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Jews haven’t been this fearful in living memory



Two decades ago, former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks astutely compared antisemitism to a constantly evolving virus. One that, in the modern era, specifically targets the Jewish nation-state.

He aptly described this prejudice as a deeply ingrained malignancy, perpetually lingering beneath the surface of society. For many of us in the global Jewish community, the great man’s words were not merely a statement of truth but also a stark reminder. Until recent days, the extent and intensity of this virulent strain of hatred were tragically underestimated.

While the need for stringent security measures at schools and synagogues has long been a familiar reality, the realisation that such profound levels of hatred and indifference to the threat exist on a global scale has been a devastating shock.

We dared to hope such malevolence had been relegated to the annals of history.

Today, in an unprecedented moment in Jewish history, we unite as Jewish news outlets spanning borders, continents, and religious affiliations to issue this open letter – something we never envisioned as necessary or even conceivable.

The events of recent weeks have surpassed even the sombre portrayal offered by Rabbi Sacks all those years ago. Some of those who propagate hatred, concealing their prejudice under the veneer of being “anti-Israel”, no longer find it necessary to obscure their malice.

We’ve witnessed raw hatred against Jews in cities across the globe.

In Dagestan, a mob ran towards planes on a runway to check passengers’ passports, hunting for disembarking Jews.

In Sydney, when authorities lit the famous Opera House in Israel’s colours, a crowd sang, “Gas the Jews.”

In Lyon, a woman was stabbed at her home, and a swastika spraypainted on her front door.

In London, red paint was daubed on Jewish school doors and the Wiener Holocaust Library.

In Berlin, Magen Davids were spraypainted on homes, a haunting echo of scenes in that German city 90 years ago.

On an American campus, students have openly chanted for Jewish genocide and celebrated the “martyrs” who butchered Jewish children in their beds on 7 October.

This isn’t a call for two states living side by side in peace. This isn’t legitimate opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.

How could we have been so blind to this malignancy in our midst?

And yet, all that we have seen so far isn’t even our worst fear. Our gravest concerns lie in what the future may hold.

Meanwhile, some world leaders act as cheerleaders, sometimes inadvertently but at other times, not. Colombia’s president, Gustavo Petro, said, “If I had lived in Germany of 1933, I would have fought on the side of the Jewish people, and if I had lived in Palestine in 1948, I would have fought on the Palestinian side.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “Hamas is not a terrorist organisation.”

The head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said 7/10 “didn’t happen in a vacuum”.

No, it didn’t, Mr Guterres. It required decades of indoctrination; years of holding up terrorists as heroes to be lionised, a sure way to fame and often fortune; and the presence of a terrorist organisation whose central aim is to wipe Israel – and every one of our Jewish family and friends – off the face of the earth.

Have no doubt that Hamas is cheering those “from the river to the sea” chants because a Palestine state between the river and the sea leaves not a single inch for Israel.

Why do so many still seek to deny what’s in Hamas’ own charter?

And why are so many good people still silent when cheerleaders for terrorists decide the worst massacre of our co-religionists since the Holocaust is a good moment to open up a second, global front targeting Jews on campus, at work, on the streets, and at home?

Clearly not everyone marching under the Palestinian flag fantasises about our deaths or the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state.

But please, try to understand that whether it’s one person, 100 people, or 10 000, the chilling impact of seeing so many people echo and excuse hateful chants is profound.

It’s not easy to speak on behalf of Jews in one country, never mind the world, nor do we purport to. As journalists, we report, opine, and comment. But the level of fear among our readers is like nothing in memory. It feels like those two equilateral triangles that combine to form our beloved Star of David represents a six-pointed target.

This is heightened by the fact there will be those who dismiss every word in this piece as having been written in bad faith, part no doubt of our supposed control of power and the media that has manipulated their warped minds. There will also be Jews who tell you this article doesn’t speak for them. Before those in the media feel the urge to put them on the airwaves in an attempt at “balance”, please first ask for an ounce of proof that they represent more than a tiny band of misfits. Some are more likely to stand alongside the Iranian regime that is so despised by much of the Muslim world than they would with most Jews.

Please don’t, however, mistake this growing fear for a lack of determination to fight our corner as citizens deserving of support and protection in our home nations, or doubt our solidarity as a people numbering just 16 million. In fact, we’ve never been so determined, so energised, so united, and so proud, as highlighted by the huge uptick in sales of Stars of David. The incredible response in holding rallies, supporting charities, and fighting running battles on social media is something that will remain a source of pride for as long as those horrific images from Kibbutz Be’eri and the peace rave.

This unity has been a light in the darkness. Another has been the support, publicly and sometimes not, of our real friends in all communities. Again, we’ll never ever forget this.

Our collective Jewish heart bleeds for the families of those who lost relatives in the Hamas atrocities and those facing an agonising wait for news of the kidnapped men, women, and children. Whether directly or not directly, many of our readers will be connected to these innocents. But our hearts bleed too for the innocents killed in Gaza as a result of this entirely unnecessary war launched by Hamas.

Over the unbearably painful days ahead, we – as providers of news for secular or religious Jews, those who frequently critique Israeli policy and those who don’t, those who see Israel as central to their identity, and those who are drawn nearer by crises such as this – call on the world to listen and treat us as you would want to be treated.

It shouldn’t be too much to ask.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Anon

    Nov 9, 2023 at 3:40 pm

    If the world got what they wanted, all of us gone, they’d find themselves missing the light Jews bring to this world. Though I am at odds with a number of fellow Jews in my community, I do realise the value we have as a collective, to the spiritual wellbeing of this world, and the powerful light we emit just by our very existence. I have never identified more strongly as a Jew than I do now.

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