By Arkady Mamaysky
When a Jewish person reads the ADL’s survey on antisemitism or simply watches everyday news he or she faces some questions:
● How it is possible in 21 century?
● How it is possible after the Holocaust?
● Or simply why do they hate me? I never did anything wrong to anybody, on contrary I always try to be good to people, to help people?
● Why does Anti-Semitism exist and what brought it into existence?
● How to get rid of it?
What follows is an attempt to find at least some answers to these questions - not a complete answer of course. This is just an article, not an essay. (A complete answer should come from experts and from opinions of concerned friendly readers.)
We, Jewish people, are one of the most ancient people on this planet. So let us glance back in our history.
● When we were attacked by Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans this was not out of Anti-Semitism or Anti-Jewishness. These attackers acted out of the darkest sides of human nature, the of nature of their rulers, to conquer, to dominate, to grab someone else’s land and goods. They did not particularly hate Jews - they attacked many others. But they created a condition which led to Anti-Semitism: they expelled us from our land, from our home.
● So Jews became guests in somebody else’s home, uninvited guests. Who is to blame for all the troubles in a not very hospitable home if not an uninvited guest?
● With all wars and troubles of our ancient past we still managed to create Christianity and influence the creation of Islam which theologians call daughter religions of Judaism.
● The Church’s competition with Judaism and its desire to convert pagans came into play. Illiterate or half literate priests and monks under the Church’s direction gladly brainwashed illiterate masses into the hatred of Jews.
Life in the dark ages was difficult. Starvation and diseases – in the minds of ignorant masses and their ignorant rulers – required a scapegoat to blame. Jews were conveniently around.
Over thousands of years, different rulers redirected the anger of oppressed masses towards Jews, and away from themselves. The masses were brainwashed to hate the Jews. And little by little religious hatred was transferred into racial hatred of somebody who is different. (These paved the way for inquisition, expulsions, crusades, pogroms, the Holocaust and today’s Anti-Semitism).
And different we were. While they were taught to hate us, we at the same time, following our tradition, dedicated these thousands of years to study and to train our brains, our intellect (Jewish intellectual achievement is an indisputable fact) which became “part of our DNA.” Unfortunately the years of persecutions also developed in our characters, in the characters of descendants of fierce Hebrew warriors, a sense of being a defenseless minority often hopelessness of fighting back – a shtetl mentality.
In Arab/Muslim countries in the past Jews often experienced tolerance. Together with Arabs, Jews promoted knowledge and science (we experienced our “golden age” in Arab Spain). Today’s Arab Anti-Semitism is a product of religious extremists who are puling Arab masses away from progress into their religious philosophy, one dogma of which is that all lands which were once Muslim must belong only to Muslims. And so their propaganda requires no recognition of Israel and teaches hatred of Jews. By the way, this propaganda does not prevent them from fighting one another.
What also contributes to Anti-Semitism is the fact that, despite hatred and persecution, Jews were able to use their talent and tradition of learning to become successful and often prosperous. So not only are we uninvited guests, but we are often better off than the average representative of the local population. Envy, as are some other evils in human nature, is a strong incentive towards hatred.
Nazis who caused so much suffering to the world for the sake of establishing the Third Reich of a “superior race” planed to make those who they considered in their evil minds “lover races,” Slavs for example, into their slaves, but they tried to exterminate the Jewish nation. Was not it only out of hatred but also out of fear of our intellectual abilities?
Anti-Semites, in which ever place they are can only harm us if we are small and weak. If we are strong, united and have Israel as our protector we can one way or another fight back. We owe manly to Israel that the image of the weak and defenseless Jew is being replaced by the image of a strong, courageous and victorious Jewish fighter, who fights back and prevails. Is not it logical then that many anti-Semites masquerade their hatred of Jews as a hatred of Israel?
Despite decent people and governments in today’s world rejecting Anti-Semitism, there is big percentage of anti-Semites all over the world (see the ADL global report on Anti-Semitism). Some of them would gladly kill us, but some others hate us but being “progressive”, don’t go so far as killing, we are “greatly obliged.”
Leading World Jewish organizations for years engaged in a widespread attempt to fight Anti-Semitism. But despite that, and despite efforts of decent people all over the world, the evil of Anti-Semitism is on the rise. It is impossible to change the evil mind of an anti-Semite. The only answer is to convince and help Jewish people to leave the countries where they experience Antis-Semitism.
And of course the best and most logical place to go is to Israel – our homeland, the place where we can fight our enemies and not beg for tolerance. Anti-Semitism was one of a major reasons and incentives for Zionism. It triggered Hertzl’s actions towards creating a Jewish State. So “thank you” anti-Semites.
Israel gave us back our pride, self-respect and gained for us respect from other nations.
Now what about the six million of us who live in United States and love this country dearly?
What is different about the United States is that everybody here is a guest or a descendant of one (except the Native Americans of course). This country of ours is a mixture of different races and religions. It is a beacon of democracy and human rights, struggling to improve them as it moves forward.
Yes there is some Anti-Semitism here too, some who came here brought this germ with them. But the great majority of Americans fight it and support our struggle. America is a great friend of Israel and the voice of American Jewry is respected in our country.
Unfortunately a big percentage of American Jews never visited Israel; furthermore, a large percentage of our college students show no concern for Israel. This is a problem that all of us must confront. And to deal with it, a comprehensive program must be developed by Jewish organizations in cooperation with Israel (please refer to my article “Narrowing the gap between American and Israeli Jews” printed in Jerusalem)
Making Aliyah and strengthening our connection to and support for Israel are our answers to anti-Semites, and serve as the guarantors of the future of the Jewish nation.