We are in trouble, and not simply from the rise in anti-Semitism – there is a problem within our own community.
I haven’t felt the need to write like this, since the debacle of ‘Kaddish for Hamas’ three years ago.
In many ways what is happening now is even worse.
Over 12 painful days, the terrorist entity Hamas sent over 4000 rockets into Israel.
Thankfully both to the ingenuity of the iron dome which stopped 90% of the rockets from hitting their targets and the pinpoint accuracy of the IDF airstrikes which crippled the terrorists, the loss of life of civilians was minimal on both sides.
I and Mizrachi UK were honoured to speak last weekend at the rally in Central London which I presumed was backed and supported by the whole Jewish community. Kol ha Kavod to the Zionist Federation and the World Zionist Organisation along with the Board of Deputies and the JLC for organising such a positive show of pride in Israel and recognition of the evil of Hamas and its actions.
When I was interviewed by the Jewish News podcast during the conflict just before the rally, I was told I was giving the Orthodox view on the crisis.
I was incredulous – what do you mean an Orthodox view!? We are completely united on this, no Jew would not back Israel 100% in what it is doing, in fact no human being with a moral compass would not back Israel.
How wrong I was.
After a few days of the rockets being fired by Hamas, The Board of Deputies and the JLC decided on a social media campaign ‘no to rockets, yes to peace.’
It was a small gesture, and we were asked to tweet it. A lot of people did, some thought it was not a strong enough statement in support of Israel in the wake of 1000’s of rockets falling and the nation huddling in bomb shelters with schools closed and children traumatised.
However, groups such as Yachad and Naamod as well as some progressive youth movements decided that this campaign was too supportive of Israel and replied with their own campaign.
‘No to rockets, no to airstrikes, no to occupation, no to racism, no to settlements, no to dispossession, yes to Peace.’
I am not here to discuss the complex situation in Israel, which is ongoing, but why choose this time to bash Israel when it is under attack from terrorists? Where is the overriding sense of peoplehood, a sense of connection with the Jewish state while under fire from our enemies dedicated to our destruction?
My friend Rabbi Efrem Goldberg commented recently about similar left wing progressive Jewish groups in America.
While over the last two weeks 4,000 rockets have rained down on innocent Israeli civilians, If Not Now, a group that describes itself as “a movement of Jews to end the Israeli occupation and transform our community,” tweeted this: “We can show the world that Jews don’t need Israel in order to keep us safe. We’re creating thriving, flourishing, safe Jewish lives here in the diaspora by building strong communities and working in solidarity with other marginalized people against white supremacy.”
Perhaps most disturbing is a public letter signed by dozens of American rabbinical students accusing Israel of apartheid and calling on American Jewish communities to hold Israel accountable for the “violent suppression of human rights.”
Inexplicably, the letter does not mention Hamas or Israeli civilians. Frankie Sandmel, a rabbinical student at Hebrew College and one of the authors of the letter, explained: “I can’t speak for the group. For myself, as an American Jew who has never lived in Gaza or the West Bank, I don’t feel like I have ground to stand on to try to influence how Palestinians respond to oppression. I do have the ability to speak to the American Jewish community that I am hoping to lead, to look at the ways that we vote and the ways that we give tzedakah and the ways that we educate our communities.”
Am I really living on the same planet as those who signed this letter? Are we looking at the same reality? Do we come from the same history and do we really share the same destiny? How can we expect non-Jews to stand with the Jewish State while a growing number of our own people are expressing sympathy and support to the perpetrators of evil, rather than the millions of innocent victims being terrorized? When it comes to these philosophies, there is no speculation or inquiry necessary. These attitudes are alien and foreign and have no place on our planet or in our universe.
How has this happened? How have Jewish groups moved to paint Israel as a racist, apartheid state – Jewish groups!?
There is a very powerful video on YouTube of a conservative Rabbi in America speaking passionately about the situation in a video entitled ‘Anti Zionism always becomes Anti Semitism’. He begins his words with the following:
‘This is one of those weeks in which you put down the Parsha and you speak about what’s going on.’
I will come back to his excellent words, but this is one of those weeks when you pick up the Parsha and you will see exactly what is going on!
Behalotcha is a Parsha in which everything seems to be going so well. We are about to begin our triumphant march to Israel. However, toward the end of the Parsha, the euphoria turns sour:
‘וַיְהִ֤י הָעָם֙ כְּמִתְאֹ֣נְנִ֔ים רַ֖ע בְּאׇזְנֵ֣י ה
‘The people were looking to complain, and it was evil in the ears of the Lord.’
Israel is and has always been our homeland. Our miraculous return after 2000 years and the ability to create the only vibrant democracy in the middle east- while surrounded by enemies who wished to wipe us out- remarkable!
However, for some Jews, they are just looking to complain.
Then the Parsha gets worse, it is not just moaning – it is pure insanity!
But the multitude among them began to have strong cravings. Then even the children of Israel once again began to cry, and they said, “Who will feed us meat? We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge, the cucumbers, the watermelons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” (Bamidbar 11:5-6)
You were slaves in Egypt! What are you talking about – what planet are you on?
How could the Jewish people then say that!!! Rashi answers that the ‘multitude’ were the Eruv Rav, Egyptians who had come with the Jewish people out of Egypt and had influenced the people away from Hashem and Torah – and caused the problems.
We see those same issues currently – there is a ‘multitude’ today, it is across all social media on Tik Tok, Instagram, in our mainstream media, in entertainment, in education, in businesses and in politics – it is everywhere.
It is the poison of the far left. And it is influencing certain Jews away from Israel.
We saw it with Jeremy Corbyn, we still see it with certain members of the Labour Party.
We see it with the left wing of the Democratic party – with Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar who have said openly anti-Semitic statements, who condemned President Biden for daring to say that Israel has a right to defend itself.
Parading as ‘social justice’ this ideology is happy for you to have any view – as long as it mirrors their own. They silence opinions that disagree with them. The double standards are everywhere.
Twitter refuses to allow Donald Trump a voice, yet Ayatollah Khomeini can tweet about the hopeful genocide of the Jewish people.
They moan and wail about the actions of Israel, yet are silent about the Turks attack on the Kurds or the Chinese persecution of the Uighurs.
Footballers unfurl Palestinians flags, cry ‘Free Palestine’, yet they are happy to go to a world cup in terrorist sponsoring Qatar where 6500 people have already died while building the stadiums.
It is an almost religious like cult that sees everything in terms of privilege and race and not in terms of actions and character.
Martin Luther King famously said, ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ Not any more.
It is a world view that see Hamas and the Palestinians as the oppressed and Israel at the oppressor – regardless of any facts on the ground – they are irrelevant.
It is a world view that loathes the Jewish State with a passion.
However now with the eruption of anti-Semitism across the globe, the beating of Jews in broad daylight here and in the USA – of course now the progressive movement will come to the support of the Jews…
Back to the words of the Conservative Rabbi.
‘All these oppressed groups will certainly come to our aid when needed. I read a post from several friends feeling abandoned at the moment, that stated, First they came for the LGBTQ and I stood up because love is love, then they came for the immigrants and I stood up because families belong together, then they came for the black community I stood up because black lives matter and then they came for me and I stood alone because I am a Jew.’
This ideology, which seems on the face of it to love all minorities, all persecuted groups – has no time for the Jew, no time for the Jewish state, Israel – and it has poisoned the hearts and minds of young Jews against Israel.
I appeal to my progressive friends – stand up and be counted, realise the falseness and danger of this ideology of the far left which is aligning itself with radical Islam and join us, proud Zionists, not afraid to criticize Israel but aware of the complicated realities. And also aware, so soon after Yom Yerushalayim that we live in miraculous times, but we must be strong and resolute against the hatred that seems to resonate from all sides – including our own.
In Bamidbar and Naso – we prepared our journey to Israel.
In Behalotcha – we readied ourselves for the historic journey to our homeland but faltered.
In Shelach Lecha we ruined it all – we self-destructed.