Not by bullets, tanks, or planes, but by fostering Jewish unity, we’ll get quiet
If you have a Jewish mindset, you see an eerie similarity. Just like 21 years ago, it’s the beginning of a Sabbatical year, and the Arab Street is seething.
(Don’t, for a second, assume this is spontaneous. It’s always orchestrated by the leaders of the Palestinian terrorist organizations like Chamas and the Palestinian Authority. For those too naïve still to see this: Remember the terrorist in charge of the PA promising elections, but then, stopping that by starting a war in Gaza, and having his men beat a challenger to death?)
The first step to prevent a repeat: asking what caused and what stopped it.
The Second Intifada was the simple expression of Jew-hatred. It was what a pogrom looks like under Jewish reign. There are many alternative, deep and sophisticated theories, but they mainly hide this simple truth. Antisemitism.
The Second Intifada stopped because it was too costly to the Arab leaders. They instigated murderous mobs and lone killers and lost thousands of young people with no gain at all. The Arab population started to object to being led into a war they couldn’t win. Enough of their blood shed already!
However, a generation has gone. There is a whole new generation that can again be fooled into sacrificing themselves on the altar of Jew-hatred.
And, of course, hatred of Jews in Palestine has not diminished.
So, what can we do? It seems that we are toothless in the face of so many people hating us. Well, there is a wise approach from our Sages that should not be overlooked. They teach we are not. Their answer is Jewish unity.
Enough already with the Left and the Right harping on how right they are and how dangerous all the others.
Enough already with the religious and the secular harping on how right they are and how dangerous all the others.
Enough already with Jews in the Diaspora and the Israeli Jews harping on how right they are and how dangerous all the others.
Three ways to foster unity practically, not just ideologically, are: don’t blame the victim, more baseless love among us, stop Jews slandering Jews.
These three approaches we need to understand in depth.
Don’t Blame the Victim
There is this urge to lay blame for Jew-hatred on Jews. Women didn’t cause sexism, Gays didn’t cause homophobia, Jews didn’t bring about Jew-hatred.
Antisemitism is a Gentile problem. They create it—they need to clean it up. We might help them, if we have time. But don’t say it’s our shame, our problem, of our making, or our responsibility to remove it.
Watch out for subtle blame: If only Israel would …, the world would .…
The notorious self-hatred and irritation (and worse) between Jews are reflections of the stress the oppression from Gentiles gives us. Instead of fighting the forces of evil, which is scary, we beat up each other. That’s why this is called baseless hatred: it’s never because of the rationales offered. It’s because of the unfounded hatred we receive from outside.
The solution is to respect and tolerate all Jews. To profess our innate connection and closeness. That’s a nice beginning. Love may come later. If a Jew holds by something truly horrendous, our hatred is not going to change them. We need to love them while telling them this is unbecoming of a Jew. We still may not reach them. But at least, we won’t split our People.
Simply hiding and withholding any lack of warmth is not enough. We need to actively welcome others, care about them, and smile at them, ask them how they are doing and how we can make their lives even more wonderful.
No More Jews Slandering Jews
Jewish Law strictly forbids saying or implying all derogatory or damaging things about a fellow Jew without a constructive purpose. This is whether we upset or hurt the other, cause damage, or foster resentment, or not.
We’re also forbidden from fully believing slander. Maybe a part is true, and a part is exaggerated. Maybe it’s a false alarm. Maybe it’s just (self-)hatred.
Reb Shlomo Carlebach always said: “You never know …” [to which height another could rise, against all expectations]. Being negative about others (or ourselves) could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We are not allowed to slander a fellow Jew, even not:
- When we’re really upset or scared (unless in a therapy session).
- When it’s fully true. (If it’s partly untrue the slander is even worse.)
- When we include ourselves in it: “I’m not better than them.”
- When we say things, everyone knows or thinks or says.
- When you’d also tell them this to their face (which is the worst sin).
- When you feel it’s deserved.
- When we don’t hate those we talk about. This is not a love song.
- When it’s customary, like in politics, the media, on social media.
- When we mean well, or even, when we claim we’re just joking.
- When we think or claim it’s an innocent remark.
- When it’s “only” to/about your partner, child, or close friend.
- When they say so themselves or won’t mind you saying this.
- When others more learned, wiser, or holier than us also do so.
- When we only hint that we dislike them.
- When you feel that you need this will defend your reputation.
- When you feel it just that someone (else) should be blamed.
- When we “only” report that others slandered them.
- When we reject being a religious/ethical “fanatic.”
- When what we say invites or provokes others to slander Jews.
Certain slander is worse than others. Slandering to more people (via the media), about religious or political leaders, dignitaries, the deceased.
We are also prohibited from slandering all Jews, any groups of Jews, the Jewish State, and the Holy Land and its state.
We don’t need to pretend that Israel is already a paradise on earth. But, when we are critical, it needs to be in a clear context.
We can say/write that we still have racism, but we need to add it plagues all of humankind, that in Israel, it’s illegal and outlawed, that a record number of Jews are active against it, and that more than half of the Jews in Israel are non-Caucasian.
We may say/write that there is poverty and neglect, but we must include that that’s a problem everywhere, in capitalist democracies and even more so under dictators. And that we’re still in a war for our survival taking much energy and money. Don’t blame Jews while they’re under Gentile attack.
We may say/write that there is incest, as long as we note it’s everywhere, and stress that it’s enabled by Jews generally being so naïve.
We may say/write there are many traffic casualties, but that Israeli drivers are excellent, avoiding the majority of collisions. It’s hard because so many are overworked, under-slept, stressed-out, with people from myriads of different cultures, habits, and expectations intersecting on the road.
Jewish infighting is doing the Antisemites’ dirty work for them.
Don’t listen to it. Don’t read it. And at least, don’t be amused by it.
Besides not slandering and not being interested in slander, we need to stop others from slandering. Say: “No, not those other Jews are dangerous. You are dangerous because you are divisive and sow discord.” Say: “You could be right, but what positives can you tell us about this?”
Yet, when we really need to warn against someone, we must make sure we have first-hand proof, don’t exaggerate, only warn someone who possibly would heed our warning, won’t cause excessive damage, and there is no other way to be protective. When someone warns us against a fellow Jew, we can’t fully believe it, but we’re allowed to take precautions.
Better to laud politicians and their ideas you like than trash the opposite. And if you must say something negative, try to trash ideas, not people.
This all is not from some privileged nationalistic solidarity to stand against others. Rather, this must stop Antisemitism from destroying Jews’ lives.
Slander against Gentiles is not forbidden, but it testifies to bad taste and can reflect badly on Jews, which is the worst sin. Make sure you distinguish between the villains and wicked leaders, and the bystanders and innocent.
Yes, it may feel frustrating that we can’t just air our sentiments as we feel like. But it’s to stamp out internalized Antisemitism. That’s a worthy goal if there ever was one. A trick to get rid of this frustration could be, laugh at it, mock it. Hahahah, I feel like slandering Jews. Hahahah, a fat bit of good that will do. Hahahah, this is the most ridiculous idea I ever had.
Worthy would also be if this could stop a third wave of pogroms in Israel.
Gentiles, not us, can rid the world of Jew-hatred. But we can take care of our end of it, the malicious effects on us. Our Sages say: That’s all it takes.
Surprisingly enough, unbridled baseless hatred between Jews is also exactly the only thing that keeps Redemption of all of humanity from happening.
Gentiles can help by urging and helping Jews to like each other.