January 27 is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In recent years, there has been a sharp resurgence of antisemitism, which seems to be accelerating. The Jewish Agency’s Fighting Antisemitism page states, “With violent instances of antisemitism on the rise across the world, we are devoting more resources than ever to expunge this epidemic and ensure Jewish safety.” However, the efforts are not working. A report that the Jewish Agency recently released has found that antisemitic incidents on U.S. campuses have gone up by almost 50 percent during 2022, compared to a year earlier.
Even worse, as time passes, people forget about the Holocaust, or come to think that it was far less horrific than it actually was. This fork-movement of forgetting what had happened, on the one hand, and the spreading of antisemitism around the world, on the other hand, has reached levels that remind many Holocaust researchers of the venomous atmosphere that prevailed in Europe before the Holocaust, and which eventually allowed it to happen, if not accelerated and exacerbated it. I believe we have every right to be worried that what occurred might recur.
However, I also believe that we should acknowledge that our efforts are futile, and unless we overhaul them, matters will continue to deteriorate at an accelerating speed. But in order to change course, we need to know in which direction to turn, and for this to happen, we need to understand the roots of antisemitism.
Antisemitism has a very deep root. In fact, it is embedded in the laws of nature; it is one of its foundations. Allow me to explain.
The people of Israel are not like any other people, as much as they would like to be. The whole world treats us differently, and there is nothing we can do about it because the reason for the world’s attitude toward us is buried deep within us, deeper than we can see.
Two forces drive the universe, drive all of existence, all of creation. They are contradictory forces that always operate one against the other. The only way to reconcile them is to be aware of them and make a conscious effort to harness both of them for a higher cause.
On the inanimate level, these forces manifest as darkness and light, spring and fall, or as magnetic forces that pull or push away. On the animate level, they manifest as life and death, and love and hate. On the human level, they manifest as altruism and egoism, giving and taking, kindness and cruelty.
Because they are contradictory, the two forces are locked in an eternal struggle. However, they are of equal power, and therefore neither ever “wins.” Instead, they “take turns” dominating, and as a result, our universe evolves and changes ceaselessly.
Humans are the one exception. In every human being, the inherent tendency toward egoism wins. If we examine the history of humankind, we will see that the motivation behind all the changes that have ever happened was the glorification of its perpetrators or other self-centered drives.
The only people who have ever managed to rise above the innate selfish tendency in human nature and balance it with kindness, as it is in the rest of nature, were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who united “as one man with one heart” and were declared a nation—the Israeli nation—at the foot of Mt. Sinai. However, the Israeli nation achieved what it achieved not for its own sake. It did this so as to become a model nation, a proof of concept, or if you will, a startup nation.
Yet, like most startup companies, Israel’s idea was great, but its product never reached the market. The Israelites operated it for a while but eventually, even they abandoned their own invention and joined the rest of the self-centered world.
Nevertheless, the seeds of love of others, of the commitment to build a society based on mutual responsibility and loving others as ourselves, remained buried deep within every Jewish person, even though they do rarely feel it, if ever. Yet, every Jew carries a hidden spark of love of others, which puts us at odds with everyone who wants to remain self-centered, which is all of humanity, including the Jews themselves. This is why everyone hates Jews, and Jews hate Jews more than anyone.
But for all the hatred and attempts to annihilate the Jews, it will never succeed. Since it is impossible to annihilate a force of nature, it is impossible to eradicate its expressions. Moreover, the more self-centeredness prevails around the world, the more the world deteriorates, and the closer we are getting to another world war. The only way to escape another global cataclysm and another round of punishment against the Jews is if the Jews become what they are supposed to be—a model nation based on mutual responsibility and love of others.
There is no point protesting against antisemites; it will not deter them or diminish their numbers. The only solution to the oldest hatred is to stop looking outward, and start looking at one another. We need to put our heads and hearts together in search of ways to unite and nurture mutual concern despite the deep division and profound hatred among the various factions of the nation. If we do this, if we only try, it will dissipate the hatred of the world toward us and will usher in a new era in the history of the relationship between the Jewish people and the world.