I had the pleasure of interviewing Rabbi Professor Jeffrey Woolf of Bar Ilan University in Israel after the recent San Diego Synagogue Shooting and the New York Times antisemitic cartoon. We touched upon the increasingly important topic of how should people deal today with the return of Jew hatred and blatant antisemitism after decades of it being taboo.
Jew-hatred has always existed, but it went underground for the past 70+ years as a result of the Holocaust. After the Western world witnessed the horrors of the Nazis, who implemented a societal systemized platform to murder over 6 million Jews, Jew-hatred became a taboo.
Well, that bubble has burst. People are no longer embarrassed to publicly hate Jews. Just as the situation was before the Holocaust.
Professor Rabbi Jeffrey Woolf of Bar Ilan University in Israel gives a very important perspective on this critical issue.
What Do We Do Now?
Just as anti-semitism existed for thousands of years, it will not be going away today either. Wishing it away, posting on facebook about “stopping the hatred” and even talking about how to stop the hatred won’t help. It just won’t. It is, and always has been, a reality that Jews had to live with both in Christian Europe and in the Muslim Middle East.
No, focusing on stopping the hatred is not the recourse. As Professor Rabbi Jeffrey Woolf eloquently states, now is the time for each and every Jew to learn, read, and better understand what it means to be a Jew. If all these people hate us, we must strengthen our understanding of our own history and identity. The Jewish people survived thousands of years of hatred not because people stopped hating us, but because Jewish people came together and thrived as Jews living together in Jewish communities, regardless of the hatred that surrounded them. We have no control over the haters, but we do have control over our own lives.
Yes, we obviously still should educate others about why hatred is bad, but the reality must sink in, this Jew-hatred is our new-old reality. And this can not be ignored.
Now is the time for each and every Jew to realize that the only solution is to strengthen their Jewish understanding and identity, not run away from it.
The True Purpose of Israel
Theodore Herzl was the secular visionary for the creation of a modern state of Israel, even though he did not live to see it come to be. However, he also was wrong. He believed the creation of a Jewish state would be a solution to end antisemitism. It isn’t.
Herzl was right that the Jews needed their own state, but for the wrong reason. Israel does not solve Jew hatred. What Israel solves is the problem of the Jew not belonging. In Israel every Jew belongs. In Israel every Jew lives in a society where the cultural, lifestyle and calendar norms are all Jewish. Israel is the natural place where a Jew belongs regardless of ones level of religious observance. Israel is also the only place in the world where the state’s main objective is to protect all Jews and all civilians of the state. Even though hatred and terror still plague the Jews of Israel, only in Israel is it the norm for Jews to be allowed to defend themselves.