The majority of my family was wiped out by the Holocaust. Growing up as a young child in the wake of such a catastrophe impacted my life in a very profound way. After years of searching for answers, I realized that we cannot settle for reminding ourselves and the world what had happened; we should also discuss why it happened. This is the point where I’d like to make a small contribution to the discourse.
Our traditional explanations of rising anti-Semitism, such as economic and social hardships, Jews are easy scapegoats, and jealousy, are all true. However, the reason why they surface is that there is deep, perpetual hatred that is kept alive on the back burner, and until we quench that hatred, it will emerge every time the going gets tough.
In my view, the fundamental reason for hatred of Jews is the lack of solidarity among us. It is not so much what we do or have, but simply that we are disunited. It seems to me that our fate as Jews is to establish a society based on solidarity and mutual responsibility, and to share the principles of that society with the rest of the world.
You would be lucky to find one anti-Semite who does not feel that Jews look out for one another. They fear that the solidarity of Jews will be used against them, and blame us that we’re trying to dominate the media, manipulate American foreign policy, and other accusations. At the same time, the only thing that unites anti-Semites, as the protests during last summer’s Gaza campaign showed, is their hatred of Israel in particular, and of Jews in general.
We cannot prove that we are not united, and even if we could, it wouldn’t mitigate anti-Semitism. We need to do the contrary: show how we unite, and share it with the world.
The one thing that can reverse the social, economic, and political crises ravaging the world is solidarity. Alas, no one knows how to establish it. We, Jews, have that ability latent in our nation’s “genes.” It is the essence of our people. We became a nation when we united “as one man with one heart, ” under the motto “love your neighbor as yourself.” Now we should revive that quality, share it with the world, and become a beacon of solidarity to the nations. This, as I understand it, is the meaning of being “a light for the nations.” If we follow the path of solidarity rather than trying to disprove anti-Semitic libels, we will be able to finally uproot anti-Semitism, and in the process heal many of the world’s ills.
The global rise in anti-Semitism reminds us that what happened in the previous century could happen again if we remain indifferent. It also proves that our current efforts are insufficient. So let us add a new layer of effort by encouraging this discourse about why the Holocaust took place, and especially among the Jewish people who should be most concerned about the current negative sentiment toward them.
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