Come by choice
I sat at my kitchen table this morning enjoying my cup of coffee as I read an article in the Post written by Isi Leibler. He titled it “British Jews: A wake-up call”. By the time I finished the article I had mostly lost my appetite. Not at what he wrote — the article was fantastic and right on the mark. And it needed to be written. It’s just sad that something so obvious needed to be plastered on the front page of the Comments & Features section for people to listen.
The article was his reaction to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s win against Prime Minister Theresa May. His plea for the Jews of Britain is to get out now while you can, escape the inevitability of anti-Semitism by the hands of a leader who has not just hidden his hatred of Jews or Israel but has cozied up to the likes of known terrorists and Holocaust deniers.
Isi is one hundred percent correct in urging our brothers and sisters of Great Britain to make aliyah to a country which will welcome them with open arms and allow them to live a Jewish life without fear.
He writes: “In contrast to the 1930s when Jews were desperate and, in most cases, futilely seeking visas to escape the Holocaust, today Jews are privileged to live in an age when a Jewish state is willing to embrace and provide them with security.”
That resonated deeply inside of me. And it made me wonder (sadly…) what European Jews are waiting for. More violence? More hatred? More attacks on our places of worship or schools or kosher markets? More death?
The Jews of Europe in the 1930s had no choice but to flee and to try with desperation and very little hope to enter any country that would take them in. And there were not many that wanted Jews. The Nazi borders were tightening minute by minute and as we all know too well, the Jews of Europe had long since run out of time. What happened in the aftermath is one of the most singular horrific events in world history.
At that time there was no State of Israel to grant them instant sanctuary and safety from the evils of the Third Reich. But there had been warning signs for years. Warning signs that largely went ignored since no one would imagine in their wildest nightmares that something like the Holocaust would happen as the world stood by and watched.
And yet, history has a stubborn way of repeating itself and the warning signs that have been erupting all over Europe have been going on for years. The election of Jeremy Corbyn didn’t happen in a vacuum. Anti-Semitism is on the rise all over the world but the one miraculous and life-saving difference is that for the past 69 years, we’ve had a country of our own. A strong and vital one. We have become, over a relatively short period of time, a contender.
As a resident of Israel for over two decades I can attest to the fact that it is not a hardship to live here. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. It is a privilege, a joy, and the best decision my husband and I have ever made. As a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I grew up with the story of survival. It is embedded in my skin, it is written on my genes, and it is stored in every memory I have of my grandparents.
I came from Canada more than twenty two years ago. I came with my husband and baby by choice, and not because I was afraid for my life. I didn’t come because Canada elected a Prime Minister that would impact my ability to practice my faith freely and safely. I didn’t come because I feared for my son’s ability to walk in the streets wearing his kippa for all to see. I didn’t come because I was being chased. And I think as much as Isi’s article is so important and necessary, it’s sad that that he’s pleading for them to come now that fear and desperation have begun to seep in. The State of Israel has been thriving and growing and developing for decades. Citizens of Israel live a life of democracy, freedom and tolerance. It shouldn’t take fear of terrorism and anti-Semitism to bring people to Israel. It should be a desire to live in the Holy Land by choice, a yearning to celebrate Jewish life openly with pride.
Nevertheless, I sincerely hope the Jews of Britain listen to Isi’s advice, if not for their sake, for the sake of their children and the generations to come.