Op-Ed: When Will We Start Educating About Hatred?
Dr. Rene LevyThe writer is the author of the new book Baseless Hatred: What it is and What You Can Do About It (Gefen Publishing).
The break-in by young “settler activists” has received broad exposure in the Israeli and foreign media. Outside of Israel, the coverage focused heavily on the “Nazi” appellation used against a deputy brigade commander.
We, who are used to anti-Israel bias of the mainstream media, could very well consider this type of coverage another manifestation of the media’s chronic hunger for headlines. But not this time!
Because “lines have been crossed here” as stated by GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi; also because of the unprecedented and ominous warning of Chief Rabbi Amar "The greatest enemy is the specter of civil war. ……. We must not remain silent. In silence there is danger.” He went on to “call on everyone to be vigilant and consider the dire consequences of such actions”.
The Chief Rabbi’s use of words such as “civil war” is nothing less than frightening. In response to his call, we should not only speak up but also chart a course of action.
To that effect, I submit that there is one principal reason that we have reached the break point where “lines have been crossed” and the “specter of civil war” has to be invoked: it is because educational institutions, religious and secular, have ignored serious teaching of the human (Jewish and non-Jewish) emotion of hatred.
An obvious demonstration of ignorance regarding the nature of hatred is manifestated by many Israeli and Diaspora Jews for whom the word “hatred” has become synonymous with “Nazi hatred”. Ironically, in the case at hand, while Maj. Gen. Mizrahi stated "In 30 years of service, I've never seen Jews express such hatred toward our soldiers", omitting the left's weekly vociferous anti-IDF demonstrations, his own deputy brigade commander was called a “Nazi”. The person he called a hater was the one hurling the slur of Nazi to the soldier.
It seems as if we, Jews, know of only one yardstick for hatred, Nazi-hatred, i.e., the hatred we experienced at the hands of the Nazis. Such a degree of ignorance is not acceptable because it is dangerous for the Jewish people as a whole.
In view of the current events, we should ask ourselves:
- What does it mean when a Jewish “hater”, whether he is a hareidi-religious citizen, leftist demonstrator or price tag rioter, calls an IDF soldier a “Nazi”? What does the label “Nazi” signify when that very soldier’s grandmother was a Holocaust survivor?
- How does one segregate between “soldier-hatred” as described by Maj.Gen. Mizrachi and the “Nazi-hatred” felt by the assailant? Or more generally, is Jew-to-Jew hatred qualitatively or quantitatively different from the established Nazi hatred of Jews?
All Jewish children should be able to answer these questions, wherever they live in large cities in Israel or the Diaspora or in Judea/Samaria. Our soldiers and our police officers should also be trained in the basic understanding of hatred. Hatred has multiple faces and multiple levels that cannot be understood without the use of recent scientific advances allowing the coupling of neurobiology and psychology.
In response to the Chief Rabbi’s warning, it is necessary but not sufficient to condemn certain words or acts or issue resolutions or pledge dialogue. When we are on the brink of civil war, it is time to utilize all available means to begin re-building our future.
The time has come for leaders of teaching institutions (religious and secular, in Israel and the Diaspora) to institute formal classes on hatred using the most advanced electronic and scientific educational resources.
In addition, the global directory of Holocaust Museums lists more than sixty institutions in seventeen countries, with twenty five in the United States. The time has come for those institutions to help all Jews understand that human hatred includes more than the Nazi yardstick. How can these institutions remain silent about Jew-Jew hatred when it is we, the Jews, who contributed to the world the very notion of “baseless hatred” (in Hebrew Sinat Chinam)?
How can they continue to focus on Nazi hatred when Jews regularly misuse the Nazi label thus desecrating the memories of millions of victims?
Until in-depth educational programs about hatred are created and distributed, ignorant Jewish haters will continue to behave as victims and feel justified to label an IDF soldier as a Nazi. We should remember that we cannot change what we do not understand.