Last night, for the first time, I cried

After yesterday's demo, a tweet by Tom Holland got me

October 15, 2023 07:57

I cried last night.

I’m not a cryer. I’m the personification of the stereotypical British stiff upper lip. But last night, one tweet by the historian Tom Holland set me off.

Like, I imagine, almost every Jew in the country, the demos up and down the country have shaken me. In what world do people respond to the murder of 1300 Jews and the kidnapping of a hundred others by demonstrating for more?

In this world. In this country. In this city.

On the streets of London yesterday – in my London, my city, my wonderful, bustling, living city - tens of thousands of fellow Londoners got out of bed in the morning and decided their day should be spent marching through the streets chanting for another Holocaust: “From the river to the sea”. Judenfrei. Complete Hamas’s job, in other words. Wipe them out. Remove the Jews. “Khaybar, Khaybar ya Yahu, Jaish Mohammed Sauf Yu’ud”. Watch out Jews, the army of Mohammed is returning. And, oh what a laugh, some decided to come with pictures of paragliders on their backs.

As editor of this paper, I would regularly remove Nazi comparisons and Third Reich analogies. Overused and devoid of real historical context. But one thought has been burrowing through my consciousness this past week and it crystalised yesterday. Now I know how it happened. Now I understand. Now I see how the Jew-hating mob gets to have its way – because while they are acting out their wishes, the rest avert their eyes. It’s not their problem, not their fight.

On Monday, Jews organised a vigil to mourn for the victims of Hamas’s depravity. The event was widely advertised, outside Downing Street. And it was – with a small number of exceptions – an entirely Jewish crowd. Yesterday a supposedly pro-Palestine demo –it doesn’t require Google translate to reveal the actual meaning of that phrase – was attended by tens of thousands, of whom I imagine perhaps a few hundred were Palestinian. The contrast – and the message - is loud and clear.

It has unsettled - frightened - me more than any other such demo before.

In the past, the only real context for the demos has been Jew hate for the sake of Jew hate. Somehow that’s been easier to deal with and to put in a box. Jew haters gonna Jew hate, as it were.

But this time it’s different. This time it’s so much worse – because the context, the prompt, is the single worst atrocity against Jews since the Holocaust. That’s not enough for them, so they take to the streets demanding more. And support flows. A march of the evil, the ignorant and the stupid, joined together in Jew hate.

And that, I think, is why Tom Holland’s stark, beautiful tweet set me off when nothing else had. He wrote:

“All of us in the UK who are not Jewish - an immense, an overwhelming majority - have a responsibility in these troubled times to make our Jewish fellow-citizens feel valued & safe. A responsibility that clearly right now we are failing to meet. It shames the country.”

It’s not really that much, is it? It’s pretty basic. But where we are now, with Jewish schools closing their gates in fear and a mob baying for Jewish blood with, I am as certain as I have ever been of anything, worse to come, and with the overwhelming, worrying and unsettling feeling that, once again, as we have been throughout our history, we are alone…with all that, I broke.

Thank you, Tom Holland. You are a mensch.

October 15, 2023 07:57

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive