Last week, “A Jewish teacher, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, was surrounded by students who flashed the Heil Hitler salute in class at a North York school,” the Toronto City News reported. This was neither the first nor the second such case in Canada. CBC reported that this is the “third incident this month involving students performing a Nazi salute within the Toronto District School Board.” It may surprise some people that there is antisemitism in Canada, but it shouldn’t. Jew-hatred is spreading rapidly, and will proliferate around the world until we Jews take the required action to eliminate it.
It should not surprise us that there is antisemitism in Canada, since many of its residents come from inherently antisemitic nations in Europe. The displays we see today merely express what has been kept hidden in their hearts until now, but nothing fundamental has changed in how they feel toward Jews.
Moreover, antisemitism will not go away until we dry up its well. Since Jew-hatred is expressed by non-Jews, we attribute its origin to them. But they are not the origin. Our own sages tell us countless times that when we hate each other, we bring about the hatred of the world toward us. Even if we do not feel that we hate other Jews, the very existence of antisemitism means that hatred exists among us, even if covertly.
Our sages referred to Jewish self-hatred as sinaat himam (hatred without cause). They explained that this is what caused our downfall in the days of the Second Temple and the exile from the Land of Israel. While we refer to it as self-hatred, in essence, it is the same ailment that destroyed us two millennia ago.
Therefore, we may use antisemitism as a sensor for self-hate. Even when we do not sense it, if there is antisemitism, it means that we are hateful of each other. Consequently, the antidote to antisemitism is to strengthen Jewish unity. This is the action we must take.
We have always known this, and we have always spurned it, even in the face of the most demonic perils. In 1929, Dr. Kurt Fleischer, then leader of the Liberals in the Berlin Jewish Community Assembly, stated that “Antisemitism is the scourge that God has sent us in order to lead us together and weld us together.” Regrettably, it did not happen and we did not come together.
These days, as antisemitism rears its ugly head once more, we must not forget that we hold the key that can lock it up for good, and that key is our own unity. If we turn toward each other with good intentions, we will lock antisemitism outside our world. If we keep treating each other with contempt, loathing, and conceit, as we often do today, the door to Jew-hatred will open all the way and a tsunami of antisemitism will wash upon us.
You will find more on this topic in my books Like a Bundle of Reeds: Why unity and mutual guarantee are today’s call of the hour, and The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism, Historical facts on anti-Semitism as a reflection of Jewish social discord.
[Maplewood High School, Toronto – no connection to the events]