As soon as the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect, politicians, pundits, and a plethora of regular folk took to social media platforms, news media, and just about anywhere they could write or speak, to express their opinions on the timing of the ceasefire and the achievements of Operation Guardian of the Walls. But whether people are happy with the results or not, one thing is clear: Nothing is over. It will also never be over until we decide to stop fighting amongst ourselves.
We established our nationhood only after we agreed to unite “as one man with one heart.” Since then, the success or failure of our people has depended on our unity. When we fight against each other, we bring upon us enemies who destroy us. When we unite, we are untouchable. The composition Masechet Derech Eretz Zuta, for example, written at approximately the same time as the Talmud, states the following: “Even when Israel worship idols and there is peace among them, the Lord says, ‘I have no wish to harm them.’ …But if they are disputed, what is it that is said about them? ‘Their heart is divided; now they will bear their guilt.’”
The book Shem MiShmuel states even more explicitly that “when unity restores Israel as before, Satan will have no place in which to place error and external forces. When they are as one man with one heart, they are as a fortified wall against the forces of evil.”
But our vocation is not only to unite, but to set an example of unity for all the nations. This is why whenever we quarrel among ourselves, even if only verbally, the nations punish us. The Talmud (Yoma 9b) explains that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel and destroyed the First Temple because the people of Israel spoke to one another “with daggers in their tongues.” But when the people of Israel display unity, everyone wants to learn from them how to unite. The book Sifrey Devarim writes that in the days of the Second Temple, during the three festive pilgrimages, gentiles would “go up to Jerusalem and see Israel … and say, ‘It is becoming to cling only to this nation.’”
To this day, people want to learn from the Jews how to unite. Interestingly, it is often rabid antisemites who wish it the most, and express anger at the Jews precisely for not setting a good example from which they could learn. Vasily Shulgin, for example, a senior member of the Duma, the Russian Parliament, before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, dedicated almost his entire compilation, What We Don’t Like About Them, to disparaging the Jews. However, he also details what he and everyone else would do if Jews were to change their selfish ways and rise to the level they once possessed: “Let them … rise to the height to which they apparently climbed [in antiquity] … and immediately, all nations will rush to their feet. They will rush not by virtue of compulsion … but by free will, joyful in spirit, grateful and loving, including the Russians! We ourselves will request, ‘Give us Jewish rule, wise, benevolent, leading us to the Good.’ And every day we will offer the prayers for them, for the Jews: ‘Bless our guides and our teachers, who lead us to the recognition of Your goodness.’”
Therefore, if we want to defeat Hamas, we must first defeat the hatred we feel for one another. If we do this, we will discover that Hamas is no longer our enemy, nor is anyone else. And if we cannot believe this simple message, it is a sign that our hate-filled hearts are blinding us to the truth that hatred of each other is our worst, and only enemy.