You Cannot Stand Tall When You Are Down On Your Knees

There is something that really pains me.

And there is something that really hurts me. And it disturbs me too – more than any venom spitting anti-Semite out there.

Because I have seen the many posts that have flooded Twitter and Facebook from my fellow Jews – including strong supporters of Israel – who say that we need to look past the anti-Semitism of the Black Lives Matter movement. We need to ignore their hatred, because we must unite against racism. We need to stand together to be on what they say is the right side of history, because not showing support fuels anti-Semitism.

I can only shake my head at what I think is their short-sighted naivety.

And it’s not because the lives of black people don’t matter. Of course they do. And it’s not because racism isn’t an issue. It certainly is an issue, not just in America but in many countries.

But it’s not just about black lives, for all lives do matter and I think that our moral centre tells us we must always fight against injustice and fight for those who are unfairly discriminated against. Black lives are important. So are white lives. So are Asian lives. So are Jewish lives.

All life is important. It is the greatest gift there is and to take a life goes against the natural instinct of humans to live – even though there are sometimes difficult circumstances where it is necessary to prevent suffering or to save other lives.

Now I understand that not all supporters of the Black Live Movement are anti-Semites. I know that for many of them, Jews or Israel isn’t an issue and their intentions and their goals are genuine and honourable.

But – and this is important to remember – the Black Lives Movement leadership took a conscious decision to throw their support in with the BDS movement – an anti-Semitic movement whose goal is the destruction of Israel and consequently the genocide of the Jewish people. The Black Lives Movement endorsed this message. Their charter calls Israel an apartheid state and says that Israel commits genocide against the Palestinian people.

How is this not a blood libel against the Jewish people?

Anti-Semitism has become a social norm, one that is increasingly violent. Synagogues and Jewish shops and delis and bakeries are attacked. On social media, you can see the amount of anti-Semitism that is posted relentlessly – many by people in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. They say Jews were the biggest slave owners. They say that Jews are the beneficiaries of Jewish privilege other groups don’t get and therefore synagogues can be considered fair game. There are cartoons depicting Jews making money off the backs of black people, while at the same time there are cartoons of Jews controlling the banking systems of America and the world. Even the coronavirus has been blamed on Jews – not helped by the mayor of New York who purposely singled out Jews as spreaders of the virus, while ignoring everyone else.

Jews are attacked from all sides. From white supremacists to extremist black activists to Islamic hate mongers to radical left anarchists.

We are either too white or too black or European colonialists or violent oppressors. It seems when it comes to Jew hatred, there’s always a group somewhere in which you’ll be welcome.

Now I understand that sometimes countries deal with other countries – oftentimes unsavory ones – in order to meet some common goals. And I understand that principles are often bent in pursuit of what would be perceived as the common good.

But there are certain principles that cannot be compromised. And there are certain principles that cannot be bent. And there are certain principles that cannot be broken.

Jews did not survive over 2,000 years in exile only to give up those principles now, for those who did give up their Jewishness during that period disappeared forever from the Jewish people.

I do understand the eagerness of some Jews to want to be accepted by others – to be included in the fight against injustice – a worthy fight. But if the price of acceptance is to give up your Jewish values, including your love and identity with our Jewish homeland, then it is not a price worth paying.

Jews are a people who should be proud. Despite the odds stacked against us, we have fought for justice for others, even when it was often denied to us. We have marched arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder with great men and great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. Jews were often at the forefront of the fight for civil liberties in America and were among the founders of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. Jews were also often among those who fought against the evil of apartheid in South Africa. In every country Jews have been we have often been down there in the trenches in the fight for justice.

We don’t need to prove our credentials to organisations like Black Lives Matter who will show fake outrage when a black man, George Floyd, is brutally and criminally killed by a white cop, but say nothing when David Dorn, a 77 year old black former police man is murdered by a black looter. And that is someone who truly should be honoured.

We must fight against injustice, but we don’t need to degrade ourselves by associating with that kind of hypocrisy, for there are certain principles that cannot and must not be traded for anyone or anything.

Jews need to stand proudly for we have a lot to be proud of. We need to hold our heads up high, for there is lot we have achieved. We need to show self-pride and self-respect and we most certainly do not need to bow before anyone on this earth.

Because you cannot stand tall when you are down on your knees.

About the Author
Justin Amler is a South African born, Melbourne based writer who has lived in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
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