The ad, as it appears in The Algemeiner
If the atrocities that took place less than a month ago in France were not enough to awaken those among us who are still blissfully oblivious to anti-Semitism, there comes this seemingly innocent ad seeking “non-Jewish graphic designers” and wags the truth inconveniently in our faces. Add to this unabashed bigotry the violent attack on guards at a Jewish school in Nice, and you realize that French Jews who still openly proclaim that there is no problem of anti-Semitism, but only an aggregate of sporadic incidents, are assuming a responsibility they might soon prefer to have forgone.
I fully concur with British Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, MP Eric Pickles, that “The history of antisemitism shows the worst atrocities can begin when ordinary people turn a blind eye to small acts of discrimination, and minds drift lazily towards a mainstream, even fashionable, acceptance of prejudice.” Luckily, across the world, Jews are awakening to the severity of the situation. On February 3, American Rabbi Jason Miller wrote on Time: “It’s Time to Stop Ignoring the New Wave of Anti-Semitism,” and stated “that the potential for a return to the horrors of the Holocaust is a real threat.
As Rabbi Miller underscored, “We are seeing a significant rise in violence against Jewish people all over the globe.” In the UK, a recent survey finds, “Britons loathe Israel more than Iran,” stating that “Only North Korea is regarded more ‘especially unfavorably.’” Perhaps it is more tempting for those of us living in less anti-Semitism stricken countries to sit quietly and hope that the storm will ride out its course and leave us unscathed, but this is a risky gambit. Chances are it will prove to be a gross misreading of the map.
We are all in this together, all Jews, all over the world, and we must act the part.
But before we determine the required action, we need to examine the setting in which the current wave of anti-Semitism is erupting. One of the most pressing issues in the Western world is social degeneration. Narcissism and social alienation are so rampant that depression rates are soaring, causing a host of social problems. People want to disconnect from one another, yet, being social beings, they need to be in contact with other people. The inner conflict between people’s growing self-absorption and growing dependence on others for everything from basic sustenance to emotional satisfaction creates a fertile ground for a generation of youths gasping for human connection and deprived of warmth and true support from friends and family. People feel alone, frightened, and quite hopeless. This is something that no social media can heal.
At the same time, the Muslim population throughout Europe, especially in Western and Central Europe, has grown to a point where it is changing the demographics in Europe. Couple this with Islam’s growing extremist tendencies, the profound hatred of Jews that many Muslims harbor, and the anti-Semitic attitudes that have plagued Europe since the arrival of the Jews there in the early Middle Ages, and you have a time-bomb of violent anti-Semitism waiting to explode.
Under extreme conditions, people develop extreme reactions, contemplate extreme solutions, and carry out extremist acts. The growing concern and insecurity among us is understandable, but it must not render us inactive. If we keep in mind that what frustrates people and sends them toward the extremes is their inability to reconcile between increasing self-absorption and growing social and physical interdependence, we will come very close to finding the solution to anti-Semitism.
So far, we have attempted to respond to anti-Semitism by offering apologetic explanations that we are not as bad as we are portrayed in the media, that there are countries that treat their enemies and even their own citizens far worse than Israel does toward the Palestinians, and that Jews are not disloyal to their host countries. However, these explanations relate to the symptoms, to the most recent complaint against Jews/Israel. They are not addressing the real cause of Jew-hatred, and therefore cannot mitigate anti-Semitism.
The real solution to anti-Semitism lies in our own social and moral traditions. The ever-pertinent Book of Zohar (Aharei Mot) writes, “You, the friends who are here, as you were in fondness and love before, henceforth you will not part from one another… And by your merit there will be peace in the world.” As a scientist studying the interconnections among the human organism’s organs and systems, I learned that while each cell in the body requires its basic sustenance, its existence is secured only when it functions as a contributing part to a greater whole.
Throughout history, Jews have cultivated their camaraderie and mutual responsibility for this very reason. Our unity has made us a nation at the foot of Mt. Sinai, and had allowed us to thrive both as individuals and as a people. We have been chosen to be “a light for the nation,” to bring peace to the world through our unity, as The Zohar writes, but we are blamed for just the opposite. Mel Gibson’s rant, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” is not an isolated incident. It genuinely represents what millions if not billions of people feel about us.
We have brought the world the highest morals; “love your neighbor as yourself” is a Jewish concept, yet we are being accused of spreading depravity. We are told that we are exploiting the world by controlling and manipulating governments and funds, and that we are executing nepotism on a racial basis. We are even being blamed for creating ISIS, and spreading Ebola! In short, as General William “Jerry” Boykin jokingly (?) said recently, “The Jews are the problem. The Jews are the cause of all the problems in the world.”
Although we have no weapon against anti-Semitism, we do have the most powerful antidote: our own unity, straight and simple. Unity has been our lifeline in the past, and it is our lifeline still, if only we choose to use it.
Moreover, today it is not enough that we unite. Unity is precisely the remedy that the world is seeking for the conflict between self-absorption and interconnectedness. When we unite, we contribute our individual skills and talents to the benefit of society, so that everyone gains from everybody else’s contributions. The only problem is that we are so self-absorbed that we are unable to unite.
When we were sovereigns in our land, we cultivated a thriving culture based on unity and mutual responsibility. The secret to establishing such a society still lies within us. Now we must awaken it, implement it, and offer it to the world, which awaits just that.
We must realize that even though we are not intentionally inciting wars, our inability to unlock the key to unity is causing the whole world to be in turmoil. We hold the key to the world’s problems; it is true. If we rekindle our own unity and mutual responsibility, and offer it to the world, it will not only mitigate, but end anti-Semitism altogether, along with any other form of hatred. When people are united, they do not fight. But they will never unite until we show them how.
I have been accused of arrogance for saying what I have just stated about our role, but it is nonetheless the truth, and therefore must be said. If everyone, not just General Boykin, is telling you that you are “the cause of all the problems in the world,” then they are inadvertently admitting that you are holding the key to solving “all the problems in the world.” And because we are not giving this key to the nations, they hate us. This is the root-cause of anti-Semitism, and it will stay that way until we give it to them.
So the antidote for anti-Semitism is unity, applied first on ourselves, and subsequently on the rest of the world, through us. Henry Ford, known as the founder of Ford Motor Company, but also as a devout anti-Semite, wrote in his infamous composition, The International Jew—the World’s Foremost Problem: “The whole prophetic purpose with reference to Israel seems to have been the moral enlightenment of the world through its agency.” When we unite, we will be the moral “light for the nations” that we are intended to be, the “significant rise in violence against Jewish people” we are seeing around the world will subside, and an era of peace among people of all faiths and races will finally dawn upon humanity. But if we wish for it to happen, we must go first.
Featured in Huffington Post UK