Those of you who know me well, know that on those occasions when Israel is embroiled in “campaigns” for its defense, I write prolifically on the situation. In July/August 2014, I wrote much. Due to a ripped tendon in my shoulder, I did not write much during the recent “campaign” and disturbances here in Israel. My shoulder is now much better, typing is not so painful, and I have some things to say.
After almost 4,000 rockets being fired into our communities, from the south to the center of the country, and Iron Dome protecting our citizens, we now have a ceasefire here in Israel. The internal clashes between Jews and Arabs have also quieted down.
What hasn’t stopped throughout the world is the backlash against our protecting ourselves. There has been an upsurge of anti-Semitism and I am now more frightened for the Jews outside Israel, than I was from the rockets from Gaza and, what occurred internally. Anti Semitism though is not new. It was and is always there, and anti Semites take every opportunity to push it above the parapet wall. The recent “campaign” was one such opportunity.
My parents told me that growing up in Ireland, they were chased to school every day, being called names, because they were Jewish.
One thing my father told me, actually made me smile. Having been told by a neighbor that he should “go back to where he came from”, my father responded “Yes, and when I am in Jerusalem, you will be in hell.” That was before the State of Israel. Israel or no Israel, I also recall being told that the Jews killed Jesus, and to go back to where I came from. At such a young age, and not understanding, I just said, “I live up the road”, and then went home!
In 1965, my parents, trying to fulfill the request to “go back to where we belonged”, took me and my then born siblings and made aliyah from Ireland. Sadly, aliyah did not work out and we went to live in the UK. Even there, there was not one day, when I was not picked on, as a Jew, going to school. When I first started work, I thought things would get better amongst the “educated” people I worked with in the hotel trade and then local government. There was nothing better. It was just more subtle and whispered. Even when I worked in the Jewish community, as a senior executive for a non-profit, subtle anti-Semitism was present amongst employees, who forgot, every so often, for whom they worked. What is perhaps most perverse, is that the two employees I never heard any detrimental comments from about Jews, were Moslem. Sadly from amongst Moslems, that is now one of the sources of anti-Semitism, against the background anti-Zionism.
Now that anti-Semitism is no longer whispered in the world, I am living in the land, where my blessed parents first brought me in 1965, having re-made aliyah in 2007.
Our enemies surround us and come in the guise of Hamas and Fatah and Hezbollah and many others, including those who say, “we are not anti-Semitic, we are just anti-Israel.” Make no mistake, there is no difference. At one time we were the Jews dispersed throughout the world and we were despised for our religion. We then became the Jews within the nations and we were despised because we were considered aliens. Now we are the Jewish State amongst the States. We are back where we were told to return, and yet, we are still despised. But there is a difference between the times of the past when we were despised and the current time. It is a difference that the world does not like, but for which we Jews are grateful, or should be grateful. Our nation State now defends us, and those who wish to destroy us, find it is not so easy, no matter where we live.
When louts on the street picked on two young Jewish men in New York, they found out that those two young Jewish men had been trained in the Golani Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces – you do not mess with them!
When louts in London, UK, drove through the streets shouting “F..k the Jews – rape their daughters”, they heard from upward of 2,000 Jews in a rally in London, that no such thing is going to happen. Israeli flags were raised and Israel’s ambassador to the UK told those gathered, that together, Jews and Israel stand upright.
When louts in Borehamwood, UK, tore down mezuzot from the door posts of Jewish homes in a Jewish district, within days, the local rabbi, Rabbi Alex Chapper, (bless him), replaced them in a show of Jewish pride and strength.
These are only a few incidents. There are many more examples of how we are making it hard for the anti-Semites.
Never again, never, ever again, amongst the nations of the world, will Jews be herded in cattle trucks, worked to death, trodden into the ground, gassed in chambers.
Here, in Israel, no external enemy will rocket us, and then not feel the power of our defense. No one, no one, will ever tell us, that with our brain power we cannot invent the best protective systems for our people.
Never will history be repeated, that our children will go to bed scared. Scared that someone will take them away in the night. Scared that they will be torn from the arms of their parents. Scared that they will have numbers tattooed on their arms. Scared that men in white coats will select them for medical experimentation. Scared that rockets will fall in the night and kill them.
As a grandfather, I know from experience with my grandchildren, that the noise of the siren is scary enough for them; that living in the mamad, (shelter), and not in the comfort of one’s own room is scary enough.
Alongside this upsurge of anti-Semitism, arising at a time when we dared to protect ourselves against the rockets from Gaza, we have also had, in Israel, internal unrest. There are reasons for it, which we must solve, because we cannot have citizens who resort to violence to solve problems.
So, to those who live among us in our Nation State, we extend our hands in peace and friendship. If you live here, you are welcome, equal, citizens of our land. Live with us, grow with us, prosper with us. But, please, do not fight us from within, because that we cannot allow. We had enough of that with pogroms of the past, injuring us and murdering us in our homes. And because we had enough of that against us, we will prevent it against those who live among us in friendship. As a Nation State, we will use every form of democratic process to protect all our citizens from the excesses of extremism, no matters its source. The majority of Israelis just want to live with each other in peace.
And to the people of Gaza and the so called “West Bank”, we say live next to us, if not in trusting friendship, at least in trusting peace. An uneasy friendship is better than an easy hatred. A trusting peace is better than a trusting war. We will help you lift the cloak of oppression of your present leadership. We will share with you our know how, and you too will prosper. Your children, like ours, will not go to bed scared.
You will gain from our love of life, and hatred of death. But, please remember one thing, because we love life, we will do everything to protect our citizens in Israel, no matter who they are. Your rockets do not discriminate between those of our citizens who are Jews and those who are not, and neither do our defensive systems.
To the rest of the world, we say, you cannot hurt our brothers and sisters amongst you, without us reaching out our powerful hands of protection. We say in no uncertain terms, unlike in the past, when decisions were made, not to help our brothers and sisters being rounded up and herded onto cattle trucks, and taken on railway lines to the camps of extermination, we will not hesitate in destroying those railway lines and the building chambers to which they led.
To the Jews of the world we say, “do not be afraid, lift up your heads, wear your Jewishness with pride. We will support you and you must support us here in Israel. Together we are one. Not everything here is perfect. We make mistakes, but we also do wonderful things. Look what we have given to the world. Together we must contribute to the building of Zion, in all its glory – Ki Mitzion Tezeh Torah, u’Dvar Adoshem MiYerushalayim – For out of Zion comes the Torah and the word of G-d from Jerusalem”.
Make sure that we can always keep the doors of Israel open for you as your home. Home is the one place you can go and they must let you in. You will be safe.
And if the world wants to despise us for what we do, then let it despise us in absentia, alive, and well and kicking in our land, and not dead amongst the historical barren wastelands of our exile.