What you may not understand

10 Aug 2014

I want to talk about an issue that some non-Jews may not be able to fully understand. Specifically, the emotive and spiritual pull the majority of Jews feel towards Israel. For centuries, as many people know, the Jewish people have been pushed and shoved across continents and countries simply because of their religion. Jews have lived in constant fear, fear that at any time their neighbours may turn on them. Whether that is due to government direction or a reactionary response to contemporary situations such as recessions, war or illness, Jews have generally borne the brunt of any insecurity harboured by their host nation. There are not many countries in this world that can say that they have always treated their Jewish populations with the upmost respect. In fact, the only one that comes to mind is the United States.


That is why Zionism arose in 1894. The Jewish people no longer wanted to live in fear. Theodore Herzl went to the trial of Alfred Dreyfus in Paris. This man was accused of committing treason, but many knew that this was because he was a Jew and not because he was guilty of defying the French government. Herzl thought up Zionism, whereby he lobbied the governments of the world for a Jewish state, a state where Jews would be free from anxiety. For him, this state did not have to be Israel, and in actual fact Uganda was originally proposed, before the British government withdrew that offering.

This led to a Zionist Congress, whereby Jews of Europe, from every sect, sent their representatives to discuss the issue of a Jewish homeland. In 1948, after the horrors of the Holocaust, the newly formed United Nations gave the Jewish people a homeland. It was a two-state solution with the Palestinians, whereby Jerusalem would be under the control of the international community. The Palestinians rejected this proposal, and the surrounding Arab countries attacked the new state of Israel. Since then Israel has lived in a constant state of angst. Something which can be shown by their need for a full conscription army and billions of dollars spent on military equipment and shelters. Through all of this, almost every Jew has prayed for the survival of a Jewish state. This is because every Jew knows that anti-Semitism can raise its ugly head at any time, as history has shown.

In times like these, where anti-Semitic protests are cutting a swathe across Europe, with British anti-Semitism spiking, it reminds the Jews as to why Israel is so important to them. No Jew likes seeing the images of dead children on TV, in fact I would guess that many feel guilty. Not because they have voted for the government that are doing it, and not because they believe that it is a necessary evil, but guilty because there seems to be a collective Jewish guilt. If one Jew does something bad, they worry that this will reflect on the rest of the Jewish population. The Jews of Europe have done nothing, yet they are being targeted for the actions taken by the Jewish state. This isn’t fair. 

Since the operation in Israel has started, I have been told countless times by family members to take off any jewelry that highlights my religion. I have been told that in times like these I shouldn't be writing so much about Israel, that I shouldn’t tweet anything with the word Israel in it. I disagree with them, I am not going to stop being Jewish and being proud to be a Jew because there is a minority who hate me for it.

In my opinion, no Jew should be asked to denounce the Jewish state, regardless of contemporary circumstances, because - for the majority of Jews - Israel equates to a safe future.

By Olivia Gordon

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