Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Israel, Apartheid and Unity

Throughout history, there have been many false allegations made against the Jewish people and the Jewish state. One of the most recent contends that Israel is a systematically racist country. The very accusation wreaks of ignorance and anti-Semitism. But since most of the world is either antagonistic toward Jews or doesn't know any better, a thoughtful response is necessary. Here is a good one:

From the old libel that Jews used blood in matzah to the modern libel that Israel is racist, we are compelled to defend our values and our people. Yet, if these malicious claims are a reminder of anything, it should be that Jewish unity can - and will - eventually happen. It's only a matter of whether we decide to do so under our own volition or if we will be forced to do so because of the tactics of our enemies. One way or another, our petty quarrels can easily be cast aside.

God has interesting ways of reminding us that we are all part of the same people. Despite the deep religious, political and personal divisions that have transpired over the years, all it takes is one extreme event (or libel) to bring us back together. As Herman Wouk writes in This Is My God (first edition (1959), page 265): "No matter how bitter the differences are over day-to-day method–and the bitterness now and then rises near the red line of civil commotion–the aim is one, and the people in extremity become one."

Jewish infighting is old, almost always counterproductive, and usually about a bunch of egoistic nonsense. Let's leave the strife and divisiveness to our enemies, and pursue interpersonal decency among ourselves. We can respectfully disagree over particular religious or political methods without forgetting the big picture (i.e. the survival of Jewry and ethical monotheism). There is no need to exacerbate our personal and national problems. Jews in general - and Israelis in particular - have enough to deal with.

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