This week, strategic affairs minister, Gilad Erdan, is in London on a BDS-fighting mission. According to Minister Erdan, “Great Britain is the world center of the anti-Israel BDS campaign,” and he is going there “to battle the boycott and delegitimization … and to discuss with members of the British government … ways to strengthen our cooperation against the anti-Semitic boycott campaign.”
There is no doubt that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has become a sore spot that Israel can no longer sweep under the carpet. There are efforts to arrest its progress, such as in Illinois and New York, but by and large, Israel is losing and the BDS is taking over.
If we want to win the war against the BDS, we must eliminate not just the movement, but its bedrock: vile anti-Semitism. Trying to uproot the BDS without extinguishing its cause is like trying to fight high blood sugar levels without reducing sugar intake. Abolishing anti-Semitism may seem like a naïve notion, but if we want to win, there is no other way. And with some commitment on our part, it is certainly within reach.
Why the Fierce Hatred?
Jew-hatred has been around for as long as there have been Jews. While each era had its own guise, the hatred has remained fundamentally the same.
As I have elaborated in previous columns, we Jews are unlike any other nation. Our early ancestors did not share a common heritage, a common birthplace or culture. Maimonides, the Midrash (Beresheet Rabah), and many other sources tell us that when Abraham the Patriarch saw his country folk becoming increasingly hostile to each other, he looked into why this was happening and discovered that human nature is, to put it Biblically, “evil from its youth.” In other words, we are selfish to the core.
However, Abraham also found that contrary to human nature, the rest of nature is united and harmonious. He suggested that to counter the egoistic force that emerged among his people, they should unite and become as balanced as the nature around them.
Regrettably, Nimrod, King of Babylon, did not subscribe to Abraham’s view. Nimrod believed that the Babylonians could climb ever higher on the wings of the ego, and sought to demonstrate it with the tower of Babel.
Under these circumstances, Abraham had no choice but to leave his homeland. As Abraham wandered toward Canaan, the Midrash writes, he and Sarah, and their descendants after them, expounded on the idea of unity and gathered followers. Finally, at the foot of Mt. Sinai, Abraham’s descendants became a nation whose commitment is to be “as one man with one heart.” Immediately after, they were entrusted with the task to bring this light of oneness unto all the nations.
And yet, even among themselves, many went back to their old, selfish ways, and the people of Israel experienced constant conflicts over the idea that unity and brotherly love were the way to balance human nature and create a sustainable society. These conflicts, however, helped solidify Israel’s conviction that unity and brotherhood are the only way. This is why The Book of Zohar (Beshalach) writes, “All the wars in the Torah are for peace and love.”
But approximately 2,000 years ago, the vast majority of the nation fell back into what we now recognize as the cause of our exile: unfounded hatred. This is when contemporary forms of anti-Semitism emerged. At its core, the hatred of Jews, or Hebrews, or Israelites, has always been about rejection of Abraham’s notion that unity is the solution to our problems, but different circumstances at different times cloaked the hatred in different attires: poisoning wells, baking matzos with the blood of Christian (and now Muslim) children, warmongering, usury, plotting to take over the world, spreading disease (from Black Death to Ebola), and the list goes on and on.
Unity: Our Task and Our Salvation
Over time, we have forgotten about the significance of our unity, and about our task to be a light unto nations by uniting, and spreading our unity throughout the world. Now that the world is suffering a global breakdown precisely due to warring egos, we must restore our unity and commitment to our task, or the world will not want us around. Today, spreading this light of oneness is key to our survival.
The book, Shem Mishmuel tells us, “The intention of creation was for all to be one bundle… but because of the sin [egoism] the matter was spoiled. The correction began … with Abraham. …And the final correction will be when everyone becomes one bundle.”
Rav Kook, too, wrote, “In Israel is the secret to the unity of the world.” Even more poignantly, the Maor Vashemesh stresses, “The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship within Israel, no calamity can come over them.”
These days, when alienation and hostility are taking over our society, it is no wonder that the BDS is winning. The “Train-Gate” and the Elior Azaria affairs only manifest the unfounded hatred that still reigns in our hearts. We are destroying our nation all over again.
We are feeding the BDS every time we put egoism ahead of unity, and we are preparing the ground for even more potent movements against us.
Our unfounded hatred of each other ignited the BDS, and only we can put it out. To achieve this we must add a crucial “weapon” to our arsenal: unity among all factions. As I have written before: The world hates us because we hate each other; let’s simply stop.