The world will never become a better place until we resolve to fight and resist evil. The globe will never be peaceful until we are inspired to neutralize those who disturb the peace. And social cohesion will never be fully realized until those who tear us apart are stopped.
There are times when we need kosher love – that is, the kind of love that brings us all together. And there are times when we need kosher hate – that is, the kind of revulsion for wickedness that causes us to say “Enough.”
This could not be more true than of the world’s oldest hatred, antisemitism, which is out of control and getting worse by the day, including and especially in the United States. Jews are being beaten in the streets of New York, assaulted in Toronto, and terrorized in Los Angeles.
Sadly, for me, none of this is particularly new. I spent 11 years as rabbi to the students of Oxford University. I traveled all over Europe, where Jews are becoming a secret society, afraid to display their Jewishness in the open. We just never believed that it could happen here in the United States.
Is that going to happen in America? Will the most powerful country in the world succumb to thuggery? Will the Jewish community surrender to antisemitism? Will we teach our kids to cower in fear?
Not if we learn to practice kosher hate, a firm and moral determination to stop antisemitism, racism and every other form of bigotry.
There are, in essence, two forms of hate, just as there are two forms of love.
There is moral love, like that between a mother and child and husband and wife, and there is immoral love, like that between a man and his mistress. Or, infinitely more odious, like that between the German people and their fuhrer.
Likewise, there is unkosher and kosher hate. The former is practiced by Hamas against the Jews, the Klan against blacks, and terrorists against democracies. It is an irrational loathing of evil against good. But then there is kosher hate, the desire on the part of the good to stop evil from harming the righteous. Kosher hate never allows us to be indifferent in the face of evil. It removes from us the possibility of ever being neutral bystanders.
It speaks volumes that when our African-American brothers and sisters watched a man being killed by a bad cop – even as most cops are heroes – in Minnesota, they marched in their millions through the streets of our nation, with so many emboldened by their refusal to put up with discrimination any more. That’s kosher hate, against racism, in action.
And the Jews? Oh yes, we rallied as well. After all the recent attacks in New York, our mainstream organizations got together at the end of May and staged an online rally.
Such timid displays of resistance to antisemitism will never defeat the problem. And unless we begin to show kosher hate to the perpetrators, we risk America, in terms of antisemitism, becoming like Europe.
In the summer of 2017 I took my kids on a journey to the major Holocaust annihilation and concentration sites of Europe: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy France, and more. I chronicled that journey in my book Holocaust Holiday: One Family’s Descent into Genocide Memory Hell. The journey started in Berlin where, as we arrived in Tegel Airport, a security guard walked over to me to plead that I remove my young sons’ yarmulkes so that they would not get hurt.
Yes, we had arrived to commemorate the martyrdom of the six million only to be told that in Europe the unkosher hatred had not abated.
But America is different. It was always different. The pilgrims came here to escape Europe’s religious persecution and intolerance. Enshrined in our Constitution is the freedom to worship as we are and to express ourselves as we please.
We dishonor our Jewishness and commitment to freedom by suppressing it, and we dishonor America by hiding it.
Now is the time for a fierce generation of Americans who determine that they will no longer tolerate the intolerable or accept the unacceptable. We will determine to resist all those whose irrational hatred is tearing the fabric of America apart, beginning with those, from Left to Right, who are infected with the disease of antisemitism, the world’s oldest and most malignant prejudice.
HATRED OF Jews has taken different forms: as the “other,” the “killers of Christ,” and the “descendants of apes and pigs.” This bigotry has been one of the few historical constants of the last 2,500 years. The degree of antisemitism ebbs and flows, often according to local conditions and the need for a scapegoat.
The establishment of Israel allowed antisemitism to reach new heights, even as it hid behind the ridiculous claim that hating the Jewish state is not motivated by hatred of Jews.
Since the invasion by five Arab armies in 1948, Israel has been under attack by nations and terrorists seeking its destruction. While Israel was for a time viewed as David fighting the whole Arab world, it is now seen as Goliath trampling on the rights of the Palestinians. Israel alone among the nations is not allowed to defend itself when attacked. It is accused of perpetuating a cycle of violence; and then if, God forbid, a civilian should be killed in a counterterrorism operation, it is pilloried for “war crimes.”
The world has settled into a comfortable routine whereby terrorists attack Israel, the Israelis respond, and an outburst of antisemitism follows. As others have noted, the terrorists are like arsonists and Israelis firefighters, but it is the latter who are condemned.
No country would tolerate a rocket attack on its capital, but Israel was vilified when it responded to just such an attack on Jerusalem. Over the next 10 days, more than 4,000 rockets were fired at Tel Aviv, Sderot, Ashkelon and other communities within their range.
The Arabs have been conditioned by the international community to engage in “no fault” wars where they are not blamed for setting the fire and then demand a return to the status quo ante after the firefighters put out the flames.
And we American Jews? We have allowed this. We have allowed it by failing to publicly and forcefully support Israel, especially in its recent war, and allowing Israel to become toxic, especially on campus. We have allowed it through our timidity and lack of resolve. We have allowed it because we are afraid of what the repercussions of a robust defense of Israel would be for us.
But we cannot hide, we cannot fear, we cannot surrender. Antisemitism in America is entering a new chapter, and the only question is whether we will fight it to make it better before it gets worse.