Rabbi Andrea's Address at the Vigil for Israel - 9th October 2023
LET’S SAY THINGS HOW THEY ARE
Hamas is a terrorist antisemitic organisation, even if ‘someone’ still refuses to call it as such. We’re looking at you, BBC. On the other hand, Israel is the largest Jewish community on this planet.
Now, when members of an antisemitic organisation murder hundreds of Jewish teenagers who were having a rave party. When members of an antisemitic organisation kidnap Jewish children and lock them in cages. When members of an antisemitic organisation rape and torture Jewish women, kill them and parade their bodies in front of a cheering crowd... All of this, this horror, has a name.
And a pogrom is precisely what happened last Saturday in Israel when more than 800 Jews were killed by Hamas in one day. Not since the Holocaust has this large a number of Jews been killed in a single day.
After that pogrom, countless communities and British citizens have reached out to us to express their horror and indignation. Of course, seeing so much support in the aftermath of a horror it really warms my heart. We are so grateful.
Nonetheless, it must be said that in this city, in the beautiful multicultural city of Brighton and Hove, we Jews don't only have friends.
There are activists in this city who parrot the slogans of Hamas.
There are those who meet at the Clock Tower with Palestinian flags and other macabre paraphernalia. Yesterday, one of their speakers said that the massacre in Southern Israel was ‘beautiful’. They shout the same slogans that Hamas militants shouted when slaughtering young Jews: "Palestine will be free".
This city is one of the capitals of the heinous BDS movement, whose final goal is - like Hamas'- the destruction of the State of Israel. Those extremists have not one, but two of their organisations located in this city.
In this city, horrible people peddle the ridiculous slur of "Israeli apartheid". Obviously, a State that practices apartheid is not worth existing and - by implication - must be dismantled. There are in this city activists who speak the same language as Hamas.
And while it warms my heart to see such support for us Jews when our families and friends are murdered in the Land of Israel... I cannot but wonder how long it will last.
Where will you be when Israel will defend itself from a terrorist organisation that aims to erase the "apartheid State"?
Where will you be when Israeli troops will enter Gaza to rescue the hostages and defeat that monstrous organisation?
Where will you be when University students will be harassed, as happens every year, during that event with an Orwellian name: "Israel Apartheid Week"?
Where will you be when militants wave the Palestinian flag and dance with joy, as they did in London two days ago, celebrating the death of another Jew?
Where will you be when secondary and primary school pupils suffer bullying in the playground from their schoolmates for the crime of being born from Zionist parents?
Where will you be when kosher and Israeli restaurants are vandalised, as has happened before, by militants who leave their scribbling on the walls: "Free Palestine"?
Where will you be when Far Left militants threaten to march, in solidarity with Palestine, on "that synagogue in Hove", terrifying elderly congregants.
These things happen. As the Rabbi of the largest synagogue in Sussex, I hear these horrors every week. From parents and grandparents. From young Jews and from elderly Jews.
In the coming days, when the Israeli Army regains control of the situation, abuses and harassment like these will increase. Everybody knows it. Indeed, it is happening already.
I fear that the support we feel today, for which we are grateful, will disappear as soon as the Army of the Jewish State starts its operations. As Dara Horn wrote, "People love dead Jews, but live Jews, not so much". And even less, let me add, Jews who fight back.
We hope the support we feel today will continue over the next difficult weeks, perhaps months. And please, please, avoid worn-out expressions such as "retaliation" or "cycle of violence". There is no cycle of violence when a State acts against a terrorist organisation whose program is to exterminate the State's citizens and their families.
The efforts to disband a terrorist organisation is not, I repeat, not retaliation. Dear British citizens, today we are grateful for your support. Tomorrow, we will be even more thankful if you understand that when we Jews are pricked, we bleed, too.
And that we have the right to defend ourselves.