The fetid stench of BDS

The bizarre alliance between the far left and far right plays out on Europe’s streets and its blind hatred is focussed on that tiny dot on the Middle Eastern map. Little Israel. With this unholy union of extremists comes a wave of hatred with no credible basis, which gathers strength as it twists and turns truths into lies and facts into gross disinformation. It is BDS and it stands for bullying, discrimination, and sabotage.

Just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, so too would BDS by any other definition smell as fetid. It is no less a dirty ploy by ill-meaning, Israel-bashing, Jew-hating folk to undermine the credibility, the legality and the fiscal standing of the State of Israel. In its own words: to use ‘punitive economic means’ to pressure Israel to rectify wrongs done to human rights in the Palestinian Territories. Perhaps these deluded yet colluded BDS supporters would be better placed to divest their sympathies from the actual poverty-mongering human rights wrongdoers – the Hamas leadership that encourage shaheedism (martyrdom) by even the youngest of children as evidenced by the newly sharpened lust for stabbings of random Israelis, Arabs, tourists, foreign workers or whoever else happens to be going about their innocent business in the wrong place (Israel) at the wrong (anytime at all) time.

But no. The myopic BDS pedlars wheel out their propaganda posters of tearful Palestinian mothers hugging doe-eyed babies (the bloodier the better). They push the Palestinian victimization ticket by portraying the ‘tough guy’ Israeli soldier occupiers in anti-Christ proportions. They turn blind eyes and deaf ears to such wrong-doings. They gingerly sidestep the spilling of Israeli blood, which is happening at alarmingly increasing rates, and continue to point an accusatory finger at Israel, bolstered by an equally blinkered media machine that continues to contort the grammar in their strap lines to the point of reporting that the poor little terrorist was shot dead, after which he stabbed the victim. Precisely.

This whole BDS debacle is a joke. It is baseless and positively boring. It has been done to death and it lacks integrity. By the very singling out of Israel as the Goliath of the Middle East (when in fact she is a tiny but pertinent David), by calling her the bully, the perpetrator of all things bad in the world, the BDS camp merely highlights its own prejudices and the boycott, divestment and sanctions platform is wearing mightily thin.

So go ask, yes I dare you, any of those Free Palestine flag wavers who prance about outside little Israeli-owned cosmetic shops on UK high streets on windswept Saturdays if they actually know who they are boycotting, why they are demanding sanctions and from what they are divesting and you will hear, by way of a reply, some inflammatory claptrap about all Israelis being child killers.

And worse, is the, ‘oh no, mate, we don’t have any issue with Jews, it’s the bloody Zionists we can’t stand,’ stance adopted by the corduroy jacket-wearing grey-bearded knobs (yes, knobs). You may have met these types, with their Arafat inspired keffiyehs draped around their necks, lurking in derelict doorways flogging the Socialist Worker on British inner city street; they who join the Free Palestine claptrap throng when pickings are thin on anti-fracking marches. We’ve all experienced them, this gaggle of rent-a-crowd opportunists, die-hard anti-Semites, Roger Waters devotees and belligerent British Muslims, who when challenged to explain their objectives, burst out in a rousing chant of ‘Palestine shall be free, from the river to the sea.’ Because, quite simply, they have no idea whatsoever what the hell it is that they are protesting with such conviction.

In these frightening times when we are all Charlie, when we are all Paris, Mali or indeed wherever the hell the next sickening act of Islamic terrorism will occur, in these days when no city can outwit the toxic malevolence of Islamic State, the barbarism of the big guys in Syria is overlooked by the baying crowds who quite farcically appoint Israel as the purveyor of all that is wrong in the world. Something stinks. BDS Stinks. It really stinks

It’s not about me, it’s about WIZO

I guess you could call me a loose cannon. I don’t always see eye to eye with the management of  the organization for which I volunteer, on whose board I sit.  I don’t always totally agree with the policies. I find long meetings and monologs tiresome and petticoat politics somewhat unproductive and often wonder if I really am ‘executive’ material – being so blatantly down to earth and somewhat outspoken but then I think of the recipients of the service we provide and  the federations that we must serve in our quest to deliver the goods. It’s why we do what we do – and how I can help the organization adapt to a changing, more modern world, with the skills I have. However,  it’s not all about me, you see, it’s about WIZO.

Before I became a volunteer, I was an employee, working as an assistant editor. I absolutely adored my little job and my enthusiasm for the work fuelled a passion for the product. This enthusiasm led me to feel great guilt in taking a wage from an organization that I saw as being run by a volunteer force.  I was in awe of the women I met, volunteers all, from every corner of the world, who tirelessly flew the flag for WIZO, who believed in the product so fervently that they spent 24/7 on the job, doing great things for the women and children of Israel through WIZO. And so, with the support of my husband I gave up the salary and did exactly the same job on a voluntary basis – and my passion for WIZO soared.

I recall my boss at the time, herself a volunteer, was somewhat baffled by my decision to give up my salary. ‘It’s not a good idea.’ she said, somewhat stone-faced. I thought I was doing good and had expected that my newly found altruism would be warmly, if not gratefully, welcomed. She was clearly not pleased with my decision. The same could not be said for the then-chairperson of the executive and the president who were both  delighted  with their conscientious volunteer and welcomed me with open arms.

Some years later, I was voted on to the executive and was told, ‘you are on the executive now, don’t chat with the paid workers.’  I will never divulge who it was that said that to me, but it struck a chord. It was as if by becoming one of the executive members,  I was somehow elevated to a position of grandeur, where I had to adopt the airs and graces of ‘leadership’. As if I had to think of myself as somewhat higher in the pecking order of things. As if it was expected of me to demand respect.  Indeed, it was a bitter pill that I preferred to spit out than to swallow.

One of my dear friends,  who is sadly no longer in the employ of the organization, said to me, ‘Ah but you will change now, because those that join the executive always do,’ to which I replied, in typically Tricia fashion, ‘Not me, no bloody way.  I will never change.’ I never did. I never will.

And that is precisely the thing. We are a team – all of us, whether here in Israel or  out there in the federations in the wider world – and we should, all of us, be judged on our enthusiasm, our passion and the level of service we provide, whether we receive a salary or not. We are, all of us, working for the same goal, to better the opportunities and education of the citizens of Israel, to promote equality for the weaker sectors and to feed the mind and body of the children, and to assist those who partner us in our quest around the world. That is our task. That’s what I signed up to do.

Surely it is a matter of, ‘ask not what WIZO can do for you, but what you can do for WIZO?’

Anyone who knows me will already be aware of my great passion for WIZO, but passion alone is no basis for a healthy relationship. There must be mutual respect, kindness and empathy. WIZO was born out of a great empathy for the women and children of Israel, we must never forget that. WIZO is a WE thing, not an ‘I’ thing.

We must think first of WIZO and then of others and lastly of ourselves. Only by putting the mutual interests of WIZO first can we ever achieve that selflessness that goes hand in hand with volunteerism. Respect is not something that we can automatically assume. Respect is not our hammer that threatens to swing over the heads of others. Respect is earned, respect is mutual. It is the very essence of the work we do. We teach even the youngest toddlers to respect the other, to share – to play nicely. In order to maintain good relations with each other, in order to be inclusive and included, we have no other choice than to practice what we preach – or in Tricia-speak we need to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

By presenting a totally united front and standing together with a time-served and faithful workforce, by listening to their grievances and equating real and pressing issues over personal agendas,  will we ever even begin to earn the respect – and earn our place on the executive of the  most wonderful organization to which I am proud to belong.


Seventy-seven years, the glass still breaks

Since Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, the Jews of Eastern Europe had seen the writing on the wall all too clearly. Those that tried to flee faced untold obstacles as the world closed its ears, eyes and borders and those that  stood fast (trapped let’s say) in the face of increasing terror – refused to believe that evil could (and would) prevail until the very last moment when  reality looked them coldly in the eye.

In a well-executed precursor to the horror of what was to become the Holocaust, at the whim of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels who used the murder of  a German diplomat in 1938 by a 17-year old Polish Jew in Paris as its pretext, German storm troopers unleashed simultaneous hate campaigns on Jews in Germany and Austria. Thousands of Jewish-owned businesses and institutions, hundreds of synagogues, homes and schools were smashed to smithereens as Jew-hatred showed its metal while police and fire departments were ordered not to come to the aid of the Jews. One hundred Jews were murdered, tens of thousands were arrested and many others committed suicide. The night of breaking glass (Kristallnacht) was an apt description for the mayhem, wanton destruction and sheer racial vandalism that sent shards of glass smashing to the ground as everything holy, valuable, sentimental and strived for was forever shattered. The crashing refrain of shattered glass was a clarion call that fell on deaf ears. A world turned away. Six million Jews were hacked, gassed, murdered. Perish the thought.

Seventy-seven years has passed since Kristallnacht and it would appear, to the writer at least, that the glass has not yet been swept away and the clarion call, while  echoing amongst those who dare to listen, goes largely unheard.

And yet, those shards of glass still lacerate, in every city of every land. Jew-hatred still lurks in ideology, in mindsets, on social media, on campus and in both the thinly veiled rhetoric of eloquent academics and the four letter word expletive-spewing mumblings of the ignoramuses who curiously partner them in their hate-fest. And yes, if they prick us  we do bleed.

The BDS camp, those who call for the delegitimization of the State of Israel, those who single out Israel for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, they who  sit in lofty office, in kangaroo courts and in the United Nations, pass a heavy judgement. They  who expect Israel to suffer the slings and arrows of terror on her citizens without reprisal, who deride her for daring to protect her borders, her people and her interests, make no secret of their loathing for the Jews. They prick us every which way they can.

It may be seventy-seven years since mean-spirited thugs in steel toe-capped boots kicked in the doors of synagogues in Berlin and Vienna but it is just seven minutes since an Israeli woman was stabbed by an equally mean-spirited thug for no other reason than that she is a Jew. But hey, today’s thug is just a child armed with just a knife. How dare we condemn? How dare we shoot to kill? How dare we dare to protect ourselves? How dare we, the People of the Book, those who knew oppression – become the oppressors? How dare we bully with our heavy arms and fortified army, a displaced people who know only to fight with crude missiles, concrete slabs and sharp knives? How can we be so cruel, so heartless, so blind to the vast outpouring of grief that makes its way to media outlets the world over in the guise of the wide-eyed child clinging to his mother’s skirts with tears rolling down his face?

So let’s hear it once again. The Jew of anti-Christ proportions, face contorted in ugly hatred, pours scorn on the poor Palestinians. All the world loves a victim as long as it is not a Jewish victim. Jewish victimhood just doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to air time.

The world did not cry out and beat its chest against Nazism. No action was taken until it was far too late to alleviate the suffering of the Jews – and anyway it was just Jews. Today, Islamic terror jumps into bed with little Palestinian children and wages a war against Jews and Christians and all nations known to be democratic – and yet it is Israel – that tiny little shard of a country – that comes in for the flack. Such a cruel phenomenon is not helped by those detractors from within, who drape themselves in the Israeli flag yet speak out against the state on any and every platform. It pains me, no –  it angers me, that democracy and free speech is high jacked by those amongst us who believe that to prove Israel’s democracy it must be subject to self-flagellation. It must play the sadomasochistic game of beating up on itself in order to prove its all singing, all dancing, all-encompassing democracy when, in fact,  the only thing the Jewish State benefits from is a special brand of political correctness that sells itself to the devil at a knockdown price.

If we Jews have learned anything from our rather persecuted past, surely it is to stand up and be counted rather than to keep shtum and give away the keys to our kingdom. But have we?  We give up and give away on every level, nationally and internationally. From anti-Jewish boycotts to the lack of condemnation of terror attacks on Israelis and Jews both here and abroad from both Jewish and Zionist organizations, save for a few grass-roots warriors who care more about the issues facing Jews in the world than matters of ‘cavod’ (respect) within their own organizations. Hello? Can we hear some outrage, some condemnation for this gross injustice against those we purport to support? It is not against the politics of Zionism to be outraged by terror. To not be outraged is more terrible…

Seventy-seven years is a long time to be bullied, to be vilified, to be dehumanized. Seventy-seven years is time enough to learn that if we Jews do not stand firm and united in a show of force (yes, force), and firm commitment towards the security of Israel then all the free speech and democracy in the world won’t save us. We must embrace those who embrace us and deal harshly with those who see the Zionist ticket as one to be undersold.

It pains me to know that some of the greatest detractors are Jews and Israelis themselves. Those who exhibit the same trepidation in the face of the reaction of the outside world, as if by not acknowledging greater threats those threats will actually diminish. As anti-Semitism soars to great heights, and anti-Israel sentiment is fuelled by an unholy alliance of far left, far right and Jihadists, the sheer audacity of those who insist on an outpouring of hatred towards the very same Jewish State they should be supporting  flies in the face of  democratic freedom of speech. They use that freedom of speech to strangle common sense and security. As  inside traitors like Joint Arab List Party Knesset Member Zoabi who, speaking at an event to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht in Amsterdam brazenly accused Israel of Nazi-like crimes towards the Palestinians, and British Parliamentarians like Gerald Kaufman (himself a self-hating Jew) and  new leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn take great delight in inflammatory rhetoric against the Jewish State, isn’t it time we put our own safety and security ahead of perceived political correctness?

We’ve been down that road before. We are still cutting our feet on the broken glass.