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This week’s letter from Israel – February 23, 2024

My dearest friends,

Martin Luther King said “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”.

The inflammatory antisemitic rhetoric in the context of the Israel-Hamas conflict is becoming increasingly dangerous. It’s unthinkable that this spike in antisemitism is occurring in the wake of the October 7 massacre. I would have imagined that the wanton killing and the perverted rapes would have provided an ideal opportunity for fair-minded people to speak out against these universally accepted evils. Sadly, that’s not been the case.

Most of the players on the international stage are doing their utmost to steer clear of any challenge or controversy that might put their leadership abilities to the test. They prefer comfort and convenience.

Today’s so-called leaders are conspicuous by their silence and their apathy. By Martin Luther King’s standards, they are not leaders.

I was deeply moved by the recent YouTube clip put out by South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein, following his diplomatic mission to Israel. Throughout the crisis, his courage has been an inspiration to all of us. The Rabbi has displayed the qualities of a leader during this stressful period of challenge and controversy. I’m sure Martin Luther King would concur.

Let’s return to the recent spike in antisemitic violence. These were inspired in different locations around the world immediately after the October 7 massacre. Demonizing Israel to justify the Hamas atrocities of October 7 was, and remains, a tactical priority. Mass marches in European cities supporting the Hamas cause began immediately after the massacre. The notorious “gas the Jews” demonstration at the Sydney Opera House took place on October 9.

It never stopped there.

The number of reported antisemitic attacks in the UK in 2023 was more than double those reported in 2022. Following an arson attack on his constituency office, a member of the British House of Commons and a supporter of Israel, announced he would not seek re-election.

Brazil’s President, Lula da Silva, compared Israel’s war against Hamas to Adolf Hitler and the extermination of Jews by the Nazis in World War II.

A member of South Africa’s Parliament, Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam, ranted: “if the city of Cape Town is handed over to the Zionists, there will be a bloodbath. We will not allow you to make it a Jewish state”.

Who elects racists like this to represent them in parliament? If this doesn’t constitute hate speech, what does? The number of Jews in South Africa has dropped from 120,000 in 1970 to less than 50,000. This number continues to plummet in the wake of South Africa’s growing hostility towards Israel.

Friends, what Hamas started in Gaza on October 7, will not end in Gaza or in Jerusalem.

Israel has and will always serve as a magnet for world Jewry. In 1947, 4.5% of world Jewry resided in the Land of Israel. Fast forward 77 years. Today 45.3% of world Jewry resides in Israel. It’s estimated that in around 8 years from now, more than half of world Jewry will reside in Israel.

Given what’s going on in the world today, the demographics of the Jewish world will continue to change dramatically. More than 7,000 people immigrated to Israel since October 7. There’s been a significant increase in immigration applications from France, Canada, the US and the UK. Once flourishing communities will dwindle and age. The Diaspora’s loss will be Israel’s gain.

The international community is systematically engaged in demonizing Israel. The most ridiculous conspiracy theories are gaining momentum. The victim of the October 7 massacre has become the criminal. The criminal has become the victim.

The UN is doing its utmost to protect the Hamas leadership and what’s left of its terror tunnel network and stockpile of armaments. A ceasefire in Gaza and the withdrawal of Israeli forces will not bring peace to the region. It will, however, guarantee another round of hostilities. More war, more bloodshed.

Towns and villages along Israel’s southern and northern borders remain deserted. Around 200,000 people have been displaced from their homes. Places of work have been closed for almost five months. Security in these areas must be restored so these people can safely return to their homes and resume their livelihoods.

Of course, the UN should be focusing its efforts on implementing Resolution 1701 adopted in 2006 which requires the disarmament of Hezbollah in South Lebanon. Failure to achieve this will increase the level of tension and make full-scale war inevitable.

The Secretary-General of the UN needs to be reminded that what’s happening in Gaza, isn’t happening in a vacuum. What might happen in Lebanon, could make Gaza look like child’s play.

The plight of the hostages continues to plague us. One hundred and thirty-four hostages have been held in captivity for the past 140 days in the most inhumane conditions. Amongst them is Kfir Bibas and his 4-year-old brother, Ariel. At the time of his abduction, Kfir was 9 months old. He is now 14 months old. Who’s taking care of him?

Please spare a thought for Kfir and his fellow hostages.

Unfortunately, neither the UN nor the Red Cross are willing to take responsibility for their welfare. The calls for their immediate and unconditional release are no more than lip service.

My condolences to those mourning their nearest and dearest. My wishes to the injured for a complete and speedy recovery. May God protect our brave soldiers. May the hostages soon be reunited with their families.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom and better times ahead.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Harris Zvi Green.

About the Author
Harris Zvi Green was born in Cape Town, South Africa. He made Aliyah 53 years ago. An accountant by profession, he served as the Chief Financial Officer for a number of Israel based hi-tech companies. He is married to Phyllis. They have 3 married children, 13 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Harris Zvi Green is a founder member of Truth be Told, an organization engaged in public diplomacy on behalf of Israel.
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