With Bernie Sanders’ most recent gaffe that Israel killed “over 10,000 innocent people,” and accusing it of “disproportionate” killing in Gaza during the 2014 Protective Edge campaign, the prospect of a first Jewish president is clearly far less appealing to Israel than some would have thought. And considering Hillary Clinton’s entourage of Sidney Blumenthal, Huma Abedin et al., the possibility of another four years with a Democratic president in the White House seems altogether unappealing.
This, however, does not mean that Donald Trump is a far better option. If he does not “know that Israel has the commitment to make [a peace agreement],” and believes that a hall filled with a Jewish audience has “probably more [businesspersons] than any room [he’s] ever spoken,” it raises serious questions. It also did not help that a few minutes later he added that he knows the audience will not support him “because I don’t want your money,” and “You want to control your own politicians.”
With the three most prominent contenders holding “questionable” views regarding Israel, and with the one clearly pro-Israel contender trailing in the polls, it would seem wise for Israel to prepare for even more “light” between itself and its biggest ally—as President Obama referred to his desire to distance the U.S. government from Israel.
But there is more to this anti-Israel trend than the U.S. elections. Throughout the world, politicians and opinion leaders express anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views freely, and often with a tone of righteous indignation. The UK Labour party has had to deal with a “seemingly unending list of anti-Semitism scandals,” as Arutz Sheva’s Ari Soffer put it. Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Mrs. Margot Wallström, Mr. Jan Marijnissen, chairman of the Socialist Party in the Netherlands, Albrecht Schröter, mayor of the German town of Jena, and Gabor Huszar, mayor of Szentgotthard, Hungary, all pointed to Israel as a contributor to the November 13 terror attack in Paris.
With stars like former Pink Floyd front man, Roger Waters, bashing Israel at every opportunity, with the spreading of blood libels such as digging tunnels under the Temple Mount to build an underground city beneath the Dome of the Rock, with the growing momentum of anti-Israel movements such as BDS and Jewish Voice for Peace, particularly on U.S. campuses, and the increasingly active anti-Israel policy of the UN Security Council, it looks like Israel is headed straight for the rapids.
To counter this venomous wave of hatred, Israel has engaged some gifted speakers and presenters. Roseanne Barr, Yair Lapid, and other eloquent speakers do a great job at exposing the irrationality and bigotry behind Israel’s bashers. But for all their efforts, and for all the efforts of the World Jewish Congress, that the state of Israel, the fact is that the world is becoming increasingly anti-Israeli.
The hatred is entrenched so deeply that nothing we will say or do in our defense will matter because people cannot listen. They are inherently predisposed to believe Israel’s accusers.
Throughout history, anti-Semitism has never been rational. The truth was never an issue in the eyes of Israel haters, neither was reason. The notion that Israel is at fault for everything that is wrong with the world has prevailed over everything else, and their craving to punish, or altogether destroy Israel was uncontrollable.
Hitler, in his infamous heap of lunacy known as Mein Kampf, wrote that if “the Jew is victorious over the other peoples of the world, his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity and this planet will … move through the ether devoid of men.” Now that these words are being published and circulated again in Europe and the Arab world, and as otherwise legitimate political figures call this monster, “the greatest man in history,” we should start thinking really hard about our next move.
But when it comes to thinking about our next move, our biggest, if not only, fault is exposed. Much has been written and said about the fragmentation of Jewish society, and the chasm between Diaspora Jews and Israel, but it is hard to overestimate the importance of this topic.
The very essence of our nation entails the tenet, “love your neighbor as yourself.” At the foot of Mt. Sinai, we became a nation when we agreed to live “as one man with one heart.” Moses received our code of law when he had climbed Mt. Sinai, the mountain of Sinaa [hatred]. And when we agreed to abide by the law of loving others above the hatred we became a nation. It is with good reason that Rabbi Akiva titled “Love your neighbor as yourself” as the great Klal of the Torah, because it kolel [contains] and embodies the very essence of our nation.
Our forefathers experienced conflicts and conciliations, but following King Solomon’s principle that “Hatred stirs up strife, and love covers all transgressions” (Proverbs, 10:12), they learned how to overcome their egos and maintain unity through crises. When they could not cover transgressions with love, they fell into unfounded hatred and dispersed throughout the world.
Brotherhood and covering hatred with love are not archaic Biblical notions. They are imperative for our survival as a nation and as individuals because they are the source of our strength. Our nation was formed not by biological kinship or geographical proximity, but by clinging tooth and nail to these tenets. They are so much a part of who we are that one might argue that in the spiritual sense, when they are absent, the essence of Judaism fade away.
When Jews were given the task to be “a light unto nations,” it was intended that they would spread the light of brotherhood and covering hatred with love. Today, this is the remedy the world needs most. The more the world declines into perpetual conflict, the more people will become enraged with us. More and more people will hold us responsible for every ill-will that surfaces in humanity, especially when it concerns conflicts within and between nations, and the irrationality of it will not make it seem any less true.
The one solution to anti-Semitism in all its forms is Jewish unity—brotherhood and love that covers all hatred. It is our utmost urgent task, and we have not even begun. The political right blames the political left, and vice versa, but neither view is right as long as it entails hatred of the other view.
We need not agree; we only need to sit together and talk, for once, like members of the same nation, about our common fate—that we are, after all, the carriers of the message of love and brotherhood to the world, but the world sees none of them coming from us. If we display unity above differences instead of the current display of fragmentation, the world will regard us differently. If we succeed in employing among us “love covers all transgressions,” let alone “love your neighbor as yourself,” will humanity not come and watch? Will people not want to employ unity among themselves, as well?
In one form or another, the one rule that all primary religions have “imported” from us is the rule of loving others. But we fell into unfounded hatred before we shipped out the user’s manual so no one knows how to use this beautiful concept. Now we have to implement it among us and thereby demonstrate its feasibility. This is all the anti-defamation effort we should do.
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