SARAH VINE: The women of Israel are all our mothers and daughters

SARAH VINE: The women of Israel are all our mothers and daughters


SARAH VINE: The women of Israel are all our mothers and daughters. If we don’t stand up to extremists, the horrors happening there can happen here

Poets have a way of expressing emotions in a manner that we mere mortals cannot. Watching the unspeakable horrors of the past few days, I have not been able to get the famous words, written in 1946 by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller, out of my mind.

‘Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.’

Different times, different politics — but the fundamental principle remains. Don’t ever think it can’t happen to you. Don’t ever think you are safe from the forces of evil, whether they be men in black shirts with swastikas on their armbands — or killers in combat trousers descending from the sky to gun down, kidnap and rape young women.

Don’t look at what is happening in Iran, in Ukraine and now in Israel and think: ‘That doesn’t concern me, it’s not my problem.’ It does — and it is.

Especially since the twisted dogma and blind fanaticism that fuels these atrocities does not just exist in the tower blocks of Gaza, the mosques of Tehran or the corridors of the Kremlin, but in our own backyard.

Sitting on the back of a terrorist’s motorcycle, her outstretched arms pointing towards her helpless boyfriend, student Noa Argamani pleads for her life

For all the moderate, intelligent people of different cultures who live in this country, it appears there are far too many who openly decry and despise everything we stand for, who take our kindness for weakness, who view our tolerant, liberal democracy not as a haven, but as a Trojan horse for their extremist beliefs.

MAUREEN CALLAHAN: Women raped and defiled. Babies ‘beheaded’. A post-Holocaust world that vowed ‘never again’ has now witnessed the slaughter of Jews… How in hell could anyone defend these monsters?  

You don’t have to look hard to find frank apologists for these horrors. And the fact that many of those celebrating and supporting Hamas have been welcomed to Britain with open arms is testament only to our naivety in thinking our way of life is unassailable. It is not. It is precious, and fragile.

That is the awful truth. That those who marched on the Israeli embassy in Kensington, who celebrated in the streets of West London on the night of the attacks, who joyously shared videos of atrocities as glorious victories against the Jewish people, are living among us.

They are not some abstract enemy, they are our neighbours: teachers, doctors, journalists.

Rivkah Brown, commissioning editor at the hard-Left Novara Media website, proclaimed on Twitter/X that the actions of Hamas were ‘a celebration for supporters of democracy and human rights worldwide’. Dr Mennah Elwan, an NHS neurology registrar, posted a series of abhorrent messages online, mocking the Israeli victims and accusing them of cowardice for fleeing the gunmen.

Yet in some ways, failure to condemn Hamas’s violence is just as bad.

Apsana Begum, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, was seen at the party’s conference in Liverpool openly supporting the notorious Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), which was responsible for the protest outside the Israeli embassy.

Maggie Chapman, the Scottish Greens MSP, said Hamas’s actions were a ‘consequence of apartheid, of illegal occupation, of imperial aggression by the Israel state’.

John McDonnell, shadow chancellor under Jeremy Corbyn, told a pro-Palestinian fringe event that Israel’s retaliation against the attacks would cause a ‘nightmare situation’ in Gaza. He has said nothing to condemn the rapes and murders committed by the sadists of Hamas.

Not forgetting, of course, the BBC, which informs so much public opinion and yet still — incredibly, shamefully — refuses to use the term ‘terrorists’ in relation to Hamas. I’m sorry, but if the ‘beheading’ of babies and the rape, slaughter and mutilation of civilians isn’t terrorism, then what is?

But why precisely do the world’s hardline Islamists so despise Israel? It’s not just anti-Semitism. They especially hate the Jewish homeland because it is one of the only places in the Middle East that does not treat women as second-class citizens, that does not suppress free speech, that does not condemn homosexuality, that does not impose religious autocracy on its people.

Survivors of the attack on Saturday, who posted videos of the ordeal to social media, explained how they were forced to hide under bushes to avoid the Hamas gunmen

How is it that Hamas has defenders? How does barbarism have any place in our modern age? A post-Holocaust world that vowed ‘never again’ has, this weekend, witnessed Jews ripped from the safety of their homes and places of business. (Pictured: A hostage is held by Hamas).

Video shows a smiling Shani, who loved to travel according to her family, dancing at the music festival moments before she was captured by the terrorists

In Israel, women proudly serve in the military alongside men. They are emancipated, courageous and bold — everything the likes of the Taliban, or Isis, or Boko Haram, or the regime in Iran hates. Such extremists can’t handle that. They don’t want women to have power or autonomy because it scares them: it blows their tiny, misogynistic minds. They see us as chattels and slaves, whose only value is in serving them. They have proven that time and time again.

Take Iran. If you were to travel back in time to that country in the 1960s and 70s, before the Islamic Revolution, you would have found a nation that resembled modern Israel, where women were free to study, work, wear what they wanted and live their lives as equals.

Now many of them lie in hospital beds and morgues, their bodies smashed and broken by the so-called religious police who roam the streets enforcing the oppressive dogma of the regime. That is the fate that awaits all women when nations succumb to extremism.

As a mother and a daughter, that is what shocks and saddens me so much about the number of women you see supporting Hamas, not just in the crowds protesting but also in the professions.

How would they feel if their grandmothers were being carted away by fighters, their beautiful daughters raped, mutilated and murdered simply for not doing as they were told by a bunch of old men with a medieval mindset and an army of brutal, gun-toting rapists imposing their will?

Those girls at the Supernova music festival. That young woman with her bloodstained tracksuit bottoms being led by her hair to face God knows what horrors at the hands of baying men; that young student caught on camera reaching desperately for her boyfriend as she was carried away on the back of a motorbike; the female tattoo artist paraded half-naked and broken in the back of a pick-up truck; the grandmother whose death was uploaded to her own Facebook account by her killer — they are all our mothers and daughters.

Police had to separate protesters bearing Palestine and Israeli flags on Monday in High Street Kensington tube station

Suella Braverman has urged officers to use the ‘full force of the law’ against shows of support for Hamas

If it can happen there, it can happen here. Indeed, it is already beginning here, in the entrance to a Jewish restaurant smashed up in Golders Green, in the screaming mobs outside the Israeli embassy, in the graffiti scrawled on walls, in the noisy celebrations of death on our streets and on social media.

There can be no possible justification for any of it, no earthly reason why we should accept it. And if we turn a blind eye in the name of ‘tolerance’ and a ‘diverse society’, we are betraying not only ourselves and future generations, but also those who look to Britain as one of the few countries in the world where equality, freedom of speech and basic human rights still exist.

Israel has a right to defend itself from extremism, and so do we. Otherwise, in the end, the terrorists will come for us — because that is what they do. And who will speak for us then?

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