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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Baseless hatred

The Talmud (Yoma - Yom Kippur - 9) says that while the First Temple was destroyed for violations of the three cardinal sins (idol worship, forbidden relations and bloodshed), the Second Temple was destroyed due to sinat hinam (baseless hatred). The Talmud says in many places that any generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt is adjudged as if the Temple was destroyed in its time. In his introduction to his book Chafetz Chaim (which we started again yesterday in our daily learning session of the book), Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (pictured) brings many sources that equate baseless hatred with lashon hara (slander - but not in the secular law sense).

This article at FrontPageMagazine makes a fair case that baseless hatred is worsening right under our noses and it is now taking the form of self-hatred.
This degree of self-abhorence must be nearly unprecedented, for rarely, if ever, has an ethnic or national collective turned against an entire nation made up of people with whom it shares an ancestral tradition and a millennial archive. History furnishes many examples of a social or intellectual group targeting a particular class of a society with which it is in one way or another associated or identified. But to defame an entire country with whose inhabitants one shares a cultural or genealogical relation, to dispute its founding principles, to cast suspicion upon its moral character, to support its enemies and to question its right to existence is surely a unique phenomenon. Even those Germans horrified by the abominations of the Nazis, or Russians sickened by the excesses of the Communists, rarely went to the extremes of repudiation evinced by the truants of the Jewish faith.

The late Harold Pinter won a Nobel Prize, not for his over-rated plays, but for his anti-Israeli (and anti-American) posturing. Equally influential are fellow Jewish anti-Zionists like Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Naomi Klein, Joel Kovel, Tony Judt, Ilan Pappe, Tom Segev, Sara Roy, Henry Siegman, Avrum Burg, Jaqueline Rose and Richard Falk, to mention only a sparse handful, whose denunciation of Israel is so extreme and untextured as to be scarcely distinguishable from antisemitism.

Such apostates do not scruple to trade in apocrypha when indulging their animus against their own people, even when they can be readily exposed. In Fabricating Israeli History, Efraim Karsh has abundantly demonstrated how left-wing Israeli “New Historians” have cooked the documents they work with. The lamentable Naomi Klein falsely accuses Israel of having cynically profited from “endless war” and calls for academic and economic boycotts. Noam Chomsky’s gross fabrications have been outed by Peter Collier. The list goes on.


Given the virulent anti-Zionist advocacy of so many prominent Jewish self-haters, one remains skeptical of ever achieving collective assent or reasonable consensus. Masking the syndrome of self-contempt as a quest for “justice,” these Jewish turncoats seek redemption in a denial of both history and genealogy. Diagnostically speaking, it is not so much a mental illness or clinical aberration we are witnessing, but a sickness in the soul supple enough to contort itself into a spurious idealism, a simulacrum of ideological nobility.

Few of these people, I suspect, have ever been viciously targeted and physically assaulted merely for being Jewish. Very few have ever lived under the constant threat of military invasion, of suicide bombers wreaking carnage in their public spaces and of randomly incoming missiles on their towns and cities as a matter of everyday existence. They hail largely from among the privileged who have been spared the traumatic experience of confronting the bloody and unflinching enmity of their antagonists. They have jobs, salaries, leisure, prestige, comfort and security. They are bubbled in their groups and organizations. Their children do not live in Sderot where an entire generation of Israeli youngsters, growing up amidst the relentless shelling of their homes and playgrounds, suffers from acute PTSD and severe psychological regression.

This state of fortunate exemption has allowed them the luxury of sanctimonious censure of those who are on the receiving end of all they have managed to avoid. Our renegades would do well to read George Steiner’s Language and Silence. Steiner writes: “If Israel were to be destroyed, no Jew would escape unscathed. The shock of failure, the need and harrying of those seeking refuge, would reach out to implicate even the most indifferent, the most anti-Zionist.”

But of course, it is not only a question of Israel. “Somewhere the determination to kill Jews,” Steiner continues, “to harass them from the earth simply because they are, is always alive.” Those Jews who affect otherwise are living in a fool’s paradise. Just as many Hasidic and Haredi Jews, who reject the existence of Israel and seek asylum in their sacred texts, will one day discover there is no safety in Numbers, so will Jewish anti-Zionists—or their children—eventually learn the hard way that they too will be targeted and cast out when their useful idiocy is no longer needed.
The only place where I take issue with the author, David Solway, is his characterization of Hasidic and Haredi Jews. At least in Israel, they are well aware of the score, and well aware that our enemies would murder them just like other Jews. I believe that is true abroad as well. Most Hasidic and Haredi Jews are not and do not agree with Neturei Karta. In fact, even Satmar - possibly the most anti-Zionist mainstream Hassidic and Haredi community - has rejected and condemned Neturei Karta.

The Talmud (Sanhedrin - courts) says that each generation gets the leaders it deserves. We're in bad shape.


At 11:20 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Only those who are born Jews have the luxury of hating their own people. Its not something I ever have had to deal with. I can look at things as they are with a skeptical and yet sympathetic eye. The truth is no nation has been more fortunate than the Jewish nation. Had Abraham not discovered G-d and had Moshe not received from him on behalf of The One The Torah, neither of us would be blogging about Israel today. I think that when the first Jew realized the Living G-d rather than the idols in truth alone existed, changed all of human history.

Jews should take stock of it and reflect the wars amongst themselves do no one any good and retard the day when G-d's rule will be sovereign throughout the earth and which will be heralded by the arrival of the Messiah. May He who makes peace in His High Heavens, may He make peace for Us and For All Israel.


At 3:44 PM, Blogger Abu Yussif said...

no problem - there's no temple so it can't be destroyed.

At 7:13 PM, Blogger Naftali2 said...

Hold on a second folks,

That's not what the passage means, regarding baseless hatred. It is not about how other nations hate Israel. That's completely missing the point. It's about how normal social relations among the Jewish people-not even self-hatred--are tinged with thoughts and feelings that we would consider to be normal today.

In other words, there is a way of relating--and both Carl and Norman know it--called baseless Chesed, meeting someone and feeling lovingkindness for no reason whatsoever.

Baseless hatred is as simple as categorizing people as liberal or conservative, observant or not observant--categorizing people in any way. And we know how well blaming the other, or saying that 'I'm not like that' works from the story of Gan Eden.

So the only remedy for this is both a good hard look in the mirror and and good hard look in the Torah, or else you'll never know how to interpret the data you get from the mirror. And if you can't find it, look harder. I mean it's only the temple that we're talking about. It's not like we're actually talking about world peace, health, happiness, and prosperity, or anything.

This baseless hatred comes back to us in the form of Antisemitism--again if you are religious you know this--it's a form of middah knegged middah, or Karma in the English lexicon.

The point of the passage is that if you care to live in a qualitatively different world, then you have to become the type of person who can live in and sustain that world.

At 7:48 AM, Blogger Fabian Pascal said...

these are not jews. these are those who say "pls spare me, I am not really jewish, I am like you".
they are not a new phenomenon. it's cowardice rationalized as "I am better than other jews".

At 8:15 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Naftali... half of my ancestors are German - yes, THOSE Germans and half are Jews. They say G-d brings the worlds together. If I doubted His existence for a moment, I would not be here today.

At 8:21 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I should add, its not who our parents are that matters but as Ezekiel stressed, every man is responsible for his own deeds and we can rise above our heritage and find a greatness in ourselves that we think isn't there.

Naftali and Carl should know that I believe the greatest days of the Jewish people aren't behind them. They are still to come and while other peoples thought their greatness was in a long ago Golden Age, for Jews, it has always been the yet unrealized Golden Future, which will be made known through the coming of the Messiah. Assuming the baseless hatred can be overcome, that day will one day dawn upon this earth.


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