74 years ago we, the Jewish people were the underdogs. We were the downtrodden victims without a safe haven to flee to during the Holocaust. Jews, the survivors of  pogroms, concentration camps and dictatorship, represented everything that you now spend your lives advocating for.

You (commendably) make it your mission to fight for the rights of refugees -not long ago WE were the refugees.

You stand up for victims of genocide? Not long ago WE were those victims of genocide.

You say that you strive for justice and equality – WE know all too well the result of a society that abandons those values.

74 years ago you, the United Nations, rightfully voted to grant us self-determination in our homeland, the State of Israel. You did so because you recognised that we were the oppressed. You did so because you recognised that all throughout history we have been the persecuted ones, moving from one country to the next while never forgetting our homeland.

Now that we have built a strong country and are able to defend ourselves, do we no longer deserve a homeland?

How short your memories are and how quick you are to turn away from us.

Antisemitism is on the rise and anti Zionism is now the cause that is equated with justice and human rights. On university campuses it is not woke to support Israel. Zionism is a dirty word that evokes anger and vile vitriol, while those who support the Palestinian cause make no mention of Hamas, terrorism and the constant threat to the citizens of Israel.

Just this week the student union at Melbourne University passed a motion denouncing Israel for apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Melbourne University was quick to condemn this motion as antisemitic, and rightfully so. But Israel is increasingly being painted as the oppressor and activists are forgetting the historical context in which the State of Israel was born.

Go ahead and criticise specific policies or incidents that occur – Israel has its flaws just like every other country. But when you question Israel’s right to exist we see that you have very quickly forgotten the past.

If the Jewish people no longer fit your criteria as worthy recipients of justice, it is because we are a success story. We have built a thriving, democratic country that is creating new ties with the Arab countries surrounding it. We have a strong army to defend us and a booming hi tech industry.

Yet we know that it could all change in the blink of an eye and we always remember where we came from, even if it is no longer popular or contemporary for you to do so.

(Originally published in Times of Israel)

Article by Author/s
Keren Zelwer
Keren Zelwer is a speech pathologist and active member of the Melbourne Jewish community. She is a feminist and an advocate for disability inclusion.


  1. Wow Keren – that is a great piece and very important. It is extremely disappointing that human rights activists see Jewish people as belonging to the privileged white class (even though there are many brown and black skinned Jews) and do not remember how we faced oppression and discrimination not so long ago. You need to make sure your article gets out to those human rights activists and doesn’t stay just within the Jewish community.

  2. Well done Keren. You say it as it is.
    And does nobody question the level of education that enables university students to swallow propaganda rather than examine facts with the basic principles of clear thinking? Apartheid? Really?

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