The Times of Israel published my new article “When Jews Become Anti-Semites”
Is speaking a foreign language in Paris dangerous? Apparently it is not, unless the language is Hebrew. That was the recent experience of an Israeli student, victim of a brutal attack at the Paris metro by two unknown perpetrators who left him unconscious after he was heard speaking Hebrew on the phone. The assault was “clearly motivated by the hate of Israel alone,” said Meyer Habib, member of the French National Assembly, the same body that days ago passed a resolution equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.
For a moment it seemed that with such a bill, truth had won, but the ongoing anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiments prove that one cannot rest on laurels. The next step is to secure our lives against the constant threats toward us. A day before the vote, 127 Jewish intellectuals, including Israelis, published an open letter in the Le Monde newspaper against the law equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. The Paris metro attack is symbolic of how their beautiful words failed to help them, but the letter exposes our true nature: the Jew can become his own greatest enemy.
What Is the Line Between Criticism of Israel and Anti-Zionism?
There is no problem with criticism of Israel, but not the venomous criticism which calls for its destruction. Total freedom of expression for anybody calling for peace should be allowed, but not peace through annihilation, certainly not through anti-Semitic messaging of which we have had more than enough.
Jews make up less than one percent of France’s population and yet, nearly 40 percent of the violent acts linked to religion or race were committed against Jews in 2017. Last year, anti-Semitic attacks rose by 75 percent. France’s interior minister has described these manifestations as hostility that is “spreading like poison,” forcing entire families to emigrate.
In earnest, what brings educated people to act illogically? How is it possible that Jews who live either in Israel or abroad identify with organizations that promote delegitimization of their home? How do they envision their future?
BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) is already a known phenomenon among international organizations, especially in those acting against the Jewish people and the State of Israel. It includes Jewish and Israeli activists, who are the biggest anti-Semites. Why is it so? The reason is that they try to break free from fulfilling their destined role to be “a light unto the nations” and look for ways to erase or hide their roots. Some even think that if they assimilate, they will lose their inherent Jewishness, but according to the wisdom of Kabbalah, it is impossible. Jews will forever remain Jews. Their Jewish spiritual root is eternal.
As hatred for this uncontrolled, and even unwanted status awakens in the Jew, so does his or her hatred for the essence of the people of Israel. It is an animosity that people in general cannot explain the root of to themselves, but it is strong enough to motivate them to act aggressively against the Jewish people.
Jews vs Jews: The Struggle With the Spiritual Root
Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) writes that, “In every person, even secular, there is an unknown spark that demands unification with God. When it sometimes awakens, it awakens one to know God, or deny God, which is one and the same.” (“The Solution”)
That unknown spark Baal HaSulam refers to is called the “point in the heart.” It exists in every person in the world, but it is more salient among the Jews and less evident among the nations of the world. The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that the heart is the amalgamation of self-love or egoism, and the point in the heart is the unique spark aspiring for the love of others. As the ego grows, so does the tension between it and the point in the heart, and thus, dislike and even hatred for the Jews surges in the person. Moreover, the internal relations between the point in the heart and the heart are reflected on the outside in the relations between Israel and the nations of the world. We thus are approaching a situation where the nations of the world without exception will rise against Israel.
Therefore, there are Jews who feel deprived and pressured by anti-Semitism or anti-Israeli sentiments, and in order to escape the hatred toward them, they live in different countries around the world, trying to hide their Jewish identity. Gradually, they themselves become Jew-haters, either consciously or unconsciously. There are others who, instead of leaving Israel, remain in the country, make a living, study, teach, and establish a family, but rejection of their true identity remains in their hearts. Examples of such anti-Semitic Jews living in Israel are the ones who sign public letters of support for anti-Semitic organizations from their offices in academia.
If the people in academia worry about the fate and situation of Israel, they would do better to open the history books and the authentic sources of the Jewish nation, to understand the role of the people of Israel, which is to unite and pass on the method of unification to humanity. However, they lack awareness of their noble role, and the height of their responsibility to the world.
When Jews recognize the importance and urgency to become united above what separates them and spread this unity to the world, anti-Semitism will disappear and all boycotts, demonstrations and accusations against Jews will stop. In its place, there will be a newfound radiance, plenitude and fulfillment that spreads through the Jewish people to the entirety of humanity, inverting anti-Semitic sentiment into its opposite: support, respect and encouragement of the Jewish people.