A reminder to all the human rights activists on Yom Haatzmaut

74 years ago we, the Jewish people, were the underdog. We were the downtrodden victims without a safe haven to flee to during the Holocaust. Jews, the survivors of  pogroms, concentration camps and dictatorship, represented everything that you now spend your lives advocating for.  

You (commendably) make it your mission to fight for the rights of refugees — WE were the refugees.

You stand up for victims of genocide? Not long ago WE were those victims of genocide. 

You say that you strive for justice and equality – WE know all too well the result of a society that abandons those values.

74 years ago you, the United Nations, rightfully voted to grant us self-determination in our homeland, the State of Israel. You did so because you recognised that we were the oppressed. You did so because you recognised that all throughout history we have been the persecuted ones, moving from one country to the next while never forgetting our homeland.

Now that we have built a strong country and are able to defend ourselves, do we no longer deserve a homeland? 

How short your memories are and how quick you are to turn away from us. 

Antisemitism is on the rise and anti Zionism is now the cause that is equated with justice and human rights. On university campuses it is not woke to support Israel. Zionism is a dirty word that evokes anger and vile vitriol, while those who support the Palestinian cause make no mention of Hamas, terrorism and the constant threat to the citizens of Israel. 

Just this week the student union at Melbourne University passed a motion denouncing Israel for apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Melbourne University was quick to condemn this motion as antisemitic, and rightfully so. But Israel is increasingly being painted as the oppressor and activists are forgetting the historical context in which the State of Israel was born.

Go ahead and criticise specific policies or incidents that occur – Israel has its flaws just like every other country. But when you question Israel’s right to exist we see that you have very quickly forgotten the past.

If the Jewish people no longer fit your criteria as worthy recipients of justice, it is because we are a success story. We have built a thriving, democratic country that is creating new ties with the Arab countries surrounding it. We have a strong army to defend us and a booming hi tech industry.

Yet we know that it could all change in the blink of an eye and we always remember where we came from, even if it is no longer popular or contemporary for you to do so.

About the Author
Keren Zelwer is a speech pathologist living in Melbourne, Australia. Keren is a member of the Advocacy Subcommittee of NCJWA (Vic). She has had articles published in the Australian Jewish News and Kveller.com.
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