In Churchill and the Jews: A Lifelong Friendship, acclaimed historian, Martin Gilbert, quoted Churchill as saying, “Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.”
I received numerous comments after my article in The New York Times, “Who Are You, People of Israel?” I’d like to relate to a specific type of criticism I received, which goes something like this: “By saying that Jews have a role in the world you are inciting anti-Semitism and providing fuel to the arguments that Jews are conceited and think they’re special.”
I have to say, I don’t see much to be conceited about being Jewish. But we are indeed special. I know that most Jews don’t feel special. But if everyone tells us that we are, and the constant attention our tiny nation receives proves it, there must be something about us that’s different.
If we listen to the accusations of many of the anti-Semites, we will see that they are blaming us of being immoral. It makes no difference that we set up makeshift clinics to treat Palestinian civilians during the Protective Edge campaign, or that we risked the lives of our own citizens as they scrambled to fix broken power lines that Palestinian mortar bombs tore. In fact, when we compare our moral standards to those of the Palestinians, the gap between us is so wide that there is really no room for comparison.
And that’s the problem. No one is comparing us to the Palestinians. We are desperately trying to be like all the other nations, but the nations insist that we’re not. They don’t compare us to other nations, but to a standard that subconsciously exists within them of what morals a Jew must follow. That’s the standard that we have to meet, and until we do, they will not leave us alone.
The nations look at us as the source of every problem in the world. But this, in turn, means that we can also bring the solution.
So what is the solution? It is the one thing we do not practice among us: unity. Today the Jewish people are more segregated than at any previous point in history. That segregation is spreading throughout the world, and causes segregation to prevail the world over. The nations will not be able to create social cohesion or solidarity within them until we do it first, within us. Then, as we are spreading disunity today, we will be spreading unity, and that will pave the way for the rest of the world to do the same.
To understand how people outside the Jewish faith regard our unity, let’s look at another excerpt from Prof. Gilbert’s book about Churchill, where he calls our unity “the corporate spirit”: “The Jews were a lucky community because they had that corporate spirit, the spirit of their race and faith. … That personal and special power which they possessed would enable them to bring vitality into their institutions, which nothing else would ever give. [Churchill believed without disrespect that] A Jew cannot be a good Englishman unless he is a good Jew.”
Spreading this message, the message of unity as a cure for the world’s problems, has been my life’s purpose for many years. In my public lectures, this is my main topic, and the lectures I love the most are those where the audience becomes engaged and asks challenging questions.
This coming Monday, November 3, I will give an open lecture titled, “Who Holds the Key to a Better Tomorrow?” at 7:30pm at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. It is my hope that Jews and non-Jews alike will come and fill the house, so that we can engage in a debate that will lead to greater unity. Humanity needs it now more than ever.
Looking forward to seeing you,