Obsessed with Jews

Friday, 24 May, 2024 - 11:58 am

Disclaimer: This is not a political commentary.

This week I read two news stories (among many) that struck me as absurd. It seems the world has gone “meshuga.”

One was an article that reported on a certain member of the US Senate accusing Israel of creating “the worst humanitarian disaster in modern history.” Not sure how he defines modern history, but I can think of a few disasters that he may want to consider. The Holocaust, Soviet oppression, oppression by China, North Korea, Cambodia, the massacres in Rwanda, Darfur, and Syria, just to name a few.

The second article quoted a Hamas spokesperson complaining to Reuters about the ICC prosecutor seeking arrest warrants for both Israeli and Hamas leaders. He objected on the grounds that the warrant, “equates the victim with the executioner.” He is absolutely correct in a technical sense, just not in the way he intends it.

Why is the world so obsessed with this conflict? Why are so many who are usually dispassionate when it comes to other conflicts and crises, suddenly up in arms regarding Israel. We did not see this degree of obsession against Hamas following the attack on October 7. A million deaths and a refugee crisis in Syria; the world is silent. 800,000 dead in Rwanda; crickets. Uyghurs are being slaughtered in China; nobody gives a hoot. Etc., etc., etc.!

The are less UN resolutions addressing all those conflicts combined than the ones calling out Israel.

We cannot say that it is about the Palestinians, because nobody says boo when they are mistreated by Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and other Arab countries. In fact, Egypt has a solution to protecting civilian lives in Gaza, but hardly a peep at their sealed checkpoint.

So, it must be an obsession with Jews. Only when Jews are involved in the conflict does it become a big deal. It appears that the world puts us on a pedestal and wants to hold us to a different standard. (This does not mean that I in any way agree with their misguided conclusions about the current conflict in Gaza.)

What’s the deal? What are we to make of it? What are we to do about it?

3,336 years ago, we stood at the foot of a mountain somewhere between Egypt and the Promised Land. G-d announced to us for all to hear “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

Maybe we need to take a page from the antisemitic playbook of obsession with Jews. Let’s get obsessed with who we need to be as a “Kingdom of Priests” and a “Holy Nation.” Have we been trying too hard to assimilate? Have we been sufficiently focused on the role that G-d has conferred upon us to be “a light unto the nations;” a role model of morality and holiness? When we try to escape our identity, we get reminded in the least preferable manner. We can either garner obsessive respect or obsessive hate and resentment. We ultimately determine whether Jew is a designation of admiration or a title of scorn.

The anniversary of that declaration by G-d at Sinai is coming up in a few weeks. We must embrace our status as a “Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation.” Royalty has standards. Holiness has structured parameters. Just Jew It!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Comments on: Obsessed with Jews
There are no comments.