During her speech at the Council of Europe, in commemoration of the Holocaust, Mrs. Braden Golay, president of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS), reiterated the promise many of us make on this date each year: “Never again!”
Watching her, I realized how little we know about keeping the Holocaust from reoccurring. The wave of anti-Semitism sweeping over Europe and permeating every college campus in the US is indicative of our inefficiency at curbing, much less reversing anti-Semitism.
Mrs, Braden-Golay promised to “remember, understand, recognize, and act.” But she never as much as implied what that action might be. I believe she means well. It felt as though she really wanted her final words to come true. She ended her speech declaring that “the most meaningful way, we as a society can honor all those lives destroyed, is to remain resilient against the divisive forces of fear and hate. …And let us take together, first thing tomorrow, action.”
But what action would that be? Not a word was said.
I would therefore like to make a suggestion as to the action we must take in order to combat anti-Semitism. Let us take her final words of the speech and put an emphasis on two words: “together” and “divisive.”
Indeed, the forces at play are dividing us. They are causing our people to divide and splinter us into factions and fragments. This disunity is precisely what causes our predicament.
When we are together, we are strong. We are strong not because we join our forces against a common enemy. It is rather that when we are together, our very unity strengthens us. We became a nation when we united at the foot of Mt. Sinai, and in a sense, we stopped being a nation when we were exiled two millennia ago, due to our unfounded hatred of each other.
But there is more. Today it is not enough to unite in the face of anti-Semitism. As the world is crumbling under the divisive forces of power struggles among superpowers on the global level, and as people are growing increasingly alienated from each other on the personal level, the remedy of unity is imperative to our survival. People seem to have lost their ability to connect. They find refuge on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, but a screen cannot compensate for the loss of human connection.
The remedy the world needs is to be able to unite, feel close, connected. Without human solidarity our society is doomed.
Before the Temple was ruined, this solidarity held us together. It is what enabled us to maintain the humane society we had developed when the world around us was utterly barbaric.
Now that the world is regressing once again into barbarity, it needs the remedy of unity more than ever. The only ones who can offer it are we, Jews, provided that we reawaken it within us in order to convey it to the world.
We often contemplate our role as Jews. We debate on the meaning of being “a light for the nations,” and try to figure out what that light might be. It isn’t all that complicated. All we need is to unite among us, without any oppression and without forcing anyone to become someone else. We should simply unite above our differences. By that, we will set an example of unity and solidarity to the world, and they will do the same. By so doing, we will become “a light for the nations.”
We are already being watched much more closely than we’d like to be. So we must leverage on that intensive scrutiny and offer something valuable to the world. We’ve offered numerous brilliant scientists, authors, economists, and physicians to the world. Have we ever been thanked for it? We haven’t. But have we ever asked ourselves why we are not winning gratitude? Is it because the entire world is ungrateful, or because it is simply not what they want from us? I think it is the latter.
What we can and must do now is unite, establish solidarity and mutual guarantee (a.k.a. mutual responsibility), and show it as an example to the world. They cannot find the way to unity without us, and they will not leave us alone until we learn how to unite among us, and promptly after, if not during, show them how to do it, too.
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