It is one thing for citizens of a democratic country to disagree with their president over policy. It is another thing altogether to cultivate, finance, and lead a perpetual campaign to impeach him. And if you are Jewish, no one will forgive you for doing so.
Whoever loses in the battle between President Trump and his detractors from the Left (and some from the Right) will blame the Jews for the defeat and will take vengeance on them. By their own hands, American liberal Jewry is preparing the ground for the demise of Judaism in the US. And by demise, I mean its physical extermination.
Lessons from History
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Since the onset of our nation, our worst enemies have come from within. When we had no enemies from without, our own coreligionists summoned them, often putting words in their mouths and fanning the hatred.
When Abraham started to circulate the notions that would later become the heart and core of Judaism, his own father, Terah, brought him to Nimrod, the Babylonian king, to be judged. Terah watched as Abraham was sentenced to death by burning and did not once protest the verdict.
Joseph, who was destined for greatness by uniting his brothers around him (the name Yosef [Joseph] comes from the Hebrew word osef[gathering/assembling]), was also nearly killed by his own kin and was eventually sold to slavery. In exile, he secured the prosperity of the Jews by keeping them together. “When Joseph died,” writes the Midrash Shemot Rabbah, the Jews said, “Let us be as the Egyptians,” meaning they wanted to assimilate and disperse. “Because they did so,” the Midrash continues, “the Lord turned the love that the Egyptians held for them to hatred, as it was said (Ps 105), ‘He turned their heart to hate His people, to abuse His servants.’”
Moses, who reunited the Jews and facilitated their exile from slavery, suffered much criticism from his own people, both before and after the Exodus. His worst critics prior to the Exodus were from his own brethren. Midrash Tanhuma asks in the portion Beshalach (Chapter 8), where did Pharaoh find “600 select chariots” to chase Moses and his people back into Egypt? The Midrash answers that they were from among the Jews, those who fear the Lord but serve Pharaoh. “Thus, we learn,” concludes the Midrash, “that those who feared the Lord [but served Pharaoh] were a snag to Israel.”
The First Temple was no exception. Rav Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar, wrote in his essay “Exile and Redemption” that because the Jews turned from unity and instead “wished to include their narrow selfishness,” the First Temple was ruined.
In the Babylonian exile, when Haman wanted to “destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews” (Esther, 3:13), only unity saved them. The book Likutey Halachot (Assorted Rules) writes in the chapter “Rules of the Tzitzit”: “This is why Esther said specifically, ‘Go gather all the Jews’ (Est, 4). Afterwards, it also mentions gathering and assembling, as it is written (Est 8), ‘to assemble and to defend their lives.’ …It is so because the miracle of Purim, which is the defeat of Haman, is primarily by gathering and assembling. This is what inverted his evil thought. …Therefore, when Haman wanted to overcome Israel he said (Est 4), ‘There is a certain nation, dispersed and separated among the nations.’ Specifically when Israel are dispersed and separated, and cannot be assembled, by this he wanted to prevail over Israel, for Haman’s downfall is by the assembling of the Jews. This is why Esther said, ‘Go gather all the Jews,’ specifically ‘gather.’”
After their return to the Land of Israel, the Jews once again faced Jew-hatred from within. The Hellenists were Jews who hated their brethren so fiercely that they fought them to the death instead of the Greeks.
Self-hatred during the time of the Second Temple brought on its ruin and an exile that lasted two millennia. Worse yet, Tiberius Julius Alexander, commander of the Roman armies that conquered Jerusalem, ruined the Temple, and exiled its people, was an Alexandrian Jew whose own father had donated the gold and silver for the Temple gates. In fact, before Tiberius Alexander stormed Jerusalem, he had obliterated his native community of Alexandria, causing “the whole district [to be] deluged with blood as 50,000 corpses were heaped up,” according to Jewish-Roman historian Titus Flavius Josephus.
Since the ruin of the Temple and the onset of the exile, countless Jews have turned against their people, often inflicting untold harm upon their coreligionists. In many cases, Jews-turned-antisemites were the only source of information that fueled the hatred against Jews. In his book Anti-Semitism, Its History and Causes, French Journalist Bernard Lazare describes the fierce hatred of the converts (Spanish Jews who converted to Christianity before the 1492 expulsion) toward their brethren. “The Talmud was the great antagonist of the converts. They constantly denounced it before the inquisitors, the king, the emperor, the pope. The Catholic theologians followed the example of the converts; most frequently they had about the Talmud no other notions beyond those given them by the converts.”
In the 15th century, the converted Jews Peter Schwartz and Hans Bayol incited the residents of Ratisbon, Germany, to ransack the Jewish ghetto. Around the same period in Spain, Pedro (Samuel) de la Caballeria wrote Wrath of Christ Against the Jews, Johannes Pfefferkorn wrote Enemy of the Jews, and Jerome of Santa Fe (Yehosúa ben Yosef) wrote Hebreomastyx (roughly: Jewish Reptiles).
Some years prior, Spanish Archbishop Paul de Santa-Maria, Chancellor of Castile, who was known prior to his conversion as Rabbi Solomon Levi of Burgo, demonized the Jews in the eyes of King Henry III of Castile. Under his incitement, synagogues were raided and ransacked with ferocious hatred.
But above all the antisemitic converts of the late Middle Ages stands the Grand Inquisitor of Spain, Tomás de Torquemada. In his book The Jews in the Medieval World: A Source Book, 315-1791, historian Jacob Rader Marcus describes an extraordinary event that almost changed the course of history in favor of the Jews, had it not been for Torquemada. According to Marcus, “The agreement permitting the Jews to remain in Spain on the payment of a large sum of money was almost completed when it was frustrated by the interference of the Prior of Santa Cruz [Torquemada]. The story relates that Torquemada thundered, with crucifix aloft, to the King and Queen: ‘Judas Iscariot sold his master for thirty pieces of silver. Your Highness would sell him anew for thirty thousand. Here he is, take him, and barter him away.’ Then the Queen gave an answer to the representatives of the Jews, similar to the saying of King Solomon [Proverbs 21:1]: ‘The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turns it whithersoever He will.’ She said furthermore: ‘Do you believe that this comes upon you from us? The Lord has put this thing into the heart of the king.’”
In broad daylight or behind the scenes, self-hating Jews have always been the worst detractors of the Jews, and their most injurious and treacherous enemies.
Prior to World War II, many Jewish leaders and scholars viewed Nazism favorably. Donald L. Niewyk writes in The Jews in Weimar Germany: “Jewish banker Max Warburg could see in Nazism ‘a necessary reaction’ against Germany’s foreign enemies and could rejoice ‘that the German nation, after years of suffering, has brought together so much strength in this [the Nazi] movement.’” According to Niewyk, “The vast majority of Jews was passionately committed to the well-being of its sole Fatherland, Germany.”
Worse yet, Jewish organizations actively supported and promoted the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party to power. The Association of German National Jews called for the elimination of Jewish ethnic identity and supported Hitler. Similarly, the German Vanguard, often referred to as “Nazi Jews,” was another group of German-Jewish followers of Hitler.
Even during the war, while their brethren were being exterminated like lice in the death camps of the Holocaust, some Jews were busy helping Hitler. Baron von Rolland was not born by that name. He was born as Isaac Ezratty and became a spy in the service of the Third Reich. Likewise, Werner Goldberg, of half-Jewish ancestry, was a soldier in the German Army and later attended the Reich Board of Labour Studies School where he became a lecturer. His image appeared in the Berliner Tageblatt as “The Ideal German Soldier.”
Jewish Self-Hatred Persists
Nothing has changed since Abraham’s first encounter with the furnace. Today, Jews are still their own worst enemies. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is rife with Jews and Israelis who hate Israel more than anything on Earth. Jewish politicians and political advisors are feeding hatred into the media and the entire world just as their predecessors have done throughout our history.
Today, there is an even more pernicious form of Jewish self-hatred: anti-Zionism. Liberals such as Bernie Sanders present themselves as humanists when they lash out at Israel for its attitude toward Palestinians. But have you ever heard them lashing out at Syria for gassing to death its own people, or at countries like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan for sentencing people to death because of Facebook posts they deem offending? Will Sanders lash out at Hamas when they launch rockets at Israel from the tunnels they are building under their own children’s schools, or will he condemn Israel for returning fire?
We may denounce the vile bigotry against Israel that Sidney Blumenthal relentlessly whispered into Hillary Clinton’s ears, but the campaign of Jewish liberals against President Trump poses an even graver danger. During the election campaign, these liberals portrayed Trump as an antisemite. When they realized he was not antisemitic, they argued that his rhetoric is promoting antisemitism. Now that Donald Trump is the president, they are doing all they can to impeach him.
The attitude of liberal Jews against President Trump goes hand in hand with their resistance to the State of Israel, as reflected by their support for Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison, and Barack Obama.
Among the older generation, many American Jews still support the State of Israel. But among Jewish millennials, the sentiment is very clear. The majority of them wants nothing to do with Judaism and actively opposes anything related to support for Israel. They actively partake in and lead organizations such as BDS, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other anti-Israel entities. All of them meet all three criteria that define antisemitism: double standard, demonization, and delegitimization. In other words, these Jews are antisemites.
American Jews who present themselves as progressives will not let out a peep when LGBT people are murdered in Muslim countries. But when an Israeli soldier kills a terrorist, they raise a cry as though the most outrageous crime has just occurred. When American Jews regard the blood of Israeli Jews as dispensable, it is a very bad sign.
Turning the Tide
I have elaborated on countless occasions that the essence of Judaism is connection among people. Old Hillel defined the essence of Judaism very succinctly: “That which you hate, do not do unto your neighbor; this is the whole of the Torah” (Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Shabbat, 31a). Rabbi Akiva aimed even higher when explaining the essence of Judaism: “Love your neighbor as yourself is the great rule of the Torah” (Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b).
Like it or not, Jews bear the responsibility to install this connection among them and pass it on to the rest of the world. In his essay “Mutual Guarantee,” Rav Yehuda Ashlag wrote, “It is upon the Israeli nation to qualify itself and all the people of the world to develop until they take upon themselves that sublime work of the love of others, which is the ladder to the purpose of Creation.” In the essay, Ashlag describes the Israeli nation as “a sort of gateway by which the sparks of love of others would shine upon the whole of the human race the world over.”
The ADMOR of Gur writes in the book Sefat Emet (Miketz): “No vessel holds blessings but peace. Therefore, the persistence of the good is through unity.” Later in the book he adds, “The most important is the connection among Israel—to install love, brotherhood, and friendship among them. This brings great salvations and removes all the slanderers.”
Likewise, notice the importance that Rabbi Kalman Epstein ascribes to unity: “The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come over them. …When there is bonding among them, and no separation of hearts, they have peace and quiet … and all the curses and suffering are thereby removed” (Maor Vashemesh, Nitzavim).
Our sages spoke a great deal about internal unity as the key to our success. Regrettably, we have yet to listen. Instead, we are repeating the mistakes of our ancestors. At the very least, we should know this: When we are disunited, we bring upon ourselves what our unfounded hatred brought upon us at the time of the ruin of the Second Temple: destruction, dispersion, and death.
However, the current circumstances are far from hopeless. We can still be what we were meant to be, “a light unto nations,” showing an example of unity rather than one of separation. But for this to happen, we must make a conscious choice. It is my hope that this column will help us see that unity is the key to our success, to our acceptance among the nations, and to our fulfillment of the purpose of our being in this world.