It has been growing since the turn of the century, but now anti-Semitism has become so overt that you would have to be in total denial to not notice it. In fact, more than the young Muslims’ (commendable) “ring of peace” gesture reflects hope, it reveals the vulnerability of Jews in their own countries, and the fact that attacking them has become not only commonplace, but almost legitimate.

Why is everybody expressing an opinion about Jews all of a sudden? And why is the vast majority of opinions clearly anti-Jewish?

The world is replete with reasons for concern for coconscious people. The atrocities of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad against his own people, the brutal oppression of citizens in North Korea, the carnage of children perpetrated by Boko Haram, and the satanic beheadings and burning of hostages in which ISIL takes pride are only some examples, but regrettably there are many more.

And yet, no issue produces stranger bedfellows than rage at Jews in general, and at Israel in particular. From the far right to the far left, from extreme Islamists to neo-liberals, when there is a demonstration against Israel, you will find them all marching and chanting hand in hand, casually interspersing bellows with purely anti-Semitic assertions such as “Hitler was right,” and “Death to the Jews.”

 

But why now? If anti-Semitism has always been there, why is it remerging specifically now and not, say, twenty years ago?

 

In the 1990s, people were still quite optimistic about the future of humanity. Real estate prices were soaring, people were borrowing freely and quite carelessly, and countries that were not well off borrowed money like there was no tomorrow.
Naturally, the extreme Islam (which was very moderate compared with today’s versions) was a worry, but mainly for politicians and Israelis. The average European or American were far from being concerned about the situation in the Middle East.

September 11, 2001 was a turning point. The collapse of the World Trade Center shocked the West, and made people realize that Islamic terrorism was real. Even then, Al Queda’s feat with the Twin Towers and the Pentagon seemed like an isolated incident. But when it struck again in 2005, in the heart of the London Public Transport System, killing dozens of people and wounding hundreds more, it became clear that terror was a major issue for the West, not just for the residents of the Levant.

When the financial crisis broke out in 2008 and imposed the (still continuing) Great Recession, entire nations had to be bailed out at the price of imposing stifling austerity policies on their populations.

At that point, it was clear that the mounting pressure would eventually erupt, and it was only reasonable to assume that it would do so where and how pressure always erupts—against the Jews.

What remains unknown though is why it always erupts against Jews. Jews are not the only minority in Europe, although they are by far the most affluent ethnic group. Moreover, anti-Semitism is emerging even in countries where there are hardly any Jews.

But even when Jews were not affluent or in positions of power, they were still the default scapegoat when things went awry. This has been the case for the past two millennia or so, and now history is repeating itself.

Each period had its own pretext for anti-Jewish feelings. Baking matzos (Passover bread) with the blood of Christian children, usury, conniving to take over the world, brainwashing the world through the media, and defiling the purity of the race are only some of those accusations. Today Israel is being blamed for committing genocide against the Palestinians. Of course, none of these claims are true (has anyone pondered why if Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, the Palestinian population there is growing faster than almost anywhere else in the world?).

However, for all the torments that anti-Semitism has caused us through the years, there is a key point we must not overlook. If we tap into it, we will have a key to facilitating a fundamental change in the public discourse regarding anti-Semitism.

Many centuries ago, after we pledged to be “as one man with one heart,” our nation was given a task to be “a light unto nations.” Approximately two millennia ago, we have forsaken that pledge, and Rabbi Akiva’s desperate attempt to remind us that our motto is “love your neighbor as yourself,” was met with unfounded hatred.

As an offshoot of that hatred, we were exiled from the land, and anti-Semitism as we now know it has begun. As we dispersed among the nations, we also dispersed the unfounded hatred among us that had initially caused our separation. This is when the notion that Jews are responsible for all the wars and troubles in the world began to form.

Yet, our task has not been altered, and deep within many Jews feel it. If you read Jewish papers you will often find a vivid, and all too often livid discourse around whether or not the Jews have a unique role, and if so, the nature thereof.

Non-Jews also feel that we have a task. Statesman and writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, for example, wrote in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre: “Every Jew, no matter how insignificant, is engaged in some decisive and immediate pursuit of a goal.” Likewise, political philosopher, Nicholai Berdysev, wrote in The Meaning of History: “The survival of the Jews, their resistance to destruction, their endurance under absolutely peculiar conditions and the fateful role played by them in history; all these point to the particular and mysterious foundations of their destiny.”

The recent wave of anti-Semitism makes the question of the role of the Jews one that demands an immediate answer. If we keep ignoring the nations’ demand of us to carry out our role—even if we have no clue as to the nature of that role—then we will see anti-Semitism rapidly intensifying. The trajectory is set, and where it ends we already know because we witnessed it in the previous century.

But unlike then, we can reverse it. All we need is to unite. We have to put our clever Jewish heads together and learn how to do it, in order to convey that unity to the rest of the world.

This brings us back to the challenges of terror and to the global crisis. A united world will have no such thing as terror, since there will be no need for it. People’s frustration and depression, which push them into such extreme acts as terrorism, will be mitigated, and they will feel connected and supported.

Terrorism cannot be uprooted by military operations. At best, they can force a pause, but subsequently terror will return with renewed vigor and brutality. It is enough to compare Yasser Arafat’s terrorism with the current extremism to understand that the trend is not in humanity’s favor.

The same goes for the Great Recession. The world is already producing more food than we can consume, and more wealth than we can spend. However, both are centralized and denied of the vast majority of humanity. Put differently, the disunity among us is the root cause of the crisis. Uproot that, and you have uprooted the crisis.

But how can humanity unite if it does not know how?

Humanity will demand it of the Jews. For centuries, we practiced it and cultivated it, and then we lost it. Now the nations need it more than ever, so now the anger directed toward us is coming from all nations. As soon as nations begin to feel that social disunity is causing their troubles, they begin to accuse the Jews. This is why there is anti-Semitism even in countries that are virtually “Jew-free.”

We can argue that we have no idea how to unite, but this argument will convince no one. People feel that we are holding back from them a precious piece of information, a key to a good life. This is the underlying cause of statements such as that of General William Boykin”: “The Jews are the problem. The Jews are the cause of all the problems in the world.

No one is indifferent to our role. We, too, cannot afford to be indifferent to it. We may not know how to unite, but even thinking about how to unite so as to improve the state of the world will have an immense positive effect on our global situation. We only need to leave our differences aside for a minute, rise above just once, and take the first step toward unity. The rest will be much easier. For unity, there is no time like the present.

Article by Michael Laitman

Michael Laitman is a Professor of Ontology, a PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah, and an MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. He was the prime disciple of Kabbalist, Rav Baruch Ashlag (the RABASH). Prof. Laitman has written over 40 books, translated into dozens of languages; he is the founder and president of the ARI Institute, and a sought after speaker. He can be reached through www.michaellaitman.com