Dr. Michael Laitman and Anti-Semitism
Why I Meet with Critics of Israel and the Jewish People
by Dr. Michael Laitman
I invest a lot of energy into meeting with people from all walks of life in order to discuss the state of human society and where we are all headed.
In the earlier years of the century, I met with many scientists, economists, politicians, academics, spiritual leaders, artists and other public figures to discuss the general crisis the world found itself in, its causes, and its future.
Recently, as anti-Semitism has become an increasingly pressing problem, and as anti-Israel sentiment has been blazing around the world, I have been participating in televised conversations with many different people who hold diverse viewpoints on these topics: Jews and non-Jews, supporters and critics of Israel, and even some who have been labeled as anti-Semites.
Ever since I began these discussions, I have often been asked why I engage in dialog with critics of Israel and the Jewish people. The reason is very simple: By better understanding those who hate us, we can better understand who we—the Jewish people—are. And by better understanding who we are, we can then better understand our position in relation to this persistent problem, and what we can do about it.
It is as The Book of Zohar writes, “There is no light except for that which comes out of darkness … and there is no good except from within the bad.” (The Zohar, Portion Tetzaveh). In other words, we can understand a certain phenomenon only in contrast to its opposite.
I thus listen attentively to their views, and in response, I try to raise questions as to the causes behind the hatred they feel.
Will they change their opinions as a result of the discussions? I have no such expectation. Any chance of their views changing can only come from us (the Jewish people) changing. The more we focus on uniting above our differences and exemplify a unifying tendency to humanity, the more we will act as a conduit for the positive unifying force inherent in nature to pass through us to humanity.
How does this work? I have explained it in detail elsewhere, but in short, our nation’s establishment is unique in that it is not biological, but ideological. In ancient Babylon some 3,800 years ago, an age when rampant social division was tearing human society apart, we came together and united under Abraham’s guidance, according to the tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We later became known as “Jews”(1) when, after experiencing a stage of detachment from our unification, we once again united “as one man with one heart” under Moses’ guidance.
Eventually, we completely lost sense of our unification around 2,000 years ago, and have experienced shifting tides of anti-Semitism ever since. Sometimes the seas are calmer, and sometimes, the hatred explodes in violent storms, but no matter when or where, anti-Semitic sentiment constantly ebbs and flows.
After many years of studying and researching the wisdom of Kabbalah, I have arrived at the same conclusion about anti-Semitism’s cause and solution that Kabbalists have expressed in their texts: that the anti-Semitic inclination is fundamentally a subconscious expectation for the Jewish people’s unity, and a reaction to the Jewish people’s inner division and conflicts. Before an anti-Semitic viewpoint forms, there is a deeper sensation of hatred that underlies the reasoning, and Kabbalah describes the root cause of this feeling. This anti-Semitic inclination calls upon the anti-Semite’s intellect to seek reasons for his or her hatred of the Jews. It is also why there have been so many illogical and unsubstantiated claims of blame against the Jewish people.
Therefore, our transformation—to become more unified, considerate and caring for each other above the current rifts we experience—will bring about a similar transformation in others’ opinions of us. Until we make moves in that direction, the negative attitude toward Jews and Israel will continue acting as a prominent indicator of the faulty relations we have with each other, among the Jewish people.
Without repairing our attitudes to each other, then combating anti-Semitism means fighting a losing battle. We see today how the more various organizations celebrate numerous successes in the struggle against anti-Semitism, the more anti-Semitic crimes, threats and sentiment continue rising, outpacing such efforts. To add insult to injury, it seems as if the positive contributions we Jews have made to the world did nothing to deter our assailants. It is because we fail to treat the problem at its root, to understand the core reason for the hatred, and then face the problem at its causal point instead of merely tackling its outward expressions.
If we Jews positively connect, the hatred will diminish. Alternatively, our division arouses the hatred toward us. When we will gain a deeper understanding of how nature works at the level of our emotions, then we will see how this is a formula embedded in nature. Hatred of Jews has a deep root and it needs its opposite form of love to arise first and foremost among the Jewish people in order to balance the scales.
Therefore, I am willing to discuss this topic with anyone who holds any opinion about it, and the more diverse the views of those whom I speak with, the more it can help shed light on the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. Thanks to this phenomenon, we can better examine who we are, what we were put here to do, and that we don’t need to simply react to anti-Semitism whenever it surfaces, but we can use our characteristically innovative and creative qualities to pave the path to a new, unified and harmonious reality. Until we do so, anti-Semitism will continue prodding away at us in order to signal our need for change.
(1) The Hebrew word for “Jew” (Yehudi) comes from the word for “united” (yihudi) (Yaarot Devash, Part 2, Drush no. 2)
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