As I wrote some three weeks ago, last Thursday the UN passed the final resolution regarding its support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA). The tally, in a record vote, was 164 in favor of the resolution, and 1 against—Israel. The resolution was one of several votes, all of which condemn Israel very sharply, and one even declares that “the Palestinians are entitled to their property [since 1948] and to the income derived therefore in conformity of equality and justice.”
Two days prior, “expressing outrage over Israel’s continuing harassment of human rights,” the UN Human Rights Council has resolved to set up “an international, independent commission of enquiry to investigate, ‘all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law leading up and since 13 April 2021.’”
If the entire world, not figuratively but literally the entire world, tells us that we are evil, that we are the only harm-doers, and we see no fault in our actions, shouldn’t we at least ask why the false perception? Could it be that it is our perception that is false? How come we never ask ourselves these questions and automatically reproach the entire world of being antisemitic? If it is antisemitic, and if it wants our destruction, why did it give us a country in the first place? And if it gave us a country, why does it now want to take it away?
It is not that Israeli copywriters are worse than their Palestinian counterparts, or that Israel does not allocate enough resources to explain its position. The simple truth is that in the eyes of larger and larger portions of humanity, we are the only harm-doers in existence. It makes no difference what we say or how we say it, since if we are the only ones to blame, then there is no one else to blame but us for everything that’s wrong with the world.
If this is the case, we should ask ourselves why the world thinks so. It does not think so because there is a Jewish state, since during the Holocaust or during the expulsion from Spain there was no Jewish state, but still we were regarded as the only harm-doers in the world. The world does not think so because of the libel that we pollute wells that cause pandemics, since the world hated us before and after the pandemics. The world also does not hate us because of anything that has to do with Christianity, since Muslims and even complete atheists readily hate us. Finally, the world does not hate us because of our race since there was antisemitism long before there were Nazis and racism.
The world changes its pretexts for hating Jews faster than the seasons change, but our own sages never change their minds, not once. They, too, think that we are the only harm-doers in the world, or as they put it, “No calamity comes to the world but for Israel” (Yevamot 63a). However, they also tell us why they think so, and their reasoning has never changed.
The only purpose of our people is to serve as “a light unto nations.” Once we united “as one man with one heart” and established our nationhood, we were tasked with setting an example to humanity. We, the nation that emerged from an assortment of strangers who hated one another, became a proof that with great resolve, people can rise above their hatred and unite.
Through our unity, we formed a society based on mutual responsibility and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We fell out of unity and rose back to unity, and along with our ups and downs, we lost and regained our sovereignty in the land of Israel. Accordingly, our sages never pinned our downfalls on foreign tyrants; they always attributed them to our disunity. For instance, they did not write that Titus destroyed the Temple, but rather, “The Second Temple … why was it ruined? It was because there was unfounded hatred in it” (Yoma 9b).
We should have no qualms about it: If we maintain our division, the resolutions of the UN will grow increasingly hostile and increasingly emphatic toward the Jewish state. Soon, the nations will declare, by a huge majority if not unanimously, to give Palestine to the Palestinians and that Resolution 181, to divide the land between Jews and Arabs, was an unfortunate mistake.
As long as we are not being what Jews are meant to be—people who unite above their division—the world has no need for us. Once it gives up on our ability to set an example of unity, it will resolve to eliminate the Jewish state and expel its Jewish residents.
If we care about our future more than about the pleasure of righteous indignation, we should muster the resolve to show the world that Jews who hated one another just a moment ago can truly be as brothers.
Police patrol cars stand outside the United Nations headquarters. The headquarters was cordoned off on Thursday because of an ongoing police operation outside the building.