Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Middle East Problem

With all the evil going on in the world today, it's truly amazing to witness the inordinate amount of scrutiny placed upon a tiny, decent and democratic state called Israel. From graduate programs and think tanks to media reports and biased resolutions at the United Nations, major efforts are dedicated to analyzing the lack of peace in the Middle East. This might lead one to believe that the conflict between Israel and her neighbors is difficult to explain. But this is not so. Here's a great video that clarifies the root of the problem:

As mentioned in the video, it's actually quite easy to describe the Middle East problem. It's only difficult to solve it. A similar case can be made when it comes to the most significant problem going on within the Jewish world today: intramural hatred. Once again, it's pretty easy to describe the problem. It's just difficult to solve it.

The Talmud (Yoma 9b) provides explanations for why both the First and Second Temple eras resulted in destruction. The first exile was due to widespread idol worship, sexual immorality and murder. However, the second exile (which continues to this day) came as a result of sinat chinam. For a more detailed discussion of this vice, click here. As mentioned in that previous post, sinat chinam is much deeper than some generic dislike of other people. It has to do with hating fellow Jews for who they are.

There could actually be Middle East peace if Israel's enemies would simply recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state. Similarly, there could actually be peace between Jews if we would simply recognize the legitimacy of each other's place among the Jewish people. Obviously, it's difficult to envision either of these scenarios coming to fruition. However, there's an important difference: in the first scenario, the onus is on our enemies; in the second scenario, the onus is on us. In other words, good interpersonal conduct is always within our power. The rest, of course, is in the hands of God.

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