Dr Jordan B Peterson, a Canadian media personality, clinical psychologist, author, and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, describes himself as a “classic British liberal.” The media often describes him as conservative. Be that as it may, his words to a 3,000 strong audience at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem should not fall on deaf Israeli ears because when he says emphatically, “You have a tremendous moral responsibility,” and “Show the world what the holy city could look like – because we need it,” we should understand that he speaks for billions and the onus really is on us.
A couple of weeks ago, at an event hosted by the Daily Wire in Jerusalem, Peterson said, “Everyone looks here to see how you are doing under this tremendous assault of adversarial criticism – as this little tiny people in the middle of no-man’s land – as a cardinal model of the nation state and the city on the hill. You have a tremendous moral responsibility like you have perhaps had for your entire history for reasons that are very difficult to understand.”
The problem is that what non-Jews feel about Israel and Israelis, we refuse to admit because while they can simply express how they feel, we have to respond to those emotions. It is a heavy burden to be responsible for the world’s problems. It is perfectly understandable that we refuse to admit it and strive to either deny it or assimilate among the nations. But the nations will clearly not allow us to do either.
We have been decrying our fate for centuries; we have written books about it, and we even titled one of them Israel, the Ever-dying People. However, when it comes to doing what we must, to making ourselves “a shining light on a hill,” as Peterson put it, we turn our backs on our mission and blame each other for the hatred turned against us.
The obligation we avoid is our obligation to each other, to unite “as one man with one heart” and become the “cardinal model” that Peterson and the rest of the world want to see. They do not need our high-tech industry or our sophisticated weapons. They need our unique, authentic moral system, the one that was established on the basis of love of others. Only if we establish our society in Israel based on this value, we will win the world’s approval.
The world is aching for it. Some of the people will ask this from us nicely, the way Peterson articulated it. Others will demand it through violence. Either way, we will know no peace or peace of mind until we provide the world the example of unity and solidarity that we must.
Jordan Peterson at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, Oct. 6, 2022 (Photo: Shimon Yair Cohen, GoLive, shimonyair.co.il)