Many respected figures in UK Jewry, led by the Chief Rabbi, have spoken and written eloquently and movingly about the tragic and heinous terrorist murders of the Dee family.
The grief is palpable, as are the totally appropriate condemnations of the perpetrators, even from those in our community who do not believe that the Dee family has any business living in Efrat, a part of what they call “occupied Palestinian territories”.
Above all, the way Rabbi Dee is currently trying to make the best of such a horrendous tragedy is truly amazing and worthy of the utmost praise.
Precious little has, however, been said so far about what should happen next.
Subsequent responses need to come in two ways – from the Israeli government, and separately from the Jewish diaspora. Without credible action, nothing will change and similar tragedies, God forbid, could well happen again.
It is not for the National Jewish Assembly, or any Jewish communal body in the diaspora, to tell the Israeli government what action it should take. That is a decision entirely for Israel’s coalition government ministers and, whatever responses they decide on, Israel’s advocates outside the country must support them.
If Israel is demonised for over-reacting, that criticism is unacceptable and should be countered by Israel’s supporters. After what has taken place, nothing can or should be ruled out, although we must pray that the decisions that the Israeli government takes in order to try to root out terrorism in the West and indeed in the whole of Israel turn out to be wise ones.
Sadly, the press will no doubt use its usual arguments about moral equivalence and the cycle of violence – but if the perpetrators go unpunished, the pattern will just be repeated. The media consistently fail to equate the protection of peaceful civilians with armed terrorists whose objective is to savagely murder Jews.
When I write that it is not appropriate for Jewish diaspora community organisations to seek to dictate to Israel how it should respond to the Dee family murders, this is in exactly the same way as they should not be preaching to the Israeli government over the judicial reform proposals.
The rationale is that Israel has a democratically elected government accountable to its own citizens (of all religious denominations), and not the diaspora.
So what, however, can Israel’s supporters in the Jewish diaspora do? The answer to this question goes to the very core of advocacy for Israel. When we advocate, it is to everyone else outside Israel and, most importantly, it is to the government of the country in which we live. Doing so is helpful to Israel without in any way seeking to adopt the patronising and unwarranted behaviour of suggesting - or, as some would have it, dictating – Israeli policy.
Advocating for Israel also has the further benefit of helping fight antisemitism in our own country. Making our case cogently and clearly often assists in dispelling lies and myths spread by the Jew-haters in the UK, who typically use Israel as a target when their real objective is to silence and undermine British Jews.
One idea is to organise a campaign to persuade the British government to desist in funding the Palestinian Authority so long as the utterly despicable “Pay for Slay” rewarding of terrorists continues. This can be combined with a focus on the education under the control of the Palestinian Authority that children there are receiving, emphasising hatred for Israel and Jews – the starting point for their radicalisation and becoming terrorists in the future.
Additionally, attention should be paid to the reports of the corruption endemic in the Palestinian Authority.
We can probably expect a response that British government monies are earmarked for specific projects to help ordinary poorer members of the Arab communities in the West Bank.
This does not wash because monies are fungible, and by making any payments to the Palestinian Authority we help them free up funds for their sick Pay for Slay donations. The National Jewish Assembly intends to launch such a campaign, and hopes most of the UK Jewish (and indeed non-Jewish) community will support us in this endeavour.
Gary Mond is the chairman of the National Jewish Assembly.