This past weekend was spent in Oxford, England. I was there to visit a friend, and I decided to go to Shabbat services at the Oxford Chabad House. This past weekend also was a weekened where we learned the horrible fate of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, of blessed memory. But for me, what I witnessed in Oxford was a chilling revelation.
The Chabad House Shabbat dinner started out pleasantly enough. Rabbi Eli Brakman runs a very warm and inviting place, where Jew and nonJew alike feels welcomed to their Shabbat meal. The Rabbi spoke eloquently about the Holtzbergs, who he knew personally, as he studied with them at the 770 yeshiva on Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I enjoyed meeting an interesting assortment of individuals who attended the Shabbat services at Oxford, mostly affiliated with the famed university. But then, the speakers spoke. The topic was Obama and his effect upon the Middle East. The first speaker was a leftist, who apparently wanted Obama to press for 'peace,' whatever that means, for Israel. The second speaker was a Palestinian, who compared Israel to Nazi Germany, and then spoke of the horrors of his two day detention in a West Bank prison, and how he made an Israeli guard break down in tears when he compared the situation to Nazi Germany. He also spoke of the need for Israel to be forced to accept 'peace.' He said he is dismayed that Obama will be too pro-Israel. The third speaker was half Jewish, half Palestinian, and again compared Israel to Nazi Germany, claiming that when a little Palestinian girl wets her bed due to Israeli aggression, it is comparable to the hell his Jewish family has endured in pogroms and Nazi camps. The fourth speaker was Jewish and spoke about the need for Obama to push for a regional peace, but was not optimistic about the chances for such a peace.
None of the speakers were actually experts on Israel, 'Palestine' (a state which does not exist), or the Middle East. They rather were Americans, pushed to speak for reasons I cannot understand.
In short, at the Chabad in Oxford, on the very night that the Holtzbergs were murdered, Israel was compared to Nazi Germany.
You can be sure I was there with a strongly worded comment or five. I spoke of the failure of Camp David, and how it is proof that 'peace' is completely impossible at this stage, and not only is it impossible, but forcing Israel to commit suicide against its will does nothing but encourage more violence. In response, of course, I was told I am a 'fanatic' 'who does not believe in peace.' In short, there was absolutely no substantive response in the slightest given.
I found it interesting that afterwards, when I spoke with the organizer of this event, the explanation given was that somehow all the speakers were zionists, and it was a positive event, in comparison to the usual events at Oxford. I was told that when Shimon Peres (a man who famously stated we need to 'close our eyes for peace,' and who is a leftist and believes in ethnically cleansing Jews from our homeland in Judea and Samaria) came to speak at Oxford, there were riots. There in short is no academic freedom at Oxford. Frankly, if I was not in town and did not complain at the Chabad house, there would be little to no opposition to the extremist positions taken. And yet I was told these were the most pro-Israel speakers to speak in a long time! I was told that true Zionist speakers will not or cannot come to Oxford!
It is very sad, the state of the world we live in. I frankly track the shonda (yiddish for 'shame') which took place at the Chabad house to the Mumbai attacks. If we are afraid to defend ourselves, if we cannot speak out against injustice, then those who seek malice in this world will exploit this. Edmund Burke said "The only thing necessary for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing." And he was right.
Why is it that at the #1 most 'elite' university in the world, pro-Israel speakers are afraid of literally being physically attacked? What sort of a world do we live in where we are not even allowed the dignity of our own narrative?
Assume, for an instance, that it is completely impossible to know who is right, either the Palestinians, or Israelis and Jews. Assume, for an instance, that 'no one narrative is better than another.' (this is completely a fallacious assumption, as there is such a thing as absolute truth, but we are assuming this for a moment)
Even under that assumption, why must we surrender our narrative to the Palestinians? Why must we give up even our own dignity? In response to blood libels, why must we apologize? This does nothing other than legitimize the blood libels! The Palestinian position has not changed even a millimeter in sixty years; if anything, it has gotten even more extremist. Yet we now live in a world of 'post-zionism,' where we have to 'understand' an enemy which wishes to destroy us.
Why do we have to 'understand' the enemy at all? There is little to no effort being made to 'understand' Jews and Zionism. The Zionist position is completely absent on campus, replaced, as it were, with the delusion of a 'two state solution,' which is little more than Auschwitz borders. Why is it that Alan Dershowitz, certainly no 'right winger,' is put on a pedestal and given a speaking tour, simply because he does not demonize the Jew?
Where is Jewish pride? Where is Jewish dignity? Why must even my own Zionist narrative be stolen from me?
We see there are people out there who seek to annihilate us not because we think one way or another. But rather, simply because we exist. Why have we given up the will to fight? Why do we even humor our enemy, and give them a forum to speak, yet we refuse to even listen to an Aryeh Eldad or Effie Eitam?
Where is our will to survive? Can it ever come back? When will a real Zionist be able to speak at Oxford without fear of physical violence? Will it literally take the moshiach coming?
Why do we so vividly and constantly have to cry about our brothers and sisters being murdered for being Jewish, and we say "never again," yet we fail to do anything substantive about this all?
What will it take for things to change?