Who Loves Us?
by: Rabbi Jeremy Rosen
So the BBC World Service took a poll and discovered that more people think Israel is a danger to the world than any other place! Forgive me for an ironic laugh! The World Service reaches and is avidly listened to by billions of Muslims and an odd million Jews, if it’s lucky (who, anyway, know by now to take BBC polls with a pinch of salt–even the BBC children’s programme Blue Peter admits it fiddled its polls). Hey, imagine a poll in Stamford Hill on favourite colours. Any betting it would be black? Big Deal. It’s like asking in English soccer grounds beyond Stamford Bridge whether they love Mourinho or not.
There are billions of unemployed with nothing better to do than phone in to straw polls. Of course they’re going to knobble their favourite whipping boy or vote for something in the face of those they envy and resent. Just think of the millions who vote for Big Brother or American Idol, and they’re actually paying to swing the results! Besides, we Jews are never united on anything, even on the things we hate. After all, Israel itself divides pretty equally between those of its citizens who want it to survive and those who don’t. And Jews are divided, perhaps not so evenly, on whether their religion ought to be phased out altogether or turned into a monastic order.
I was asked this week to help deal with a Swedish anti-Semitic site that claims we must have done something to deserve being hated and quotes Talmudic snippets out of context to show how wicked we Jews are: How we have sex with girls under three years old because under three their virginity returns. How we can pick up innocent gentile women in the street, have sex with them, which means they are married to us by law and trapped, and then drink their blood once a month. How we are commanded to kill all non-Jews and it is permitted to steal from our non-Jewish neighbours. Any idiot can take any law and hold it up to ridicule. On the contrary, ignorance helps! Imagine condemning all Brits on the basis of what the Domesday Book of 1086 says, or the English penal system on hanging in Judge Jeffrey’s era three hundred years ago, let alone two thousand. Sorry we’re still alive, boys! And don’t we always say, “The Almighty weighs His faithful; he doesn’t just count them”?
So should we be taking hatred seriously or not? You could argue that we are not always a loveable lot. But should that matter? We try very hard to succeed and, dammit all, we do a bloody good job in almost every single sphere we set our minds to. Proportionally we are way ahead of the game in every area, academic, commercial, industrial, financial, medical, even literary. We win more prizes and accolades for our numbers than anyone else and we tend to rise up the ladder in every society we find ourselves in, pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps instead of moaning and complaining and begging for handouts (and certainly not bombing innocents to gain attention). Of course they’re all jealous like mad.
To make matters worse, they all know that it’s only thanks to us that their religions are around altogether. Neither Islam nor Christianity would have got off the ground had we not laid the foundations and done the spade work. So they have to rubbish us to reinforce their insecurity by claiming we blew it but now they got it! The essence of their religions all come from us, ethically, even ritually. The differences are really either cosmetic, cultural or simply softer, watered down options. They both have this neurotic preoccupation with trying to ram their religion down everyone else’s throats and claim that theirs is the only way to Heaven and everyone else is doomed. Whereas we more reasonable guys actually think others can be good and right and can get to Heaven their way too! Sheesh, as they say in the USA, who’s the normal one here? And please don’t accuse me of generalizing. I’m not suggesting that ALL non-Jews are like that of course, only the irrational, prejudiced ones.
I know the Israelis are a tough lot. You can’t go anywhere on the globe (or even in space) without bumping into them doing deals, selling arms, stealing the bed linen from hotels, monopolizing mountaintops, ashrams, and beaches, or doing the plumbing and decorating for less and more efficiently than the lazy local contractors. Yes, they are a prickly, arrogant bunch and they’re buying up all the real estate and making money out of idleness and apathy of the locals. But it’s hardly surprising, living under constant tension, unceasing pressure, cooped up in a little country with so many bloody Jews.
And yes, Jews control the world, don’t you know (so does the Royal Family, ask Mr. Fayed); that’s why Madonna has become a Kabbalist. There you have it Hollywood, God and Cash all in bed together. And no doubt you’ve all seen the Memri tape of the Iranian “academic” who claims Walt Disney was Jewish and really Tom and Jerry is about Jewish mice controlling the non-Jewish cats of the world.
We must take hatred seriously! And when all is said and done we must not let the bastards get us down. We are pretty good. We have a fantastic religion that encourages us to enjoy life, delight in God’s gifts, no celibacy or monasticism. We can be party of society without having to withdraw. We have a religion that is overwhelmingly focused on good deeds rather than right theology, and if things aren’t always as they should be, it’s the fault of the all too human rabbis rather than the religion itself! We are charitable way beyond our numbers and more than other supposedly charitable traditions. We have come back from the death camps and built a strong, financially productive state that, despite some glitches along the way, can take care of itself even in a sea of hatred that surrounds it. The picture is not that bad.
We know our own failings, hypocrisies, inadequacies and sins. But our religion encourages us to get them out of our system and go forward. Who else escapes the clutches of their enemies and then says “but we gotta be nice to them nevertheless”? Our religion did that three thousand years ago, as we’ll remember this Pesach, and we’ve been doing it ever since. I’m prepared to bet Israel will end up doing more for the Palestinians than their coreligionists or hard line left wing bandwaggon jumpers on.
We’re good! It’s not so bad to be a Jew. It isn’t easy, but it’s rewarding. And if they don’t like us, they have a far bigger problem than we do.