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The Jewish Report Editorial

United we stand

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I don’t recall there ever having been so much antisemitism and hatred towards Israel as there is now, and yes, it’s mostly on social media.

I’m well aware that most people in the know say that every time there is violence in the Middle East and Israel is involved, there is a marked upswing in this behaviour. Some insist it has been far worse. I can’t argue about this because I probably wasn’t as overtly attuned to it as I am now.

Now, it stands out vividly for me. As a journalist, it’s always hard for me to criticise my colleagues, however I cannot ignore the massive bias in the mainstream media.

In the car on Tuesday morning, I caught 702 news in which the newsreader spoke about the ceasefire agreement that followed the barrage of missiles from Israel into Gaza. Such an agreement, as I understand it, refers to an end to firing from both sides, but according to this station and other mainstream media, this was a one-sided affair. They reported on only a barrage of rockets from Israel.

The newsreader proceeded to tell of these terrible Israeli police who launched a wave of arrests in which they incarcerated hundreds of Israeli Palestinians for their participation in recent “sit-ins”. These apparent sit-ins were in support of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Gaza.

The police sounded like the worst kind of thugs who would arrest en masse these poor people who simply conducted a peaceful protest. It didn’t make any sense. When I got back to my computer, it took me all of two minutes to find out the truth.

Police were arresting people for rampaging through Israeli cities – like Lod, Haifa, Acre, and Tiberius – during the 11 days of Operation Guardian of the Walls. They attacked Jews and Jewish properties. Rocks were thrown at motorists, cars were set alight, and properties vandalised. Ten shuls were set on fire, and Jewish pedestrians were attacked.

The point is, it’s easy to understand why police would clamp down on violence like this. They would do so in any country. However, arresting innocent protesters following sit-ins sounds terribly cruel. Why didn’t the radio station get all the facts? Why did it put across a story that would undoubtedly intensify the already massive hatred towards the Jewish State? Why would it go with one source that is known to be biased against Israel?

I don’t get it. Why would a media company purposely push the boundaries of truth that is unequivocally going to fuel an already flaming fire towards Jews and the Jewish State?

I’m seeing it all over mainstream media. I keep thinking to myself, am I going mad or are my former colleagues and friends giving only one side of the story? I admit that Israel has made and can make errors of judgement – we all can, and do. However, to ignore 4 000 missiles being launched into Israel is to ignore the truth. And as journalists, the truth is what we are meant to be offering.

I’m aware there is no such a thing as total objectivity and the way we write our stories has some form of bias. However, it’s our job as the media to tell the truth as far as possible, not to leave out half the story!

The media aside, I do believe the Jewish community is feeling threatened, and not without good reason. The number of antisemitic social-media posts and threats has multiplied. People’s livelihoods have been threatened because they have stated that they stand by Israel (page 1). Others are simply fearful of saying it because they don’t want to create rifts between them and those who are vocal about their anti-Israel position. They also don’t want to be lambasted.

From the African National Congress protesting outside the Israeli embassy, to anti-Israel protests outside Beyachad in Fairmount, to an early morning protest outside Redhill School, we hear the chant of: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

This slogan isn’t a cry for peace or a two-state solution, it’s a very clear assertion that the land lying between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea will be Palestine. In other words, the area that is Israel will be destroyed to become an all-Palestinian territory. They are calling for the all-out destruction of the Jewish State. And this isn’t antisemitism? The total annihilation of the Jewish State can be nothing if not antisemitic.

Is there any wonder we, as Jews, aren’t feeling so secure?

Here’s the thing, now isn’t the time to get upset with another Jewish person who might have jumped the queue for vaccines or who decided not to go to the Beyachad rally on Sunday. Now isn’t the time to find fault in each other. Now isn’t the time to find fault in a leader who made an error of judgement or a Jewish journalist who is trying to do their job to the best of their ability.

We aren’t perfect.

Now is the time to join arms across our community, and face this foe as one. Now is the time to stand up and be counted as a community, not with violence or rhetoric on social media.

We don’t need to cower. We need to fight for our rights with intelligence and wisdom.

We need to work together to find smart solutions to these clear and apparent problems that have arisen.

The reality is that this may be a problem that emanated from the Middle East, but Israel isn’t here to fight it for us. Here, on the southern tip of Africa, we as Jews need to work together to sort it out.

We aren’t Israel, and Muslims in South Africa aren’t actually our enemies. We need to find ways to achieve a peaceful resolution to our problems here, not allowing racist and antisemitic threats. Where there has been genuine hate speech and crimes, these need to be dealt with by the law.

You see, a people united can never be defeated. We need to put aside our differences and put our heads together.

If one Jewish person is being victimised because they’re Jewish, we can’t look for faults in them, we need to stand behind them and support them in their time of need.

It’s simple and the only strategy we can use going forward.

Let’s be safe and united.

Shabbat Shalom!

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