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The Jewish Report Editorial

Friends and enemies

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In Europe, people are painting blue Magen Davids on the walls of Jewish homes as a form or antisemitism. A mob of hundreds in Dagestan, Russia, stormed an airport shortly after a flight from Tel Aviv arrived, looking for Jewish travellers. They were shouting antisemitic slogans and demanded to know which passengers were Jewish and which weren’t. There were several injuries caused.

In Los Angeles, a man was reported to have been shouting “Death to Jews” while trying to break into someone’s home.

In London, Jewish children were told to stay off the slide because they are “dirty Jews”. Two Jewish schools had to be temporarily closed because of security risks, and Jews in the city are said to be nervous about being seen wearing Magen Davids and other Jewish symbols.

Over three weekends, there have been massive anti-Israel protests in London in which protesters called for a jihad and chanted, “From the river to the sea”.

In Sydney, Australia, protesters called for Jews to be gassed. And there were similar chants at protests in the United States and Europe.

In Vienna, swastikas were daubed outside the Jewish cemetery.

The numbers of purely antisemitic incidents have skyrocketed around the world since the 7 October massacre in Israel. We’re witnessing blatant antisemitism like nothing we have seen since the Holocaust.

It all stems from the day that more Jewish people were killed than any day since the Holocaust ended nearly 80 years ago. On 7 October, a day that will forever be imprinted in our collective memory, 1 400 innocent people were butchered by a Hamas killing squad, 5 350 people were wounded, and 240 Jews, mostly children, young women, and elderly people were captured and forced across the Gazan border as hostages where they are being held. In the attack, women were gang raped, babies butchered, and entire families were burnt alive. The depravity of Hamas knows no bounds in its determination to destroy as many Jews as possible, as is its well-known commitment.

You may wonder why I’m repeating what has been said in this newspaper for three weeks. Simple! There are people in power, journalists, the media, and leaders around the world who are questioning whether this really happened to our people in Israel. They dare to deny that it happened to us. Instead of condemning those who did this to our people, they accuse Israel of genocide and a Holocaust, using all the words that bring back the memories of what was done to our people within the past 100 years.

Right here in Johannesburg, at the Joburg City Council on Wednesday, 1 November, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) requested a moment’s silence in honour of the Palestinians killed by Israel. The speaker of the house responded by saying that it should be in honour of all the innocents killed on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian. This seems fair enough, don’t you think?

But the African National Congress and EFF representatives refused to rise for the moment of silence and, instead, chanted “Free Palestine”.

However, Kenny Kunene, the deputy president of the Patriotic Alliance, had other ideas. To make his stand with Jews and Israel very clear, he went into the council meeting wearing a tallis and a yarmulke (as seen on page 1).

It’s always good to know that while our enemies are out there, we do have friends. It’s times like this that our friends become very evident, as do our enemies.

Even more important than counting friends is standing together in solidarity and making sure we’re seen as and are a united front. It’s vital that we work together and hold our own as a local Jewish community and a Jewish world.

This weekend is the 10th Shabbos Project, which it appears is going to be observed in about 100 countries around the world and 1 500 cities.

What an incredible way it would be to show solidarity for all of us to observe Shabbat together. I do understand that around the world, there are a large proportion of Jews who observe Shabbat every weekend, however there are many who don’t. What could be more bonding than all of us – religious, secular, orthodox, progressive, young, old, haredi, and modern orthodox – dropping our barriers and committing to keeping Shabbos together? Not much, I don’t think.

Being able to switch off our phones and find the peace and mindfulness of Shabbat can only help us deal with the stress and anxiety of what we’re experiencing as Jews right now.

Instead of talking about war and the details of others hating us, we can discuss spiritual matters and uplifting issues. We can take our heads out of a war for 24 hours, which is probably the longest most of us will have managed since 7 October.

To be honest, we really need a hiatus from the storm. We really need to think of something that’s not dire or devastating. We may assume that we’re handling the trauma and that the Israelis are dealing with far worse. However, we dare not undermine our stress, fear, and anxiety. It’s real and it’s not healthy for us.

So much of what we’re consuming on social media, in the mainstream media, isn’t good for us, but being obsessive about it myself, I can totally appreciate that it’s almost addictive.

One of my colleagues asked me how I felt about writing about the Jews who were killed and being held hostage when there were supposedly 8 000 innocent Palestinians killed by Israelis.

First, I don’t trust any figures Hamas throws at us because it also said it was the Israelis who bombed the al-Ahli Arab hospital and killed 500 people. When it was proved wrong and shown that it was a missile that misfired, Hamas quickly changed it to a carpark and a few dozen people. Exactly.

Second, so much of the media is ignoring the plight of Jews and concentrating on the Palestinians, so our stories are important. I do, however, feel that any innocent lives lost is a tragedy, no matter who they are.

Am Yisrael Chai and Shabbat Shalom!

Peta Krost


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