Avi Lewis

The best cure for antisemitism is a strong Israel

Each war between Israel and Hamas is accompanied by a spike in antisemitism worldwide

According to the narrative put forth by the media, in response to the war Leftist and Muslim communities take to the streets in outrage

Some of that anger is ‘regrettably’ directed at local Jews

In the media’s view, attacks on Jews are just an outburst of popular grief and not classic antisemitism

But this time was different and it shows how wrong this narrative is

In the days following the October 7 massacre by Hamas, while we were still on defensive footing, large pro-Palestine rallies erupted across the globe

These rallies didn’t highlight the usual spectacles of Palestinian victimhood

No – they were gatherings of gloating and celebration

On October 7, sweets were handed out and fireworks lit up the evening sky in parts of Birmingham, UK and southwest Berlin

On October 8 in Midtown Manhattan, protestors chanted “700!” (the updated Israeli casualty count at the time), held up images of Swastikas and Hamas paragliders and one speaker mocked the victims of Nova music festival

On October 9, protesters assembled beside the Sydney Opera House and cried “gas the Jews”

These spontaneous eruptions of euphoria occurred throughout the West while here in Israel we were still burying our dead and fighting over our towns and villages

I now understand that pro-Palestine protesters aren’t deterred by Israel’s losses and perceived weakness – they are emboldened by it

Israel’s standing in the world directly impacts the extent to which antisemites feel empowered

A strong Israel deters them

A weak Israel invigorates them

I’m reminded of a memoir by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, may his memory be blessing, recounting his experience as an undergraduate student at Cambridge

In the lead up the 1967 Six Day War, Egypt and Syria had amassed their armies along the borders of the Jewish state

Jews around the world felt a sense of dread

Within living memory of the Holocaust, a repeat was playing before their eyes

The wider atmosphere on campus was cheery

Some non-Jewish students pitied their Jewish peers

Many however took the advantage to rub it in

Jewish students felt powerless

After Israel miraculously routed the Arab armies in less the a week, the mood took a 180 degree turn

The Jewish kids on campus were suddenly respected. The gloaters quietly disappeared from view

I believe that the intensity and virulence of antisemitism over the last month are a response to our perceived vulnerability

Just like in the lead up to the Six Day War, the crows circle above smelling weakness

That’s why our victory here in Israel must be thorough and and decisive

I need to stress: antisemitism will always be there regardless of what we do or don’t do

It was never a response to our actions

Antisemitism is a response to our existence

The hate was always there and will continue to be there

It may rise and fall, and may even grow as we become more determined

But herein lies the difference:

When Israel is strong, attacking Jews around the world requires more audacity

When Israel is weak, attacking Jews feels easier

In this war it’s not just the Jewish state that’s at stake

It’s also the wellbeing and security of all Jewish communities around the globe

A weak and battered Israel is one that prompts antisemites around the world to raise their ugly heads out of the sand

A strong and moral Israel is one that Jews around the world can be proud of and secure in

As IDF reserve soldiers on the ground, we understand this crystal clear

We are family, and it’s a two way relationship:

We’re not just fighting to defend our children here in Israel

We’re defending Jewish communities around the world

When Jewish communities rally for Israel,

They also rally for their own children and their own future

A strong Israel supported by a strong Jewish diaspora

A strong Jewish diaspora sustained by a strong Israel

We realize that we can’t count on the world to save us

This despite our many well-intentioned neighbors and friends and those that have offered words of comfort and support in private

3,500 years ago, from the mountaintops of Moab, our adversary Balaam prophesied the following words that still ring true to this day:

“They are people that shall dwell alone. They will not be reckoned among the nations”

Although once again we feel more alone than ever, today we are no longer powerless

Our strength lies in our unity and refusal to back down in the face of hatred

That’s why we hold our heads up high in pride and sing:

“Am Yisrael Chai”

About the Author
Avi was formerly a news writer at the Times of Israel. Originally from Australia, he served in the IDF and today works in Israel's thriving Hi Tech sector in Tel Aviv. He lives near Modi'in with wife and 3 kids
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