About a week ago, Amit Segal, a political commentator for Israel’s Channel 12 News, interviewed former Israeli ambassador in Washington Ron Dermer, who served from 2013 to 2021. To me, the most significant point that Dermer put across was that the support for the State of Israel among American Jews is dropping. Moreover, Dermer stressed that some of Israel’s most vociferous and venomous critics are Jews. When I look at those critics, it seems to me that they are not only hateful toward Israel, but that they take pride in their hatred.
Indeed, the greatest antisemites are the Jews themselves. In antiquity, it was the Jew-turned-genocidal-anti-Semite Tiberius Julius Alexander who slaughtered 50,000 Jews in Alexandria, Egypt, and led the Roman army into the Temple through the Golden doors his own father had built. In the Middle-Ages, it was Cardinal Juan de Torquemada, a descendant of Jews, who initiated and oversaw the Spanish Inquisition that led to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. In modern times, Jews have been acting against Jews on countless occasions, but perhaps one of the most notorious among them was Rabbi Stephen Wise, the leader of American Jewry during World War II, who helped President Roosevelt hamper the immigration of the Jews from Germany and Austria to the US while they could still save themselves from the persecution of the Nazi regime.
In order to understand how it is possible that Jews would hate Jews so vehemently, we need to understand that the root of the Jewish people is connection. We became a nation at the foot of Mt. Sinai when we agreed to unite “as one man with one heart,” and we lost our nationhood, along with our land, when we succumbed to unfounded hatred. Since then, and for the past two millennia, we have been in exile from each other, from our most basic tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The State of Israel represents a chance we have been given to restore our nationhood, namely our unity. Jews who oppose the State of Israel are actually opposing unity. Perhaps subconsciously, they do not want to unite “as one man with one heart,” and certainly not to love their neighbors as themselves. They preach justice for others, but they exude hate for their own. In the name of equity to all, they promote prejudice and discrimination against their folk.
It will not help. Until we, Jews, overcome the hatred we feel for one another, there will be no healing for the hatred toward us. Throughout the centuries, we have been hated for every conceivable reason, as well as for some inconceivable ones. Hatred needs no reason or reasoning. The hatred for the State of Israel is only the latest in the series, but it is the same Jew-hatred that has tormented our people for centuries.
However, here, in sovereign Israel, we finally have a chance to reinstate our unity, and regain our nationhood. This is our duty to ourselves, and our onus toward the nations. Unity is the only way we can become “a light unto nations.” If we want to win the world’s favor, we must focus on internal unity. When we display hatred toward each other and sympathy for others, they see it as sycophancy, and no one likes a sycophant. I think it is time we started looking more at each other and built some inner strength, and less at others and what they might think. They will think about us what we will think about each other.