The shameful silence of British Jews
Published in: Jewish Chronicle
So where is everyone?
Throughout the US and in countries around the world, Jews have been holding demonstrations and making public statements to express their solidarity with Israel at this heart-stopping time.
At last, this weekend the Board of Deputies is finally holding a rally in support of Israel. Let’s hope the turnout is more impressive than the almost total silence so far.
Almost total — because the one public expression mustered by British Jews was the advertisement in the Times signed by 300 movers and shakers, claiming falsely that Gaza was a humanitarian disaster and that Israel was guilty of ‘collective punishment’ and ‘terrorising an entire people’.
There was no communal protest at this malevolent collective libel — other countries do self-defence and military strategies but the Jews, it seems, only do revenge.
There was no communal protest at the often scandalous spin put on the emergencies in Gaza and Lebanon by broadcasters and print media. There was no communal protest at reports which played down or failed to report both the initial rocket attacks from Lebanon and the mounting toll of Israeli casualties.
Actually, there has been a notable amount of support for Israel’s actions. This is because many see clearly that what Israel is up against here is not —as has been so falsely claimed in the past— some band of poverty-stricken desperadoes with suicide belts strapped to their bodies, but the proxy armies of Syria and above all Iran, the terror state that menaces the world, intent on pursuing its project of extermination of the Jews and global domination.
Yet Britain’s Jews still remain muted. This is much more than the usual craven cultural cringe that is the default position of the Jewish leadership in this country. It is because, even among that swathe of the community that does not harbour the hatred of Israel displayed in the Times advert, many are wringing their own hands over Israel’s ‘disproportionate’ response.
So what is a proportionate response to a military attack upon sovereign territory? To the missile attacks upon Israel’s third largest city, a swathe of other towns and the threat of untold horrors yet to be unleashed upon its very heart? What is a proportionate response to the military expression of the declared intention to wipe Israel off the map?
There is no country in the world which would not have seen an attack on its own territory by proxy armies for hostile states, firing fusillades of rockets on its citizens and kidnapping its soldiers from its own soil, as unprovoked acts of war and responded by launching a war of self-defence.
To blame Israel for this escalation is like claiming the Blitz was all Britain’s fault for declaring war on Hitler. To say its response was disproportionate is like calling for restraint after Pearl Harbour or Hitler’s annexation of Poland. The claims we are now hearing suggest not only a complete ignorance of the accepted strategies of warfare but also a dislocation from reality.
Thus we are told it is wrong to target the civilian infrastructure of airport, TV station, power plants, bridges and so on. But this is standard military strategy in war. Did anyone complain when NATO bombed the civilian infrastructure of Serbia to get it to withdraw from Kosovo?
Then there is the extraordinary doctrine of equality of suffering, the grotesque totting up of the casualty rate on either side. Because that in Gaza or Lebanon is far greater than in Israel, the argument goes that the scale of Israel’s response is illegitimate.
This is bizarre. Since when was such a martial calculus the determinant of a just war? In World War Two, around ten Germans were killed for every Briton. Did that make war against Hitler wrong? Of course not.
The point of a war of self-defence is not to achieve a parity of killing. It is to deter and prevent the future killing of the innocent. There is all the difference in the world between intentional acts to murder civilians and strategic acts of self-defence against such attacks, the regrettable consequence of which is that civilians may be killed.
Yes, the destruction in Lebanon and the deaths of innocent civilians are dreadful. But war is terrible. Hezbollah is entrenched within a civilian population. How else is that army to be destroyed except by war? And many of those who are objecting to this war object also to targeted killings, to arresting Hamas terrorists, to the security barrier.
In other words, Israel is to be allowed to do absolutely nothing to defend itself. This, apparently, is the proportionate response to annihilation.
‘Never again’ was the motto on Israel’s foundation. Unfortunately, too many British Jews refuse to face what that means.