Jewish self-hatred has to be addressed before antisemitism - opinion

Only by exposing and honestly re-examining the self-hatred we nurse can we heal as a nation.

 PEOPLE OF different sorts walk through the Mahaneh Yehuda market, in Jerusalem. Before we can truly address the threat of antisemitism, we need to confront the hatred we harbor for one another, says the writer.  (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
PEOPLE OF different sorts walk through the Mahaneh Yehuda market, in Jerusalem. Before we can truly address the threat of antisemitism, we need to confront the hatred we harbor for one another, says the writer.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Before we can truly address the threat of antisemitism, we as Jews need to confront the hatred we harbor for one another. Every time you speak negatively about those type of Jews, you are speaking hatred of your brothers and sisters.

Every time you say that “those” Jews have a goyishe cup, you are calling Jews stupid. Every time you pigeonhole a group of Jews based on the actions of one Jew, you are stereotyping and condemning a whole sector of Jews.

When you speak in any of these terms, you only reinforce the hatred against Jews. Before we can truly address the treat of antisemitism, we need to first confront the scorn and disdain we have for other Jews. Whether you know it or not, when you utter your hatred of other Jews aloud, you become Brutus: the dagger in the heart of Caesar. Unwittingly, you reinforce Jew-hatred.

When specific Jews are attacked in one neighborhood, if you have the feeling, “it hasn’t happened here yet”, you are deluding yourself that it is happening to all of us, everywhere. Terrorists don’t care if you support or denounce Israel, they don’t care if you wear or don’t wear a kippah. All Jews are prime targets.

Only by exposing and honestly re-examining the self-hatred we nurse can we heal as a nation. Only when we can live and let live can we become more unified. The term Jewish nation, feels odd to say, due to the polarization between the streams. We don’t consider ourselves a nation. However, we can unify around core concepts, despite differences in practices.

 ANTISEMITIC VERBIAGE and images. (credit: CST) ANTISEMITIC VERBIAGE and images. (credit: CST)

All or nothing thinking is, in and of itself, elitist and exclusionist. It is also emotionally exhausting! When one keeps the mitzvot and practices in a spirit of joy, it invites the admiration and respect of others. When one starts to compare their practice to other Jews, exclusionary, elitist and judgmental thinking are fostered. Aren’t these emotions the opposite of halachic intention?

Practicing Judaism with expectation of gratitude from other Jews, sows the bitter seeds of hatred. Joyous servitude to the creator should spread joy to all other areas of life, including an acceptance of other types of Jews. Breaking the shackles of resentment and substituting love of doing, must be the reason behind the service or the service itself becomes impure and invalidated.

Progressive Judaism prides itself on working for the common good of society. Women’s rights and feeding the poor are a few examples. There are passionate Jews willing to commit to the betterment of society. They have a do-good mentality. They push the limits for what we think is possible and attempt to make the world a better place.

They believe that the Torah gives them the strength to promote change, without having to be so outmoded and shackled by the traditions. When this power is harnessed, so many good things can come towards righting the wrongs and making the world a better and just place. We will thus be a fulfilling the verses of the Torah about peace, unity and beating the sword into plowshares.

Justified hate

HOWEVER, WHEN progressive Jews compare their work to the primitiveness of their “Neanderthal” religious brethren, it too turns elitist, egotistical and ugly. Their works of good, sows the seeds of hatred and becomes chock full of bitter hatred. All the good previously done is invalidated with hatred of brethren.

We are living in a time when hatred is justified, violence is glorified and laws/rules are thrown by the wayside. Many people are suffering and lose their lives as a result. Antisemitism arises from this chaos. No Jew is safe. Riots, shootings, and lawlessness increases antisemitism and has been affecting all of the Jewish people.

Our hatred of one another is not confined to Jews of other streams. Our organization, Herut North America, has a PR director, Hungarian-born, who virulently defends Israel. In her spare time, she writes on her blog about the hypocrisy and the unfair treatment that Israel receives in media, campuses and political organizations. She also debunks BDS. However, because she is not Jewish, instead of getting praise for standing up for Israel, she often receives criticism.

Critics from all sides attack her efforts. The derogatory word “goy” is sprinkled into these negative responses. As a result, her well-intentioned efforts, which reach so many non-Jews and Jews alike, are met with scorn and ridicule. This hatred for her support of Israel is often perpetrated by Jews. Despite this hatred, she perseveres because of her love for Israel. Once she learned about the Hungarian Jews’ tragic fate in her hometown in Hungary during World War II, combined with her visits to Israel, her staunch support of Israel has grown. We should be welcoming her, not throwing rocks at her, so to speak.

We are all cogs in a wheel, links in a chain, and when one link is fractured, the integrity of the chain is broken. We can only strengthen the links in this chain by adopting a more open mindset and a welcoming attitude for all types of Jews.

Consider not speaking words of hatred. Consider finding commonalities between Jews whether it be studying the traditional texts, history, Israel, helping the poor or other mitzvot. Consider that all Jews are different and embrace this acceptance.

Acceptance of others will do more for our people than mitzvot and social causes alone. If our causes crush our relationship to other Jews, then it is not a cause that can be wholesome and sustaining for us as the Jewish people. Consider that the Second Temple was destroyed because of this: baseless hatred between Jews.

Adding to animosity at large ultimately engenders more hatred and more violence. As we encounter more and more antisemitism, the importance of being kind towards one another is reiterated. Despite the hatred around us, we can use the destructive threat of antisemitism to spur us into favorable relations with one another.

It is only when we can stand united and put aside our differences that we can truly present a unified front against antisemitism. Internal strife only weakens our ability to confront antisemitism. Isn’t it time we replaced our hatred with understanding for the fractured nation called the Jewish people? First rid your hatred of one another and together we can confront the antisemitism more effectively.

The writer is chairman of Herut North America’s US Division. Herut is an international movement for Zionist pride and education. In 2020, Goldstein was a delegate to the 38th World Zionist Congress for Herut. Visit Herut’s website at https://herutna.org.