It is an irony that over past generations the Jewish Community has generally allied itself with the liberal-Left in British politics. However, the recent decade has seen an emergence of an anti-Israel sentiment from this formerly moderate sector that so easily corrupts into an undercurrent of distasteful anti-Semitism. With a shift to the political Right in Israel, hawkish policies have spurred on a vocal BDS movement and has led to many in the community feeling intellectually uncomfortable with its traditional allegiances, if not bordering on being politically homeless. The liberal-Left or centre-Right frequently provides us with uncomfortable choices.
The conflict of the past few weeks has demonstrated that an anti-Semitic undercurrent lies not very far below the surface and can so easily rise to spread its foul stench. It goes without saying that the death and injuries sustained by innocent Gazan civilians is awful. There is no point in wasting space here to affirm Israel’s very clear right to defend itself to avoid injuries, death and destruction within its borders. However, the mass demonstrations around the world and the virulent anti-Semitic hatred recently demonstrated across social media has highlighted what we all know well, that self-righteous anti-Israel rhetoric so easily sprouts a very far from subtle but venomous hatred that its proponents will consistently deny was ever motivated by racist intent.
Make no mistake, we are a target, simply by reason of our birth; and whether it comes from a convoy of beflagged cars on the Finchley Road, the megaphones in Hyde Park or the postings on Instagram, the lessons of history demonstrate that we should be constantly alert, maintain our guard and avoid any relaxation of our security. What is particularly worrying is that although these concerns are felt within our own community and picked up by our own use of Social Media, the prevalence of it is not adequately covered by the mainstream media and does not permeate the wider community. Where are the news items on our televisions? Where are the articles in our newspapers with any degree of prominence? Where is the public outrage at even a miniscule level as compared with the unity that supported the BLM movement? There is virtually nothing, radio silence – but perhaps we should not express genuine surprise.
Over time, anti-Semitism comes and goes in waves but never evaporates and the recent events merely serve to emphasise the appalling reality of that fact and the fragility of our complacency. For ourselves we face a dilemma – do we loudly and proudly display our Judaism or shrink back and try to safely disappear in a confusion of assimilation? That may be easier to answer and deal with in the areas of North West London where so many of us live and go out. It is harder elsewhere or if one is on a University campus or travelling on public transport to and from school or work. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer, but we must all surely be aware of the issues that arise from the simple accident of our heritage and birth that repeatedly gets stoked by the forces of ignorance and evil.
On a lighter practical note, as members of Mosaic, we are frequently reminded of the contribution that we can make to society and to help the environment. In keeping with that dual theme, this coming Sunday (30th May 2021) please join our Mitzvah Day project collecting litter on Stanmore Common, very near to our new home on Stanmore Hill.