Am I Crazy to Still Have Hope?

My future children in their history class will be sitting down learning about a very low time for the Jewish people, and it’s the one we are experiencing right now.

The Anti-Defamation League published their annual statistical report on global anti-Semitism, and the findings are not pretty. Currently, in the world, out of 4,161,578,905 surveyed, it was found that 1,090,000,000 people harbour anti-Semitic attitudes. In the UK specifically, anti-Semitic incidents reported increased from 646 in 2010, to 1,168 in 2014. Just in the first quarter of 2015 alone, anti-Semitic incidents have increased by 84% in France, in comparison to the same time period in 2014. The country has witnessed Jewish children being shot and killed, Synagogues attacked, Jewish businesses looted, and crowd chants of “Death to the Jews”.

In Argentina we saw posters stating, “A Good Jew is a Dead Jew”.
In Austria, a Jew was beaten up in a shopping mall.
In Canada, numerous cars had swastikas painted on them.
In Denmark, a man opened fire in a Synagogue killing one.
In Germany, an Israeli was beaten up.
In Hungary, the Jewish cemetery was vandalised with human remains scattered everywhere.
In the Netherlands, “Hamas Hamas, Jews to the Gas” was chanted at a soccer match.

I’m sorry, have I been transported back to 1930s Nazi Germany?

2014 was deemed a ‘violent year for Jews’ but I do not see any adequate reaction from the public in response to this fact. Neither power-houses such as the United Nations, nor student-led societies on campus, have spoken out against the rise of anti-Semitism, and the violent nature it has taken form. For some reason, anti-Semitism has now been brushed under the rug and given justification as a sort of ‘eventuality’ from the Arab-Israeli Conflict. It is shameful to see the lack of concern, especially when taking a glance at our long history of suffering.

John Mann, a British MP for the Labour Party, and head of the ‘All Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism’, published a guide for combatting anti-Semitism, and appropriately coined the term ‘the oldest hatred’ in regards to it. This is far from me bragging, but the Jewish people really are a nation with the worst history of persecution. First the Assyrian empire expelled the Jews from Israel in 733 BCE, then once we returned, the Babylonians expelled us as well. This was followed by the Roman, Greek, and Persian empires either expelling Jews or committing themselves to exterminating us. The Spanish, Italians, Crusaders, English, Germans, Hungarians, French have all either expelled Jews from their respective countries or have gone out to purposefully kill Jews because they are Jewish. We were scapegoats for centuries. We caused the Black Plague, we kidnapped Christian children, and apparently we also had horns on our heads. Of course, all these massacres and expulsions led to more modern catastrophes such as the pogroms in Russia which started in 1881, the Holocaust, which exterminated 6 million of us, and the massive expulsion of Jews from various Arab countries once Israel was established by the U.N in 1948.

I genuinely have to ask myself how we are still here. How is it that all these great empires and tyrannies have disappeared, yet leaving a small and stubborn Jewish nation, scattered around the world? How is it that we still have hope?

Somehow through the thick of it all, I know that we can and will prevail. There is something to be said about the survival instinct most Jews are nurtured with. We all come from families whose countries have betrayed them, and we constantly anticipate for the stable ground beneath us to give way in a split second. With that, our sense of community is unlike no other. To meet a stranger whose a Jew, is like meeting a long lost friend. We have each other’s backs no matter what, and this concept of ‘ahavat yisrael’ is so beautiful it takes my breath away.

Last year, when Hamas kidnapped and murdered those 3 innocent boys, not only did Israelis unite, but so did Jewish communities worldwide. We all prayed and cried for their safe return, but of course when news broke that their bodies were found, it was as if my own brothers were taken. The outpouring of support for the bereaved families made me proud of my people.

I have hope because amidst the wave of terror occurring now in Israel on a daily basis, Israelis refuse to give up. They refuse to live a life of terror. Yes it is hard. And yes, we are held at a double standard, but we must be the better half and rise above it.

I have hope because the Muslim ‘ring of peace‘ outside a synagogue in Oslo, Norway shows what can and will be. Coexistence does not have to be so dubious.

I have hope because if there is one video that sums up the Israeli and Jewish mentality, it is that of an Orthodox man dancing down a cobbled stone alley in Jerusalem, to the beat of Palestinians chanting, “allahu akbar“. Having the ‘chutzpah’ to dance in response to people calling for our death is so classic that it is almost normal.

We are making a statement, that no matter which nation rises up to destroy us, we will overcome.

We will always choose life.

About the Author
Devora Khafi grew up in Singapore and is currently a student at Queen Mary University of London. She specializes in issues regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as security threats to the region.