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KJ Hannah Greenberg

Sinat chinam, baseless hatred, vs ahavat chinam, brotherly love

After the massacre of October 7, we’ve witnessed covert antisemitism become increasingly overt, repeatedly. Prejudice against Jews doesn’t make a distinction among hashkafot. Likewise, this partiality doesn’t differentiate among age groups, national origins, or relative (physical) wealth. What’s more, all manner of “[a]ntisemitism [is] manifested in words, visual images, and deeds.” (“The Jerusalem Declaration of Antisemitism”) This iniquity is undiscerning and pervasive. Essentially, we’re witnessing a “bizarre transition in the West from supporting the goodness of liberty, non-violence, justice[,] and other Judeo-Christian values to…almost complete submission to evil values and ideologies, including those of the so-called Palestinians.” (Rotberg)

Fortunately, it remains the case that, concurrently, some individuals not only reject this heinousness but, additionally and publicly, assign themselves the vanguard role on behalf of Am Yisrael. These persons utilize many rostrums to advocate on behalf of Jews.

Let’s deconstruct these positions. Consider the tale of two women, Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, and actress Gal Gadot, who, respectively, represent these opposites. The first publicly calumniates Israel. The second publicly supports Israel.

Canary Mission, a watchdog group focused on antisemitism, especially as actualized in North American universities, says of Tlaib, “Congresswoman Tlaib failed to condemn the murder, rape, and beheading of 1,400 Jews and the kidnapping of 222 others. She has significant ties to Hamas-linked extremists. Her hatred of Israel and Jews should have no place in Congress.” (Greyman-Kennard) In other words, Tlaib’s animosity is palpable, recurring, and broadcast.

In contrast, Gadot voiced,

I’m asking myself: what happened to humanity? How could that be? Why do we need to convince people that that is not okay? When others are asking for a ceasefire, and I’m all for peace, don’t get me wrong, but the hostages are still there. Not a word about the hostages. (Boker)

Said differently, Gadot’s backing is substantial, frequent, and disseminated.

Bigotry is laziness. Open-mindedness requires vigor. In simpler terms, baseless hatred is an inactive starting point whereas brotherly love requires effort. Although Sinat Chinam might (temporarily) increase an individual’s standing, eventually, it besmirches their name. Apathy grows chauvinism. Accordingly, “anti-Israelism has become the ideology of submission” (Rotberg), has become the ideology contesting critical thinking. “Tolerism is an excessive tolerance, in fact a leniency, for the intolerant and unsupportable views that threaten our very freedoms” (Rotberg). Ultimate social success requires industry.

Ahavat Chinam, contrariwise, might (temporarily) seem costly per time, money, and reputation. However, in due course, the hard work necessitated by such articulations and actions not only aids others but also builds its source’s status. For instance, when Gadot voiced that “[t]he world cannot sit on the fence when these horrific acts of terror are happening!” she chose to stand for Israel, a choice that found her and her work censored in various countries (Spodek). Yet, her daring to stand for what’s right, not for what’s popular (the entertainment industry is very hard to please), proves her to be a person of mettle.

Accordingly, baseless hatred is always less worthy than brotherly love. People who claim that they don’t care about the results of their behavior willingly give up their freedoms of thought, word, and deed. “Ideology in its most powerful form is hidden from the view of the person who submits to it. Once it can be clearly perceived[,] it effectively loses its power of social control; obversely, to believe oneself to be non-ideological is actually equivalent to being driven primarily by ideology” (Rotberg).

We ought to strive  and to urge others to strive to be more like Gadot and less like Tlaib. It’s not popularity measured by government appointments or Hollywood success that’s important. Rather, it’s whether we’re adding to the world’s well-being, especially to Israel’s well-being, or, has v’shalom, detracting from it.

We [ought to] undertake “letaken olam bemalchut sha-dai“—to rectify the world and to render it under the sovereignty of G‑d. And there’s the friction. Too many content themselves with fulfilling the first half of the phrase and forget the latter section (Greenbaum).

Sources:

Boker, Ran. “Gal Gadot criticizes calls for ceasefire; ‘What happened to humanity?’” [sic. Israel National News. 26 Oct. 2023. israelnationalnews.com/news/379200. Accessed 18 Jan. 2024.

Greenbaum, Rabbi Elisha. “Fix the World.” Chabad.org. chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/652037/jewish/Fix-the-World. Accessed 12 Feb. 2024.

 

Greyman-Kennard, Danielle. “Rashida Tlaib’s alleged links to the Hamas terror organization –report” [sic.] The Jerusalem Post. 26 Oct. 2023, jpost.com/international/islamic-terrorism/article-770179. Accessed 18 Jan. 2024.

Rotberg, Howard. “The bizarre transition in the West” [sic.] Israel National News. 24 Apr. 2023. israelnationalnews.com/news/370437. Accessed 18 Jan. 2024.

Spodek, Adina. “Gal Gadot Speaks out in support of Israel after Hamas attacks” [sic]. Unpacked. 13 Oct. 2023. jewishunpacked.com/the-woman-behind-wonder-woman-gal-gadots-jewish-journey. Accessed 12 Feb. 2024.

“The Jerusalem Declaration of Antisemitism.” /jerusalemdeclaration.org/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.

About the Author
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Thereafter, her writing has been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.