Dear Becky – a letter to WIZO’s founding mother

 

On the eve of WIZO’s 96th anniversary, I write a letter to WIZO’s founding mother, Rebecca Sieff z”l   in which I ask the question, “how are we doing?”  An earlier version of this letter appeared in the WIZO Review in 2010.

Dear Becky,

It is human nature to seek the approval of our elders. From that very first crayon drawing that we thrust wide-eyed into our mothers’ hands when we skipped out of nursery school as children to be met with a “well done, darling – how clever you are!” Such affirmation spurs us on to do more, to reach further and to aim higher. So, indulge us, dear Becky, when we ask you, “how are we doing?”

Through your vision and steadfastness, you bequeathed a legacy of incalculable worth to the women and children of the State of Israel and in so doing, you placed upon the shoulders of your WIZO daughters and granddaughters the enormous responsibility of safe keeping such a precious gift. You entrusted us with the wellbeing of a nation.

Ninety-six years ago, when you stood up at the International Women’s Zionist Conference at the Russell Hotel in London and brought your brainchild into being, could you have known how that first seed would take root and grow?

Sieff-Rebecca

When you rolled up your sleeves and said, “Let the men get on with it and we’ll do the real work,” did you ever stop to analyse the weight of that declaration? No. You just got down and did it.

The Irish dramatist of the 17th century, George Fabricius said, “Death comes to all, but great achievements raise a monument, which shall endure until the sun grows old.” But, dear Becky, the sun will never grow old, and like 250,000 WIZO chaverot in 50 federations around the world, the sun rises each morning and shines on the State of Israel.

Your legacy in our hands and those of our daughters and granddaughters places rainbows over every child attending WIZO day care centres, schools and youth villages – nurturing and educating them. Through a network of some 800 projects and services, WIZO supports, guides, protects and empowers. WIZO affords mothers the opportunity to work, knowing that their children are in the safest of hands – WIZO hands. WIZO gives those women the confidence and tools to retrain and make their difference in this world.

In your image, and that of all who walked with you in those pioneering days of pre-state Israel, thousands of women no longer take ‘no’ for an answer in the home and workplace. WIZO throws its full weight into the fight for women’s rights. It stands strong and defiant in the face of domestic violence and provides sanctuary and therapy to victims of abuse and their children. WIZO campaigns tirelessly on both the national and global stage against the discrimination of women in all its forms.

As pertinent as Fabricius’s words are, to call WIZO a monument conjures up visions of an immobile structure. Nothing could be further from the truth. Time and terrors, wars and circumstances have left scars on the face of Israel that WIZO strives to erase. The changing and ever-increasing needs of society, economic factors, the cost of terror and a widening poverty gap all command a hefty price, which WIZO pays every day, in every way.

 

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Helena Kagan (l) and Rebecca Sieff (r) at the opening of the Jerusalem Baby Home in 1955 with the home’s director.                   Photo courtesy of WIZO Archives, Tel Aviv

 

WIZO mobilises, renovates, modernises and re-establishes itself to address new and different challenges, spearheading social activism and shaping society.

Becky, we do not rest on our laurels. You would not have approved of that. The organisation that you founded 96 years ago moves forever forward, keeping up the momentum with an evolving Israel and a changing world, and it is no easy task. Just as we, here in Israel, invest heavily in the security of the people, the phenomenon of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment rises in the Diaspora. Jewish communities across the globe have become all too familiar with campaigns to smear Israel’s name, to ignore her excellent record of Tikkun Olam and life-saving innovations and to paint her in a less than flattering light.  We must work ever harder to raise the profile of our beloved State of Israel, to spread truth where lies permeate and to advocate and support her as best we can.

And we do our best because first and foremost, we care for the people of Israel. We are a sisterhood of women gathered under the WIZO banner in their service. The strength of the people determines the strength of the nation. The strength of WIZO depends on all our endeavours.

Waiting to take up the gauntlet are the young and focused Aviv members, committed Zionists whose passion for the State of Israel match their desire to take WIZO into the future, to further evolve and perpetuate. Women all over the world join hearts with their mothers, daughters and sisters in Israel to close the generation gap and volunteer for WIZO, and they do it, as we all do because Israel is central to our Jewish soul – and WIZO is the Zionism of the Jewish mother.

So, Becky, as we gaze upon your portrait hanging in WIZO Federations all over the world, can we assume that behind that resolute and stern persona, there lies a smile of approval? I do hope so.

With deepest respect and affection.

A WIZO Chavera

Tricia Schwitzer serves on both the World WIZO Executive and the Executive of Friends of WIZO.  Tricia also serves on the committee of Truth Be Told, an advocacy group countering misinformation relating to Israel. Special projects undertaken for World WIZO include Israel advocacy, social media marketing material and promotional writing. 

 

We are the people

We are the people; the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters that the haters, the anti-Semites and the anti-Zionists refuse to acknowledge. We are the people whose integrity, whose values, whose right to be is called into question by those who, for reasons unfathomable and ominous, choose to point a bloody finger. We are the people who, surrounded by sworn enemies, refuse to be intimidated.

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We are the people who live by the Talmudic teaching: ‘for whoever destroys a soul, it is as if he destroyed an entire world, and whoever saves a life, it is as if he saved an entire world.’ Yet we, in honouring our own basic human right to survive are compelled to fight the war on terror on two fronts, here in Israel and on the world’s stage.

Tikkun-Olam-Repairing-the-World

We are the people for whom Tikkun Olam (healing the world) is a prerequisite. We teach our children to respect the other and the world around us. We are the people whose army operates by a code of conduct that demands purity of arms and an unprecedented level of humanitarianism in our defence while facing an enemy that thrusts its women and children in the line of fire, that goads and taunts. We, who must rise above and beyond the call of duty, refuse to be defined by the warped perceptions of the inciteful and the incited and those deceived ones who would do us harm.
We are the people who when mourning our dead also mourn the casualties of our adversaries. We are the people who, no matter how committed or otherwise we are in our faith, will ask forgiveness from God even when we are not at fault.

We are the people who, when disaster strikes anywhere in the world, are first on the front lines, mobilising medical, search and rescue squads and post-trauma experts to repair the shattered lives of devastated populations delivering them from catastrophe to reconstruction and rehabilitation. Whether it be famine in Kenya, outbreaks of Ebola in Sierra Leonie, typhoons in the Philippines, earthquakes in Japan, tornadoes in the USA, it is we who will dig deeper and delve further in order to save a life, even the lives of sworn enemies who pray for our demise.


We are the people who speak the universal language of healing, of caring. Since December 2013, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have medically treated more than 2,000 Syrian casualties of the Syrian civil war, many of them women and children, and sent them to Israeli hospitals for further care. When dehydrated refugees looking for safe haven from the Syrian battle ground landed on the shores of Greece, it was a team of volunteer Israeli medics that came to their aid. As Former Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres said, “We are all human beings. Who can be indifferent to the sight of this horrible massacre, the sight of children in small coffins, and of screaming mothers?” Medical assistance to Syrian civil war casualties, the IDF says, is a humanitarian initiative.

We are the people who, despite suffering a daily onslaught of indiscriminate car ramming, shootings and knife attacks, persist in saving the lives of babies and children with life-threatening heart defects from Gaza to Tanzania. Children and their families from developing countries as well those from Syria, Iraq, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Romania are brought to Israel for life-saving surgery by top paediatric surgeons regardless of religion, race or creed. Israel, in her humanitarian mission, does not discriminate.

We are the people who have little choice but to abide the slander, to deflect the poison pen arrows and victimisation of our people with diplomacy and good deeds, lest we offend the meek critic.  The world watches us and waits to trip us up. Erroneously  described by a former French Ambassador to the UK (Daniel Bernard) as, ‘Israel, that shitty little country,’ we are more inclined to be defined by the great Greek philosopher Plato when he coined the prophetic  phrase, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’  Israel, so poor in natural resources, has had no option but to pool its brainpower in order to survive and thrive and to support those who need our help, because we are committed to salvation.

We are the people who deliver. From ground-breaking irrigation and water purification processes to agricultural advancement, from life-saving cures to terror-busting cyber security and from technological and scientific breakthroughs to ecological and life-enhancing inventions, we lead where others follow. Many millions of people around the world owe a debt of gratitude to that uniquely Israeli chutzpah that compels us to push the boundaries of discovery to new frontiers and to share it, loudly and proudly, with a world that needs Israel more than it cares to admit.

We are the people, the citizens of the glorious yet tiny State of Israel – one of the smallest nations on the planet. Half her area is desert and only 20% is arable, and so it is that we, the people have replaced the mantra, ‘location, location, location’ with a far more fitting description:’ innovation, innovation, innovation.’

And thus, we the people of the State of Israel ask you, beg you, the people of the rest of the world not to define us with ridiculously ill-fitting and ill-willed labels as you often do. In this tiny strip of a country, we unite as a force for good to heal the world. Ours is a positive, life-enhancing, life-saving contribution. We are the people who believe in saving the world. Let us be defined for that.

We are the people. Am Israel Chai

The collective power of WIZO

(This article appears in the January 2016 print-only  edition of the World WIZO Lapid newsletter)

‘Individually we are just one drop, but together we are an ocean,’ these words by Japanese writer Ryunosuke Satoro, are the very essence of the WIZO  (Women’s International Zionist Organization) movement. WIZO transcends oceans in an ingathering of Jewish women from all over the world who proudly wear her badge and for whom WIZO is their vehicle of choice, in which they steer with steadfast determination towards Israel, towards her people. WIZO women all over the world know that by strengthening the people, the State of Israel itself is fortified.

And so it is with WIZO. Her strength is in the sheer numbers of her volunteer/fundraising force scattered over continents, poles apart and yet simultaneously together. This passionately Zionist sisterhood sings from the same song sheet at full throttle in a unified voice, as she stands shoulder to shoulder with not only her Israeli counterparts but also every man, woman and child, who comes under the protection of WIZO’s vast welfare umbrella in Israel through its 800 welfare projects.

The WIZO chavera, whether she lives just around the corner in Tel Aviv or down under in Sydney or any place in between, knows that she is an integral part of something much larger than herself and that her inclusion and unity is as crucial to WIZO’s success as that of any other woman who serves the movement. It is only in the collective strength of unity under the WIZO banner that  WIZO maintains its edge in answering the calls from an increasingly needy Israeli society whose challenges are great.
The WIZO chavera is, bar none, an ambassador for the State of Israel. She is an agent for social change in Israel. By her membership to WIZO  she has pledged loyalty to the people of Israel, by wearing a WIZO badge she holds the megaphone and articulating loudly and proudly that she is one of many who care enough to belong, who care enough to volunteer and who care enough to be visual, audible and, above all, credible in her passion for this worthiest of causes. For who are we, if we are not for our own people?

WIZO is a collective, a global community comprised of  Jewish women from all walks of life, of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Some 95 years after her inception, she continues to realize the ideology of her founding mothers but at the same time, WIZO has evolved to address the issues, and provide effective, manageable solutions for a growing and diverse population. The weight of such a huge burden on her shoulders is distributed evenly throughout the entire WIZO world; some 50 federations, comprising of around 250,000 volunteers each with their commitment and fair share of the load.
The largest federation, WIZO Israel, works directly with and on behalf of the local population, including those of minority communities. Her aims are to advance the status of women, defend their rights and achieve gender equality in all fields; to combat domestic violence; to assist in the absorption of new immigrants and to contribute to family and community welfare, with special emphasis on single parent families, women, children, and the elderly. Elevating the status of women has always been a priority of the Israel federation. The Equal Rights for Women Law of 1952 was passed on the initiative of then WIZO Israel chairman Rachel Kagan, who represented the organization in Israel’s first Knesset. Today, WIZO remains active in this field.

Lapid Dec 2015Together with WIZO Israel, under the World WIZO umbrella, worldwide federations strive to donate much-needed revenue for the movement, both for the provision of crucial benefits to Israeli society and in the support of their own sponsored projects. The engagement of the Jewish heart into giving is reinforced by identity with the people of Israel. WIZO is the embodiment of the Jewish mother looking after her brood. These days, as anti-Israel sentiment rages and anti-Semitism rears its ugly head in frightening proportions around the world, the defence of Israel’s integrity is a crucial precursor and it is important that WIZO chaverot are active in their Zionism in order to educate and enlighten and bring value to the WIZO table – not just as a fundraising organization but as a movement proud of its underlying principles. Constant regeneration of commitment, of passion and ultimately of membership, is key to preserving WIZO as the powerhouse that she is today. World federations actively network with local Jewish and non-Jewish members of their communities in social and fundraising events, thereby increasing exposure to WIZO’s endeavours both on the ground and on social media platforms.

On the world’s stage WIZO is recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization with consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council and the International Children’s Emergency Fund. She is a member of the World Zionist Organization and has the power to influence decisions crucial to the wellbeing of all sectors of the population of the Jewish State.
WIZO is a peoples movement, she cares deeply for the baby, the child, the adolescent, the young parents, the unmarried mother, the abused woman, the great grandmother – her family. She cares for all the people, without prejudice towards creed or colour, providing in equal parts, wherever the need arises. WIZO’s strength lies in her emotional appeal to every Jewish woman, everywhere. She is the win-win, go-to movement for any woman who cares about her family, who cares about Israel. It is easy to identify with WIZO’s ethos. It is the ethos of every Jewish mother who treats her children equally while striving to strengthen the weakest and nurture the neediest.

As relevant as ever, and needed even more so,  as spirited and as forceful, WIZO constantly looks to the future with the engagement of young Jewish women to take up the gauntlet to become the leaders of tomorrow and on whose shoulders the weight of responsibility for the world’s largest women’s Zionist organization can, and will, rest easily. The State of Israel and her people deserve no less than that.

 

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

Advocate IsraelClowns to the left of me,  jokers to the right,  here I am stuck in the middle with you, crooned Stealer’s Wheel in 1972. And here I am, in Israel in the year 2016 – and all the jokers and all the clowns are busy blogging, posting and tweeting their political differences when, in fact, what is really needed around these parts is, dare I say it, more unity and less bitching about the political leanings of the other.

Don’t get me wrong. Free speech is good, actually, it’s great and it is the very underpinning of  democracy, one of the principles upon which the State of Israel stands. Political persuasion is a matter of free choice and not forced upon us by dictatorial regimes, as practiced by the near neighbours. Here in Israel,  we listen to the political jargon of would-be leaders, we evaluate promises, false or far reaching, we watch party political broadcasts and we make our own informed conclusions, whether rightly or leftly and echoing the mantra of whichever party we happen to trust at that crucial moment of the polls. And then,  we go into the booth and cast our vote.

And that is as it should be. The criticisms and rants that ensue when one or the other politician says something remotely daring are to be expected. Below the belt jibes make for entertaining TV viewing and the more ambiguous a remark the better for the popular press that love to jump on a ‘he said, she said’ bandwagon. Sensationalism sells and  a good old rummage through the dustbins of power to see what naughty bits can be unearthed is the stuff that copywriters dreams are made of. Any Brit who ever watched Prime Minister’s Question Time is used to the slings and arrows of the game, set and match of the liberals, left wing and  right wing.

But you know what? Now is just not the time for heated exchanges on everything that is wrong with us as a nation. Not here in Israel, when we are all bleeding from the same wound. Now is the time when the Israeli nation needs to chuck its political differences out of the window and stand united against terror. In its fight for survival, Israel needs to put her best foot forward and practice some good old fashioned unity.

With the exception of the January 1st atrocity when two young men were murdered and seven others were injured in a little pub on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street and many of us changed our Facebook status to ‘We are all Tel Aviv’ and ran to light memorial candles at the scene of the crime in an outpouring of sympathy, we no longer wring our hands in despair when yet another attack is reported. No. Some of those among us give credence to the perpetrators citing human rights issues – as if we Israelis are not deserving of the most basic human right – to actually be alive.

In the past three months, Israel has suffered the most horrific terror attacks imaginable. Horrific in their sporadic frequency, their simple brutality  and almost effortless execution. This wave of terror that has taken the lives of 30 people and rising, that has ruined the lives of scores more and that threatens every Israeli everywhere, escalates – and with it so does our immunity.

Are we, as a nation, so naive to think that criticism of political figures, of blaming the government, of  pointing the finger at our leaders will actually put an end to this terror? Are we really so foolish that  we effectively anaesthetize our own pain and our own fears and yet deal with great sensitivity those who openly and brazenly call for our destruction?

Oh I see, you’ve raised your eyebrows. How dare I say that? Doesn’t every Israeli bleed when another Israeli is mowed down, stabbed, run over or shot? Don’t we wring our hands, look up to the skies and plead with God to make this torment stop? Well, yes we do but with each passing  attack,  we reinforce our own personal defence mechanism of detachment and thank our lucky stars that we were not there, at that time in that place, because we could have been and will be again.  And as the frequency of these evil attacks peaks, our reaction reaches new troughs.  And by that fact, we are as  guilty as the world’s media for ignoring Israel’s reality. And why? Because as much as we try, and we have tried, we just cannot fathom it. To our Western values, to our moral compass, it is beyond our power of reason. It is incomprehensible, as inconceivable as  Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s credibility as a partner for peace when he quite openly states that stabbing and mowing down Jews in Israel is justified, and who incites terror with every word he utters and as incomprehensible as the apologists amongst us who make feeble excuses for the perpetrators of this terror based on some misguided belief that somehow it can be avoided if we appease the dragon.

So, without answers to the real issues, we resort to playing the blasphemy game –  defaming the politicians that we did not vote for and besmirching their policies, their ethics and in doing so, we invite the contempt of an already fuming world, frustrated by its own shortcomings in dealing with a peril so much larger than we are.  We invite them to look into our transparent world of democracy and find us wanting.

As we with one hand  sift through the dustbins of those who swear allegiance to the state,  and with the other hand we hold out an olive branch to those who spit in our faces time after time, isn’t it time we looked in the mirror and saw the Jew staring us back in the face?  And as Jews, shouldn’t we march proudly shoulder to shoulder into the fray instead of bickering between ourselves on political technicalities?

As history has proved, as Jews we will not be judged by our political affiliations When we are marched, we are marched as Jews. As one.

Tricia Schwitzer serves on both the World WIZO Executive and the Executive of Friends of WIZO. Prior to joining the executive, Tricia is also on the committee of Truth Be Told, an advocacy group countering misinformation relating to Israel. Special projects undertaken for World WIZO include Israel advocacy, social media marketing material and promotional writing. 

An army that marches on its principles

I was far too old to join the army when I made aliyah some 13 years ago, but this does not lessen the profound respect and enthusiasm I have for this principled army. In my own little way I serve Israel by serving WIZO (as all WIZO chaverot do), so when I visit WIZO day care centres and see the adorable toddlers at play, I always remember that one day these wide-eyed innocent cherubs will be drafted into the IDF (Israel Defense Force) and their mothers will weep in pride and trepidation as they become Israeli soldiers, charged with the responsibility of defending the country.

While the fundamental goal of the IDF is ‘to defend the existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state of Israel. To protect the inhabitants of Israel and to combat terrorism which threaten the daily life,’ there are certain humanitarian preconditions written into its code of conduct. Whilst IDF soldiers have a responsibility to fight, to dedicate all their strength and even sacrifice their lives in the defense of the State, they must operate according to the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Credibility, personal example, respect for human life, purity of arms, professionalism, discipline, comradeship and a sense of mission all form the basis of the ‘Spirit of the IDF’.
This is the spirit that demands that they carry out their duties with initiative, involvement and diligence within the framework of their authority. As role models, they will demand of themselves as they demand of others. They may use their weapons and force only for the purpose of their mission, only to the necessary extent and will maintain their humanity even during combat. IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property.

The IDF,​ called ‘the most moral army in the world’ by British Army Colonel Richard Kemp, is an army dedicated to humanitarian principles in tandem with the State of Israel. Unfortunately, on the world’s media stage, the IDF is often portrayed as a Goliath, a guerilla force, even, heaven forbid, a terrorist regime. Nothing could be further than the truth. The IDF is Israel’s pride. Its code of ethics, known as the ‘Spirit of the IDF’ encompasses democratic principles, universal moral values and the dignity of human life totally in sync with Jewish values. Furthermore, military action can be taken only against military targets; the use of force must be proportional.

Soldiers may only use weaponry they were issued by the IDF. Anyone who surrenders cannot be attacked. Only those who are properly trained can interrogate prisoners. Soldiers must accord dignity and respect to the Palestinian population and those arrested. Soldiers must give appropriate medical care, when conditions allow, to themselves and to enemies. Pillaging is absolutely and totally illegal. Soldiers must show proper respect for religious and cultural sites and artifacts and soldiers must protect international aid workers, including their property and vehicles and soldiers must report all violations of this code. The IDF is an army that marches on these principles and woe betide any soldier who does not adhere. Of course, individuals make mistakes with tragic consequences.

For anyone, let alone teenagers at the tender age of 18, it’s a heavy burden to bear but conscription in Israel is compulsory and totally necessary, given the volatility of the region, the sensitivity of the situation and the cunning of an enemy that hides behind its own children. As Golda Meir said, “When peace comes, we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.”

I get upset, no – I get angry, when I see the IDF portrayed as the aggressor. I know it not to be true. The reality is that Israel’s children have the unenviable task of defending me and mine, you and yours – and all of Israel. The Jewish State, that sits so precariously in the centre of a geographical mine field, cannot afford to lose one battle, cannot afford to lose one soldier and its heart breaks at the collateral damage of any life lost, Muslim, Jewish, black or white.

Just like every mother in Israel whose child dons the uniform, picks up his kitbag and goes off to the army base, I see that the ‘tough guy in khaki’ is just the little toddler who clung to the nursery nurse on his first day at a WIZO day care centre not so many years ago. My heart, and I know yours too, goes with him on his mission. God bless the IDF.

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