A few weeks ago, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented an extremely rare 2000-year-old coin that was stolen and smuggled out of Israel, and returned following an intelligence operation by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in New York. The date on the silver quarter shekel coin is that of the fourth year of the Jewish Great Revolt (66-73 CE) against the Roman Empire. These days, when even organizations that are part of the United Nations deny Israel’s historic connection to Jerusalem, this coin proves it undeniably. Regrettably, no one cares about the truth, and declarations about Israel’s “invasion” into Palestine will continue, since historic truth has nothing to do with politics.
Two hundred years ago, there were no people who defined themselves as Palestinians and demanded sovereignty, much less two thousand years ago. However, this will do nothing to reverse the charges against Israel. No one will take notice of the little coin or treat it as a proof.
The root of the problem is not whether we were here or not, or whether or not the world recognizes our historic connection to the land of Israel. Regardless of history, the world does not want us here, or anywhere else, and this is why it treats us this way. If it did not hate us, we would not need to prove that we belong here. Since it hates us, no proof will help us win the world’s favor.
Humanity’s subconscious complaint against us is that we do not belong here because we are not doing what we are supposed to do, what the people of Israel were intended to do and were obligated to give to the world. Since we are not fulfilling our duty to the world, the world does not feel that we should be here or that we should be regarded as the authentic people of Israel.
Even if most people cannot articulate their grievances against us, they feel that we are not carrying out our mission; they do not understand why the world needs us, the eternal pariahs. If we did what we should, they would feel it and would immediately embrace us.
Our great “sin,” for which we are denounced throughout the world, is indeed surprising. It pertains not to how we should treat other nations, but to how we should treat one another, our fellow Jews.
For the most part, only our sages and spiritual leaders knew that our negative attitude to one another is the root cause of our problems. In every generation, they stressed that only unity and love of others would save us from adversity. They warned that unless we unite, disasters would befall us at the hands of villains from among the nations.
Our sages also made unity our motto. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is our brainchild, as are mutual responsibility, leaving part of our crops for the poor, and many other social laws. In fact, the whole concept of Tikkun Olam (correction of the world) that Jews are often concerned with stems from the notion that we have the power to make the world a better place, and that the way to achieve this is through unity.
However, what we tend to forget is that to achieve unity, the world needs a lighthouse, a beacon that sets the course. In other words, we tend to forget that we should lead the world not by preaching about unity and love of others, but by living it out among ourselves. When we tell the world we love our neighbors, yet uninhibitedly deride our fellow Jews and show them nothing but disdain, we lose all credibility.
Worse yet, because our nation was made to be a model nation, the example that the world takes from us is how we treat each other. Currently, it is an example of hatred and division. In such a state, we bring no Tikkun (correction) to the world, but only strife and sorrow.
When we stop trying to prove that we belong here, and begin to earn our presence through our efforts to unite, the world will finally believe us. If we embrace each other, the world will embrace us. If we do not, the world will punish us just as it has been doing whenever we abandon our unity.
Credit: Coin images from the Israel Antiquities Authority