America is deeply divided, split in half between the political left and right. It is particularly alarming when such polarization blinds American Jews to antisemitism. It makes them oblivious to it if the hatred is coming from a political sphere that they concur with. That is exactly what is happening now and which may bring dangerous consequences in the future.
In a rare speech, Michael Bloomberg, the Jewish-American billionaire and former New York Mayor, recently called on U.S. Jews to refrain from partisanship. He asked them open their eyes to “antisemitic violence that is deeply unsettling” coming from all sides. The hatred is manifested as physical violence against Jews, damage to synagogues and subversive conspiracies on social media.
“When faced with these kinds of attacks, we like to imagine that our community will naturally put aside its differences and stand together in solidarity,” Bloomberg said. “Yet history records that the opposite is often the case. The Talmud teaches that the Second Temple was destroyed in part because of baseless hatred — one Jew against another.”
Does Bloomberg’s statement indicate that American Jews are beginning to understand what their role is and how they should act? I hope so. However, this is not the correct way we should come to the realization of our role in the world as Jews. Not being aware of it just prolongs the agonizing pressure of hatred towards the Jewish people.
But despite the great difficulty facing American Jews, they still dream of a promising future. If they do behave in any fraternity between them, it will only be like brothers in time of need, to preserve themselves and be saved from antisemitic pressure, not out of a tendency to fundamentally investigate their origins, role, and destiny. Jews have no sense of closeness to their roots. If not for the hatred towards them from all strata of American society, which points to them negatively as Jews, they would have long ago been totally divided.
Due to the reluctance of the Jews to know who they are and what they are and due to their evasion of Judaism and their role, the antisemitic pressure continues to increase and may easily reach a similar situation to that of Nazi Germany. There, too, it all began with petty and marginal things, until it deteriorated to the point where Jews were excluded from state law, and from outside societal laws in general. If this happened in Nazi Germany which was more developed and the Jews were an integral part of it, there is no reason why it should not happen in America.
History has repeatedly tried to teach us, Jews, that we will be really valued and appreciated not for leadership among other peoples, not for financial success and prosperous business. Rather, we need to get to a point where we know exactly what to engage in, what our mission is. Know it and implement it.
Our mission is related to the free hatred that was revealed between us in the Second Temple, but the mission did not end there. Quarrels and conflicts are the basis on which we must transcend, lovingly cover all crimes and thereby set an example to the whole world that is in constant war and needs a similar method of connection. This has always been our destiny. No other people can fulfill our role, and as long as we do not perform it, the world suffers and consequently hates us.
There is no expectation here from Bloomberg and American Jewry to become unconditionally pro-Israel and develop sympathy and closeness to Israel, but the aspiration is to be pro-Jewish. For now, the State of Israel is neither an example nor a “light unto nations”, nor does it have a tendency to approach our identity and our destiny. There is nothing in today’s Israeli society that can be boasted of, spread and shown as an example of unity and cordial connection.
Every Jew, in Israel and abroad – and in general anyone who can connect to the Jewish idea – should strive to direct himself to the values of the people of Israel, to the foundations of Judaism which are connection over separation, love over hatred, “and love your neighbor as yourself” – this is the whole Torah.
Dr. Michael Laitman is a global thinker, a prolific author who has published over 40 books on a variety of topics including world affairs, economics, education, antisemitism, and Kabbalah.