“I can see very strong antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment, and it’s beginning to be ‘okay,'” said Professor Israel Aumann, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Economics, in a recent interview with local newspaper Israel Hayom. I share his concern and “great sorrow, it is spreading within streams that are considered the bon ton of global society.” We have the diagnosis, but it is extremely urgent to begin intensive treatment to cure Jew hatred before it is too late. The cure is in our hands and in the hands of no one else, we just need to recognize it.
“There has always been antisemitism of the extreme Right in the world. But the extreme Right doesn’t lead the world and doesn’t set the tone. Those who really have influence are the progressives and the moderate Left in America and Europe,” Aumann added. That’s an accurate reflection, but whether the hate comes from the Right or the Left, it’s still hate, it’s still dangerous. Therefore, we should look at its source and not stop to ask why the Jews and the State of Israel are being attacked so violently. We need to examine how to neutralize all kinds of hatred against us and achieve a good life.
Already 14 years ago, in September 2007, when I met with Prof. Aumann at a round table discussion, he pointed out that relations in Israeli society have changed for the worse, as people only care about their small private slit. “Something has been lost here, and I think that is the reason for all the difficult problems that are overtaking us, including in the area of security,” he told me at the time.
“In my opinion, we will not be able to exist here much longer on the basis of post-Zionist ideals, which in reality are not ideals, but lacking ideals. First, because we are still surrounded by enemies, and second, because today there are elements within the state that do not want the State of Israel to continue to exist as a Jewish state.
“Then there may or may not be physical destruction, but if we continue on the current path, we will lose our identity completely, and I find that very unfortunate and disturbing,” he said.
In fact, the situation has only worsened because of the increased selfishness of Israel’s society which has permeated into many facets of our daily life. In the world, too, the same ego that grew from generation to generation and propelled humanity to development and prosperity in all spheres reached its peak at the end of the twentieth century, until all the boundaries we knew in the past were broken. And so today we all find that we are in a small global village and yet simultaneously there is vociferous hatred between people.
This hostility threatens the very existence of humanity and especially the people of Israel. The selfishness that has erupted in Israel over the last sixty years has led to a drastic alienation between us. The value of “love your neighbor as yourself” that bound us together as a people before the destruction of the Temple has completely disappeared. We have sunk to an unprecedented low, and as Prof. Aumann said, this poses an existential threat to us.
If the alienation between us continues, we will completely lose our identity as a people and as a society. And if we lose ourselves and disappear as a people, we cease to provide the world with its spiritual oxygen, we cease to function as a “light unto the nations.” Consequentially, instead of helping humanity we hinder it. In response, humanity rises up and shows intense hatred for us from all sides of the political spectrum, blaming us for all the evil in the world.
In order to contain the growing threat of antisemitism and preserve the existence of our people and our state, we must return to the principle of “love your neighbor as yourself.” That is the only solution; the cure for hate is love. Therefore, we must first agree that the realization of the value of love between us is the foundation and basis for our existence as a people. Without this love, we do not have the right to be called “one people”; we are just a collection of people living on a common piece of land with nothing to bind us.
In our lives, everything depends on education, on changing human attitudes, on rising above our differences and strengthening the mutual guarantee and consideration between us. It will lead us back to fulfilling our role as a Jewish nation, which Rav Kook clearly stated, namely, “to unite the whole world in one family.” Only when we begin to internalize the importance and value of loving others can we save our people, our country and the entire world.