Are there any Esthers left to speak up for Israel?

Traditional Purim pastries.(Photo: Getty/iStock)

Jewish academic and Hebrew scholar Irene Lancaster reflects on why Purim is especially meaningful this year.

The only good news the Jewish people are receiving right now, when the West and sadly some corners of the Church are either arguing for the genocide of the Jewish people or tacitly endorsing it, is that in a moment of genius, Jerusalem has decided to reinstate its first Purim Parade in 42 years.

When they try to destroy you, whether covertly or not, the Jewish response has always been, we will fight back through rejoicing. Despite the best efforts of some politicians and church leaders, Israel is a sovereign nation which is here to stay. She will therefore do what she thinks best to eradicate the modern-day forces of Amalek, as embodied in the wicked Purim character of Haman.

It is true that a few western individuals, including some Christians, have spoken out, and some have even volunteered to help in Israel and/or given donations to the Israeli war effort, thus proving that there are some modern-day Esthers out there, not all of them Jewish. However, the vast majority and certainly the ones who are in positions of power, have not simply stood on the sidelines as is usual in the contemporary era where Jews are concerned, but have actually and openly called for the destruction of Israel, and therefore of the Jewish people.

No doubt that is why in a recent open debate held by the UK National Jewish Assembly (NJA) on whether there is a future for us here in the UK, only two speakers as I recall spoke in favour (and sadly their arguments were out-of-date, factually inaccurate, and not at all convincing), while the vast majority voted at the end that there is no future for Jews in the UK.

It is not simply militant Islam, or even the fact that, due to deliberate government policies, there are 16 times as many Muslims as Jews in this country, but also that the Left and especially the BBC, are viciously and constantly anti-Jewish.

Rochdale, adjacent to areas of high Jewish population, was a long time in coming and was an accident waiting to happen; the police and judiciary have proved by their actions that they are openly in favour of Hamas, accepting the very public call on our streets for the eradication of the Jews of Israel and arresting those who dissent; and the government, while silencing their own truth-tellers, has essentially given the green light to the police to desist from arresting people and immediately halting the anti-Semitic hate marches, when they have the power to do so under the already-existing Public Order Act and anti-terrorism legislation.

When you have a situation where it appears that parts of the press, church, government and legal authorities all come out against protecting the Jewish community of this country, let alone the State of Israel, then it isn't that there is no 'hope' as such; rather the question must be asked: how can the younger generations survive in this country? Already they are trying to avoid UK universities like the plague and choosing instead to study in Israel.

But this isn't recent; it's been the case since 1997 at least, if not earlier, when it was already regarded as completely acceptable to condone hate speech and violence against Jews using 'freedom of speech' arguments, which were not permitted in the case of other groups. Only Jews have been the exception: any and all methods can be used to annihilate us, or at least our presence, in this country. I should know, because I taught in UK universities at that time and was personally affected by the madness.

And these are the arguments that were put forward on Sunday by one participant after the other during our NJA zoom meeting. It was the younger generation, often observant, who told us they'd had enough and had decided it was time to leave. Many have done so already of course. It is a fact universally acknowledged in the Jewish community (and I don't include in our community the self-appointed quisling non-leadership) that government policies for the last thirty years have encouraged millions of immigrants, both legal and illegal, from areas of Eastern Europe and Muslim countries who simply hold views, based on their religions or cultural outlooks, which are not only hostile to Judaism, but are actually bent on destroying it. And this was of course known at the time.

The other side of the coin, of course, is that, while encouraging unlimited entry to people who do not share our values, the UK itself no longer knows what it stands for, and even worse, tries to silence those brave souls who speak out in favour of the facts. Tragically, so many people in this country have died prematurely, risked cancellation or had to leave the UK, simply as a result of trying and failing to stand up for justice and the rule of law, for pointing out that not all cultures subscribe to these concepts, the bedrock of the legal system first laid out in the Hebrew Bible and later in rabbinic commentaries, but now disdained by the West and it seems even the main Churches.

As for the universities, they have of course, also for thirty, if not forty years, encouraged what they call 'post-modernism', where anything goes; truth does not exist. And yet, post-modernists and trendy leftists march hand in hand with the reactionary elements within Islam and other quarters, supporting their new quasi 'religion', in which frankly the post-modernists would not last one day were the tenets of this 'religion' carried out in the new Islamic state that they appear by their actions to crave.

I am not sure that it is our role to dissect why Jews and Judaism are hated so much. We Jews have after all given birth to therapy, psychiatry, medicine, humour, music and some of the world's greatest literature, which all purport to deal with this psychosis in the Western and Church mentality. However, when crisis occurs, then it's how we deal with it that is truly unique, the word for crisis in Hebrew, mashbir, also denoting a birthing-stool!

So, we in the Jewish community would like to thank all those people who have maybe heeded the words of Mordechai addressed to his relative, Queen Esther, which we read to much merriment during the upcoming Purim story, (Esther 4: 13-14), the same words that shocked her into acting on behalf of her people, under decree of death for the crime of being Jewish. This is what Mordechai said to Esther:

'Do not consider for even one moment that you yourself, more than any other Jew, will manage to escape just because you are in the King's house. For if you do not speak out at this time, then rest assured, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish.'

It is as if this passage were actually written for our time, when, as I write, a second Shoah is being enacted world-wide upon the Jewish people, that, after 42 years, plucky little Jerusalem has decided to resurrect her fully-fledged carnival once again.

When my family lived in Jerusalem from 1983-4, opposite Yad VaShem as it happens, we never heard the end of how marvellous the 1982 carnival had been. And this time, assuredly, the carnival will be just as meaningful for a people who have known for around 4,000 years that large parts of the rest of the world would feel a great deal better if Jews and Judaism were simply wiped off the map. And that is why so many of this country's major institutions, no longer respected, are supporting Hamas to do their dirty work for them.

The truth of the Purim story has never been clearer to our own generation than it is today! There may be some surprises yet, some Esthers standing in the wings, but let's not hold our breath. In the meantime, let's all rejoice in the upcoming Purim festival, Seudah (meal) and Shushan Purim, when walled cities, such as Jerusalem, will come out in all their finery, fully aware that we were saved once, in Persia, so many thousands of years ago.