“We have a Nazi problem in Dresden and have to do something about it,” said a city council member who succeeded with local lawmakers in passing an initiative to declare a “Nazi emergency.” This story is not a throwback to the 1930s in Germany, but a recent occurrence. It is a symptom of the larger problem of white supremacy spreading in major European and American cities, which raises the question: Why are Jews treated by many as a stone in humanity’s shoe? Solving this enigma is a pivotal step to finding a way to remove the uncomfortable annoyance.
But why Dresden in particular? Dresden happens to be a bastion of the far-right political party, “Alternative for Germany,” (AfD) and the birthplace of the movement PEGIDA (“Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident,” in German), which are described as anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and xenophobic.
However, anti-Semitism is certainly not limited to radical right-wing groups. It is prevalent in German society as a whole. More than 25% of Germans agree with classic anti-Jewish tropes, including that Jews have “too much power over the economy,” according to a study revealed last month by the World Jewish Congress. Over 40% said they think Jews “talk about the Holocaust too much,” yet one in four respondents also said it is possible that “something like the Holocaust could happen in Germany again.”
Hatred Against Jews in America
The first anniversary of Pittsburgh’s synagogue attack was commemorated last month. It is a vivid reminder of how hatred against Jews is much more than a matter of hate speech these days. Jew-hatred can materialize in a split second as deadly violent attacks. A man accused of plotting to blow up a Jewish temple was arrested just days ago by the FBI in Colorado. We see close parallels between events in America and Germany with the Yom Kippur attack at the Halle synagogue at the hands of a Neo-Nazi.
“This hatred is real, comes from multiple sources, and is growing,” said the American Jewish Committee’s CEO, David Harris, in response to a recent survey conducted by the Jewish organization which revealed that nearly 9 of 10 American Jews now consider anti-Semitism a problem in the US.
In order to combat the sharp rise in Jew-hatred in both America and worldwide, the Jewish Agency recently announced a far-reaching plan to bolster security systems in 50 Jewish institutions, such as Jewish schools, synagogues and community centers in 24 countries this year in response to global requests for safety support. The goal is to extend this security upgrade to include 40 countries by the end of 2020.
No Jewish Safety Until the Cause of Hatred Against Us Is Solved
Today, we discover our human society to be closed-in on all sides, trapped between global interdependence that connects us, on one hand, and competitive, egoistic interests and indifference that separates us, on the other. This is the exact juncture where anti-Semitism is rooted and where the people of Israel enter the picture.
We were established as a Jewish nation at the foot of Mount Sinai when all our members committed to unite “as one man with one heart.” Immediately thereafter, we were commanded to be “a light unto the nations,” namely to spread the light of unity throughout the world. Since we once experienced brotherly love in the bonds between us, we have the ability to once again unite above our differences and set an example for others who so desperately need such guidance. This is what makes the Jewish people unique, and this example is precisely what the world demands of us during our current times of division and rifts.
Humanity subconsciously feels that we Jews hold the key to a better life for every person on this planet. Such interdependence between the role of Jews and the fate of humanity amounts to the fact that the more we delay in actualizing our role, the more we will be hated.
The Jewish people are essentially a mini-model of humanity, a prototype for universal connection between people. The degree of connection we establish between us is destined to spread and shape the conditions for the rest of the world. When we return to brotherly love between all Jews, the demand against us that manifests as anti-Semitism will vanish.
Rav Kook summed up this essential role of Jews as follows: “The purpose of Israel is to unite the world into a single family.”
Our Life Insurance Is in Our Unity
When our enemies strike they do not ask what denomination of Judaism we belong to, or what our origin is, or whether we are right-wing or left-wing. They simply strike out against us, convinced that the world’s problems will be solved by erasing Jews off the face of the planet. This overriding force of anti-Semitism constantly resurfaces in various guises to compel us to unite during times when we become increasingly remote from being a united people.
Today, instead of exemplifying unity, we radiate divisiveness to the rest of the world. In such a state, the world will always find reasons to hate us and feel justified in trying to destroy us. The precise point upon which our prosperity depends was succinctly expressed by Samuel David Luzzatto: “The success of our nation depends only on our brotherly love, on connecting to one another as members of a single family.”
First and foremost, Jews must be a conduit to transmit an example of cohesion, mutual understanding and solidarity above differences to humanity. By providing a method for uniting above differences and divisions, we will become an enlightening force for the rest of the world. As stated in The Book of Zohar: “Just as the organs of the body cannot exist for one moment without the heart, so all nations cannot exist in the world without Israel.”
Our thoughts and efforts that draw us to unite and in turn soften critical attitudes about each other have the power to evoke a positive force between us, one capable of gradually neutralizing hatred and bringing about balance. This is the power that can protect and lead us toward a good and safe future.
Featured in The Times of Israel