By Rivka Levy
Towards the end of December 2016, there was an anti-semitic attack on the grave of the famous Chassidic Master, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. Here’s what happened in Uman: Apparently a few anti-semitic Ukrainian drunks drove up to the tomb, roughed up the people who were davening there, then used a paintball gun to fire red paint all over the tomb, before throwing a pig’s head into the tomb.
Back in Israel, Yesh Atid’s leader Yair Lapid immediately started jumping up and down about it all, and was quoted as saying the following in the Israeli press:
“I was shocked this morning to hear about the sickening and violent anti-semitic attack which occurred at the grave site of Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav [sic] in Uman, Ukraine,” Lapid said. He described the incident as “unacceptable and reminiscent of the darkest days of the history of the Jewish people in Europe.”
The news story then continued that: “Lapid said he expected the Ukrainian government to condemn the incident and to take firm action to catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice soon.”
Which is where things start to get very interesting, because just the week before the attack in Uman, a not dissimilar anti-Semitic attack occurred in the Southern Israeli city of Arad.
Here’s what happened then:
The virulently secular Mayor of Arad (who happens to belong to Yesh Atid) encouraged a bunch of (Jewish, secular) anti-semites to go over and violently disrupt the prayers being held in a local synagogue in Arad on Friday night.
Congregants were pushed around by these (Jewish, secular) anti-semites as they were trying to pray. The (Jewish, secular) anti-semites also entered the shul playing loud music on their i-Phones, and then the female (Jewish, secular) anti-semites in the group started singing very loudly – something they knew would be very offensive to the frum men trying to pray.
Here’s the kicker: Earlier that same week, the shul was desecrated when someone hung a pig’s foot from the entrance.
So in the Ukraine, we have violent anti-semites, red paint and a pig’s head – and Yair Lapid is frothing at the mouth and spouting off about how bad and terrible it all is. And in Arad, Israel, we have violent anti-semites, i-Phones and a pig’s foot – and the people behind it are strongly affiliated to the same anti-semitic, anti-Jewish party that Yair Lapid happens to be the head of.
Since Yesh Atid came to power in Arad, the town hall has been committing and encouraging one anti-Jewish, discriminatory action after another. Yesh Atid hates religious Jews, and is trying to send them a very clear message that Arad (and secular Israeli society generally…) doesn’t welcome chareidi families and all their ‘backwards’ customs like using mikvahs and praying in shul on Friday night.
At the end of December 2016, 30 countries, including the UK, adopted the new, internationally-recognised definition of anti-semitism that was formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
The IHRA definition states:
“Anti-semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and / or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
In her speech announcing this development, British PM Theresa May said: “It means that there will be one definition of anti-Semitism – in essence, language or behavior that displays hatred toward Jews because they are Jews – and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it.”
If she’s serious about this, she’s going to have to call out pretty much everyone in the United Nations, the Obama administration and the EU….
But she’s also going to have to ‘call out’ all the unabashed anti-semites who are running large parts of Israel, and who still control much of the judiciary, the government, the civil service and the media in this country.
It’s hard to think of a clearer example of anti-semitism in action – as defined by the IHRA – than (Jewish, secular) anti-semites attacking Jews who are praying in a synagogue on Shabbat. There was also a story reported in Hamodia where a 70 year old secular Israeli woman in Arad tried to stab a chareidi man with a kitchen knife – just because he was a religious Jew!
So what happens next, when the anti-semites in question happen to be Jews themselves? It’s the height of hypocrisy to expect the non-Jews to ‘call out’ anti-semitism and tackle it head-on if we Jews aren’t willing to do that ourselves, to the Jewish anti-semites in our own ranks, and in our own Knesset and public institutions in the Jewish world both in Israel and abroad.
So now, let me turn it over to you, the readers of On Jewish Matters: what should be done to stop anti-semitism and anti-semitic attacks in the world, when at least some of the ‘anti-semites’ happen to be Jewish?
Worshippers at the tomb of Rabbi Nachman in Uman, Ukraine
Rivka Levy is the author of eight books on Jewish thought and holistic health. Her latest book is: Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav. Catch Rivka’s blog at: www.emunaroma.com