Entries in the 'New Publications' Category

JPost: “The Happiness We (Wish We Could) Have”

The Jerusalem Post published my new article “The Happiness We (Wish We Could) Have

The ego causes all of our wars, but it is not an enemy. If we use it right, by connecting ourselves to each other above our egos, we will learn how all of nature works.

On Monday, we commemorated the International Day of Happiness. Since 2013, it has been commemorated every March 20th.

Happiness is a challenging feeling to describe. Nevertheless, certain preconditions must be met in order for us to feel happy, or at least content: peace, stability, security of basic needs, and the ability to realize our full potential. Regrettably, today there seems to be anything but peace and stability. The Middle East is always on the verge of explosion, but now more than ever due to the involvement of Russia and the US in Syria. At the same time, Europe is torn between extreme left and extreme right, primarily around the immigration issue. The United States has sunk into internal bickering since the last elections, and antisemitism and violence have skyrocketed there. Russia is on the brink of an economic meltdown; Africa is suffering its worst famine since World War II, and China and Japan are both teetering economically and are concerned about North Korea’s nuclear threats.

In short, the world is on edge, and instability is no recipe for happiness.

On Envy, Lust, and Honor

What makes matters even worse is our growing self-absorption. We are becoming increasingly indifferent to the people around us and hostile toward anyone who offers a different view than ours. Too often, we regard anyone or anything that contradicts our view of reality as an enemy and feel as though only our view is valid. This creates a sense of entitlement, which leads to intolerance resulting from the denial of all other views. This is a recipe for violence induced entirely by narcissism, meaning egoism.

Throughout history, there has rarely been any reason for war other than egoism. Dressed as the pursuit of honor, wealth, or dominance, the ego has always been the primary cause of war.
Egoism is a uniquely human trait. All other creatures fight for survival and procreation, but have no regard for social status or desire to deliberately harm others. Conquistadors such as Alexander the Great or Napoleon do not exist in the animal kingdom simply because animals have no sense of history, no pride to cater to, and therefore no desire to take more than they need for sustenance. Their desires are restricted to securing their immediate existence.

Humans are different. The Mishnah tells us: “Envy, lust, and honor remove one from the world” (Avot 4:21). Envy is the key to understanding why we aren’t happy. It causes us to compete with others over power and respect, thereby making us constantly dissatisfied. As a result, as long as we are servants of our envy of others, we are doomed to dissatisfaction, frustration, competition, and worst of all—to hatred of others. In such a state, we cannot be happy.

Yet, the ego also pushes us to develop. Thanks to the ego, we drive to the supermarket to buy what we need, or better yet, order it online without setting foot outside, instead of dicing with death hunting mammoths. We also switch on the A.C. and set it to the desired temperature instead of warming ourselves by a cave fire and covering ourselves with animal fur. The ego has given us many great things, but if we conduct ourselves correctly going forward, we will be able to obtain far more precisely by using our egos.

Piecing the Puzzle

In animals, desires are restrained by nature. The interactions between the self-interests of the species and the limitations imposed on them by the environment create a balance that guarantees the thriving of all the species within the ecosystem.

Perhaps the best description I have heard to date of the mechanism by which nature balances its elements came from evolutionary biologist Prof. Elisabet Sahtouris. In November 2005, I was invited to speak at a conference in Tokyo titled, “Creating a New Civilization,” which was organized by the Goi Peace Foundation. Among the speakers was Prof. Sahtouris, who offered a concise description of the interactions between the forces that make life possible. “In your body,” she said, “every molecule, every cell, every organ and the whole body, has self-interest.” However, “When every level shows its self-interest, it forces negotiations among the levels. This is the secret of nature. Every moment, in your body, these negotiations drive your system to harmony.”

But what works for human bodies, does not work for the human psyche. Within us, evil in the form of egoism prevails through and through, as the Torah tells us, “The inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21).

Yet, the absence of balance between self-interest and the interest of the environment provides us with the opportunity to create this balance by ourselves. It is as if nature has given us a puzzle whose pieces are all apart, and we must piece the puzzle back together. However, nature is also helping us achieve this because nature itself is the picture we must create when we connect all the pieces correctly. The reward at the end of the work is that by learning how the pieces connect, we also learn how nature works.

The ego is not our enemy; it is the substance keeping the pieces apart until we fit them into one another correctly, in accord with nature’s image. In this way, we learn how nature builds its mechanisms and maintains its balance.

As with any puzzle, one part’s protrusion is another’s dent. That is, instead of using our advantages to patronize others and feel superior to them, we should use them to “fill up the dents,” the disadvantages in others. When others do the same toward us, we create a solid and complete picture of reality.

People love to put together puzzles and to build things out of kits because this is how nature teaches us, and we’re just replicating the way that nature instructs us to find its secrets. If we could grasp this notion and relate to our egos in this way, we wouldn’t be competing with each other in the ruthless way we do today. Instead, we would attempt to climb above our egos and connect. In the process, we would learn how everything in nature fits together.

Making the Impossible Happen

We strive to be the masters of nature. But before we master nature, we must master our own nature. Learning how nature puts everything harmoniously together is the first step toward this. Once we have mastered the art of connection above the ego, we will be able to develop our species favorably for ourselves and for posterity.

Kabbalists and Jewish sages have known the principles for achieving balance and connection for millennia. They have been teaching them to their students in seclusion, but today’s rampant selfishness dictates that the entire world learns how to balance our unruly egos. This is why since the early 20th century, these wise individuals have been making every effort to make the paramount importance of connection over egoism known throughout the world.

In this respect, the book Likutey Etzot (Assorted Counsels) describes the correct approach toward attempting to connect: “The essence of peace is to connect two opposites. Hence, do not be alarmed if you see a person whose view is the complete opposite of yours and you think that you will never be able to make peace with him. Also, when you see two people who are completely opposite to each other, do not say that it is impossible to make peace between them. On the contrary, the essence of peace is to try to make peace between two opposites.”

In the beginning of this column, I said that happiness comes when we have peace, stability, security of sustenance of basic needs, and we can realize our full potential. Only if we adopt a positive and creative approach toward the ego, as was mentioned in the quote above, we will be able to establish a society that meets these criteria for happiness. The puzzle will not be complete until we follow the example of nature’s complete picture, where all the parts complement one another. Just as children learn how to put the pieces of the puzzle together, so must we. But in so doing, we will be assembling the pieces of our lives and the pieces of human society, thereby guaranteeing our happiness now and for the future.
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Haaretz: “Good News! It’s OK to Talk about Anti-Semitism in America”

In my regular column in Haaretz, my new article: “Good News! It’s OK to Talk about Anti-Semitism in America

…because now we can talk about its causes and solutions.

In just over a month, more than 100 JCCs and synagogues received bomb threats and were forced to evacuate, three Jewish cemeteries were vandalized, one synagogue was shot at while people were inside, and swastikas were painted on buildings and cars.

“I raced from work twice after getting texts saying the kids had all been moved out of the building,” said one mother in the Midwest, who asked not to be named so as not to draw more attention from “whatever sick people are making these threats.”

“I know it could happen anyplace, but the fact that lately the calls are happening at the JCC makes you constantly on edge,” said Allison Vitagliano, whose 4-year-old son was evacuated from his preschool at the JCC of Central New Jersey.

“I’m realizing I live in a naive bubble because I don’t understand where this hatred is coming from. I knew there was discrimination against Muslims, Mexicans, black people, gay people, but it’s strange to me that this is happening to Jewish people. I thought we were past that and we could focus on supporting the other groups who are under attack,” said Taylor, a former board member of the preschool at the JCC in Maitland, Fla.

“I’d be lying if I said that neither of us were scared,” said Alison Levy, who asked not to name her child’s day school, fearing that it could be targeted again.

Monday after school, Honora Gathings’ daughter didn’t greet her when she got home like she usually does. Instead, she said, “We had a Code Black.”

The media presents this wave of Jew-hatred as a new trend in America, but it is not. During the Obama Administration, there were no less than 7,000 anti-Semitic incidents in the US, but they went largely unreported by the mainstream media for political reasons. Now that the administration has changed and the media is no longer obliged to protect the White House, we can finally speak openly about anti-Semitism in America and ponder what this means for US Jewry.

Hatred Like No Other

First, we must not be naïve, as Taylor put it in the above quote. Anti-Semitism is the oldest, most tenacious hatred; it will outlive all other hatreds. There is a special characteristic to Jew-hatred: It is not really hatred of the Jews, but rather anger at the Jews.

The reason for this anger stems from our origin and our purpose. The Jewish people is like no other people. Its first manifestation came into existence nearly 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. At that time, Abraham, the son of a Babylonian priest called Terah, noticed that something bad was happening to his countryfolk. Despite the abundance of food and water in the land, the Babylonians became increasingly discontent with one another, and gradually grew angry and hostile toward each other, putting their thriving civilization at risk. The book Pirkey de Rabbi Eliezer describes how the builders of the Tower of Babylon “wanted to speak to one another but did not know each other’s language. What did they do?” the book asks. “Each took his sword and they fought each another to the death. Indeed, half the world was slaughtered there, and from there they scattered all over the world.”

Abraham was deeply troubled by the woes of his people, the Babylonians, and began to reflect on their problem, as Maimonides describes in detail in Mishneh Torah (Chapter 1). Finally, Abraham realized that the hatred erupting throughout his country was unstoppable; it was a force of nature. Abraham also realized that people’s hatred for each other would only grow over time because of the uncontrollable jealousy innate in human nature. Envy makes us not only want to have enough, but to have more than others and become superior to them.

Our sages summarized this trait of human nature with two famous truisms: 1) “The inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21). 2) “A man does not leave the world with half his desire in his hand. Rather, if he has one hundred, he wants to have two hundred, and if he has two hundred, he wants to have four hundred” (Kohelet Rabah 3:13).

Understanding that he could not stop the intensification of the hatred, Abraham looked for a solution in nature. He observed that in nature, the negative force of destruction is balanced by equally strong positive force of connection. Today we know that protons and electrons would not be able to maintain a balanced structure of an atom without the two forces of attraction and rejection balancing each other out, and that this balance is maintained through all the levels of existence. The revelation of the balance between forces inspired Abraham to formulate a new mode of conducting human society.

Instead of trying to enforce laws that suppress the intrinsically egoistic human nature, efforts that invariably fail because our hatred for each other is ever growing, Abraham determined that we should reinforce our unity instead. Rather than focus on the bad, Abraham said, focus on the good—on mercy, love, compassion, and unity. While nature balances the positive and negative forces naturally, humans have to do this consciously.

A Notion for All the Nations

As soon as Abraham realized that he had found the key to the misery of the Babylonians, he began to spread the news wherever he could. Alas, his king, Nimrod, resented Abraham’s ideas. Instead of adopting the idea of unity above hatred, Nimrod chased Abraham out of Babylon.

But as the expat wandered toward Canaan, he kept speaking of his revelation. According to Maimonides, “thousands and tens of thousands assembled around him, and they are the people of the house of Abraham. He planted this tenet in their hearts, composed books about it, and taught his son, Isaac. And Isaac sat and taught and warned, and informed Jacob, and appointed him a teacher, to sit and teach… And Jacob our Father taught all his sons” (Mishneh Torah, Chapter 1). Finally, a tribe that knew the law of unity was formed. Abraham’s posterity continued to develop his method until finally, King Solomon capped it with one verse: “Hate stirs strife, and love covers all crimes” (Prov 10:12).

Abraham never intended for his idea to be the sole possession of his group. He wished to help the entire Babylonian civilization, and was forced to abandon his plan only because Nimrod forced him out of Babylon. Abraham’s disciples knew this and circulated the new ideas to anyone who wished to listen. When Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt, he, too, wanted to impart the notion of unity over hatred to everyone. In his commentary on the Torah, the Ramchal wrote that “Moses wished to complete the correction of the world at that time. … However, he did not succeed because of the corruptions that occurred along the way.”

Since the world could not be corrected at the time, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob became entrusted with the method and were tasked with serving as “a light unto nations.” The nation of Israel that was born at the foot of Mt. Sinai merited the title “nation” only after its members committed to unite “as one man with one heart.” This unique method of formation of a nation cemented their peoplehood so strongly that despite the efforts of the Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman empires to destroy them, they have all faded into the annals of history, while the Jews continue to exist.

The task that we received, to be “a light unto nations,” is the task to spread the method of unity above hatred that Abraham discovered and his descendants perfected. The hatred we perceive as anti-Semitism derives from our obligation to the nations to deliver this method of connection, the ability to unite above hatred.

Approximately 2,000 years ago, we succumbed to hatred and abandoned our unity, thinking that the Roman culture would be more advantageous to us. In consequence, we not only lost our land, but we also “gained” the hatred of the nations—without a light unto nations, they had no hope of covering their own hatred of each other and were therefore doomed to everlasting wars. This is why anti-Semites such as Mel Gibson and retired General William Boykin blame us for all the wars in the world. Without our example, they feel hopeless and turn their anger at us.

Throughout the centuries, we have been accused of every conceivable and inconceivable crime. We have been blamed for controlling the media, usury, blood libels of various forms, well poisoning, dominating the slave trade, disloyalty to our host countries, organ harvesting and AIDS spreading. Over the years, communists accused us of creating capitalism, and capitalists accused us of inventing communism. Christians accused us of killing Jesus, and acclaimed French historian and philosopher François Voltaire accused us of inventing Christianity. We have been labeled warmongers and cowards, racists and cosmopolitans, spineless and unbending, and so on and so forth.

All of this happened to us because we abandoned our unity. When we are united, we are not only strong, but the world has hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. When we are separated, we are not a Jewish people anymore, but the riffraff that we were before Abraham assembled us into a tribe that knew the path of unity.

Our Hatred of Each Other Makes Us Hated

Today’s anti-Semitism in America is no different from any other anti-Semitism throughout the ages. It is the anger of the American non-Jews at the Jews for not showing the path of unity. Many people already link the increasing fragmentation in American society to the rise in anti-Semitism. They are correct in this because the people who are supposed to be a role model of unity are role models of tribal hatred instead. Just look at what is happening in our communities: People of different political views cannot spend holidays together and sometimes even divorce over who voted for whom!

Our hatred of each other causes Americans to hate us even more. They will end out blaming the Jews for their division and nothing that the Jews can say will convince them otherwise.

If we want to end anti-Semitism in America, then we Jews must first unite among ourselves .Liberal Jews and conservative Jews must rise to the occasion, put aside their differences, and unite in order to save themselves. Otherwise, the hatred that will develop in America will be as powerful, if not more so than the one that engulfed Germany in the 1930s, and whose consequences we commemorate each year .We can already see this happening; we must not wait until it’s too late. Our task is to unite above our differences, just as our forefathers did, and put all else—including politics—aside.

Unity in today’s political climate may seem impossible, but it is not at all so. Throughout the world, people are realizing that unity above all differences is the key to their happiness. They come together for unity events and discover that same “social cement” that Abraham discovered nearly four millennia ago. The next event to take place in the US will be on May 4-7 in New Jersey. Nearly one thousand people of all religions, races, and backgrounds will attend, and I hope that the warmth they will experience there will reinforce their conviction that unity above differences is the only viable way to create a sustainable, prosperous society.
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JPost: “UN Turns Starvation Into A Cash Cow”

The Jerusalem Post published my new article “UN Turns Starvation Into A Cash Cow

UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs: “More than 20 million people face starvation and famine” Where has he been until now? Gorging with the rest of his lot at their expense.

Less than a week ago, Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief stated, “More than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease.” Mr. O’Brien also said “$4.4bn was needed by July to avert disaster.”

Here is what I’d like to know: Mr. O’Brien has been in office for nearly two years now. What has he been doing all this time? What has the UN been doing? Starvation of twenty million people does not happen overnight. Why has the UN not sounded the alarm before? All of a sudden, the Internet and newsfeeds are inundated with harrowing images of emaciated children. Could the UN not tell the world about this when only five or ten million people were starving? Apparently, someone in that defunct institution calculated that it requires no less than twenty million starving people to redeem a ransom of $4.4 bn by July.

The billions of dollars the organization already receives could have cured the world’s hunger problems several times over. They could have shipped a few million of the 1.3 billion tons of excess food trashed each year and solved this crisis, but they have no interest in doing so. Starving children bring in donations. Feeding them would dry up the flow of money and kill this cash cow.

More than anything, Mr. O’Brien’s declaration is an admission that the UN is rotten to the core. The sole interests of the politicians and diplomats who serve in it are their paychecks and promoting their careers. For example, consider this piece of information coming from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). On its Frequently Asked Questions page, UNICEF USA refutes the “vicious” and unsubstantiated rumor that Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, “earns more than $1 million.” In truth, the organization proclaims, Mrs. Stern “earns $521,820.” Indeed, a CEO who is a role model of austerity.

The Root Cause of Our Problems

The growing decadence of the UN should not surprise us. It goes hand in hand with humanity’s exponential growth of self-absorption and narcissism. To find a real alternative to the nations’ governing body, we need to start by addressing the root cause of all the problems.

In 1964, Nobel Prize laureate in physics Dennis Gabor wrote, “Till now man has been up against Nature; from now on he will be up against his own nature.” In fact, we have been up against our own nature since Biblical times, when we learned that all of our problems are because “The inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21). Still, until recently, when we began to realize the great harm that excessive selfishness inflicts on the world, we obstinately tried to circumvent the problem rather than solve it.

Over the eons, humanity has tried every conceivable form of governance in search of the ideal way to balance our need for social connections with our inherent self-centeredness. Slavery, feudalism, capitalism, liberalism, fascism, communism, and Nazism have all been part of the trail of blood and suffering we call “the annals of human history.” Still, we have not found a single form of governance that is both sustainable and guarantees the well-being of all people. And the reason we have not found one is that, not only are we narcissistic and selfish to the core, but are also growing incrementally more so exponentially! Now we are at a tipping point. We have become so apathetic to each other that if we do not find a remedy for the ills of human nature, media outlets will soon regard twenty million starving people as not newsworthy.

To truly help ourselves, we must address two issues. The first is provision of sustenance. In a world where so much food gets lost or wasted, it is unacceptable that human beings should starve. The food already exists. All we need is to collect and ship it where it’s needed.

The second issue to address concerns prevention. This entails a long-term program that will ultimately change the way we think and feel about the world—from the current exploitative mindset to a more balanced and sustainable approach.

The Secret of Our Nation

In a TED talk given in May 2010, acclaimed American sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis stated that human beings form a kind of superorganism. Approximately eighty years prior, acclaimed commentator on The Book of Zohar Rav Yehuda Ashlag wrote, “We have already come to such a degree that the whole world is considered one collective and one society. …In our generation, when each person is aided for his happiness by all the countries in the world … the possibility of leading a good, happy, and peaceful life in one country is inconceivable when it is not so in all the countries in the world.” To this, Ashlag added, “People have not yet grasped this,” but stressed that it is only because “the act comes before the understanding, and only actions will prove and push humanity forward.” In other words, we will not feel that we are a single superorganism (as Christakis put it) until we begin to act the part.

This begs the question: How could such a deeply divided world operate as one superorganism? Consider this curious fact: The only nation to have survived since antiquity is the Jewish nation. The Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman nations have all vanished, and only Judaism remains. Scholars, philosophers, philo-Semites and anti-Semites throughout the ages have pondered, “What is the secret of his immortality?” as Mark Twain asked about the Jew.

The answer lies in a fundamental difference between the Jews and all other nations. The secret to our endurance is the adhesive of unity. The early Jews came from different tribes and cultures. The only thing that held them together was an idea that Abraham had taught them: Mercy and love are the foundation stones upon which to build society. Whenever the ego erupts, do not fight or part ways, but cover it with love instead. The wisest of all men, King Solomon, succinctly summarized Abraham’s principle: “Hate stirs strife, and love covers all crimes” (Proverbs 10:12).

Living by this approach has held the Jews together through crises and wars for approximately 1,500 years—from Abraham’s time until the ruin of the Second Temple some two millennia ago. Moreover, history has proven that the “cement” of unity that covers egoism is so strong that it not only sustained the Jewish people longer than any other nation, but also kept them intact through countless attempts to destroy and disperse them. Although today’s Jews have lost that special unity that had sustained them for centuries, the persistent strength of that adhesive is still strong enough to keep our nation in existence.

Successful Proof of Concept

The historic fact of our unique survival is the key to solving the world’s problems. Unity over egoism is the one mode of governance the world has not yet tried. Faced with the risk of another world war, mass starvation, accelerated global warming, and pollution of natural resources, I think we simply must give this approach a serious consideration. Of all unlikely people, it was notorious anti-Semite Henry Ford who wrote, “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.” On this point, he could not be more right.

As Ashlag said, “the act comes before the understanding.” Today, we are implementing Abraham’s principle of unity above enmity de facto. After numerous successful unity events throughout the world, including in conflict zones such as Israel, with Arabs and Jews, we are certain that we can reinstate our forefathers’ method on a large scale (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3 [the latter is in Hebrew, switch on the Subtitles option]).

In my view, until we deal with the heart of the problem—the egoism in human nature—and do so specifically in the way that Abraham bequeathed to his disciples, by bonding atop their animosity, we will find no relief to our woes. The notion that we need not suppress our unruly egos, but simply exert to unite above them may be a novel idea to some, but in my view, we have run out of options. The implementation of Abraham’s method is the only way to spare humanity many more years of needless torment.
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My Articles In The Media, February 2017

In English

The Jerusalem Post

The Road From Liberalism To Tyranny
American Society Headed Toward a Breaking Point
Donald Trump vs. ‘Liberalism,’ Round 1

Haaretz

Ruling Elite and Pseudo-Liberalism—an Explosive Combination
The Dems Smear Campaign Can Put Us All in Trouble
Liberals, Republicans, and the Jews Between Them

The Huffington Post

How Trump Can Tweet His Way Towards American Stability
Liberals, Republicans, and the Jews Between Them

Jewish Business News

Michael Laitman: “The Road From Liberalism To Tyranny
Michael Laitman:” Global Peace Event Brings Together Liberals And Conservatives
Michael Laitman: “Unsettling ‘Liberal’ Behavior Calls For A New Socio-Political Order

Blogactiv

Liberals, Republicans, and the Jews Between Them

In French

The Times of Israel

Pourquoi le militantisme politique juif conduit-il à l’antisémitisme?
Un regard sobre sur l’interdiction d’immigration de Trump et les protestations soulevées

In Italian

Blogactiv

Il vero motivo per cui Aleppo è così importante
Trump potrebbe ‘Tweettare’ la sua via per condurre l’America alla stabilità
I Liberali, i Repubblicani e gli Ebrei fra di loro
Donald Trump contro il ‘Liberalismo’,  primo round
Lo sconvolgente comportamento dei “Liberali” richiama un nuovo ordine socio politico
La tendenza ultra “liberale” del farsi giustizia da sé, o, come gli Ebrei invocano l’antisemitismo

The Huffington Post

Trump potrebbe ‘twittare’ la sua via per condurre l’America alla stabilità
Il vero muro che Trump avrebbe bisogno di abbattere
Il primo incarico per Trump: riunire l’America

In Spanish

Blogactiv

Tras la reunión Trump-Netanyahu, hablemos de paz
El mundo contra Donald J. Trump

United with Israel

El mundo contra Donald J. Trump

The Huffington Post

Tras la reunión Trump-Netanyahu, hablemos de paz
Liberales, Republicanos y los judíos entre ellos
Bajo el disfraz del socioliberalismo

In German

Blogactiv

Trumps Hauptaufgabe – Überwindung der tiefen Spaltung

The Huffington Post

Hinter der Maske des Liberalismus
Der Weg vom Liberalismus zur Tyrannei

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The Algemeiner: “How Purim Can Help Us Navigate Today’s Political Reality”

The Algemeiner published my new article: “How Purim Can Help Us Navigate Today’s Political Reality

The social divide in America is violently escalating. The whirlwind of accusations between the political Left and Right continues to spiral downwards. We seem to be hitting new lows on a daily basis.

Making sense of this political landscape is becoming ever more difficult—because each side refuses to engage with the other. This general atmosphere of social polarization has also led to an alarming wave of antisemitic acts, which has led to even more accusations and fighting.

The famous verse from the Book of Esther—“The city of Shushan is perplexed”—sounds just right for today’s America.

The silver lining, however, is that confusion and uncertainty always present an opportunity to reassess our values and priorities. The blind division between left and right keeps us confined to our primal instincts—but confusion might be a step towards helping us find consensus again.

Insights from the story of Purim

The story of Purim took place in ancient Persia, at a time when Jews found themselves under an existential threat.

Haman knew that the Jews were divided, and that he could use this to get rid of them. The Megillah tells us that “there is a nation dispersed between other nations, and Haman said that in his opinion, they will succeed in getting rid of the Jews for they are in a state of separation from one another.”

But the hero of the story Mordechai worked to correct this division—and this ultimately redeemed the Jewish people: “The Jews unified, and by that they were saved.”

The ancient story of Purim holds great meaning for Jews today—and for America in general. But who is the modern day Haman? Who is the true perpetrator of division?

Some will easily blame President Trump, while others will blame the Democrats and liberals. Yet beyond accusations and personifications, we could also say that today’s Haman is the mindset of division—the desire to seek power at any cost—which enslaves us, harms us, and blinds us from what we are doing to each other.

Changing course

Amid this social turbulence, we must find the voice inside of us that calls for shared purpose and connection—because this is the very thing that will bring America and the world closer to peace and harmony.

Every time that the Jews were threatened with extermination, it was our commitment to unity that allowed us to prevail and survive. Today, Jews must remember this history, and set a positive example for everyone.

And while Jews have a prime responsibility to be a model for choosing connection over division, Americans of all stripes must choose this course of action before it is too late. Our fate is in our hands.

Happy Purim to all.
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Haaretz: “A Farewell To US Politics”

In my regular column in Haaretz, my new article: “A Farewell to US Politics

We can still prevent a catastrophe of horrific magnitude from happening to US Jewry, but the choice lies squarely with the Jews.

On February 23, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns of The New York Times wrote about “an incensed army of liberals demanding no less than total war against President Trump.” Then came the violent clashes during the March 4 pro Trump rallies and, on the same day, the video incitement of former Attorney General of the Obama Administration, Loretta Lynch, for “ordinary people” to fight (if need be) to the death against the Trump Administration. Even worse, her video was “posted on the Facebook page of Senate Democrats and touted as ‘words of inspiration.’”

We are witnessing the end of US politics. The codes of conduct that have dominated diplomacy until November 8, 2016 have been tossed out as soon as the results of the election came in. Now we can see who are the real “basket of deplorables.” In today’s America, liberal zealots detest, denigrate, beat up, and as we have just seen, have declared an all-out war on anyone who does not agree with them. When a former Attorney General says that it is justified to kill other people for their political views, this qualifies as Nazism. And those who support her declaration are, by definition, Nazis, too.

From Narcissism to Nazism

There is a very clear line leading from extreme self-absorption to any kind of extremism, including Nazism. Over the past several decades, the prevalence of narcissistic tendencies in people of all socio-economic levels has increased exponentially. There is a good reason why The New York Times raved about thee book The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, stating that “The evidence Twenge and Campbell [authors] have compiled is compelling and appalling.” It was an eye-opener for many of us.

Looking after oneself is not narcissism. It is etched in our genes as a means to guarantee our survival. Yet, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, we have gradually shifted away from survival mode and into self-indulgence. Our growing ability to secure our income has led us to engage in all kinds of entertainment and exploration of ourselves and the world. The problem is that over time, we have become so preoccupied with our own feelings that young people today can barely see anything beyond their own needs.

In the political arena, liberals, like the rest of us, have also grown increasingly narcissistic. The liberal mindset arose as a backlash against the fascism that took over much of Europe and eventually led to the outbreak of World War II. Its initial intention was good: to guarantee the freedom of thought of each person and prevent discrimination. But today, the noble ideas of pluralism have been distorted into a mindset of “My view is the only legitimate view, and if you think otherwise then you are a backward, fascist, bigoted, and a menace to society. Either be like me, or don’t be at all.” This extreme moralism is precisely the bedrock of Nazism.

It turns out that today’s worst enemies of liberalism are precisely the people who claim to speak on its behalf. If a 73-year-old woman divorces her husband of 22 years just because he voted for Trump and feels that by his vote he “betrayed” her, clearly, this cannot be defined as liberalism, and certainly not pluralism. This is despotism.

Where We Jews Fit in All of This

In the midst of all this perplexity, Jews play a very prominent role. On both sides of the political aisle, they are conspicuous, dominant, and active. When all hell breaks loose, they will become the first victims.

Jews are great connectors. We schmooze, mingle, and create connections that pave our way to the top, where we cater to the interests of our cohorts. When things go wrong, it will make perfect sense to blame us for it. This is not a fictitious scenario; it has happened countless times in history, and there is no reason why it should not happen in America, as the rise in anti-Semitism already indicates.

But it is not too late to prevent a catastrophe on the magnitude of the Holocaust or the Spanish Inquisition from happening in the US, and the choice to avert disaster lies squarely with the Jews. We Jews are great connectors for a reason. This aptitude is our single most important quality, the root of our people hood, and precisely the quality that we must introduce into today’s fragmented and hateful world.

Midrash Rabbah, Maimonides, Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer, and numerous other sources tell us that our nation began as a collection of outcasts and pariahs who discovered in Abraham a teacher and a leader who taught them that the hatred they encountered in their original tribes should be covered with love. He taught them how to unite above their animosities and alienation, and “trained” them in strengthening their bonds.

The egos and the mutual hatred of our ancestors grew just as our egos are growing today. But instead of alienating themselves from society and dispersing, the Hebrews treated their growing egos in the same way a bodybuilder lifts incrementally heavier weights in order to strengthen his muscles. In this way, the ancient Hebrews became the ultimate “society-builders, ”fastening bonds so tight between them that they were able to commit to being “as one man with one heart.” At the moment they made this commitment, they also became the first, and only nation in history to have been built solely on the basis of love of others, rather than on geographical proximity or biological affinity. In this, to this day, the Jewish nation is unique.

When the Going Gets Tough…

As we can see, today biological affinities and geographical proximities have become meaningless. Nations are falling apart all over the world, and hatred is spewing both within and between countries. In such circumstances, the one and only type of connection that can fuse society back into a stable and cohesive structure is the method of connection that our ancestors used—connecting above hatred by using the ego as a “weight” to strengthen our “social muscles.”

When we first became a nation, we were immediately tasked with being “a light unto nations.” Throughout the ages, Jews have pondered the meaning of this task. Today, I think it is plainly clear that being “a light unto nations” means introducing this unique method of connection that unites people where all other methods fail.

The only pitfall in this design is that we ourselves have completely forgotten the meaning and purpose of connection. As I noted above, we can connect only when and where it suits our interests. But when we must connect in order to strengthen society, the whole of society, forget it. We are using the quality that we had developed for the purpose of offering it as a remedy for the world’s ills, to benefit ourselves at the expense of everyone else. People feel this in their guts even if they can’t articulate it. They feel that we Jews owe them something, that we are somehow to blame for all the wars. In other words, with their anti-Semitism, they are admitting that we can prevent the wars but we are not doing so. This puts the choice to do so squarely in our hands.

An Exercise in Unity

We need not teach the world the method that we ourselves have long forgotten. We must simply reach out and connect with our own brethren. I know how hard it is for people of opposing political views to reach out to one another and even try to connect. I know the mutual loathing that exists. But I also know that this challenge is our gym. The hatred we feel is the weight we have to toil to lift in order to strengthen our “muscles” of connection.

Rav Kook wrote that “The great rule about the war of views, when each view comes to contradict another, is that we need not contradict it, but rather build above it, and thereby ascend” (Letters of the Raiah).Likewise, the book Likutey Etzot (Assorted Counsels) writes, “The essence of peace is to connect two opposites. Hence, do not be alarmed if you see a person whose view is the complete opposite of yours and you think that you will never be able to make peace with him.” All we have to do in order to achieve peace is follow the wisest of all men, King Solomon, who said, “Hate stirs strife, and love covers all crimes” (Prov 10:12).

The world awaits our example. Henry Ford, in one of the most anti-Semitic compositions ever written—The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem—wrote specifically that the world needs the example of the Jews. In his words: “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.”

But modern reformers will not be able to emulate that system unless we set the example for them. The Jews, who are so prominent on both sides of the political map in America, are in a unique position to change the course of American politics, American society, and the entire world. All we need in order to achieve this is to dare to take one small step toward each other.

And the rest of the world can help us do just that. If the world understands the true task of the Jews and urges (or, God forbid, compels) us to do this, then we will unite for sure. Precisely because we Jews have within us an innate sense that we are indebted to the world, we are also more attentive to criticism from the nations than any other nation. If the world tells the Jews: “Unite!” We will oblige. We have got to understand that anti-Semitism is the world’s way of telling us to unite. It will not come in more pleasant or explicit ways, but rather more aggressive ones.

Now that all other modes of closeness are collapsing and societies are disintegrating, only a method that lifts us over our hatred and unites us all above it can succeed. This method is our Jewish heritage and our duty is to bequeath this method onto humanity.
[203255]

JPost: “Why Loretta Lynch Is Inciting People To Lynch”

The Jerusalem Post published my new article “Why Loretta Lynch Is Inciting People To Lynch

When the American democracy collapses, the Jews will take the heat, as they always have. But there is still time to evade the turmoil, and the choice to do so lies squarely with American Jewry.

On March 4, the day of the pro Trump rallies, Loretta Lynch called on people to fight (if need be) to the death against the legally and democratically elected President Donald Trump. In her words: “ordinary people … have bled, and yes, some of them died. …We have done this before. We can do this again.” In light of the “incensed army of liberals demanding no less than total war against President Trump,” as Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns referred to the liberal mobs in The New York Times, it is no surprise that Senate Democrats touted her rant as “words of inspiration.”

Narcissism and the “Basket of Deplorables”

We are living in a narcissistic era. This is why The New York Times raved about the book The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, stating that “The evidence Twenge and Campbell [authors] have compiled is compelling and appalling.” Since the late 1970s, people have been talking about “a culture of narcissism,” created by our growing self-absorption and egoism. Liberalism, which spread throughout the Western world as a backlash against the fascism that took over much of Europe and eventually led to the outbreak of World War II, became imbued with a sense of entitlement. Since liberals regard themselves as the guardians of free speech, they consider anyone outside their camp as an enemy to free speech and label such people fascists, racists, and a menace to society. It turns out that by delegitimizing any other view but their own, liberals have themselves become Nazis. Under such circumstances, it is easy to see how a former attorney general might rationalize that encouraging civilians to kill other civilians for their political views constitutes a legitimate statement, and not an incitement to murder.

What we are witnessing today is the demise of US politics. The codes of conduct that dominated diplomacy until November 8, 2016 were tossed out as soon as the results of the election came in. Now we can see who are the real “basket of deplorables.”

Jews—the Great Connectors

When all hell breaks loose and the American democracy collapses, it will not be Loretta Lynch or any of her like-minded “progressives” who take the heat. It will be the Jews. Jews play a very prominent role on both sides of the political aisle; they are conspicuous, dominant, and active. When things go awry, they will become the first victims, as they always have throughout history whenever upheaval ensued. There is still time to prevent the impending catastrophe, and the choice to avert disaster lies squarely with American Jews, but they must not stall because time is running out.

We Jews are great connectors. We schmooze, mingle, and create connections that pave our way to the top where we cater to the interests of our cohorts. Yet, networking in order to gain political clout is not the reason why we have been given this unique aptitude. This skill emerges from the root of our peoplehood and is our raison d’être. This is precisely the quality that we must introduce into today’s fragmented and hateful world.

Midrash Rabbah, Maimonides, Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer, and numerous other sources tell us that our nation began as a collection of outcasts who discovered in Abraham a teacher and a leader who taught them how to cover the hatred they encountered in their indigenous tribes with love. He taught them how to unite above their animosities and “trained” them in strengthening their bonds. Mishneh Torah (Chapter 1) describes how “thousands and tens of thousands assembled around Abraham, who planted this tenet [of unity above enmity] in their hearts.”

In this way, instead of turning their backs to one another and dispersing, “the people of the house of Abraham,” as Maimonides refers to the Hebrews, treated their egos in the same way an athlete treats his muscles. In order to grow stronger, he lifts incrementally heavier weights. Similarly, the ancient Hebrews treated their egos as “weights” they had to lift. The more their egos grew, the harder they had to work to strengthen their unity above their egos.

Eventually, our ancestors became the ultimate “society-builders,” fastening between them such tight bonds that they were able to commit to being “as one man with one heart.” And as soon as they made this commitment, they became the first and only nation in history to have been built solely on the basis of unity and love of others, rather than on geographical proximity or biological affinity.

An Exercise in Unity

In a world where nations are falling apart wherever we turn, and hatred is disintegrating countries from within and from without, only one type of connection can fuse society back into a stable and cohesive whole: the method of connection that our ancestors used—connecting above hatred by using the ego as a “weight” to strengthen our “social muscles.” Consequently, as soon as we became a nation we were tasked with being “a light unto nations.” Throughout the ages, Jews have pondered the meaning of this task. Today, I think it is evident that being “a light unto nations” means introducing this unique method of connection, which unites people where all other methods cannot.

There is, however, one snag: We ourselves have forgotten the meaning and purpose of connection. We connect only when and where it suits our selfish interests. We use the quality that our ancestors developed as a remedy for the world’s ills, to benefit ourselves at the expense of everyone else. People feel this even if they can’t articulate it. They feel that we Jews owe them something, that we are somehow to blame for their troubles. In other words, with their anti-Semitism, they are admitting that we have the key to their well-being, but we are not sharing it. This is why, as I said above, the choice to avert disaster lies squarely with us.

A Lesson Learned from Henry Ford

We need not teach the world the method that we ourselves have long forgotten. We must simply reach out, connect with our own brethren, and thereby serve as an example. This challenge is our “gym.” Our mutual hatred is the weight we have to toil to lift in order to strengthen our “muscles” of connection. This is the implementation of our task to be “a light unto nations.”

Rav Kook wrote that “The great rule about the war of views, when each view comes to contradict another, is that we need not contradict it, but rather build above it, and thereby ascend” (Letters of the Raiah). Similarly, the book Likutey Etzot (Assorted Counsels) writes, “The essence of peace is to connect two opposites. Hence, do not be alarmed if you see a person whose view is the complete opposite of yours and you think that you will never be able to make peace with him.” All we have to do in order to achieve peace is follow the advice of the wisest of all men, King Solomon: “Hate stirs strife, and love covers all crimes” (Prov 10:12).

The world awaits our example. Henry Ford, in one of the most anti-Semitic compositions ever written—The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem—wrote specifically that the world needs the example of the Jews. In his words: “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.”

Yet, modern reformers will not be able to emulate that system unless we set the example for them. The Jews, who are so prominent on both sides of the political map in America, are in a unique position to change the course of American politics, American society, and the entire world. All we need in order to achieve this is to dare to move toward each other.

And the rest of the world can help us do just that. If the world understands the true task of the Jews and urges (or, God forbid, compels) us to do this, we will unite for sure. Precisely because we Jews have within us an innate sense that we are indebted to the world, we are also more attentive to criticism from the nations than any other nation. If the world tells the Jews: “Unite!” we will oblige. In fact, it is already telling us to do this. Anti-Semitism is the world’s way of telling us to unite. And we must hurry because the world will not “speak” to us in more pleasant or explicit ways, but in more aggressive ones.

Now that all other modes of closeness are collapsing and societies are disintegrating, only a method that lifts us over our hatred and unites us all above it can succeed. This method is our Jewish heritage and our duty is to bequeath this method to humanity.
[203284]

Jewish Business News: “Why Jews Are The Key To The Unity Trump Called For In His Congress Speech”

In my regular column in Jewish Business News, my new article: “Why Jews Are The Key To The Unity Trump Called For In His Congress Speech

Jews are once again at the center of events, and it is no coincidence. They hold the key to the unity and stability of American society.

As Trump mentioned in the opening of his address to congress, from East to West coast America, Jews are troubled and distressed by bomb threats and vandalism in Jewish cemeteries. Strangely, no one knows who is behind this wave of incidents, and yet too easily fingers are pointed at Trump and his administration as the root cause, expecting them to provide the solutions as well.

First, we should open our eyes and recognize that anti-Semitism been on the rise worldwide for a number of years now, well before the recent elections. What’s more, it has been pervasive on both the right and the left.

American campuses have become breeding grounds for anti-Semitic sentiments. A 2014 study on anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses by the Louis D. Brandies Center in Connecticut provided a quantitative measure of the degree of anti-Semitism found on campuses and affiliated institutions, and also gathered qualitative impressions from Jewish students such as this: “The divestment campaign and other anti-Israel campaigns are intertwined with rampant anti-Semitism.” In 2015, the Anti-Defamation League reported 90 anti-Semitic incidents on US campuses, twice as many as the year before.

In liberal democracies such as Sweden and France, Jews have been living in fear, facing death chants and hate crimes. Labor and Democratic parties across the Western World have exhibited alarming levels of anti-Semitism. So, painting the rise of Right Wing political parties as the cause of anti-Semitism is simply groundless.

The US elections certainly brought to light many of the societal ills in America, from the lingering degradation of America’s industry and Rust Belt cities, to its deep socio-economic inequalities and social polarization, as well as the anti-Semitic currents that have been brewing in America for years.

In fact, anti-Semitism has been around for millennia, transcending politics, religions, and cultures.

Jews Are Dangerously Divided

In such a climate of fear and threat, what worries me most is the growing division amongst Jews themselves. Liberal Jews and Conservative Jews have become so alienated from one another that each side feels the other behaves against the interests of the Jewish people and against their core values. Ironically, the greatest of Jewish values is unity above differences, as famously stated in the greatest law of Torah, “Love thy neighbor as thyself”.

The inability of Jews to rise above their differences of opinion shows how distanced we have become from our true heritage. This must quickly be amended, not only because it is our true goal as a people, but because it now puts us in grave danger. We may have different political opinions, but we are all Jews, and for anti-Semites, that is enough.

Instead of allowing politics to divide us, as they do so well, Jews must come together. This is not only a mechanism for fending off threats in the natural world, historically, it has proven to safeguard our people. It is written in the book Maor VaShemesh that “the prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship within Israel, no calamity can come upon them.”

What Jews Have that America Desperately Needs

While safeguarding Jewish communities is good enough reason to come together, there is an even deeper reason that Jewish unity must now be our first priority. The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that it is the historical purpose of Jews to demonstrate unity and to model corrected societal relations for others. It is no coincidence that famous anti-Semites such as Henry Ford knew this as well. In his book, The International Jew—The World’s Foremost Problem, he wrote that “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.”

Although long forgotten, Jews once lived under principles of true equality and mutual concern. We became a nation at the foot of Mount Sinai only when each person present accepted the condition of being “as one man with one heart.” In the centuries that followed, Jews practiced the method that allowed them to rise above their differences to create increased social cohesion and unprecedented human development. It was only after the destruction of the Temple, in the long exile that followed, that this unity was forgotten.

As Jews dispersed the world over, they contributed to the social, economic and cultural development of every society they entered. However, this development was not led by the unifying principles able to balance and harmonize these societies, and as gaps and divisions between people worsened, blame and hatred always appeared and the Jews were pushed out.

Today, as anti-Semitism is growing once more, Jews must finally provide the model of societal cohesion that only they can. Our ancient calling has become so pressing and relevant that ignoring it will have hazardous consequences.

The current wave of threats towards Jews is not about Trump—it’s about imperative change that needs to happen, change that Jews must initiate and play a determining role in. We must see that our true Jewish power, both to protect our communities and to contribute to the world, lies in our ability to unite above all differences, and that this wisdom is deeply ingrained in our heritage.

Jews must be the ones to, in Trump’s words, help to “build bridges of cooperation and trust—not drive the wedge of disunity and division.”
[203170]

The Jerusalem Post: “The Road From Liberalism To Tyranny”

In my regular column in The Jerusalem Post, my new article: “The Road From Liberalism To Tyranny

Neoliberalism does not serve the interests of the whole of American society.

The bottom line is this: beneath a guise of free speech, America has become a fascist country, where only one view is permitted.

Last Thursday, Jonathan Martin wrote in The New York Times that “the blueprint has already been chosen for the [Democratic Party] – by an incensed army of liberals demanding no less than total war against President [Donald] Trump.” Couple this with the media’s slew of warped or made-up stories purporting to prove the president’s incompetence, and the army of agitators that Obama’s Organizing for Action has dispatched throughout the US to sabotage townhall meetings, it seems that the president is fighting on multiple fronts.

Why the war? Trump is not part of the ruling elite that has governed and exploited America for decades, and for whom Obama and Clinton were executors, covering up their actions behind a bogus humanistic agenda of caring for immigrants.

After World War II, numerous countries in the West adopted liberalism as a “vaccine” against fascism and Nazism. But a society cannot remain vital unless different views clash within it and in the process become polished and refined. When all the parties understand that diversity of views creates vitality, they strengthen their society and increase its ability to cope with changes.

Our own Jewish tradition encourages diversity and debate as means to enhance social cohesion. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook wrote that “The great rule about the war of views, when each view comes to contradict another, is that we need not contradict it, but rather build above it, and thereby ascend” (Letters of the Raiah). Likewise, Martin Buber wrote in Nation and World: “It is not neutrality that we need, but rather cohesion, cohesion of mutual responsibility. We are not required to blur the boundaries among the factions, circles, and parties, but rather share a recognition of the common reality and to share the test of mutual responsibility.”

The problem is that today’s American society denies the legitimacy of “other parties,” as Buber put it. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said Liberal MP Sir John Dalberg-Acton. Instead of creating a vibrant arena of views that invigorate one another, liberals have stifled anyone who disagreed with them. If Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is forced to apologize for stating his mildly conservative views for fear of putting his business at risk, this is no longer liberalism and certainly not pluralism. This is tyranny.

“The inclination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21) is not merely a verse in the Bible. It is really who we all are. This is why rulers need watchful media to monitor them, and why the media needs to be kept genuinely free and pluralistic.

Yet, this is not the situation in America. Neoliberalism has been the ruling agenda in the US for decades. It does not serve the interests of the whole of American society, but rather caters to the interests of the small elite group of magnates who control the American economy, the media, and thereby the government. They determine what is reported and what is not, who is defamed and who is glorified. By controlling the media, they have dominated public discourse and avoided criticism. This is ingenious, but deadly to society.

For this reason, I regard Trump’s victory as a sign that the American society is still alive and kicking. It gives me hope that it will also be able to go through the necessary sobering up without bloodshed and without dragging the world into another war. Had Clinton been elected, there is little doubt that a world war would have erupted. Now, at least there is a chance for peace and the correction of society.

But to correct society, all parties will need to learn from the Jewish tradition – that “love covers all crimes” (Proverbs 10:12). Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam (Ladder) commentary on the Zohar, wrote in his essay “The Freedom”: “Contradictions and oppositeness between people should remain forever, to forever secure the progress of the free society.” Liberals would do well to listen to their own “co-religionist” Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times who wrote, “We progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish – like diversity – in our own dominions.”

For America’s sake and for the sake of the world, I pray that this great nation wakes up and understands the value of diversity, the benefit of honing views through open debate, and the powerful cohesion attained when that debate yields solutions that contribute to the vitality of the whole of society.
[203090]

Haaretz: “The Dems Smear Campaign Can Put Us All In Trouble”

In my regular column in Haaretz, my new article: “The Dems Smear Campaign Can Put Us All in Trouble

We can neither abolish conservatism nor rid ourselves of liberalism. Instead, we only need to find our unity above them!

Donald Trump lashed out at the “so-called Judge”? Obama did this before. Donald Trump signed an immigration ban? Obama did this too, and for twice as long. Donald Trump wants to build a wall? Obama did this before, too. But none of the mainstream media outlets bring these parallels to our attention. In some cases, they have even classified such information as “fake news” in order to steer us away from the facts.

Why is all this happening? Because unlike any other time in US history, the defeated party in the presidential elections refuses to accept its loss and keeps trying to find some way back to the White House. Prominent media outlets that support Barack Obama and his party have launched such a preposterous smear campaign that it can only be described as “fake news,” with the aim to defame, delegitimize, and ultimately impeach the president. On the ground, Barack Obama’s “Organizing for Action” is using an expansive network of left-leaning organizations to build the progressives’ way back to the Oval Office much sooner than 2020.

But they are playing with fire. Half the country voted for Trump. That half does not want the progressive agenda, which robs it of its jobs, values, beliefs, and eventually, its country. The forefathers and foremothers of this conservative part of America made their country a world leader. They are tough, believe in their values and in their Lord, and they have seen enough of what New World Order pundits have to offer. They do not want this. Should Trump be forced to step down, chances are that his successor will make Democrats fondly reminisce at the sound of Trump’s name.

Back in Babylon

The reactionary response to the progressive movement is a natural phenomenon that happens toward the end of every stage in human development. The liberal era is ending. It is no longer liberal; it is the rule of a small elite group that is pitting the public against anyone who dares to challenge it. Using “political correctness,” seemingly in order not to offend minorities, the ruling elite is barring free speech and free thought, and shreds our society under the guise of individuality. As we succumb to isolation and alienation, to vulgar narcissism where pop stars’ on-stage pseudo-masturbation is regarded as art, we are losing our most precious asset—human connections. When we cannot care for others and others cannot care for us, we are losing the vital force that is necessary for our mental and physical health.

The media, which tells us that individuality and free thought are all that count, while at the same time stifling our ability to think for ourselves and realize our potential, makes us all confused and frustrated. In consequence, just like our ancestors in the land of bilbul (confusion), a.k.a., Babylon, whose mindset became its namesake, we are hopeless and lost, hateful and alone. Yet, many of us are still dangerously in denial of our situation.

The Midrash (Beresheet Rabah) tells us that at the time of Babylon, two forces struggled over preeminence. The trailblazer, if you will, of one force was Nimrod, king of Babylon, and the frontrunner of the other force was Abraham. To make a gross generalization for the purpose of this column (for more details, read Like a Bundle of Reeds), we could say that both Abraham and Nimrod understood nature, and particularly human nature. They knew that reality operates according to a balanced interaction between positive and negative—two opposite forces that complement one another to create a greater whole, which we call reality. Reality cannot consist of only a negative or only a positive force. It consists of both, requires both, and only when the two work in harmony can nature thrive.

The two leaders also knew that human nature is an exception to nature’s general rule. Even then, thousands of years ago, we were not in sync with nature. We weren’t as opposed to it as we are now, but the predominance of the negative force in the psyche of our ancestors was enough to gradually disintegrate the Babylonian society. The book Pirkey de Rabbi Eliezer (Chapter of Rabbi Eliezer) describes the alienation among the Babylonians. In chapter 24, it describes how the builders of the Tower of Babylon would “push up the bricks [to build the tower] from the east, then descend from the west. If a man fell and died, they would not pay him any mind. But if a brick fell they would sit down and wail, ‘Woe unto us; when will another come in its place?’ Abraham, son of Terah, passed by and saw them building the city. He cursed them and said, ‘May the Lord swallow their tongue.’”

As the alienation of Abraham’s countryfolk deepened, his curse came true and the inevitable happened. Chapter 24 details how the Babylonians “wanted to speak to one another but did not know each other’s language. What did they do? Each took up his sword and they fought each other to the death. Indeed, half the world was slaughtered there, and from there they scattered all over the world.”

Dealing with the Law of Nature

Abraham’s curse symbolized his ideology. He maintained that the way to overcome alienation is to strive to connect above it. He understood that alienation and even hatred were natural manifestations of the negative force. Without them, there would be no way to activate the positive force of connection.

Today we know that atoms exist through the balance of these two forces, which maintain the electrons at a relatively steady distance from the nucleus. If either of these forces were absent, there would be no atoms and our universe would not exist. This same balance exists between the atoms that make up molecules, the organs that make up organisms, and so on throughout the chain of existence through its final link—man.

The human psyche is different from the rest of nature in that “the inclination in the heart of man is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21). We lack the natural balance and conduct ourselves by limping along only on the negative force, as though we only have one leg. Is it any wonder that human society is lame?

Abraham maintained that if what we are missing is the positive force then we should activate it by ourselves. He realized that negative feelings in and of themselves are not a curse, but a necessary basis on which to add the positive force and thus create the same balance that exists in all of nature. Abraham cursed the builders of the tower not because they did not like each other, but because they made no effort to connect above their alienation. When he saw this, he knew that there was no hope for Babylon.

Nimrod refused to go by Abraham’s way. He chose the easy way, seemingly saying, “If we can’t get along, let’s go our separate ways.” Nimrod was the king and his ideology prevailed. Over time, Babylon indeed dispersed and the great civilization sank.

Nowhere to Go

Today, we are once again in Babylon: confused and alienated. But unlike ancient Babylon, we have nowhere to go. We have surrounded the world with billions of people who cannot understand each other and cannot stand each other. We have tried to build a modern Tower of Babylon, thinking that science and technology can make us happy. But science cannot change human nature—the cause of our misery. As a result, our two choices now are the same as those of the builders of the tower: We can each take our sword and fight to the death, or “hammer our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks” (Isaiah 2:4), and work together to build a new, united humanity.

Should we choose to take the path of unity, then as with Abraham, the swords and spears—our hatred of each other—will be our tools for building our cohesion. We cannot abolish conservatism nor rid ourselves of liberalism. On the contrary, our individualism will only grow and make society even more diverse and splintered. However, if we take Abraham’s way, these new perspectives will only strengthen our society and enrich it, making everyone’s view of life more complete.

The Difference between Self-Entitlement and Ego

Last week, we saw what happens when a healthy ego turns into the monster known as self-entitlement. This NYU professor thought that she was justified in hurling profanities and abusive language, and nearly physically attack NYPD officers whose only “crime” was guarding peaceful Republican demonstrators from the psychoses of “progressive liberals” like her. When a person feels that only his way is the right way, his ego wishes to annihilate all other ways. This is how a healthy ego becomes self-entitled and narcissistic.

A view, any view, is not meant to be the only view. It is intended to be a building block in the structure that creates what we call “humanity.” We are all parts of it. If any of us were missing, it would not be the same; it would not be whole. We become humanity only when we unite our different viewpoints into a complementary whole. When we do not, we are merely a collection of egos vying for control and power. This is why when we unite above our egos we feel whole and happy, and when we fight each other we feel insecure and depressed.

My teacher, RABASH (Rav Baruch Ashlag), wrote in a special notebook titled Shamati (I Heard) what he had heard from his father, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, the great commentator on The Book of Zohar. Article (or perhaps it should be called excerpt) no. 82 described Abraham’s pondering how he would reveal the positive force. The Rav Ashlag explained that Abraham realized that it would happen through revealing his own egoism, above which he would rise, and that only when Abraham realized that he would have an ego above which to rise he was satisfied and confident about his success.

This is the essence of Abraham’s teaching. This is why King Solomon said, “Love covers all crimes” (Prov 10:12). The book Shem Mi Shmuel writes that “The correction of the hatred began in the generation of Babylon, when there was separation in humanity. That is, the correction of gathering people together began by Abraham and his disciples… and the end of the correction will be when everyone becomes one bundle.” In that regard, the great Rav Kook wrote (Letters of the Raiah), “The great rule about the war of views, when each view comes to contradict another, is that we need not contradict it, but rather build above it, and thereby ascend.”

Time to Act

The “trick” of rising above differences to create a higher whole is unique to Abraham’s descendants. It is also the key to our happiness today. In order to untie the entanglement within American society, Americans must take action and unite above their differences! There is no point in throwing dirt at the other side or trying to prove your righteousness and the other side’s wickedness. Anything that promotes separation is inherently evil. So right now, all sides are wrong.

Now it is up to the entire American nation to take up the common ancestor’s legacy, the method of uniting above differences, and implement it among all of Abraham’s descendants—Jews, Christians, and Muslims. If America wants to be great again, this is the only way to do this. The road to turning self-entitlement back into a healthy ego that contributes to a healthy society is not by separation, but by union above our unique individualities, just as Abraham’s students did back in the days of Babylon.
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