OPINION: The world changed for all of us on October 7th – the new one requires more risk

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OPINION: The world changed for all of us on October 7th – the new one requires more risk

To protect our country and our way of life across the world we might need to do more than we could have imagined in our lifetime, writes Edward Misrahi

British Jews at a demonstration in support for Israel.
British Jews at a demonstration in support for Israel.

In my professional career the most important judgment I need to consider is the risks I am taking with investments whether for myself or for clients. There is an old saying about “no risk, no reward” but in general, if you are trying to do something that maters there is always some risk it might not work out.

All of us make those decisions every day for many daily activities from how to allocate our time to how to drive. There is always a risk from every decision.
For anybody living in Israel, life changed on October 7th but what might have surprised many is how much life has been changing for Jewish families or Israel supporters across the world.

Given the sheer horror and brutality of the attack, many believed that Israel’s fighting for its protection and doing it with a moral compass that guides them against an enemy such as Hamas which is evil, would have the support or at least the understanding of the general public.

Largely that was the case in the immediate aftermath but we have all seen how over the last few months (and in some cases right away) that support was diluted and a strong anti- movement gained strength making life for many in the diaspora somewhat uncomfortable.

It is a very tough situation. Many feel the injustice of the accusations that are levelled against Israel, which are then translated to all Jews and which seem to allow intimidation, exclusion, harassment and in many cases actual physical violence to be rationalised and encouraged.

Within our community the reaction to the implications and impacts of the war by many has been extraordinary. Israelis first have stepped up in a magnificent example of love for their country. Many have left everything to risk their lives to protect the country and then there has been an outpouring of assistance and help to all the civilians impacted by the tragedy. Across the word, people have expressed support, provided financial and emotional support, visited and shown incredible creativity and ingenuity to be able to make a difference and support Israel and their communities.

But I am afraid that if you look at what is happening in public opinion, government reaction and intimidation and pressure on our communities, we have to realise that we need to do more. The issues Israel needs to deal with in Gaza and potentially in the North, and those surrounding the length of time it might take to achieve a peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians are complex and difficult ones. We might hope that one change might alter everything, but the fact is there is no magic solution.

Edward MIsrahi

This means that even in the most optimistic of cases, the pressure on Israel and consequently on Jews globally will remain very strong and as we know the numbers are not our friends.

Across the board I think there is no choice for all of us to recognise that to protect our country and our way of life across the world we might need to take more risk than we could have imagined in our lifetime. We need to recognise that people are already doing extraordinary work but all of us need to take a little more risk in our life if we want to win this battle.

Taking more risk can take many forms. For many Israelis it means leaving their business and families to literally risk their lives every day. That is not a reasonable standard to measure as inspiring as it is.

Over my life I realised that people have a lot of different pressures in their lives and this is time to show empathy and support as well as encouragement. Not a time to be judgmental. So, my suggestion is simple. Whatever you are doing to help your community, your country or Israel to deal with the current waves of antisemitism, consider doing something more that involves taking some risk.

The actions can range from very simple to incredibly complex and can be achieved with limited or unlimited resources. It is a challenge for all of us and all of them can mater and might include: Forwarding explanatory messages or articles to longer lists of friends that now will know where you stand. Helping people who are taking more risks so they get more support. Participating publicly in shows of support and be willing to involve more and more people in them.

Being willing to be public in your criticism of certain actions even if it makes you unpopular in certain circles including social media. Stop funding of places that you believe are not acting appropriately but then using that money to support places that are.

If you have influence use it and not always behind closed doors. Be willing to lose some business because of your views. Be willing to lose some status because of your views. Don’t miss opportunities to express your views.

This is not meant to be exhaustive and I am sure there are many more ways for people to take little more risk and if all of us do it, the impact will be material. Many people all around the world are already doing this but we clearly need more. All of us need to realise that the world changed for all of us on October 7th and that the new one requires more risk.

One thing is clear on my mind. With all of us taking a little more risk in whichever way we can, I have no doubts on the outcome.

Let’s get on with it.

  • Edward Misrahi is former chair of BICOM
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