The full-page Washington Post ad firing back at Lorde for deciding to cancel her Israel concert due to BDS pressure by calling her a “bigot,” and blasting New Zealand at the same time, is not the kind of response that will earn Israel’s image any points.
Sure, Israel is right in its efforts to fight the various delegitimization campaigns. But instead of trying to tell those who resent Israel that they are wrong, we should first explain to ourselves where these sentiments truly come from.
Instead of pouring money into divisive PR attacks, which make us all look no more mature than school children cursing each other, it would be much more beneficial for Israel, Jews worldwide, and even human society in general, to invest in a PR strategy that uncovers the true foundation of the Jewish people and the deep seeded reason for why so many people hate Israel and the Jewish people, and what can be constructively done about it.
I would focus the message of such a PR effort on the following three points:
1. What is the root of the hatred?
The root of the hatred toward Jews is deeply rooted in humanity. The Hebrew word for “Jew” (Yehudi) comes from the word “united” (yihudi) (Yaarot Devash, Part 2, Drush no. 2), as the Jewish people was founded on the principle of unity above differences. In consequence, they are expected to exemplify that unity for humanity to follow. By doing so, they would become a vital conduit that has the power to replace humanity’s division, conflicts and suffering with unity, peace and happiness. As Rav Kook writes, “In Israel lies the secret of the unity of the world.”
Humanity is connected as a single network, and the people of Israel are a critical “hub” in the network. The Zohar states that thoughts and actions of the Jewish people have a rippling effect throughout humanity and that all the crises in the world are related to the function they are supposed to fulfill within the network.
Thus, the more negative phenomena accumulate in the world, the more the world resents Israel and the Jewish people, indirectly pressuring us to realize our role. If we showed the world the example of unity it is waiting for, we would immediately feel a positive response. As long as we do not act this way, then more and more people feel inexplicable hatred toward the Jewish people.
2. Where do the Jews come from?
The nation of Israel is not a typical nation. It emerged in ancient Babylon when individuals, families, and tribes agreed to follow the revolutionary spiritual idea that Abraham the Patriarch had pioneered.
It was a time of immense social division. Abraham was a Babylonian who refused to succumb to the flow of everydayness, which sided people against each other. Instead, he embarked on a journey of self-discovery, the study of nature and the system of creation. This led him to a cutting-edge discovery: the perception of humanity as a single unified network, where two fundamental forces are at play: a positive force of unity and a negative force of egoism. The positive force constantly operates to unify all individuals into a single whole, while the negative force constantly gravitates in the opposite direction, distancing individuals from one another.
Abraham’s discovery pointed out that the laws acting on an individual are the same laws acting on wider scales in nature. He concluded that the Babylonian society’s crisis could be fixed if the balance between the two forces was would be restored, by strengthening the positive force of unity. He formed groups and guided them to cultivate unity as a supreme value, teaching them how to rise above the egoistic force that separated them.
This is how a method of rising above the human ego and maintaining unity above differences was developed. Throughout the generations, this method became known as “the wisdom of Kabbalah.”
3. Why now?
Humanity has been rapidly developing in recent years. We have reached new heights in technological and scientific development, dangerously coupled with new lows in the quality of our human relations. Today’s world is immersed in division and conflict, with intensifying politically-based social division, the resurfacing of Nazi, fascist and xenophobic tendencies, and increasing anxiety about nuclear weapons and war.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ ushering in of 2018 by issuing “a red alert for our world” and emphasizing the need to “together settle conflicts, overcome hatred and defend shared values” is a clear warning signal of our times.
The solution to today’s intensifying anxieties, which has the power to elevate human society to a new level of relations based on unity and mutual responsibility, is the ability to rise above the divisive human ego. The method to implement this solution lies deep in the heart of the Jewish people.
It’s simple: the more the system will require us Jews to unite above our differences, the stronger the hatred toward us will become. Or in a more positive light: the more we will unify, the more we will “unblock” the system, allowing nature’s positive, unifying force to flow into human relations.
Therefore, if we return to the initial examination of “What do Israel’s boycotters truly feel?” before we simply counterattack them as a knee-jerk reaction to them attacking us, they are right in reminding us of the world’s harsh demands for the Jewish people to carry out their role. No matter what high-tech innovations Israel brings to the world, the world remains unimpressed, subconsciously expecting something a lot more meaningful and substantial from the Jewish people.
In the past week, Lorde’s voice has been stripped off the musical stage and amplified in political exploits. However, with more articulate PR efforts, we might be able to start hearing the much deeper calling behind Lorde’s Israel concert cancellation: the voice of the world that yearns for Israel and the Jewish people to start setting a positive, unifying example.