Eisenbud's Odyssey: Of hate and hope

The most invaluable lesson I learned about survival from Israelis is that the healthiest way to deal with the vitriol directed at this nation is to not succumb to it, but rather, to transcend it.

Israel remains a beacon of hope in a region of darkness 390 (photo credit: Lamberto Alvarez/MCT)
Israel remains a beacon of hope in a region of darkness 390
(photo credit: Lamberto Alvarez/MCT)
Hate is as much a pastime in the Middle East as bingo is at geriatric facilities, tailgating is at sporting events, or finger-painting is at kindergartens.
Unfortunately, I’m not being flippant.
Indeed, anti-Semitism is taught as part of the core-curriculum within Arab schools before children can read, and sharia law is rife with violence and intolerance.
Living here, you just kind of learn to accept it.
After all, when you inhabit a little speck of land surrounded by enormous, oil-rich countries with ideologies about Jews that would have made Hitler glow with pride, you have to become skilled at compartmentalizing the absurd incongruity of it all. The alternative is untenable.
I didn’t always think this way.
When I first moved here I wasn’t at all sure how one was expected to internalize the incandescent hatred directed at this country.
Was I supposed to speak incessantly about how much I hated our enemies in return? Celebrate every time a terrorist was killed by the IDF, Mossad or Shin Bet? Marinate in thoughts of their demise? The answer may surprise you.
ONE OF the most invaluable lessons I learned about survival from the many Israelis I have had the fortune to befriend is that the healthiest way to deal with all the vitriol is to not succumb to it, but rather, to transcend it.
To live in the moment, with as much joy as possible.
This is no easy task.
While Israelis – the vast majority of whom have served in the military – are acutely aware of the murderous hatred that tries to permeate our borders day after day, second after second, they also know from experience that giving in to the hate is a fool’s errand.
Indeed, I have found that the common denominator among Sabras is their majestic ability to rise above the odium that surrounds them and attempts to consume them.
It’s beautiful, and humbling, to behold.
CONVERSELY, THE most jarring hatred I have encountered since moving to this country a year and half ago – apart, of course, from that of terrorists – may also surprise you.
It comes from the nefarious breed of Jewish immigrant who comes already filled with rage, and the mistaken belief that Israel is somehow an acceptable venue for their hate because of the copious amounts surrounding it.
I have met all kinds of decent, well-intentioned immigrants who came to this country for varying reasons – ranging from Zionist and religious ideology and escape from political persecution, to general escapism and simple curiosity.
However, it is the immigrant with a mentality of anger that most upsets the balance here.
Such people feed off hate like ravenous sharks surrounded by chunks of fish in bloodied waters.
In my mind, I think of them as cancer cells that seek to spread their poison to the healthy cells around them until the environment they inhabit degenerates to their level.
They are easily identifiable, and definitively toxic – insouciantly peppering conversations with dehumanizing and cynical comments the way others speak about the weather or their favorite sporting team.
They come here thinking they have diplomatic immunity to espouse their negative energy because they are Jews.
They are wrong.
ONE OF the sagest bits of advice I ever learned from my father, a former senior executive at one of the most efficient corporations in the world, was this: “Come to me with solutions, not problems.”
The aforementioned group in no way comes here offering solutions.
Instead they revel in fueling an already absurdly out-of-control fire – all the while sucking the soul out of this country and giving nothing in return.
THE BEAUTY of Israelis is that they refuse to lower themselves to a bar our enemies have set to the depths of hell.
They embrace each day as much as possible, with the knowledge that tragedy can strike at any time.
They dance without inhibition at weddings and bar and bat mitzvas, and celebrate all happy events with authentic joy.
They prioritize their values based on the premise that they must make the most of the lousy hand they have been dealt.
We have much to learn from our Israeli brothers and sisters.
ANGER AND hate have their place – and are even necessary tools at times to combat evil.
Indeed, turning the other cheek in an existential struggle like this one is impractical and dangerous.
However, making hate one’s default mode only rots a society from within.
Just look at the theocracies surrounding us that have adopted hate as political doctrine.
Their people are utterly miserable.
THE FUTURE of this country is – and always has been – in the hands of men and women consumed with courage, vision, realism and hope.
That said, I’d like to respectfully remind the minority of malcontents who immigrate here to remember that the term aliya means “to rise.”
My suggestion to those who choose to sink rather than rise is to go back to where you came from.
You have nothing of substance to offer a country whose very survival is predicated on constructive thoughts and actions.
All you bring to the table is that which will expedite our destruction.
MARK TWAIN once said, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which is it poured.”
He was absolutely right.
The Israeli national anthem is called “The Hope,” but just as easily – and understandably – could have been called “The Hate.”
Sabras have wisely chosen hope over hate, knowing all too well the opprobrium the latter engenders.
That is what makes them truly great.
And the reason they will defy the unimaginable odds against them.