the knowledge that the freedom I have gotten to experience in the United States should not, not for a single moment, be taken for granted. None of it is promised,” Karol writes in “Stolen Youth.”   

Every year the family celebrates July 20th as their “Americaversary.” “We have a big party,” Karol says. “It’s bigger than birthdays. It is a really big deal that we get to be Americans. I’m thankful all the time. I have three kids and they’re all-American kids, all born here, and they are not going to have the ‘Americaversary’ that we celebrate every year, but I want them to be grateful and proud of their country. I don’t know how my kids are going to turn out, but I know that they’re not going to be America haters, and I can say that for sure.”

Every year the family celebrates July 20th as their “Americaversary.” “We have a big party,” Karol says. “It’s bigger than birthdays. It is a really big deal that we get to be Americans. I’m thankful all the time.”

Because her parents grew up in the Soviet Union, where they were not permitted to practice their religion, they knew nothing about Judaism. To ensure that this wasn’t the case for their daughter, they sent her to Jewish schools. She then went to Northeastern University in Boston and worked for a bit in the legal field. Thinking she might want to go to law school, she enrolled at New York University, but in political science. “I was the only Republican or conservative in my class, very outspoken, didn’t care, people hated me. I call NYU the most expensive mistake I’ve ever made, but it was interesting to be in such an adversarial place and not be afraid. I think it really helped me going forward in my writing.”

“Stolen Youth” grew out of email conversations between Markowicz and Bethany Mandel, who met each other on Twitter. “Bethany and I had been sending each other evidence of a cultural revolution, which was specifically aimed at the indoctrination of children. We finally decided we should do a book together. What we set out to prove in the book is happening now for sure. We start off with a history chapter about the Soviet Union, and we talk about China, and Cambodia, and a lot of places where totalitarianism took hold; people in those places could say we didn’t know, we didn’t know what they were teaching to our kids, we didn’t know that this was happening. And so, part of the point of our writing this book was so that nobody can say they didn’t know.”

“Stolen Youth” has chapters on “Wokeness in the Time of Pandemic,” “The Transgender Crusade,” “Sexualized Childhood,” and “Child Soldiers,” which shows how children are radicalized to lobby for climate change, gun control, and other trendy causes. “They always knew that they had to capture the kids and capture them early,” Karol explains. “They took over our colleges and they became little indoctrination factories, but the truth is that it gets a lot easier to capture the kids ideologically who arrive at college with these ideas already partially in place. So, they started taking over schools. They took over teachers’ colleges. If you look at what the teachers are learning at their teachers’ colleges, they’re learning Marxist thought. I’m a normal, moderate person. So, I would have thought what I am saying is a conspiracy theory. How could teachers be learning Marxist thought at their American teachers’ colleges? That’s crazy. But what we found in the writing of this book is just how prevalent that is. It was a big step that the Parkland kids became anti-gun activists. It was a big step for the Left in showing that kids not only can be activists, but should be. And the truth is you can’t argue with child activists.

“Parkland was really the first time that this happened. And then, if you remember, thre was the CNN Town Hall where the kids got to confront Senator Rubio and Dana Loesch, who was the spokesperson for the NRA at the time. The kids got to say really vicious, terrible things to them. Things that adults would not be allowed to say. The Left ate it up. You had people writing articles saying that these kids are saying exactly what needs to be said. We devote a chapter to children as activists and how effective the Left realized they are. We’re going to see this movement grow.” 

Although Karol had always loved the pace and spirit of her once tough city, she found New York changing drastically during the Covid pandemic. It was time to go. Karol and her three children and husband, Shai, made the difficult decision to pick up and move to Florida. “It was a pandemic-related move. Absolutely,” she says. “My kids had largely not gone to school in the year 2020, and we had moved to Florida as kind of a test run during that school year, and sent my kids to the open schools here. And we still were not 100% sure we were going to make the move. We just wanted to see—my husband and I are both lifelong New Yorkers. We had never lived anywhere else. We thought, you know, we’d be New Yorkers forever. We moved into our dream house in Brooklyn in March of 2020. We thought we were never leaving.

“Bethany and I had been sending each other evidence of a cultural revolution, which was specifically aimed at the indoctrination of children. We finally decided we should do a book together.”

“It was very tough to adjust to the idea that we couldn’t live in New York anymore, but there were so many things during the pandemic that we really couldn’t unsee, and that’s what pushed us out. New York was really not doing well in terms of crime absolutely, just terrible all-around policies. The fact that we’re Jewish and I saw antisemitism rising in New York for a long time before Covid happened. On Thanksgiving of 2021, we sat around the dinner table with both of our families and I said, ‘New York is getting unsafe for Jews and I would think about getting out if I were you.’ 

“One of the big reasons for me was that private schools opened while public schools stayed closed, and somehow it became impossible to say that that was crazy. And all the same people who had spent the summer of 2020 marching for equity now didn’t say a word and just sent their kids to their open private schools. They didn’t say a word for the poor kids all around the city whose public schools were closed. I couldn’t live with that. It became just untenable to me. I hated everybody and I needed to be out of there.

“When I talk about why we left New York, a lot of it is that the New Yorkers that I had expected to fight back did not fight back. I thought New Yorkers would never stand for this kind of thing. If you had asked me to predict, I would have predicted that New Yorkers wouldn’t stand for the Covid restrictions. I think that they got to a place where they were very afraid and willing to trust things that made no sense. I remember, for example, Governor Cuomo in New York shutting schools and stores down and things like that by zip code. Now, you could just go to another zip code and shop. You could be a block over. Covid doesn’t know what zip code you’re in. And none of it made any sense. 

“You had to wear the mask to enter the restaurant, but then you’d sit down and take off the mask and it would be okay. New Yorkers felt they should be quiet and go along to get along, which is just not my way of living. We’ve been so happy to be in Florida. Every day, we hear the news out of New York. I still root for the place, I still want it to succeed, but it’s on such a bad path.  and I just don’t see it self-correcting for a while. I hope that that city comes back, but I’ll be watching that, you know, I’ll be watching them do that from Florida. We feel like such geniuses for getting out when we did.”

Of course, it means they have to add a celebration to their calendar—they throw a party for Karol’s coming to America anniversary and another on the date they became Floridians.