When the multinational corporation Unilever recently announced that it had sold the rights to produce Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to the current licensee in Israel, it was thought the deal would end the year long pro-Palestinian boycott of the product sales in Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, as well as in East Jerusalem. However, then the Jewish founders of the ice cream brand—the main promoters of the boycott—reminded the world that they will not rest until Israel is isolated by concocting a new way to cause trouble.
The frozen relationship between the Ben & Jerry’s Jewish founders and Israel again became evident. As part of the company’s independent ideological board, they decided to sue Unilever to block the sale to the Israeli licensee that would allow the unrestricted distribution of the product in Israel as a whole. They claim that selling their brand in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory” is inconsistent with the company’s values and integrity.
This division between Ben and Jerry’s Jewish founders and Israel exactly highlights our main problem as a Jewish nation: the separation between us Jews. It is our separation that weakens our foundation and portends gloomy ramifications for our future. It is our internal division that invites attacks and boycotts and gnaws away at our strength.
Why can Jews be antisemites? It is because we Jews have a point that connects us to humanity’s corrected and unified state—“love your neighbor as yourself”—which we once discovered under Abraham’s guidance some 3,800 years ago. Together with that point, we also play host to the shattered egoistic desire, which opposes the point of unification, detaching us all from each other.
Every Jew accommodates this duality: an egoistic desire to receive, which seeks personal benefit at the expense of others, coupled with the altruistic point of unification that is attached to humanity’s peak unified state of development.
Whoever feels closer to the central point of unification is drawn to develop differently than those swept into the rat race of the masses, to positive connection in society. Whoever resists such development, letting the ego determine his or her goals and pleasures in life, is against unification, and is thus, according to its deeper definition, an antisemite.
Beyond differing political views, there are disputes about Jewish practices, legitimacy of certain denominations, distribution of funds and donations, and more. These are all weighty issues worthy of serious discussion. However, above and beyond all our disagreements and differences we must agree on this: No matter what, we need to stick together as one nation.
If we want to advance good causes, we need to start by setting an example of unity to humanity and by doing so, we will spread harmony to the entire world. It will give us the taste of our lives, as it is written in the book Maor VaShemesh, “When there are love, unity, and friendship between one another in Israel, no calamity can befall them and by that, all the curses and suffering are banished.”