The increasing frequency of antisemitic incidents around the world is mainly due to the media’s deliberate emphasis on such incidents, which incite antisemites to act. If the media does not lower the flames, it will end in a catastrophe. The only way to limit the insidious reports is by Jews standing shoulder to shoulder and showing a united front.
A few days ago, at the behest of the antisemitic organization The Rights Forum, administrators at more than a dozen Dutch universities instructed their staff to list their interactions with Israeli and Jewish organizations, reports the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).
The request demanded “to receive all information about the period from January 1, 2012 to January 24, 2022, more than ten years. And all of this must be submitted, if possible on paper, within 28 days.” One university employee quipped, “What is the next step? That Jews in universities should all wear a yellow star?” Holland’s Chief Rabbi was not amused at all. “What really concerns me,” he said, “is the number of universities that were so compliant with such an evidently antisemitic request. It reminds us that most mayors cooperated during the occupation to pass on the names of their Jewish citizens to the Germans.”
Reports about antisemitic incidents are flooding the media, and all carry the same message: Antisemitism is rising. It is true that antisemitic incidents have risen, but I do not think that Jew-hatred is rising or falling. Jew-hatred always exists in the heart of every non-Jew; it is a constant. What does change, however, is the extent to which people allow themselves to express it, and this depends on the media. The more the media reports such incidents, and especially, the more it reports them with a “somber” tone that implies escalation of antisemitism, the more it emboldens and galvanizes antisemites.
By media, I mean all forms of media: social media, TV and radio channels, newspapers, books, journals, magazines, and anything that hits the air and somehow reaches the public. If the media were to stop reporting antisemitic incidents, the frequency of antisemitic incidents would drop instantly. It would not diminish Jew-hatred, but it would diminish its overt, and mainly violent expression.
Regrettably, this will not happen. “Antisemitism is the scourge that God has sent us in order to lead us together and weld us together,” said Dr. Kurt Fleischer, leader of the Liberals in the Berlin Jewish Community Assembly, in 1929. The hidden hatred keeps looking for ways to vent itself, and the best place to air hatred is the media.
The only way to curb expressions of hatred is to dissolve it, and the only way to dissolve hatred toward Jews is to dissolve the hatred among Jews.
Wittingly or not, the people of Israel are always at the center of attention. From the very beginning, when we forged a nation out of descendants of outcasts from every nation in the Fertile Crescent, we were designated to be the world’s heroes or pariahs. The unbelievable feat that the early Hebrews had achieved in establishing their nationhood against all odds and above all the hatred they had felt for one another was a precedent no one since has managed to replicate. Even the Jews fell in and out of love with one another until they finally dissolved in a bloody civil war that dissolved their nation and brought upon them Titus, who conquered Jerusalem, destroyed what was left of the Temple, and exiled the starved relics to Rome.
Since then, Jews have been persona non grata wherever they went. If they were tolerated, it was only because the ruler exploited them for political or monetary gains, usually the latter, but it never lasted.
The Jews will be welcome wherever they go only if they first unite among themselves. Unity is not their shield against adversaries; it is the example they must give the world. When they unite, the world welcomes them and says, “It is becoming to cling only to this nation,” as the book Sifrey Devarim writes. When they are divided, what happens is what is happening today, what happened in 1492, and what happened in the 1940s.
We need to understand that the media opens and closes the valve on expressions of antisemitism, but our actions for or against each other determine whether the media opens or closes the valve.
More on this topic in my book The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism, Historical facts on anti-Semitism as a reflection of Jewish social discord.