BRING THEM HOME RALLY - Dr Michal Neta's speech
Dr Michal Neta, Israeli Canadian Citizen & UK Resident
It's been three extremely challenging weeks since our lives were forever changed. The enormity of the horrors witnessed and the chilling descriptions we've heard are beyond what we could have ever imagined existed. All of us, Jewish and Israeli are overwhelmed with sorrow. We feel as if we are participating in a collective profound, unending Shiva. We navigate between our immense grief, paralysing concern about the hostages in Gaza, fear for our loved ones in Israel, our duty to speak out and share the truth, and our earnest commitment to take meaningful action.
Many of us find ourselves withdrawing, shielding from what was once 'normal.' Ironically, the semblance of everyday life becomes most unbearable as a stark reminder of our immense losses. Simple conversations about ordinary things serve as a painful reminder of the carefree normality we long for and the brutality with which we have been confronted. The tranquillity of an elderly lady on a bench in the park or the joyous sight of children playing, one shedding tears over a scraped knee, stands in unbearable contrast to the haunting screams of children witnessing unspeakable brutality and to our blood-chilling awareness that infants, toddlers, children, elderly civilians and young people are at this very moment being held hostages by the most cruel terrorist organisations. How can we ever go back to believing in humanity if these innocent people are not returned to their families to heal, to help us all heal.
We are strengthened by the unity and determination of our nation in Israel and abroad; by the unequivocal solidarity of the world leaders including the British government and the support of our communities. It's with heartfelt gratitude that I express thanks to all non-Jewish and non-Israelis showing support in numerous ways - you have no idea how meaningful your presence is.
I would like however to take this opportunity to dedicate some words to those who are not here, to those who chose not to show support and compassion, and mostly to those who have become a tool for the brutal propaganda of Hamas.
Antisemitism is a sad reality in the UK; The surge in antisemitism hasn't struck us as a surprise. For years, we've been aware of its presence, evident through the consistent media bias and the deliberate controversy linked to Zionism. Despite our constant pleas to eradicate antisemitism, it has lurked hidden from plain sight. On these dark days antisemitism has raised its ugly head, adding to our fear and deepening our isolation in our time of sorrow. To the antisemites I say, you are now exposed, you can no longer hind behind your politically correct veil and you will find yourself where you truly belong, a shameful stain, forever marked on the wrong side of history.
Funnily enough, face-value antisemitism is not our main concern; our biggest and most painful disappointment is from the vast group of well-meaning ignorant members within the liberal community who have become unwitting pawns of the insidious propaganda machine of Hamas and fundamental Islam. This collective with whom we share so many values, has become increasingly one-dimensional, gravitating between an Instagram ‘like’ and cancel culture. They stand, in the name of human rights, arm-in-arm with those calling for the genocide of our people, wilfully ignorant of those alongside them carrying swastikas and flags of the Islamic Jihad. The western world, and the progressive world at that, demands simplicity, and in its ambition to simplify the world it is willing to forgive or dismiss the most horrible brutality, violence and hatred. This crowd is trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle, it accepts the echo chambers of its social media as gospel truth, and is readily absorbing fake news and misinformation.
I think that it is only symbolic to address this crowd from the wonderful city of Brighton, which is celebrated for its liberalism, pluralism and high moral standards. As Martin Luther King once said, when this war is over, I will remember not the shouting of my enemy but the silence of my allies,
I am going to use a rather familiar vocabulary to reiterate to these people a sad reality - the world is complicated. It is not binary - you should know this better than anyone. You cannot sort the good from the evil with a simple ‘like’, or ‘unfollow’. There are pockets of sheer evil which find shelter in the meadows of the good and the noble. There is unbearable pain, tragedy and heartbreaking loss of life even in the most justified wars. It’s complicated, and simplicity is a privilege that no longer exists for those who seek morality.
So let’s get back to the facts:
Horrific war crimes were committed in Israel on October 7th and dragged the region to war. Israel is responding fiercely not as an act of revenge but in determination and commitment to disarm Hamas and free the region from its devastating, destructive rule . This war is, as wars are, horrible and the death toll of innocent civilians on both sides is rapidly growing. If this is not already tough enough to digest, in the background of this atrocity lies one of most complicated political conflicts ever to exist - one about which almost everyone has an opinion. No wonder so many people are confused.
Yet the liberal community cannot afford to dismiss itself from this complexity; its voices must be heard loud and clear. The war Israel is currently fighting is the most justified of all wars; Israel is on the front line, but this war is targeting the entire liberal western civilisation. Hamas is Isis.
What does the future bring? Israel will win this war, with or without the support of the liberal woke crowds. But the beautiful and sacred values that are championed by these troops will be so difficult to protect if the liberal community finds itself on the wrong side of history and is deemed irrelevant.
So out of concern for our shared values, let me try and help you navigate this moral maze.
First simple rule: when asked to respond to a reality of slaughtering and beheading of babies, butchering of families and burning of helpless elderly people you should free yourself from the desire to demonstrate perspective. No perspective exists for this level of sheer monstrous evil.
For those who are eagerly chanting, “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea”, open a map. Between the river and the sea is situated the state of Israel. So when you are reiterating this message you are simply calling for a genocide. If this is not your intention, stop.
When we hear these calls for the genocide of the Jewish people, chanted on the lawns of the most prestigious campuses = temples of education, one cannot help but wondering how difficult it would be to protect freedom of speech after it has been so brutally abused under the endorsement of these esteemed institutions.
To the feminist movement, where are you? Your silence is remarkably loud. All feminists worldwide need to realize that their silence is inadvertently but unequivocally justifying rape as a legitimate act of war. It's time to wake up and stand up – these women are your sisters.
Queers for Palestine, can any combination of words be more ironic? How about you ask those bruised LGBTQ refuges from Gaza and the West Bank who found love and protection amidst a thriving LGBT community Israel. Ask them how it is to be openly gay in Gaza. If you cannot find a single one to back your corner, wrap yourself with a rainbow flag and walk with your head held high into Gaza, to learn firsthand which are the values that you are protecting.
To the rave and DJ influencers in Brighton and beyond, is your sound system broken? Are you muted? Because you are awfully quiet; raise your voice in solidarity. It was your community that was butchered, these were your soldiers in the army of love, pacifism and peace that were slaughtered, and many of the hostages in Gaza are part of this community.
Moving on to the green activists; thank you Greta Thunberg for the most colossal damage anyone has ever done to the green cause, unveiling the most influential green persona as a shallow, ignorant child who suffers from an utter lack of compassion. Good luck with carrying the green message after your demonstration of such callousness. Someone in the green leadership need to clearly disown this child and stand on the right side of history,
As for humanitarian activists, the United Nations, UNRWA, Red Cross: yes, the suffering in Gaza is immense, undeniable and real. Yet for it to end you need to focus your efforts on freeing Palestine from Hamas, and freeing the region from those who aim to destroy it under the ambition of a theological war. This is not a fight over a land. This is a fight for its people.
And before that, and before anyone discusses any humanitarian cause, gather your forces and use all your might and resources around the mission to bring the hostages home. The most noble cause everyone should unite behind is to bring the hostages back home no matter what might be the price. We simply must see them come back alive, hug them, look in their eyes and find hope.