Not long ago, The Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by Conrad Myrland, CEO of a pro-Israel group in Norway. In the column, Myrland referenced a survey by the Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority, which stated that “32% of Norwegians think it is correct or somewhat correct that Israel treats the Palestinians as badly as the Jews were treated during World War II.” To Israelis, this sounds horrific. We, who live here, know how far this view is from the truth. But to many people around the world, not only to Norwegians, it seems perfectly reasonable. I cannot blame them for thinking this. Antisemitism will not pass until we make it pass by carrying out our obligation to bring unity and brotherhood to the world.
Norwegians, like many others around the world, cannot sense, much less sympathize with what the Nazis did to the Jews. Being antisemitic, they exploit every opportunity to slander Israel.
We need to understand that antisemitism is far from over. The misconceptions instilled in Norway’s youth today will create tomorrow’s Nazis, at least in terms of how they will treat Jews.
The struggle against antisemitism does not end. It needs to be tackled every single generation.
However, it is important to realize that tackling antisemitism means far more than forbidding antisemitic displays. Censorship is like aspirin to cancer; it may relieve the pain for a while but it will not cure it. Focusing the struggle only on curbing antisemitic displays is a strategic mistake and a lost cause regardless of the budgets we will pour into it.
The only way that we can mitigate, and even dissolve antisemitism is if we begin to take our obligation to the world seriously. We need to realize that the only reason we exist is to be a model society.
We were created as a nation that is held by unity, and whose nationhood depends on the level of its unity. All other nations have natural affiliation among their members, but the builders of our nation came from different tribes at different times, and the only thing that held them together was the idea that unity and love of others should transcend all divisions and hatred, even among rival nations. This is why we were tasked with being a model nation, to show humanity how to create unity even in the absence of natural, biological affinity.
Accordingly, when we mistreat each other, the world blames us of mistreating others not because we treat others the way the Nazis treated us, but because we are denying it the example we owe it. It may be counterintuitive but when we are kind to one another, the world is kind to us; and when we are cruel to one another, the world is cruel to us.
The numbers speak for themselves: If you look at condemnations that the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has issued, it is apparent that the world’s most tyrannical regimes get away with very little criticism, while Israel is constantly reproved. Between 2015-2021, for example, the UNGA issued 121 critical resolutions against Israel compared to 45 such resolutions against all other countries combined. Clearly, Norwegians are not alone in their critical stance on Israel. The world agrees with them.
If we are serious about “combatting” antisemitism, we have to combat the division within us. Unless we begin to strive to unite above the hatred and contempt we feel for one another, no efforts to lessen the world’s hatred toward us will succeed. Israel’s future depends not on its policy toward other nations or its efforts to explain its position to the world. It depends only on how Israelis treat each other, because when we deride each other, the world disdains us. When we support each other, the world approves of us.