Sinat Hinam

The Women’s March saved us from the Trumpocalypse. Just a few days after the inauguration they came out by the millions to protest. Trump saw them and realized his despotic and autocratic dreams would not be realized. The marchers were an amalgam of many social and ethnic groups – blacks, gays, women, Jews, Muslims and immigrants. Yet now even as Trump shuts down the government to extort the country to accede to his abominable border wall, the Jews have embarked on a crusade against ‘antisemitism’ among the March leaders. The end result could be that democrats are weakened and give in, and after the construction is started on the wall, and immigrants are rounded up, Trump will then round up the Jews to send us back to ‘your country‘. Or even worse, he will detain us indefinitely: “We can’t send them back to Israel – the wall isn’t built yet you idiot!”

Pussyhats stave off the Trumpocalypse

We are abandoning our allies right when we need them the most. This is self-destructive behavior and we’ve been doing it for millennia. The end result is our destruction. The rabbis have a term for this dynamic – sinat hinam. It means ‘gratuitous hatred’. The fall of the Second Temple is famously attributed to it. It can also be credited for the crucifixion of Jesus, the sacking of Jerusalem, and all the pogroms that have occurred since, and even the Holocaust. However it’s important to realize that the rabbis were not referring to hatred of the non-Jews, even though that was certainly the cause (and result) of violence against us. They were referring to hatred between Jewish factions: ultra-orthodox, Zionist, socialist, capitalist, diaspora and others. These groups attacked each other over petty squabbles. Or they blocked off each other and self-radicalized in their echo chambers. Either way, this weakened us and prevented us from defending ourselves, especially the most feeble and vulnerable among us. It was also an invitation for antisemites like Farrakhan to pile on with similar rhetoric. How can we condemn him for what we are guilty of ourselves?

In addition to the Women’s March, Jews are at each others’ throats on numerous issues and prominent leaders are directing hateful rhetoric at each other. Here are some examples of the language from Twitter:

  • Saudi-led Qatar boycott:
    • “obsessively crave to be near celebrities… fame seeking, money hungry self promoter… talk about Torah values and ethics yet you violate them all the time. Shame.”
  • Egalitarian prayer at the Kotel:
    • Defenseless little Jewish girls are described as monsters and Nazis
    • “Shouting is violence”
  • Secular education at yeshivas:
    • “You embarrass the Orthodox community. You embarrass all of Rockland.”
    • “Hey nut-job”
    • “relentless, brutal attacks on Orthodox Jews”
    • “unfettered smear campaign”
  • ‘Kosher’ workspaces for religious men:
    • “Women are not contaminants, defilements or impurities. We are people.”
    • “You’re just a rabble rouser.”

Outsiders see the vicious rhetoric and pile on. This causes an escalating cycle of hostilities that can lead to violence and genocide. This is exacerbated by the practice of mesirah – reporting fellow Jews to secular authorities. This weakens our Jewish adversaries temporarily, but ultimately state power will be weaponized against all of us. For example, many BDS supporters are Jewish. So the Zionists may get a temporary win by criminalizing BDS, but in the long run the state powers will be used against them too. (Similarly, top Nazi propagandists were prosecuted under Weimar ‘blasphemy’ laws originally intended to protect the Jews from the ‘blood libel’. They were radicalized while sitting in prison. This is why free speech is so important.) State powers used to force Jewish children to study secular subjects will result in a massacre of the very people we were trying to save. As several sagacious men have admonished: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Condemnation of Louis Farrakhan is completely justified, but remember that he is not just an antisemite, but a wide ranging bigot. He has a long history of rhetoric against gays, white people, and other ethnic and religious groups. Whereas Linda Sarsour, Mark Lamont Hill, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, regardless of their foibles, are good people and respected leaders. Sure you can condemn them for ‘antisemitism’. But the Chief Rabbi of Israel is even more racist than Farrakhan. He recently compared black people to monkeys. Netanyahu’s son Yair recently advocated for the expulsion of all Muslims from Israel. This is far greater racism yet the people bashing the Women’s March are silent. This is hypocrisy. In fact if we held our own leadership accountable, this would go a long way to dampening the antisemitism of others.

Trump now uses the same rhetoric against immigrants that have been used against the Jews: they are criminals, sexual predators, terrorists, infiltrators, poison. He does this to justify the wall. Israel of course uses similar rhetoric to justify its own separation barrier. This was not obvious before, but it is becoming more clear. In fact many Zionists secretly support Trump’s wall because they know that if it fails in the US, then Israel’s wall will become increasingly under scrutiny. The upcoming elections in Israel will shine a spotlight on the issue. Rhetoric like Steven King’s white nationalism is common in Israel and goes completely unchallenged. It is Jewish supremacy, and is of course just as unacceptable.

Despite our many ideological fault lines, when we were attacked by outsiders, the Jews have traditionally closed ranks and protected each other. The result was that people saw Jews as monolithic, and an instigation by one part of the Jewish community against them could result in retaliation against another. For example, the Birmingham Holocaust Foundation protested Angela Davis’ recent award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Now Davis certainly has some reprehensible views – she is a communist and flacked for the Soviet Union. But she is a beloved leader in the black community, and to condemn her for ‘antisemitism’ is preposterous. The black community was rightfully resentful. This resulted in violent retaliation against conspicuous Jews a week later in Brooklyn. This is of course reprehensible, but nevertheless is an inevitable outcome of censorship. Remember, America was founded on freedom because the founders knew that restrictions led to violence and war.

Thus the organization meant to protect us from a Holocaust actually puts us at risk of one.

Perhaps it is too much to ask of Jews that we be both united and civil with each other. Every Jewish group is pushing for a different government power to restrict our rights. However one group is actually standing against this: US Muslims. Gold Star father Kizr Khan held up the Constitution to remind us why bans based on religion are wrong. Muslim teachers across the south remind us that loyalty oaths to a foreign country (in the form of anti-BDS pledges) are un-American. The recent election of Muslim women to Congress prove that Jews and Muslims can live together in peace, freedom, equality and prosperity. By demanding freedom and equal rights in the US, Muslims will save the Jews from ourselves – and then demand these rights for themselves in Israel/Palestine. If we can unite to block Trump’s wall, then the abominable separation wall in Israel will crumble as well.

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