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Context is still the word

So I thought “context” was such a 2023 word. How wrong I was. It is really such a now word. After all, where there are pro-Palestinian, sorry, pro-Hamas, encampments, calls for Intifada and the eradication of the State of Israel, plus of course the banning of Zionists from attending the campuses, and when the vice chancellors of the various universities can’t bring themselves to say that these actions are variously hate speech or breach their code of conduct and the Minister of Education tied himself up in knots that would make Humpty Dumpty blush by saying that these actions and statements mean different things to different people, and well, it all depends on the context, I know that the word of the year from 2023 is still the word of 2024.

We have just commemorated Yom Hashoah, the  annual Day of Remembrance for the Holocaust. Next week there is the Remembrance Day for Israel’s fallen and the following day Israel’s Independence Day.

At the annual March of the Living where survivors (a rapidly decreasing number), their descendants and others walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau, we have seen the obscenity of protestors calling out against the survivors and against Israel. How sick must you be to choose that place to demonstrate against Israel? In fact, it is a huge own goal as it demonstrates without a doubt that the “I don’t hate Jews” rhetoric is just that and that they do, really, hate Jews. And not just Israel or the new word, the “Zios”, but all Jews, Zios or not.  Where else to better show your true colours?

The vice chancellors who show their true lack of spine by purporting to appease the pro Hamasniks at their universities should learn a bit of history prior to thinking that appeasement is the way to go. The pro Hamas supporters are in reality the same as supporters of the Einsatzgruppen who  murdered their way through eastern Europe during Operation Barbarossa in the early 1940s.  Father Patrick DesBois, the righteous French priest who founded  the  group Yahad in Unum has fastidiously documented the killings of the Einsatzgruppen – the “ Holocaust by Bullets”- and the shootings and mass graves are no different from what occurred on October 7. What Hamas did was just the same as the Einsatzgruppen, so those who are appeasing those students might do well to pause for a nano second and wonder what it is about the education these students receive that they are so blinded by hate that they support, inter alia, rapists and baby killers.

When students- and others- are cheering death squads, you need to wonder not only about the education they receive, but also about lack of moral fibre shown by our leaders.

Where is the unequivocal condemnation? Free speech has limits, it is not unfettered. But our leader and our police seem to think it is a free for all. Of course, should you misgender someone or speak ill of anyone in the LGTBQI community, you wouldn’t hear the end of it. But when it comes to calling for Intifada or the end of Israel, well, that depends on the context.

Many of us are descendants of Holocaust survivors. We grew up hearing stories of our parents either being denied access to universities because they were Jews,  the “numerus clauses” or having to fight not to sit at the back row.  Or just having to fight because they were Jews and were attacked.

Our grandparents died for no other reason than they were Jews. They hid and were betrayed or just discovered.

These days some Jews are also hiding in plain sight, too scared to stand up and be seen. Did our grandparents die for nothing? Did they die so that we too would have to hide in plain sight? Or did they die so that never again would a Jew have to hide or be scared.

Antisemitism has been around for over 2000 years. The list of persecutions has been ongoing, and, as the French writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy wrote in his recent book “the solitude of Israel” ,the Jews have been persecuted forever. In France, the beacon of liberty, equality and brotherhood, the Jews have constantly battled. And yet. And yet…the paradox of France: with its collaborationist Vichy regime who enforced anti Jewish laws before  being asked  yet also had a populace who didn’t care too much for their Jews became appalled when the big round ups occurred and the Jews were deported. At that point the French woke up and they started to help their Jews. As a result of that, “only” about 25 percent of Jews were deported from France, a vastly lesser number than other countries.

No one is saying that deportations will happen anytime soon, but where is the wakeup moment going to be for our leaders? When will they look in horror at what they are allowing to take place and say, loud and clear, enough is enough? When will they stop equivocating with their blancmange expressions of ‘ we condemn all forms of racism and antisemitism and Islamophobia” and actually condemn antisemitism outright? When will their moment come? Because actually it doesn’t depend on the context at all.

About the Author
A family law barrister and amateur Holocaust historian with an interest in writing about what is important right now.
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