Following a court ruling, a controversial ad is set to appear on NYC buses and subways. The ad will read: “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah,” and below it, the source of the quote: Hamas MTV.
Hilary Hanson, writing for Huffington Post, rightly took the trouble to explain that the ad is not against Jews, but against Muslims. The ad seems to focus more on controversy than on message. While the initiator of the ad, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), has won the legal battle against the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which tried to resist displaying it, in my view, this is more of a pyrrhic victory than a genuine triumph.At the end of the day, this ad is an act of hate, and hate never wins wars, certainly not for Jews. The Jewish people established themselves as a nation when they succeeded in overcoming a mountain of hatred, known as Mt. Sinai (from the Hebrew word, Sinah [hatred]). The war they fought and won was not against other people, but against their own egos and their hatred for one another. 11th century commentator, RASHI, tells us that by uniting “as one man with one heart,” they became a nation and merited receiving its ultimate law, “love your neighbor as yourself.”
After they had achieved all the above, they were given the task to be a light for the nations. That is, they became obliged to convey the unity they had achieved to all the nations of the world.
Since the essence of Judaism is unity and love, or at least, overcoming of hatred, exhibiting it, even toward one who hates you, puts us at odds with our nature and our vocation. Worse yet, the more we drift from our authentic selves, the more we fall into unfounded hatred, and instead of shining unity, we emit the opposite.
This creates a vicious cycle because projecting discord and disunity makes the nations treat us as warmongers, even though we have no intention of doing so. They feel this not because we are conspiring to incite conflict, but because they expect us to do the opposite. And when we fail to deliver peace, they blame us of causing war.
A famous Hebrew adage says, “Enters wine, out comes secret.” On that note, I think that slips of the tongue such as Mel Gibson’s, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” or General William Boykin’s, “The Jews are the problem; the Jews are the cause of all the problems in the world” should be taken at face value. Their subsequent apologies do not change how they truly feel, just the fact that they regret having verbalized it.
We cannot blame anti-Semites for being so, but we also cannot blame the Jews for being hated. It is no one’s fault, but a situation inadvertently incurred upon us through our unfounded hatred. And yet, only we, Jews, can put an end to it.
Just as we only fought ourselves when we became a nation, now we should fight ourselves when we seek to tackle anti-Semitism. Hatred of Jews does not happen for no reason; it is an expression of resentment at the Jews’ incompetence at projecting the trait that had made us a nation—unity, as one man with one heart, and love, to the extent that you love your neighbor as yourself. When we project these, we become a light for the nations. This is what they expect us to show. When we do not project this, we become the opposite, and they hate us for it.
If you consider the amount of negative attention that Israel in particular, and Jews in general, receive from the world—through UN resolutions, through world leaders, through mass rallies, and through boycotts and sanctions—it is clear that the nations expect us to meet a standard we are not meeting. They look to us for an example, and when we fail to show it, they exclaim.
Therefore, we need not look for culprits or plea with the world to be reasonable. Actually, as an anonymous anti-Semite wrote on Twitter, “What you [Jews] call ‘anti-Semitism,’ the rest of the world calls ‘common sense.’” All that we need to do is return to our roots, to the qualities that forged us as a nation and have given us strength throughout the generations. We need to reinstate the unity and mutual love that are the trademarks of our nation. When we do so, the world will have the example it needs. In a time of such chaos, alienation, and self-indulgence, only the values of empathy, unity, and love can restore social and global stability. These traits, inherent within us, are our legacy to the world; it is what we can and must inherit; it is all that the world needs from the Jews.