The Times of Israel published my new article “How to Redirect the Anti-Semitism That Surfaced in Yellow Vest Protests”
What started as a movement against fuel-tax increases has rapidly fueled France’s already flammable anti-Semitism. “Macron is a whore of the Jews—a puppet,” slogans on signs declared and protesters chant in the streets. Opposition to President Emmanuel Macron by activists dubbed the “Yellow Vests” have shaken the country over the last few weeks.
When things go wrong, who is to blame? Of course, the Jews. Although the social turbulence and uproar might have been halted for now by concessions offered by the French government, the protests brought to the surface deeply rooted anti-Semitic sentiments that spread through social media. Videos claiming that “the real enemy is the Jews,” circulate on the web, in videos that hold Jews “responsible for the lowering of taxes on the rich and for the whole financial situation.”
How is it possible that, in a protest against economic measures and the erosion of the standard of living in France, the Jews became a focal point for expressions of the hatred and anti-Semitism of the demonstrators? Irrespective of the riots, according to a recent European Union survey, approximately 95% of French Jews are “very concerned” about anti-Semitism in their country. The big question is: what causes demonstrators, social activists, and many French celebrities to turn French Jews into their punching bag?
The answer to this troubling question comes from our sages in the Talmud. As it is written: “No calamity comes to the world but for Israel.” (Talmud Bavli, Yevamot) “This means, as it is written in the above corrections, that they [the people of Israel] cause poverty, ruin, robbery, killing and destruction in the whole world” (Rav Yehuda Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], “Introduction to the Book of Zohar”).
The determining factor in the equation is the suffering a person or an entire nation feels. If the pain is tolerable, then there are ways to deal with it. However, if the pain increases beyond sustainable limits, the masses take to the streets to demonstrate. When the suffering goes beyond all limits of endurance, a burning sense of hatred begins to grow which becomes sharply focused and poisonously directed against Jews. In the eyes of the nations of the world, the Jewish people are perceived as greedy manipulators who deserve a gloomy fate.
In light of the current environment in France, there is a sense of uncertainty within the Jewish community about how best to respond. As has been announced, some synagogues and community centers will close temporarily as a security measure, and entire families are considering emigrating to Israel. None of this will solve the situation, however. It also doesn’t matter if the French protesters were to receive from Macron all the funds in the world, including vacations to the French Riviera, hatred will remain forever deep in their hearts. Perhaps for a while we could lower the flames of hatred, but it will only be a matter of time until the next conflagration bursts forth. Evidence for this can be seen in the fact that the wealthy of France do not lack means, and yet many of them are clearly Jew-haters.
Baal HaSulam clarifies the phenomenon: “It is a fact that Israel is hated by all the nations, whether for religious, racial, capitalist, communist, or for cosmopolitan reasons, etc. It is so because the hatred precedes all reasons, and each one merely resolves his loathing according to his own psychology.” (Writings of the Last Generation).
This hatred is actually an expression of a powerful force within nature, which we must come to understand. According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, two opposite forces operate our entire reality: the positive and the negative, the power of giving and power of receiving, the power of connection and power of separation. In human beings, these forces are egoism and altruism.
The negative force mentioned above constantly grows in us, and when it is allowed to break out without any inhibitions, it manifests as excessive self-love which separates human beings and arouses hatred for the other. The only force that can restrain and use this egoistic nature without canceling it is nature’s positive force—a force that can elevate us from all of our divisions and contradictions into one well-oiled system that operates harmoniously.
Where does this crucial positive force come from? Where can it be found? It can be found among and between Jews themselves.
“The Israeli nation,” wrote Baal HaSulam in the article “The Arvut,” “had been constructed as a sort of gateway by which the sparks of purity would shine upon the whole of the human race the world over… until they develop to such an extent that they can understand the pleasantness and tranquility that are found in the kernel of love of others.” The entire human race exists in the network containing all reality as a system in which all its parts depend on each other. When Jews draw closer to one another, they serve as a “conduit” through which a positive and unifying force flows into the world. This harmonizing force has the capacity to spread throughout the entire network. In a nutshell, this force operated by the Jews will become “a light unto nations.”
Conversely, when the world does not feel this unifying force, people sink into the divisive force. The negative power created between them is unconsciously sensed and associated with the Jews. Because the connecting power of Jews lies dormant and sealed, and they are instead self-absorbed, the nations of the world—and in the present case, the French nation—feel instinctively that the Jews are guilty of all evil, and they cry out that “the real enemy is the Jews.”
Why are we seeing this phenomenon now among the French people? It’s because they are highly developed. In other words, the negative force of self-interest operates in them more intensely, and this is what motivates them to go out to the streets demanding change, all the while with a hidden desire for fulfillment that this change should derive from the Jews. The Yellow Vest protests are but one wave from a whole tsunami of protests that could sweep the peoples of Europe and the rest of the world. From day to day we witness the intensification of the negative force within the network of nature that causes people to behave more egotistically and become more demanding about their future. If we let this negative power prevail, we will hear more frequent reports of extreme terror, such as the deadly attack at a market that happened not by chance in Strasbourg, the epicenter of the European Parliament.
Thus, just as the French Revolution of 1789 heralded a period of turmoil and change of power in France’s history, so today, the French might be destined to bring about a new social revolution of unity and love, turning all their energies and rage to force the Jews of France and elsewhere to unite. The positive force is imprinted within Jewish genetic memory, and they possess the time-tested method for connecting all humanity: the wisdom of Kabbalah. Therefore, even a small effort on the part of all Jewish people of the world to unite in brotherly love will initiate the positive force to flow and spread throughout the world, to calm all the winds of rage in the streets and carry a positive spirit of peace and brotherhood to all humanity.