We’re here to stay
It’s deeply shocking to watch as the world around us appears to be becoming progressively more antisemitic. Perhaps we were naïve all along and the sentiment was there, people just needed a terrorist organisation’s permission to take off the filters. Who can tell?
It’s distressing but has nevertheless brought us all closer together and empowered us in a way I haven’t seen before. I’m filled with a sense of pride in our community and the Jewish world in how we’ve come together as a unit in the face of this horror.
We’re one big family on alert and facing outwards towards the world, making no bones about saying we’re ready.
On Tuesday night, 14 November, I joined the about 250 000-strong March for Israel rally in Washington, DC to show my support. Granted, I was online, but I felt the incredible bonds across the ocean.
From there and around me here at home, we’re witnessing just how empowered and emboldened we are as Jews and Zionists when we weren’t necessarily feeling this way before the war.
Apparently, sales of Magen Davids and chai pendants have skyrocketed, and more and more Jewish men are laying tefillin in the morning and wearing kippot.
Instead of cowering and hiding the fact that we’re Jews, we’re saying, “If you’re going to hate Jews, know that I’m one of them.”
All those differences we may have had in the past are now in the past. They may be in the background and resurge at some point, but I believe we’ve all realised that we’re on the same side and we’re one.
Many of us have lost friends recently who turned out to be antisemitic. Some of those “friends” probably weren’t real friends to start with. What’s that age old saying? When times are tough, friends are few! Truth is, though, how many friends do you actually need? What we need are friends who will forever have our back, and us theirs. It does seem as if we’ve woken up to this in the community.
Someone said to me the other day that we’re losing the war, and I was a little shocked at that. In my head, she was talking about Israel, and that isn’t true. In fact, Israel is coming back in strength and making real headway in destroying Hamas’ stronghold in Gaza. And in spite of what our haters are saying, it’s doing that while taking every care it can for Palestinian civilians. And it’s putting out proof of this every step of the way to ensure there’s a trail to follow.
However, this friend wasn’t talking about Israel losing the war, she was referring to the antisemitism that we’re facing, and that we’re losing that battle.
This certainly is getting worse, and somehow it looks like whatever Hamas says, so many around the world seem to believe it. This doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, why on earth would anyone believe a terrorist organisation whose main aim is to destroy the Jewish population? But they do, rather than the information that comes from Israel, which comes with rock-solid proof.
So, I guess in the court of public opinion, Jews may be losing. The better Israel does in this war, the worse Jews do on social media.
However, I’m okay with that because it’s essential for Israel to survive and put a stop to the Hamas killing machine. I hate the idea of innocent people being killed, and I want the war to end, but if Hamas is around, it will ensure that innocent and good people don’t triumph.
No Israeli family wants to be at war, living in this constant state of distress. Imagine knowing your sons and daughters are in Gaza facing terrible odds and fighting for their survival. Every day, we see new names on a list of soldiers who have fallen or who have been injured in Gaza. It’s devastating!
I’ve seen social media posts telling us that if we don’t like the attitude of the South African government towards Israel, we should leave as we don’t belong here. Well, I say to those folk that, like so many of the Jews living in South Africa, I’m a fourth generation South African and I have a deep connection to this land. I have no intention of going anywhere, and I don’t accept people telling me that I don’t belong here. I do. I’m as South African as anyone else, but I’m still Jewish. Hence my connection to Israel and the Jewish world.
Truth is, as long as Israel is strong, we too can be strong, wherever we are.
This deep connection between Jews here and in Israel has become so clear with the war and how, in some ways, we depend on each other to survive and thrive.
As Israeli President Isaac Herzog said to the Jewish world at the DC rally this week, “In the state of Israel’s darkest moment, you stood up and declared, ‘Hineni [I’m here]!’ There’s no greater and more just cause than this.” Herzog was speaking of us all standing up for the babies, boys, girls, women, and men viciously held hostage in Gaza, as well as for the right of every Jew to live proudly and safely in Israel and around the world.
“Above all, we come together to march for good over evil, for human morality over blood thirst. We march for light over darkness,” said the president.
He spoke of how incredible it was that since 7 October, Israeli society and the Jewish world had “come together in unison. We feel our hearts beat as one.”
Together, we must ensure that 239 hostages are brought home. Let’s join Israelis in wearing our yellow ribbons and letting the world know we do so to ensure that the hostages are brought home urgently.