Esor Ben-Sorek

Who Hates Whom?

Among a people who emphasize love…love of God, love of Torah, love of family…there exists among many thousands of Israeli Jews a contagious disease known as “selbst-haas” (self hate). Religious Jews hate secular Jews. Secular Jews hate ultra-Orthodox Jews. Ashkenazim hate Sephardim. Sephardim despise Ashkenazim. All hate Arabs. Fortunately most Israeli Jews love the Druze communities. Other than that, Love in Israel, it seems, is confined only to the bedroom.

A recent semi-poll asked Israelis who was the most hated man in Israel. No… it was not Bibi Netanyahu.

To my great surprise the name most mentioned was Avigdor Liberman. I simply could not believe it.

Who was the most loved man in Israel? No surprise. It is Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel.

Who is the most disliked woman in Israel? Again, no surprise. It is Sara Netanyahu, wife of our prime minister.

A few days ago, our Minister of Culture, Miri Regev made the following statement to the press:

“,,,,,, he is the most hated person, the person who caused us great damage and political chaos in the past year…. Holding a whole country hostage. All he cares about is his own ego”.

Reading it quickly I assumed she was referring to Benjamin Netanyahu but, on the contrary, I was totally shocked when she was referring to Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu political party.

Hatred is such a bitter pill to swallow, and so much of it (perhaps most of it) emanates from our national parliament, the Knesset.

Each week, as we examine the discussions and debates taking place in our legislature we are forced to ask ourselves “who hates whom this week?”

There is a rather unusual commandment given by God which states “v’ahavta rayacha kamocha”… You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Simply and directly commanded. But what if we do not love ourselves? How is it then possible to love our neighbor if we cannot and do not love ourselves?

In politics in every nation on the globe there are unkind remarks by one against another, there are insults, racial slurs, lies, defamation… all in one category called “hate”.

Is it not possible for us to disagree strongly with another minus the name-calling and the audible hatred?

In our pre-State days the Haganah and the Irgun and the Stern gang (Lehi) all hated one another with a burning hate, each group trying to eliminate the other group.

The hatred between Jew and fellow Jew was so intense due to rival competition for leadership that a former outstanding mayor of Jerusalem in recent times was reputed to have informed the British mandatory police where one group was hiding weapons and, as a result, members of the group were arrested by the British police and were imprisoned, some in Palestinian jails and some in jails far away from Palestine and their families.

Hatred is a bitter poison which destroys the fiber of one’s character.

Liberman hates the ultra-orthodox members in the Knesset and they retaliate by hating him. Benny Gantz does not hate Netanyahu but refuses to join a coalition government with him. A small dislike can eventually grow into a large degree of hate.

I do not understand Miri Regev’s label on Avigdor Liberman, proclaiming him as the most hated man in Israel. Did she take a national poll? What is the source of her “most hated man in Israel” claim? She omitted me in her “poll”.

I cannot at this instance name any member of the Knesset whom I hate, but there are much too many whom I vehemently dislike.

Perhaps in this new year Almighty God, Father of us all, will inspire my heart to love myself a bit more.

Only then will I be able to fulfill the commandment to love my neighbor as myself.

And as for Avigdor Liberman I would tell him, “Don’t worry. I do not hate you. Please pass me the bottle of vodka. Stolichnaya only. Thank you.
“Spasibo. Vodka ochen charosho” !

Now… can anyone tell me the news of this week? Who Hates Whom?

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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