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Will the leaders, lead

By Kasim Hafeez
5/28/2014, 9:05 AM

The tragic murders at the Holocaust Museum in Brussels has once again highlighted that murderous anti-semitism is now common place in Western Europe.  The culture of hatred against Israel spread from many facets of European society has deadly consequences and it is now vital that the Jewish community leadership wake up from their passive slumber to deal with these challenges.  No doubt it must seem rather bizarre a Muslim writer asking the Jewish community leadership to stand up, but as a proud Zionist and someone who has a deep affinity with the Jewish people, and in turn, I have been embraced by so many Jewish communities I feel I am obligated to speak out.

In my experience, the community leadership within in the diaspora when approaching the current situation will say, 'it's not that bad', mind blowing when you think only Jewish schools and places of worship have such vigorous security arrangements, only the Jewish states annihilation openly called for and it is Jewish students being intimidated on campuses, but of course it's not that bad.  Alternatively they take the line of ‘if you ignore the hatred, it will go away’, have we learnt nothing from history! Whether this is a response born out of fear or just ignorance, it is a reckless and thoroughly abhorrent approach which abandons the communities they claim to 'lead'. Menacingly with the new flag bearers of anti-Semitism, in the shape of Islamist extremists, coming from a position of being one many moons ago, I know they will bring their hatred and poison to your doorstep, it does not go away.  The unwillingness of many in the West to accept this has had deadly consequences, there can be no more ignoring reality on the ground. How many more innocent Jews must be attacked or murdered on the streets of Europe before we acknowledge the prevailing situation.  There has to be a stronger voice against anti-Semitism and a stronger voice in defending Israel from those that delegitimize the state and the Jewish people.  As the reality is Anti-Zionism is nothing more than Anti-Semitism repackaged, surely as Zionism, is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, to oppose Zionism is to deny rights to Jews that you do not deny any other people, which is racism in essence, when directed at Jews becomes, Anti-Semitism.

One sad factor I have witnessed over the last few years, is many in positions of community leadership have a 'complicated', relationship with the State of Israel, ranging from the 'critical friend’, to condescending attempts to dictate to Israel, or even distancing themselves from the Jewish state, normally resulting in an all out abandonment of standing up for Israel.  All of these approaches to me are reprehensible, a strong Israel is essential not only for Jewish communities worldwide but also to all democratic and freedom loving societies in the West.   When leadership are challenged on the weakness when it comes to providing a solid defence for Israel, they will claim they have 'outstanding advocacy programs', sadly many define 'outstanding advocacy programs' as locking the door, dimming the lights and waving an Israeli flag in private.  Having spoken to students on campus especially in the UK, who are fighting bravely against the hatred and lies.  It is plain to see  they have been badly let down by their 'community leadership.  Thankfully many Israel advocacy organizations have stepped up to fill this void, normally resulting in much annoyance from the community leadership, seeing it, I assume as a threat to their hegemony.

In the early days of Jewish immigration, these communal bodies were instrumental in laying down the foundations for Jewish life, and they should be applauded for this, but times have changed, you can't live off past glories as your communities become extinct. Today the Jewish people face an old threat in a new guise, and this will not disappear in to the night, this ideology will only rest when the Jewish people, are annihilated or in the words of many anti-Semites, you become 'good Jews', read Neturei Karta and Jewish Voices for Peace etc.  One would be amused if it was not so disturbing, that those who hate Jews, judging what makes a good Jew, not based on observance of Halakha, but on how much they hate the Jewish state, the good submissive dhimmi Jews.  

We must confront the new threat, trust me, as someone who was that threat, it is the only way, we must confront the bully. Heartening is that there are already organizations doing this, the likes of Sussex friends of Israel. A group of grass roots activists, fed up with the protests and bullying of the Soda-stream shop in Brighton, decided to fight back, and what a fight back.  They have stood up to the BDS bullies, Sussex Friends of Israel have employed a mix of facts and light hearted entertainment which has proved potent. Community leaders should be rallying behind them and learning from such groups. We should with pride be flying the Israeli flag against those who seek its demise, combatting the lies and hatred with truth and facts. We must support the initiatives of our brave student leaders, educate and empower them, and all those who are doing good work instead of undermining them.  Because if there is silence today, there is passivity today, don’t complain tomorrow when your children will be frightened to say they are Jewish, be covering up their skull cups and walking with their heads down past crowds chanting for Israel's destruction. 

There is much to do, but we have to stand together and stand strong, for Jewish communities world wide and the worlds only Jewish state, in the face of a common threat. Saying Never again every Yom Ha'Shoa is pointless unless we back it up with deeds and action.  My final message to the leadership who may take issue with what I have written, all I ask is step out from your ivory towers, your champagne receptions  and lead, or hand over the mantle to those who will. To quote my friend and a true warrior for Israel, Dumisani Washington, Zion Stand Up!