The Times of Israel published my new article “From Ingathering Exiles to Escaping Clans”
Israel, the land that was meant to host the ingathering of the exiles and reunite the Jewish people, is tearing at the seams. There has never been real unity in Israeli society, but we always knew how to rise above our partisan interests in the moment of truth. We cannot do this anymore; hatred and division have taken over. It seems as though we are going to split into myriad groups and clans, and many will seek asylum elsewhere, and I am not sure they will be welcome anywhere.
The truth of our makeup is surfacing; we are not a nation, but a horde of ruthless, selfish individuals, descendants of the most anti-social individuals who lived in ancient Babylon, whose self-absorption was so intense that they escaped, or were chased away, from their birthplace. Those ancient outcasts met Abraham, who taught them about love and caring, and forged them into a new nation whose kernel was unity above hatred. After all, they had nothing else in common.
Since then, the Jewish people have been in one of two states: unity and love, or division and hatred. For the past two millennia, the latter has been our mindset, and the recent turmoil in Israeli society exposes it more vividly than ever. If we do not muster the strength to rise from our low, society will disintegrate and the State of Israel will dissolve.
Abraham’s entourage followed him because they knew what kind of people they were. They were highly developed, intelligent and sensitive, but their development manifested in negative expressions. They wanted to transform themselves, and Abraham offered them an outlet from their meanness.
Today, we are once again together, but there is no Abraham among us. Instead, we must be our own unifiers. We have to help each other rise above our egos and establish mutual responsibility, our people’s motto throughout the ages. We must teach ourselves how to care for one another despite our differences, how to see that our nation is in fact a fabric made of contradictions, and whose strength lies in its diversity. We have to help each other see that our unity makes us “a light unto nations,” and our division makes the world despise us. We have to help each other because no one else will, because our lives depend on it, and because choosing whether to unite or separate means choosing between existence and extinction.