Yes, you read the title correctly. We can employ antisemitism for our own benefit. Of course, we’d be better off with out it, but since it not only exists, but persists and flourishes over millennia, we need a better way to deal with it.
The two major ways we’ve historically dealt with Jew-hatred is bemoaning it or saying that it’s some sort of justified divine retribution for our many sins. Both of these approaches have some, but very limited utility.
When we cry “it’s not fair” and try to hitch our wagon to other groups of oppressed people, we repeatedly learn that no one really gives a damn. With very few exceptions throughout history, leaders of other groups have never supported the Jewish People with much more than occasional lip-service. It might bring us some internal solidarity when we all cry together, but all too often, especially in contemporary times, we even find ourselves fighting the antisemitism of our “fellow” Jews.
The other main approach, and, ironically, this is shared both by the pious and the self-hating, is to say that we’ve caused antisemitism by our own actions. The far-left of our people condemn us for being “too Jewish”, too committed to what they call an “obsolete (and worse) religion” (i.e. being exactly what the far-right would like us to be), especially not being sufficiently apologetic and suicidal for our offense of being Jewish, and the far-right for being exactly the sinful folks those on the left would prefer we all be. In both cases, the extremes take satisfaction that we’re being “punished for our sins”. It would be funny if the reality wasn’t the death, maiming and fear that continue afflict our people….
On the left, antisemitism is exploited to motivate us to be more “socially conscious”, whatever that means since helping our fellow Jews doesn’t seem to be part of that “social justice” agenda. To the right, the suffering we experience is, at best, a refinement and tempering, just as intense heat will burn impurities from mixtures of gold and silver and will make steel infinitely stronger.
The one thing, especially at this time in history, we don’t do is exploit the freedom that antisemitism gives us. As successive Israeli governments have seen (but, sadly, not learned from), no amount of apologizing for who we are, for our historical and legal rights to live throughout Eretz Yisrael, nor our willingness for “flexibility” (read “surrender”) and accommodation, not to mention bragging about our virtue (i.e. creating a liberal democracy which focuses on civil and human rights for all, being the “start-up nation” and providing the bases for some many modern conveniences), increases our love from the “international community”. Even the irrationality of paying salaries to our murderers (as Israel continues to not only turn over monies to the PLO, but also provides free electricity, water and other utilities which enable greater investment in weapons to attack us) wins us no points. Periodic offers to evict ourselves from our own heartland, not to mention previous self-evictions, are never enough to turn off the flow of hate directed towards us. The examples are endless.
What would a rational people do? I propose that rather than sacrificing more and more, hoping against reality that we’ll somehow find any ground this side of complete suicide, we open our eyes to the fact that this hate is not even a little bit within our control. We will be hated no more when we act in our own self-interest than we already are with our pathetic attempts to be liked. Just as in previous generations our assimilation and giving up our own values and traditions won us no friends.
Our tradition uncompromisingly teaches that there is one God and that all reality flows from Him. Yes, to a certain degree God lets loose our enemies to remind us to return to our unique path. But He also reminds us with that reality that our responsibility is to follow that path, to perfect the world not by accepting an agenda that benefits everyone but ourselves, but rather through the tools He gave us, Torah and Mitzvot, primary among them is living in, cherishing and protecting Eretz Yisrael. We’re going to face resistance whether we walk or we crawl, but we’re going to complete our task and reach our destiny only when we walk towards it rather than crawling abjectly away.
Isn’t this a lesson from the Golden Calf, that all the other paths, by definition false paths, no matter their superficial attractiveness, no matter our “idealistic” motivations for wanting to choose them, lead us directly away from the prize?
Please read my 3 guest posts on the Shiloh Musings blog:
PLEASE PRAY FOR the unjustly imprisoned
Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin
(Sholom Mordechai HaLevi ben Rivka).