April 17, 2024
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Defeat Hatred, But Don’t Become a Hater

Fearing a Jewish uprising, Pharaoh schemed a ruthless plan. Looking to thwart any possible revolution, he decreed that every Jewish male baby be put to death immediately upon birth. His ghastly plot was foiled by heroic Jewish midwives who secretly spared Jewish male infants, explaining that Jewish women gave birth too rapidly for the official execution squads to arrive and perform their ghoulish duties.

Frustrated by this initial failure, Pharaoh devised an even more gruesome and bloody policy: all male babies born in Egypt were to be immediately tossed into the Nile. This broad-scale slaughter of helpless babies didn’t require midwives or execution teams, didn’t leave room for excuses or exceptions, and would certainly eliminate any Jewish future. Of course, it would also take the lives of thousands of Egyptian babies, but that didn’t matter much to Pharaoh. As long as Jewish babies were murdered, he was content.

Pharaoh’s ridiculous behavior demonstrates how deep hatred of Jews runs. He so despised us that he was willing to massacre innocent Egyptian infants, thereby severely handicapping his future…just to murder Jews. Not to mention, that by murdering Jews, he was emptying his country of the very people who helped him rise to glory. Without Yosef’s masterful planning, Egypt would have succumbed to famine and would never have emerged a superpower. Pharaoh was slaughtering heroes of Egypt, who just so happened to provide him with unlimited free slave labor. Psychopathic hatred of Jews always turns self-destructive.

Pharaoh wasn’t the first to sink into self-destructive and psychopathic antisemitism, and he certainly would not be the last. Three centuries earlier, Lavan had relentlessly pursued Ya’akov, intending to murder an entire camp of travelers, including his own daughters and grandchildren. Annually, at the Pesach seder, we reflect upon Lavan’s unbridled hatred, emphasizing that Pharaoh only targeted males, but Lavan sought full scale genocide. His seething jealousy of Ya’akov and his envy of Ya’akov’s financial success infected him with hatred venomous enough to turn against his own flesh and blood. Lavan didn’t care. The only thing on his detestable mind was the murder of Jews. Pharaoh was willing to murder his own subjects. Lavan was willing to murder his own offspring. Psychopaths hate Jews so deeply that murder takes precedence over any personal self-interest.

The worst antisemite of modern times planned the extermination of our entire people, at great national cost. How many resources did Hitler dedicate to the final solution of the Jews? How much more successful would his overall war efforts have been, had he focused his limited time and resources upon the actual war, rather than hunting down Jews in forests and ghettos? There were astonishing reports of German soldiers stranded on train platforms, unable to travel to the front as the rails were occupied with the transport of Jews to death camps. Even in the waning moments of the war, as the German war machine was reeling, the Nazis conducted pointless death marches, just to kill as many surviving Jews as possible. Nazi hatred of Jews became self-immolating. Antisemitism always is. As Kafka described it “They beat the Jews and they murder humanity.”

 

Hatred Is Self-Sabotaging

For many reasons, hatred in general, and antisemitism in particular is always self-destructive. Hatred clouds our rational thinking and impairs our judgment. Chazal portray hatred as an emotion which overcomes logical thinking or is “mekalkel et hashurah.” Hatred reorients our priorities, awarding precedence to revenge and violence over more important and constructive goals.

Throughout much of the 19th century Tzarist Russia was obsessed with persecuting Jews through endless anti-Jewish codes aimed at persecuting Jews into relocation or into religious conversion. Though we occupied 1/24th of the Russian population, we faced unending and stifling restrictions upon areas of residence, professional options, and educational opportunities. Additionally, we faced forced military conscriptions which often ended in forced baptism. This relentless criminalization of Jews led to horrific pogroms beginning in Odessa in 1871, and ultimately induced panicked Jewish emigration from Russia. Preoccupied with insatiable and implacable hatred for Jews, the Tzars had little resources available to adapt to the rapidly modernized world. Russia of the 20th century would pay a steep price for their antisemitic-induced futility during the previous century.

Not only does hate distort judgment, but it always turns in on itself, consuming the hater and devouring a society of hate. Over 6 million German soldiers and civilian lives were drowned out during the years of Nazi violence. It is estimated that Stalin murdered upwards of 20 million Russians in his violent purges. Once hatred and violence are normalized, they are difficult to control or restrain.

Classic Islam aimed to conquer other races and impose Islamic belief upon the defeated population. As a bellicose religion, it always invited violence and aggression. Throughout history, Muslim-on-Muslim violence far exceeded violence directed at non-Muslims. Once hatred is fomented it rarely can be contained. The monster turns on the master.

 

Scapegoating and Victimhood

Furthermore, hatred stymies growth and progress. By creating easy targets to scapegoat, societies of hate learn to deflect responsibility rather than to accept it. Admitting guilt and taking accountability enable growth and progress but are rare in societies which prefer to scapegoat the objects of their hatred.

Additionally, cultures of hate often perpetuate victimhood. Our Arab enemies have invented a new identity called a multigenerational refugee. Throughout history, populations were displaced but, ultimately, resettled, looked forward, and rebuilt better lives. Arabs in Azza and the West Bank, stuck in 5th generation refugeehood are buried in repressed economies and regressive societies. In their attempt to undermine Jewish demography and sovereignty in Israel, Arabs have weaponized the plight of refugees, locking them into unending cycles of suffering. Sadly, Arab refugees are the victims of Arab hatred toward Jews.

Hatred can never serve as the foundation for a healthy and progressive society. While hatred seeks conflict and confrontation, progress requires stability and coordination. Hatred demolishes, progress creates. Hatred suffocates diversity, progress demands it. Hatred looks to destroy, progress to construct.

Iran, Hamas, and their violent supporters have erected societies whose sole purpose is the elimination of the state of Israel and the murder of Jews. These cultures are doomed to fail. Their hate will corrode the foundations of their societies. These societies aren’t built to last. It just takes sustained courage and unwavering moral conviction to literally blow them away. They will be scattered in the winds of history.

 

Don’t Become a Hater

We are facing a global resurgence of antisemitism. Our just and moral war against modern-day Nazis and their supporters has awakened a violent wave of antisemitism. The past three months have been a rude awakening for some while reinforcing long held suspicions for others.

Fortunately, we now possess the capacity to respond and defend ourselves. This is the first pogrom in history that has been followed by a war. Despite our helplessness during the initial onslaught of the massacre, we have rallied to defend our country and our homeland. We also have answers for antisemitism. Unlike the rabid and vocal minority of Jew-haters, much of the Western world supports our efforts to defeat pure evil. We have equipped ourselves with the political tools and ability to oppose antisemitism.

In our battle against our haters, we can’t ourselves degenerate into a culture of hate. Though we hate those who murder and those who support them, we can’t become consumed by hatred.

We are not a people of hate. We are a people of light and of progress. We are a people of God who hope to inspire humanity. If we allow our ruthless enemies to flood us with their hate they will succeed in undermining and defeating us.

Hate the haters, but don’t become one.


The writer is a rabbi at Yeshivat Har Etzion/Gush, a Hesder yeshiva. He has smicha and a BA in computer science from Yeshiva University as well as a masters degree in English literature from the City University of New York.

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