Rachel Wahba
Rachel Wahba

Envy and the Oldest Hatred

When Israel’s existence is questioned daily in the media and antisemitism is repackaged and normalized as “anti-Zionism” from Qatar to Ireland, when Israel hatred dominates the United Nations, and BDS raises its ugly head, envy is at work. It is driven by the same twisted mentality that propelled Sarah Halimi’s heinous murder and excuses/enables her killer. 

Jews have historically been targeted for clinging to our identity/“difference.” Ironically, we see trends on college campuses where diversity is touted, but Jews, especially Zionists, are stigmatized and bullied out of progressive spaces.

Envy is an emotion bent on destruction. It’s a problem antisemitism has with Jewish self-determination, with our surviving and thriving over thousands of years despite the odds. We enrage by not disappearing. We insult by not becoming the New Jew (Christian), by not leaving Judaism for Islam, by not disappearing despite assimilation and persecution.  

Our survival triggers envy, murderous feelings of rejection. The dynamic is as simple as it is heinous; “You (Jews)  think you are better than me, my religion, my belief system? You think you can just walk away and live your own life?”

Sarah Halimi was just a Jew living her life. The murderous hatred she triggered by breathing as a free Jew in Paris, was drilled into her delusional killer before he was ever aware of her. The “oldest hatred” of antisemitism is tragic but not new. 

We can live with jealousy, an emotion based on feeling left out, and wanting to be included. There is hope in jealousy, it’s a normal emotion. Envy is a deeply twisted version of jealousy, a murderous hatred that has nothing to do with wanting to be included somehow, or wishing and hoping to get  something the other has, be it inclusion or a thing. Unchecked envy is in a league by itself, driven by a delusional need to control or get rid of this person, place, or thing that crashes his/her self esteem. 

Once envy is triggered the options narrow, “one of us has to go,”  it’s intolerable otherwise. 

Envy comes up early on in the Bible – Cain felt he had to kill Abel to mediate his intolerable diminished sense of self esteem in relation to his brother. We see envy at work in childrens’ literature in Snow White, whose stepmother, used to being the one, feels so diminished by Snow White’s beauty she is driven by her envy to order Snow White eliminated. American TV memorialized the horror show of O.J Simpson’s envy triggered by Nicole Simpson leaving him to live her own life.

From the river to the sea…it’s either you or me. 

Envy envelopes hopelessness as long as the envied thrives.  

The repackaged anti-Jewish hatred of our time is focused on Israel, a glaring example of how our survival  against great odds upsets the status quo. Our demand for  self-determination offends. Being a sovereign People with a country again instead of being subjects of persecutory laws, ethnic cleansing and genocide offends. We trigger envy in those who cannot bear this reality, be it individuals or cultures or nations who feel seriously diminished by Jews for thriving. 

We may have to continue fighting to be free in cities all over the world as we are doing right now regarding Sarah Halimi’s murder and verdict. We will have to continue to speak our cause  honoring our identity as Jews and Zionists. Israel knows this dance well. Jews are a tiny minority on this planet, (0.18% of the world population), Israel is literally the size of New Jersey. And we are a threat? 

The non-Jewish world needs to put a STOP to the insecure bullies, our allies have to step up to nations like Iran who cannot look at themselves in the mirror without feeling bad about themselves as Jews and Israel survive and thrive. 

Envy is a self esteem crisis where evil is projected on the Jew to mediate a distorted disparity. Sarah Halimi’s murderer quoted from his holiest of books as he bludgeoned her to death. The Spanish Inquisitors did the same. The list is long. 

Naming the disease is a step forward – to turn the insanity of envy inside out to make space for Jews to co-exist, a nation among nations, for normalization. 

It will take the non-Jewish world to demand a massive change in consciousness. It will take understanding how envy informs antisemitism, anti-Jewish racism and anti-Zionism 

It will take all of us as individuals and nations, it will take Jews and allies, it will take  the non-Jewish world from East to West to make this “oldest hatred” seriously uncool and unacceptable. 

About the Author
Rachel Wahba is a San Francisco Bay Area based writer, psychotherapist and the co-founder of Olivia Travel. An Egyptian-Iraqi Jew, Rachel was born in India and grew up stateless in Japan. The many dimensions of her exile and displacement are a constant theme in her professional work as well as her activism as an advisory board member for JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa).
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments