No longer must we accept bigotry in interfaith work

Israel can no longer be the elephant in the room


Pro-Palestinian supporters wave Palestinian flags and chant slogans during a demonstration in central London on January 6, 2024, calling for a ceasefire now in the war in Gaza. Thousands of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, have died since October 7, 2023, after Palestinian Hamas militants based in the Gaza Strip entered southern Israel in an unprecedented attack triggering a war declared by Israel on Hamas with retaliatory bombings on Gaza. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP) (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)

January 11, 2024 13:50

On Monday it will be one hundred days since October 7. One hundred days since 1,200 Israelis were murdered in a barbaric assault by Hamas. One hundred days since women were raped, children brutalised and babies murdered. And one hundred days since some 240 hostages were seized and dragged into Gaza.

Israel today is a different country from Israel on October 6. It is a country in trauma, yes. But it is also now a nation united — in grief, of course, but also in determination that Hamas and the threat of another such attack will be neutered.

But it is not just Israel that has changed. The tendency among some in the West to ignore the reality of Iran’s evil intent is now fully exposed, not so much as naive as insanely dangerous. And in the diaspora, the rise in antisemitism that we have witnessed in recent years has exploded into open Jew hatred paraded on the streets of London and other cities. Even before the victims of October 7 were buried, the hate marches had begun.

As the Chief Rabbi observed at the JC event this week, our eyes have been opened to the imperative to stand up to this tide of hate. Many in our community already devote their energy and intellect to confronting antisemitism, especially when it takes the form — which it usually does — of Israelophobia. The past hundred days have shown how essential it is that no such hate is allowed to pass. This is especially true in settings where it is sometimes deemed almost impolite to raise the issue, such as interfaith work. Here there is often a credulousness which allows bigotry to flourish by shying away from confrontation. One vital message of the past hundred days is that Israelophobia must always be tackled head on.

January 11, 2024 13:50

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