Following the wave of terror attacks, the ongoing demonstrations against (and for) the judicial reform, and the barrage of interviews in the media warning that Israel is on a precipice, there has been a sharp increase in calls to emergency centers reporting states of anxiety. People are worried about their future and the future of their children. Gradually, we are discovering that the haven we sought to build in the State of Israel is no longer safe. It is time we realize that we will not feel safe anywhere. We will be surrounded by hatred until we realize that the key to stability and security is not our economy or our military, but our unity.
Just as it was during the exile, when we were constantly surrounded by hostile neighbors, the countries of the world will do the same to our country. As former director of the Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman said, Israel is indeed “the Jew among the nations.”
Israel is one of the most advanced countries in the world. A world leader in high-technology, cybersecurity, a military industry and an army that are the envy of many of the most developed countries on the planet, an economy that is strong, solid, and continuing to develop, and an abundant supply of natural gas, Israelis should have felt safe and confident, even complacent. Yet, none of these advantages will provide us any confidence as long as we are weak inside. We will be defeated internally and externally not for lack of power, but for lack of ability or will to defend ourselves due to inner division. Our worst enemy, therefore, is not Iran or any of its proxies; it is our own division, our hatred of each other.
We can never hope to eliminate the differences between us. Our ancestors came from different tribes and nations, and the cultural differences between them broke the nation over and over again until we were dispersed throughout the world two millennia ago. Since then, the differences between us have only grown and deepened. Currently, the abyss between some of the factions and sectors in Israel is so deep that they literally regard themselves as members of different nations, and even state this explicitly.
However, just as the differences between us did not matter to the Romans 2,000 years ago, or to the Nazis and their accomplices eighty years ago, and they slaughtered us indiscriminately, today these differences do not matter to the rest of the world. Humanity regards us as one nation, so until we begin to behave as such, humanity will punish us collectively, irrespective of our political views, religious orthodoxy, cultural background, or any other distinguishing criterion.
But why does humanity hate us? Every country has its own professed reason for resenting the State of Israel and its Jewish residents. However, the root cause behind all those grievances, and the fuel that feeds the fire, is our own disunity.
We are like no other nation; we are dependent on ourselves, on our unity since this is exactly what the world wants to see from us. We did not win our independence only by war. Before the war broke out, the world explicitly expressed its consent to the establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel. We were given a chance to carry out our historic role of being a model nation. If we do not live up to the task, the world will revoke our right to live here and banish us from Israel to who knows where. In fact, our international status is so poor that already, if the vote on the establishment of the State of Israel were to take place today, it is clear that we would not get two thirds of the votes, which was the minimum required in November 1947 to confirm our statehood. The truth is that we would be lucky to get one.
Yet, as I said, we are dependent on ourselves. If we become a model nation, whose members agree on nothing, yet maintain, and even solidify their unity above the chasms in their views, lifestyles, and cultures, we will win the world’s respect and affirmation. If we succumb to hatred, the world will intensify its pressure on us, we will become increasingly isolated, the country will disintegrate, and who knows what will become of us.
A woman debates protesters at a demonstration against Israel’s nationalist coalition government’s judicial overhaul, outside a cabinet meeting in Sderot, Israel, April 20, 2023. REUTERS/Corinna Kern
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