February 2, 2021
Former Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and McGill University Professor Gil Troy explained the meaning of Jewish unity on January 31 at the virtual StandWithUs 2021 International Conference.
Sharansky, who recently co-authored a book with Troy titled “Never Alone: Prison, Politics and My People,” said that when he was imprisoned in a Soviet Union gulag for nine years, he never felt alone because he knew that the Jewish people were with him. During his time serving in the Israeli government from 1996-2005, Sharansky knew that despite all of the various disagreements that went on, they all had the same goal of fighting for the principles of Judaism.
“You are never alone once you’re part of a Jewish family,” Sharansky said.
Troy said that in a recent conversation with Journal Editor-In-Chief David Suissa, he realized that the Jewish people now have a positive message: It’s no longer about simply being on the defensive against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism; “We do what I call the Jew-jitsu… from never again to never alone, and that’s our message,” Troy said, adding that “we’re all together in this fight.”
Sharansky proceeded to explain how he came up with the 3Ds — demonization, delegitimization and double standards — to determine when criticism of Israel veers into anti-Semitism. He said he had heard accusations of Israel committing war crimes at U.S. universities during the Second Intifada; he even heard European politicians say that accusations of anti-Semitism are being used to censor criticism of Israel. Sharansky argued that he wants there to be plenty of room to criticize the Israeli government since “we are a democratic society which is full of self-criticism” and that he just wants to ensure that the “red line” isn’t crossed into anti-Semitism.
He added that demonization, delegitimization and double-standards are the main tools that anti-Semites have used for thousands of years, and he analogized it to how people need to 3D glasses when watching a 3D movie in order for the movie to make sense.
“If somebody is criticizing our policy of checkpoints or that there is disproportionate response, we can argue about it,” Sharansky said. “But if someone says that the life of Palestinians is [like] Auschwitz today or that Israel is the worst war criminal in history or if Israel is singled out for international condemnation… you can know that there is anti-Semitism.”
Troy changed the focus to college campuses, arguing that more professors need to be called out for the “educational malpractice” of propagandizing instead of encouraging critical thinking.
He added that at college campuses, both the university administrators and the student body at large are creating the problem of the “double thinker” — someone who is feels compelled to say something to tow the party line despite having a differing point of view. Troy also said that more and more people generally don’t feel comfortable publicly supporting Israel, and that while anti-Zionist Jews tend to get a lot of attention, they’re a minority within the Jewish community.
Additionally, Troy stated that 63% of Americans are afraid of publicly voicing their political opinions out of fear of being shamed. “That is toxic for a democracy. We need to sit down with one another and say ‘Hey let’s agree to disagree. But also let’s agree to agree. Let’s remember there is certain things on which we and other things on which we’ll disagree.’”
On Zionism, Troy said that it shows that Jews are a people, not just a religion. “The Jewish people have been tied to the same homeland, reading from the same Bible, thinking about the same place for thousands of years,” he said.
Troy added that Zionism is a movement to “perfect [the Jewish] state and defend the state” but also provides “a sense of community, a sense of connectedness, and a sense of purpose which often is missing in modern life.”
Other speakers at the conference including StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum and United Arab Emirates author Omar Basaidy.
Read the article here.