Eventually, the world will force us to unite. But the longer we wait, the more severely the world will punish us
Recently, the Palestinians have stepped up their political war against Israel in the UN. Unlike the votes at UNESCO, which are more declarations than resolutions with practical implementations, a vote against Israel at the UN Security Council (UNSC) could pose real challenges for Israel. If not vetoed, such a vote could lead to political, economic, and even military sanctions.
Yet, the Israeli public seems blissfully ignorant of the situation. The US and Egypt have temporarily stopped Mahmoud Abbas from submitting his request for a vote at the UNSC until after the US election because after the election the US will not be obliged to veto such a vote. If submitted, the vote will pass with an overwhelming majority, leaving Israel to face the rebuke of the entire world by itself. This would be a game changer. Still, no one in Israel is even talking about it.
Until the world slaps us in the face, we are oblivious to the danger. Such indifference would be justified if there were nothing we could do about the situation. In the face of an incurable illness, it makes sense not to tell a patient that his or her days are numbered. But our situation is far from incurable. We can reverse the trend and defuse the world’s hostility toward us. However, we must wake up now because time is running out and the point of no return is not too far ahead.
Why the World Is So Preoccupied with Israel
If the UN is any reflection of the world’s view, then Israel is so much the center of world attention, that some regard this as an obsession. Anti-Semitism has been around for as long as there have been Jews, but it has never been so globally and openly accepted that the world’s biggest problem is the Jews, or in this case, the Jewish state.
There is a good reason for the negative global attention we are receiving. The world holds us responsible for all the troubles in the Middle East, and views the troubles in the Middle East as the source of all the troubles the world over. So at the end of the day, we are held responsible for all the troubles in the world.
On Jews and Egoism
The root cause of the problems of humanity is our self-centeredness. If we were not so self-absorbed we could eliminate global hunger decades ago, restrict greenhouse gas emissions, save our planet from climate catastrophes, and prevent most, if not all the wars. But in the absence of ability to moderate our egos, humanity is locked in ego wars that everyone knows will destroy the vast majority of us, but no one knows how to prevent.
Yet, many centuries ago, our nation found a way not only to reign in the ego, but use it for the common good. The Midrash (Beresheet Rabah) and Maimonides both describe Abraham’s efforts to circulate the idea that unity can raise us above the ego. Abraham found that by uniting, we tap into the force that connects everything around us, from atoms through living organism, to the human society.
After Abraham was expelled from Babylon, he continued to spread his wisdom wherever he went. Using the two forces in existence—the negative force of the ego, and the positive force that Abraham discovered—his descendants and disciples continued to develop. Finally, once they agreed to unite “as one man with one heart” above the ego, they became a nation.
Moses’ scaling of Mt. Sinai—from the Hebrew word, Sinaa (hatred)—symbolizes Israel’s success in defeating the hatred in their hearts by uniting above it. As Israel continued to wander through the Sinai desert, the desert of hatred, they perfected their method, which King Solomon succinctly described in Proverbs (10:12): “Hate stirs strife, but love covers all crimes.”
While the rest of the world still wallowed in hedonism, the people of Israel engaged in a method that revealed to them the secret to a balanced, prosperous society, and gave them knowledge about our world that other nations could not even begin to imagine. Since then, the world has both hated and feared the Jews.
But the Jews did not receive this knowledge for themselves. Abraham intended to share what he had found with his Babylonian countryfolk. Like him, Moses wanted everyone to learn the secret to mitigating the ego and leading a happy life. Moshe Chaim Lozzatto, the Ramchal, wrote that “Moses wished to complete the correction of the world at that time. … However, he did not succeed because of the corruptions that occurred along the way” (The Commentary of Ramchal on the Torah). The correction incumbent upon the Jews is the realization of the commitment to be “a light unto nations.”
Though most people are unaware of it, the world’s anger toward us has to do with the task we received at the foot of Mt. Sinai: to bring correction to the ego. Herman Rauschning, a German conservative who briefly joined the Nazis, described this sensation when he wrote that “Judaism is …the eternal ‘call to Sinai’ against which humanity again and again rebels” (The Beast from the Abyss).
The UN’s Obsession Is Our Call to Action
The UN has already declared that we have no claim on Temple Mount. Tomorrow it will declare that we have no claim on Hebron and the Cave of Machpelah, and the day after tomorrow it will declare that we have no claim on Jaffa, Lod, or Ramla. Finally, the UN will declare that we are not even authentic Jews but Europeans, and should therefore be driven out of Palestine, either by force or by extinction, and act on its decision.
But it is not too late. Just as the world was driven by the ego thousands of years ago, it is driven by the ego today. The remedy that Abraham offered to his people, and that Moses wanted to offer the entire world, is more pertinent now than it has ever been. The difference is that now the world is so focused on us, that anything we do will immediately receive the world’s attention.
If we cover our egos and unite, the world will readily take note. We need not show or teach anything to anyone. We are already “the main event.” All we have to do is play our part and cover our egos with love, just as King Solomon described. This will set the right example, and people will finally understand why there are Jews.
Between left and right, observant and secular, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, and all the other antagonisms in the Israeli society, it is probably true that if the Arabs were clever they would leave us alone to kill one another or ship ourselves out. But they will not leave us alone. They will pressure us until we are forced to unite. The longer we wait, the more severely the world will punish us.
Like it or not, we are the people whose forefathers united above their egos and bequeathed us the task of spreading the light of this unique form of unity to the world. As long as we bicker, the world will blame us not just for the wars in the Middle East, but for every other war, as well. They cannot overcome their egos unless we overcome ours, and thereby show how. Until we unite, the world will not accept our peaceful existence in Israel, or anywhere else.
Featured in Haaretz