The enemy of the Jew becomes the enemy of the world. That simple, albeit mysterious, historical rule has been repeatedly demonstrated. Regimes and ideologies that target Jews never stop there; they are imperialistic by nature, and begin by identifying the “other” — and Jews have been the quintessential other — and move on to target ever-larger circles.
So why is there not more sympathy for the Jewish people? Among the thousand theories perhaps there is no improving on Maurice Samuel’s simple declaration: “No one loves their alarm clock.” Jews have been the disturbers of the world’s sleep. Long before the Western world knew it was fighting a battle with radical Islam, Jews knew. That realization brought them more indifference or contempt than affection.
“The nations of the world will be blessed through you,” God says to Abraham. Pointedly, God does not add, “and they will love you for it.” For most of history, and in much of the world today, there is little love for the Jewish people and their mission. So we should celebrate the reality that in America, as the Pew study demonstrates, Jews have the highest esteem in the eyes of others of all religious groups. Eighty-five percent of Americans say they have a great deal of respect for the Jewish people. Many of our fellow citizens, it seems, trust their alarm clocks.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book, “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press), has recently been published.