Monday, July 12, 2004

Charge of the right brigade

In Antwerp a 15-year-old yeshiva boy is stabbed by one of a group of Arab boys out patrolling the streets armed with clubs and knives. In London unknown arsonists burn a couple of shuls. In Paris a young mother riding the train with her baby is accosted by a group of youths, mostly Arab, who take her purse. When they see her address is in one the Jewish neighbourhoods they cut off her hair and her clothes and draw swastikas on her belly. For good measure they then overturn the buggy with her baby in it.

As a chassid, anti-Semitic attacks, ranging from verbal abuse to physical attack, albeit usually not really dangerous, are nothing new to me. I have been used to it for as long as I remember. When I was very young it was the teddy boys, then it was the punks and later it was the blacks that scared the shit out of us as we walked the streets. I have grown older and wiser since then and have learned to make the distinction between a few kids out for some fun who find someone weaker than them, and serious, potentially dangerous, hate.

With hindsight it easy to see that the punks and teds were wearing their threatening exteriors as a uniform or a front. I actually work today with a former punk who used to frighten the life out of me when I was a kid. He is a lawyer today and good friend. As he puts it ‘a thirteen year old boy wearing a big black hat, a long coat and a terrified expression is an obvious target for anyone out for a laugh and nursing an impaired self-esteem’. The blacks in Stamford Hill actually get on with the Chassidim probably better than the whites do, maybe because we have both known discrimination and have moved on.

The new threat we are facing today is far more ominous however. This is not mischief by testosterone driven drop-outs. The new threat we face from Muslims on the street is organised and focused. It is driven by a well oiled engine that is teaching hate to their youths on tapes imported from the middle-east and spoken by terrorists and murderers. To a generation of young Muslims, whipped into a frenzy by their Imams and youth club leaders and offered tacit support by the one-sided and sometimes downright provocative and false reports by the media, headed by the BBC and other local news channels, the visible Chassidic Jews on the street have become the target for all their hate.

To make matters worse, the comfortable Jews in Whitehall and in positions of power, hiding behind their goyishe exteriors and knowing no immediate threat to their own precious hides, take every opportunity to further their own particular brand of comfortable Judaism and immediately bring up their trump card; Anti-Semitism and the holocaust.

I, as a chassid, am fed up with that game. I do not need perpetual victimhood to define my Jewishness. The problem I face on the street today has nothing to do with nazis and everything to do with Muslim terrorists and their war against America and Israel. In Antwerp indeed the extreme right are the ones doing more than anyone to protect the Jews, and all the traditionally anti-immigrant movements in Europe are today much more bothered by Muslims than by Jews. It is indeed possible that the bare-headed ‘Jewish’ machers (busybodies) are right and as soon as the Muslim ‘problem’ is solved the focus will turn back to us, but in all honesty I don’t see that day coming any time soon and I prefer to live for the future than for the past.

Whatever the machers have on their agenda I will not feel safer because the BBC shows a few more holocaust documentaries on TV nor does it help me if all the children in Europe learn about the evils of anti-semitism at school. If the Board of deputies and their ilk want to help me they should make all their members and maybe the directors of the BBC too, go out on the streets for a few days wearing kappels and then they will see for themselves what recommendations need to be made. From within their ivory towers they are more help for the terrorists than for us on the real frontline.

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