Now is the festival of Passover, which details the escape of the Jews from the land of Egypt. It is traditional for many to sit around the meal table and talk about Moses, the plagues and how we as a people were led from slavery to freedom.
There are in the course of the meal two references to generations of Jews. One is that we are reminded that in every era our enemies have tried to destroy us. The other discusses how it is incumbent on every generation to recount the tale of the escape from Egypt and speak as if they personally had been saved.
How is this relevant today? For me, bitingly so. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in the backdrop of Vietnam and great social liberties. However, for the first time I believe that now, in this epoque, the enemies of the Jews are trying to destroy us. The story of the escape from Egypt, thousands of years of history and which was recounted last weekend, reminded me that the oppression of the Jews at the hand of the Pharaoh is still with us.
All over the world Jews are being attacked for being Jews. Names of cities are now synonymous with murders of Jews: Paris, Toulouse, Tel Aviv, Mumbai. The attack at Brussels airport was adjacent to the El Al counter. Every self-determination movement in the world is largely treated with respect and deference except that of the Jews.
Somehow it has become acceptable to avow obsessive hostility to Zionism, the Jewish self-determination movement. And in the same breath you can mysteriously claim that there is no anti-Semitic intent.
Such advocates are the modern day Pharaohs. They wish to subjugate us, punish us and ultimately return us to the ghettos of the 18th Century. For too long we have been trying to understand and explain those who demonise Israel are not really anti-Semitic and are only interested in human rights.
And our frequent generic auto-response to date? Many have bent over backwards to defend these people as being legitimate commentators on Israel. Others have just ignored them and hoped they will go away.
These enemies, such as War on Want, Roger Waters and now Malia Bouattia (new president of the UK’s National Union of Students) are not interested in human rights. They are not interested in legitimate criticism of Israel. And like a good Pharoah, they are intent on in its destruction and the subjugation of the Jewish people. We should be standing against them, but seem to offer no response.
What we do need to understand is that they are not alone. Malia Bouattia was not elected despite her anti-Semitic stance. She was elected because of it. Those who seek her removal are missing the point. It is not her that is the problem. It is those who elected her as they believe her message.
Those representatives from various universities around the country came together and between them picked for their national representative a new Pharaoh. It is time that we recognised this, and that this ancient oppression is not allowed to resurrect itself. I for one will be doing all in my power to challenge these people and organisations. And I urge everyone who understands that redemption from Egyptian slavery applies to them to do the same.