Just recently, the semi-official Iranian outlet Tasnim News Agency reported that Hossein Salami, commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, stated that Iran is “confident that the decline and collapse of the Zionist regime is beyond a wish and is a reality that could happen in the near future.” With this statement, Iran is trying to boost its own, as well as its Palestinian proxies’ spirits after the latest military campaign in Gaza. But such announcements do not reflect strength but rather weakness.
However, military might is not what this post is about, but rather the intense hatred that Iran exhibits toward Israel and what Israel can do about it. In truth, we have tried most everything we can to appease the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world but nothing is working. In fact, experience shows that whenever we give our enemies what they demand, they add contempt to their abhorrence rather than become more peaceful and friendly.
We should already know that we will uproot the hatred in our enemies’ hearts only when we uproot the hatred from our own hearts. That is, because we hate each other, our enemies hate us. This has been the case with the Jewish people since its inception, and it will never change. As long as we keep hating one another, the world’s hatred toward us will not diminish.
The “decline and collapse” that Salami talked about are not only weakening us from within; they are fueling his, and everybody else’s hatred toward us. It is a social collapse, not a physical or an economic one. It expresses the collapse of our cohesion and solidarity, our sense that we are one nation that is bounded by mutual responsibility among its members.
Our sages wrote that when we feel alienation from each other, the world attacks us, and when we unite, no harm comes to us. For instance, the book Shem MiShmuel states, “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. accordingly, 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.’”
Once again, we see that our own division, our social decay, is our only problem. If we return to the motto of our nation, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” by simply trying to implement it, we will dissolve all the hatred toward us. As long as we are obstinate and regard being right as more important than being together, we will have no future in the land of Israel or anywhere else in the world.