April 26, 2019

Jew-Hatred Also Hurts the Haters

Demonstrators protesting outside the Spanish Government Delegation in Barcelona, Oct. 20, 2015. Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

It’s common knowledge by now that Jew-hatred, also known as anti-Semitism, will find its way into most societies one way or another, no matter what Jews do or don’t do.

The latest incarnation of this age-old phenomenon has been to hide behind Israel-hatred, as if to suggest that being against the Jewish state is not the same as being against Jews. The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement has been at the forefront of this modern-day sneak attack on Jews.

But here’s what you rarely hear: Hating Jews hurts the haters at least as much as it hurts Jews. It saps their spirit. It sucks their energy. It provides a sugar high, but what lasts are the self-destructive poisons of bitterness and resentment. 

Look at the greater Middle East today, a 22-country cesspool of Jew-hatred for the better part of the last century. Decade after decade, despite the many sectarian and ethnic conflicts among these countries, one thing has united them: Hatred of the Jewish state, fueled by hatred of Jews and Judaism.

This Jew-hatred was promoted by dictators desperate to stay in power by blaming every failure on the Jews and the Jewish state. As Iranian activist Ahmad Hashemi wrote in 2013, “Instead of dealing with root causes of the problems, they [Middle Eastern leaders] preferred to choose a simplistic answer and solution for all unresolved issues… just point a finger at Israel and the Jews.”

This, more than anything, is the dirty secret of the Middle East: Hating the Jews has backfired on the Arab world.

When the Arab Spring protests broke out in 2011, it looked as if protestors had figured out the scam and were telling their corrupt leaders: “Our miserable living conditions have nothing to do with Israel or the conflict with the Palestinians. We’ve had enough. We’re holding you accountable.” 

As we know, the Arab Spring fizzled. The dictators shut it down. The misery continued. But, failure or not, the Arab Spring served to highlight one of the great ironies of our time: Having been taught to hate the Jewish state for so long, Arab protestors ended up demanding precisely what the Jewish state already offered its citizens—basic freedoms, basic rights, economic opportunities.

How crazy is that?

Imagine the panic of an Arab dictator living in fear that his people will figure out what he himself has long known: The Arabs with the most amount of freedom, human rights and opportunities in the Middle East live in that dreaded Jewish state.

This, more than anything, is the dirty secret of the Middle East: Hating the Jews has backfired on the Arab world. It has mired their nations in resentment and bitterness. Of course, it’s not the only factor in their failure to advance, but it’s a crucial psychological one.

It’s only recently that venerable Arab nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia have woken up to the realization that the Jewish state can help them grow and prosper and even defend against enemy forces. We can only hope that this becomes a trend; that other Arab nations will see the futility of hating the Jewish state and look to emulate its more productive ways.

Hating consumes a lot of energy. Even on U.S. college campuses, the BDS movement is one of animosity and resentment. At no point will you see this supposedly pro-Palestinian movement sponsor a program to help Palestinians. That would be too positive. Instead of building, BDS tears down. Instead of loving Palestinians, BDS hates Israel. 

In the long run, it is the builders, the dreamers, the creators, who win.

Look at the Palestinian leadership. They could have had a Palestinian state a long time ago, had they cared about building rather than undermining. Instead of promoting mutual co-existence and prosperity, they promoted hatred of the Jewish state. Instead of saying yes to peace, they said no to Jews. They have wasted generation after generation teaching Jew-hatred.

These haters, however, are not stupid. They see how Israel is winning the battle on the ground. They see how the Jewish state, for all its flaws, blunders and stumbles, continues to grow, to thrive, to attract the best companies in the world, to send spaceships to the moon and humanitarian assistance to disaster areas, and to be tough when it has to defend itself. This must drive them nuts. While Palestinian leaders promote animosity, Israel promotes growth.

The Jew-haters of BDS, like Jew-haters throughout the Arab world and beyond, eventually learn the life lesson we all learn: Hatred and resentment sap your energy; growing and creating renew it.

In the long run, it is the builders, the dreamers, the creators, who win.