Lamentations of the Diaspora

“War is justified only given a just cause”*. Having recently suffered a relentless aerial and underground terrorist bombardment, the state of Israel had to defend itself and was clearly justified in doing so.

An organisation claiming to be supportive of Israel responded with the following “we believe” statement that did not explicitly state, “we believe in Israel’s basic right to self defence”, nor mention or condemn Hamas, an organisation committing war crimes against Israelis and Palestinians. With Israeli soldiers giving their lives to protect the residents of southern Israel, one would assume not everyone in the Jewish community would have been chuffed with this lofty, sitting-on-the-fence statement, particularly when mainstream society was hysterically berating Israel’s response.

“A just war must have a reasonable hope of success; if there is no probability of achieving the just causes, the war’s destructiveness will be to no purpose.” Throughout the recent ground operation Yachad and other organisations called for a long and sustained ceasefire, thus undermining its very purpose. While Israeli ground troops were bravely protecting the civilians of southern Israel- they (Yachad & chums) were effectively preaching “stop- there is another way!” If there was no purpose to it, the ground operation, that tragically resulted in many deaths, must have been unjust and disproportionate. Should anyone really be surprised if the Head of the Opposition in the UK, Ed Milliband called it as such?

Apparently these organisations undermining the state of Israel are irrelevant and that they do not reflect the sentiment of the majority of Israelis or the Jewish diaspora for that matter. To a great extent this is true. However these Jews are to the pseudo-intellectual Israel bashing elite their great bastion of hope. This is why their representatives are granted platforms on the BBC and other mainstream media. This is why Palestinian officials who deny the existence of a Jewish state grant these individuals a private audience. They are the voice their enemies yearn to hear; the calm measured Jew feeding unwittingly and unknowingly a frenzy of anti-Israel rhetoric. They are slowly but surely, amongst a rising tide of anti-semitism in Europe, becoming the court Jews of the 21st century. They have subordinated their own beliefs and compassion for their own people in order to be accepted into the bosom of the masses (who vocally despise their beliefs as well).

They correctly lament occupation, but do not dare address the root cause of it. They correctly lament the latest conflicts, but do not dare address the root causes of these either. They speak up when it is fashionable to do so, staying away from the hard unpleasant truths using instead pleasantries and epitaphs. Very nice, British and polite, but entirely pointless I am afraid.

In fact it’s a lethal concoction. These people will become the role models, I do not dispute this- perhaps this is the point? Their fellow Jews who do not wish to comply will be ostracised and seen as pariahs.

This has already begun… 3 years ago at student recruitment fairs across the UK rather than recruit Jewish students to join the Jewish society- the point of a recruitment fair- the *Union of Jewish Students (UK) decided to make a political statement. They waved Palestinian flags at their Jewish Society booths, asking students to pledge allegiance to the 2 state solution. Now I remain a firm believer in the 2 state solution, but I am open-minded enough to know this is not the only proposed solution, nor the only narrative expressed by Jews and Zionists. I know of Jabotinsky, Begin, Shamir and President Rivlin, all of whom I disagree with in many respects, but all of whom I greatly admire. What this statement did in effect was tell those that do not adhere to a certain political standpoint, that they should stay away from the shabbat table at Hillel House, that they should forge a new community or comply instead. They are the baddies, we are the goodies. Ironically this further isolates the state of Israel from the rest of the world, cursing at her political plurality.

They of course did not care about strengthening their own Jewish community then, they cared about political gestures. They cared about forging a bond with the wider community, which is a noble aspiration, but they ignored their own- which is naive at best or shameful at worst. They ignored the very foundations of their own existence, fragmenting a small vulnerable flourishing community.

This is what we have witnessed over the past month by many Jews in the Diaspora- a diametric reaction. On the one side those that have shared in the pain of their family defending their nation’s borders and defiantly standing up against those who demonise the Jewish state. On the other, we have seen Jews criticise Israel from a distance, knowing that this is the more politically correct form of action to take. Undoubtedly, this is the easier way, I must admit, particularly taking into account some of the evocative media images. Waving an Israeli flag in London can be traumatic, even shameful, if you believe what you read, so why bother? My son/brother is not in Gaza so why should I show solidarity? Others will anyway, the ones that always do whenever there is a war- blinded by the compassion for their own people.

Politics has overtaken many forms of diaspora Jewish identity. Fear and intimidation are now the games in town. J Street in the US defended Israel’s right to defend itself, Yachad (its UK equivalent) did not. The answer as to why is fairly obvious; these organisations diametrically oppose their own community, but mirror the more external wider community that govern their existence.

My message to European Jews is to be brave in these trying times. Teach your children Hebrew, the Torah and Jewish values. Give them a Jewish education. The one that maybe you never had. Teach them the secular wonders of the state of Israel; Arik Einstein, the beauty of the land and the warmth of its people. Ask your children to solve problems rather than lament. It is Israel’s solution based hi-tech economy that has taken it to where it is today. That’s what we should mirror. You are some of the most talented people in the world, already a light unto the nations. Don’t let people around you crush your identity. Buy SodaStream, go to the UK Jewish Film Festival this year if you didn’t last year, eat kosher food from Sainsbury’s, wave an Israeli flag and sing Hatikva side by side with all Jews of all different persuasions. Find strength in the common culture that binds the Jewish people together, enduring its longevity not in the politics that fragments and divides.

We have so much to be thankful for. Do not lament and do not sit on the fence. Be proud.

Am Yisrael Chai

*Quotes- Proportionality of the Morality of War, Professor Thomas Hurka *It should be noted this was not repeated again from my understanding

About the Author
Israeli with African heritage, grew up in the UK, made aliyah after graduating from university, did my time (service), old-fashioned Zionism (if you know what I mean). I like Israel, being a Jew, the outdoors, tech & finance (not always in that order).
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