Jews at the crossroads

The 2014 Gaza conflict threw up an alarming outburst of anti-Semitism that ranged from personal and collective insults, petty violence, and the targeted murder of European Jews.
The phenomenon of rabid demonstrations against Israel turned into the targeting of local Jews under the blanket of anti-Zionism campaigning in support of the Palestinian cause.
As I relate in my book ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism,’ a relatively new strain of anti-Semitism is the selection process which attempts to divide local Jews from the Jewish state.
Back in 2009, a London café advised customers that the owner was boycotting Israel but Jews were still welcome to spend their money there. As an Israeli Jew, I posed the question which part of me is welcome in his shop, and which part of me has to remain outside? And, more pointedly, how could I, as a Jew, support a café that victimizes the Jewish state?
This modern-day form of Jewish targeting began to emerge with more force in 2012 when the Social Democratic mayor of the Swedish town of Malmo, Ilmar Reepalu, warned his Jews to “denounce Israeli violations against Gaza” instead of holding a pro-Israel rally in the town square which, he said, “could send the wrong signals.” When Swedish mayors dictate how Jews should practice political thought is when the goyim are surgically trying to cut Zionism, and through it their Jewish identity, out of the heart of their Jews. In my book, I call this phenomenon “The Malmo Symptom,” although it is far from limited to Swedish Social Democrat mayors.
It showed its ugly face in London when the Tricycle Theater threatened to ban the annual Jewish Film Festival from their venue if they proceeded to accept a small donation to the cost of the event from the Israeli Embassy. The message was clear. “Accept help from Israel at your peril, Jews!”
How dare these European goyim impose on Jews how they should behave politically? But they do. Just look at how they treat Israel. Why should they treat their own Jews any different?
Those who pose as liberal progressives turn viciously intolerant over one issue – Israel. And in Europe and on American campuses they have no compunction in victimizing their Jews. They don’t know, or don’t care, that for Jews, Zionism is an integral part of their Jewish identity.
Anti-Zionism feels the same as anti-Semitism does. It singles out, discriminates and targets the Jew. With Israel, it’s the collective Jew.
The passion of much of the support for the Palestinian cause is the free expression of Jew hatred given legitimate license. People can associate with the end of the Jewish problem in the Middle East in the guise of the high ground of a moral cause. They snigger as they witness Jews (Israel) squirm. After all, they claim, these Jews had it coming to them for all the evil they inflicted on the world, especially to those poor Palestinians. They whitewash out the rabid Jew hatred that is etched in each branch of the Palestinian political tree.
And, as Diaspora Jews feel the white heat of this hate, they feel worried that they too will become victim of an assault. They see when haters are unable to strike against Israel they turn to local Jewish targets, be they Jewish schools, synagogues, supermarkets, community centers, or simply the Jew on the street. Is it any wonder they view Israel as a bolt-hole, a safe haven, if they suddenly need to pack their suitcases and leave, as Jews have done since the late 40s, both from Europe and from Arab lands. Such has been the fate of Jews at an awful number of junctures in history.
In Britain, they are having one last shot by forming local grassroots non-violent resistance groups. Last year, anti-Israel intimidation that insulted Jews reached a peak as they targeted Jewish businesses selling Israeli products. This prompted a growing number of individuals to stand up in activism, a rare phenomenon not seen on the streets of Britain since the Jews faced down Oswald Mosley’s fascist blackshirts in 1936. Although physical disturbances have not occurred, Jews have joined noisy but, so far, peaceful counter rallies and protests, standing for Israel and against anti-Semitism, often in greater numbers than their opponents, and they felt a sense of personal and collective pride by doing so.
For many British and French Jews, Israeli activism has become a significant part of their lives. This is hardly surprising. Jews see Israelis coming under incessant Palestinian rocket and terrorist attacks, and many have family and friends living in Israel. They were educated in Jewish schools and attended synagogues and community events where Israel is the core of their Jewish upbringing. Some have vacation homes there. They identify physically, religiously, emotionally with the Jewish state.
Now, with their loyalty and their safety being tested, they look on Israel and appreciate even more how it has withstood the most enormous challenges to its existence. They look on it with pride and admiration, and a renewed sense that, one day, it will offer them shelter when life around them becomes intolerable.
Barry Shaw is the author of Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism.’