Last Shabbat, following the conversation with our MP Peter Kyle, I went on Twitter to drop a line to thank him. Being the mensch who we all agree he is, Peter Kyle had already twitted how thankful he was for our hospitality. But here you go. There was a reply.
It was a tweet by the “Brighton BDS campaign” -you know, the local chapter of the organisation who advocate the destruction of the only Jewish State in the world. They say it is for the good of the Jews, obviously, so don’t you dare to call them anti-Semitic. With the usual menacing language, and protected by being anonymous (thanks to Twitter) these activists, addressed Peter and demanded a public statement in support of a Palestinian activist.
Which, you know, makes perfect sense. After all, doesn’t it happen for every religion? I mean: we all see that every time a British MP visits a mosque, some activists demand a public statement about human rights in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.
I am being sarcastic: this does not happen. The same for the “Free Gaza” graffiti on synagogue walls, which we are familiar with. It makes perfect sense. Don’t you remember how many Anglican churches were defaced with similar graffiti during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or at the time of the Falkland war? Of course, you don’t, because it did not happen.
Only we Jews, only our community, have the privilege of being targeted in relation to international politics. Only the politicians who set foot in a synagogue are then demanded to condemn a State, thousands of miles away.
I think it’s complete nonsense. First of all, I cannot see how the living conditions of the Palestinians in the Middle east can improve, by putting pressure on the Jewish community in the UK. This is what these thugs are doing: generating in the senior members of our community the memories of the Kristallnacht: when synagogues were vandalised and Jewish owned business boycotted, (then, again, because Jews were accused of being loyal to another Country). How is this going to benefit the Palestinians?
These “anti-Zionist” attacks are most likely to achieve the opposite effect, which is to persuade us further that we need a Jewish State for our own survival, to take refuge if things go bad. So, dear self-appointed pro-Palestinian fighters, you’re behaving like complete idiots. What a surprise
But why do they continue to attack us in this way, even if it is clear to see that it is so counterproductive and nonsensical? It is, I believe, partly our responsibility. Or, to be more accurate, the responsibility of the Jewish world, (unfortunately some of the Reform and Progressive), that buy into a narration according to which Jews, or at least young Jews, are not Zionists anymore, that they do not feel a particular connection with Israel, and are embarrassed by the Israeli Government and the like.
This narrative is a fraud. No one in the Diaspora likes Netanyahu; he does nothing to be liked by the Diaspora. But only fools and lunatics want to replace Israel with a “bi-national State”, that is another State where Jews will be a ghettoised minority, like in contemporary Syria. This is the plan of the PLO, by the way. And even fewer Jews support fringe groups like Na’amod, those of the “Kaddish for Gaza”, that for the record has no official membership: very clever, so we don’t know how many really they are. Their presence is mainly on social media, obviously on the side of Brighton BDS and similar enemies of Peter Kyle (and of us).
As per the alleged uneasiness of young Jews with Israel, I think we should take into consideration how difficult life is, on certain campuses, for those Jews who dare to express their support for Israel. The SOAS, for example, has recently been condemned to repay a Jewish student, whose mental health was damaged by pro-Palestinian extremists. God knows what happens elsewhere. Yes, among young Jews there are always debates about Israel, but in these debates, certain positions at the moment cannot be expressed without consequences. So we are left with the impression that the majority of young British Jews agree with fringe groups such as Na’amod, JewDas or Yachad, (recently caught red-handed to inflate the number of signatories on a petition for them). Only because others are silenced!
These groups are not the majority. They are but a group of people in their 30s, not so young anymore, managing a multitude of accounts on social media. Let’s hope that the acceptance of the IHRA definition of antisemitism will change things for good, so that other voices will be allowed to speak out.
Anti-Semites, such as those who attack MP Peter Kyle or vandalise our synagogues, should not be allowed to intimidate us Jews and to force us into silence, on campus and elsewhere. Nonetheless, they continue to encourage vandalism, (or worse), against Jews, on social media and elsewhere. Even if they know they are not going to achieve their goals.
And why? I believe the answer is: religious hatred. They may call themselves secular or even atheist, but they are betrayed by the anger they pour against the symbols of the Jewish religion and, above all, by their total, complete, hopeless lack of will to negotiate.
Politicians negotiate and look for compromises. When there are conflicts regarding territory and pieces of land, the politicians find themselves around a table, with a map and proceed to draw lines on the map. They partition the land between States and political entities.
This kind of approach has been tested in the past in the Middle East. But it is completely rejected by the violent thugs whom I am talking about, who do not want to divide the land and protest and cry and shout that the whole of Palestine (including Israel) will one day be “liberated” and ethnically cleansed. It is a religious approach, fanatic and fundamentalist. It is religious hatred
But what is religious hatred? What does the fanatic want? The keyword is: conformity. These anti-Semites attack us and want to replace Israel with a so-called secular Country, which in reality would be another Arab dictatorship; or a fundamentalist entity like ISIS. That is because they want a world without religious differences; and without organised, self-determined cultural minorities, like us.
In the end, I am sorry for their own insecurity: for fanatic Marxists, the existence of a minority that refused to be assimilated is threatening. And as we see, such insecurity becomes rage and be poured against good willing public personalities, of every background, who work hard for the good of society.
When you face this kind of extremists it’s hard to keep your temper. It’s difficult to be a reasoning, measured person in front of extremists who shout and cry all the time. But it is precisely what the Torah commands us to do, and the politicians who stand up against this sort of extremists are precisely the politicians we need.
13 February 2021 — Brighton & Hove Reform Synagogue