The broken souls

There is a dark phenomenon in the Jewish world – one that pulls and tears and tugs on every Jewish soul.  It has been around since almost the beginning of Jewish existence and will likely prevail until the end.  It cannot be easily understood, or explained, or analysed, but it exists – as sure as the sun sets and the moon rises, and it is every bit as dangerous as any enemy we have ever faced – because unlike our enemies, it is not us against them.  Rather it is us… against ourselves.

Richard Falk, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, was in Australia some months ago for a conference on Palestinian human rights.  He also happens to be Jewish – but probably not the kind of Jew that would be dancing the hora on Yom Ha’atzmaut!  Many people describe him as a self-hating Jew, which I believe does him a disservice, as there are many more people in the world who hate him, besides himself.

He also happens to be part of a Jewish born contingent who seems to have a diabolical hatred towards Israel.  The problem is not so much their hatred for Israel – they would not be alone in the world there – the problem is that they hide behind their Jewishness, using it as some kind of warped sense of moral authority to attack Israel and Jews.  He states that “to be Jewish is, above all, to be preoccupied with overcoming injustice”, yet proceeds to call Israelis Nazis, accuse the Israeli government of genocide, prints anti-Semitic cartoons in his blog and accuses the US government and the organized Jewish community of confiscation of Palestinian land and rights.

But this is not a unique event in Jewish history, and there have been many examples of Jews turning against Jews – the most prominent example probably being the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70CE in what the Talmud calls “sinat chinam, senseless hatred of one Jew for another”.

Jews have always argued amongst themselves throughout history, but what is it that turns that argument from one of differing opinions into one of poisonous hatred.  Is it some kind of twisted desire that seems to say that to be a part of the world community, you need to reject your own Jewish one?  Or is it a belief that Jewish values are incompatible with world values?

The world Jewish community is extremely diverse drawn from many cultures over thousands of years with many differing views, yet they share a common Jewish soul that transcends those borders binding us across time and space.  The potential of that united bond can be unlimited, but when those souls are fractured, the results can be equally devastating.

Can that war against ourselves ever truly be won, or is it part of the conflict of everyday Jewish life?

About the Author
Justin Amler is a South African born, Melbourne based writer who has lived in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.