The current wave of violence has exposed the fact that the coexistence between Arabs and Israelis within Israel was an illusion. There were economic benefits that both sides enjoyed, but the hatred has festered all those years until a trigger set it off. The painful truth that the riots of Arabs in Israel exposed is that they hate us no less than the Palestinians in the West Bank or in Gaza. The numerous lynching attempts, that miraculously have not taken someone’s life, yet, the burning of Jewish homes, synagogues, businesses, cars, the shots fired into people’s homes, and the stoning of cars on highways leave no room for doubt: The days of tolerance are over.
Yet, anyone who knows the message of our sages, knows that they do not attribute our woes to our oppressors. Our sages do not attribute the ruin of the First Temple to Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon, although he was the one who destroyed it. Instead, they attribute it to us, to how we treated one another. They explain that the bloodshed and slander among us brought upon us the conquest of Nebuchadnezzar.
Similarly, our sages do not blame the Seleucid Empire for the war against the Maccabees. They blame the Hellenists, the Jews who insisted on installing the Greek culture and belief system in Judea.
And most notably, our sages don’t blame the ruin of the Second Temple and the two millennia long exile on the Romans, who did the physical conquering of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple. Rather, they blame it on a single culprit: baseless, unfounded hatred among us, Jews.
This truth has not changed since. We bring our woes upon ourselves. When we hate each other, the nations hate us. When the Talmud, for example, explains the reasons for the ruin of the First Temple, it writes that people would “eat and drink with one another,” yet “stab each other with the swords in their tongues” (Yoma 9b). Moreover, the Talmud further states that “Even though they were close to one another, they were filled with hatred for each other.”
Why do we expect things to be different now? Why do we think that the verbal swords we use against each other today won’t translate into physical knives and guns now? The fact is that this is what is happening. As then, so now.
Therefore, if we want to stop the violence against us, we must rise above our mutual hatred. Our military edge can buy us time, but if we don’t use the time we are given to build brotherly love above all our differences, the time will run out and we will suffer calamity after calamity until we learn that there will be no peace with our enemies until we make peace with one another. But when we achieve this, we will have no enemies.
[Reuters – Violent riots in Israel’s city of Lod]