The billboards that recently appeared in the UK, emblazoned with the title “NORMAL PEOPLE BOYCOTT Israel,” are a reminder to UK Jews that hatred toward the world’s only Jewish state is alive and kicking in Britain. The slogan on the boards, which references Sally Rooney’s decision to deny Israeli publishers the rights to her latest book, obviously seeks to normalize boycotts of the Jewish state.
Such attacks as these in Britain are hardly new, and they are becoming ever more frequent. During the last Gaza conflict, UK Jews were not only subjected to anti-Israeli sentiments, but also to overt antisemitism, including threats of sexual violence and assault levelled against them.
This has led many UK Jews to realise that antisemitism in the UK has become “an ever-present entity within British life,” as a Jerusalem Post story recently put it. Therefore, instead of waiting for the next incident to occur, Britain’s Jews must act now, and there is much they can do.
UK Jews proved, in the face of the threat posed by Jeremy Corbyn, just how resilient they are when they stand united in the face of threats to them and to the state of Israel. This unity has always been the refuge of our people in the face of every menace. Today, as well, it should be our first port of call.
The lesson we must learn from our past and from our leaders throughout the ages is that we should not wait for suffering, threats, and boycotts to drive us toward unity. Rather, we should want to unite in a spirit of friendship and co-operation all the time and every single day.
The head of the Board of British Deputies, Marie Van Der Zyl, correctly recognised that the unity we showed in the face of Corbyn’s threat was something to be maintained. However, we should not only try to maintain that connection, but enhance it in both quality and quantity. If we Jews strengthen the ties between us, without denying the many differences between us, but by rising above them, we will truly become “a light unto nations.” Then, unity will remedy all of our problems.
As Rabbi Eliyahu Ki Tov quite clearly states in The Book of Consciousness, “We are commanded at each generation to strengthen the unity among us, so our enemies do not rule over us.” If we come together in the spirit of a family, where we are concerned with the well-being of each “family” member, we will very quickly witness positive changes. The ghoulish spectre of antisemitism will finally be vanquished, and our unity will become an example for the rest of the people to follow.
We see that despite the billions of pounds spent on trying to deal with antisemitism, conferences on the subject, high profile supporters of Israel, government pledges, absolutely nothing is effective in dealing with the problem. On the contrary, despite the efforts, antisemitism and hatred for the Jewish state are on the rise worldwide.
The reason for this is that we are not tackling the problem at its root, which is the continual alienation and disunity among us. Only when we address this state and rectify it by building good relations among us will we be able to stop antisemitism dead in its tracks. Everything is in our hands. We have the power to change everything and the time to act towards it is now.