Naftali Bennett, the Israeli Minister of Education, published today a Facebook post commemorating the anniversary of the acquittal of Alfred Dreyfus by the French Supreme Court in 1906. Using the Dreyfus Affair as a jumping board to our times, Bennett went on to write the following:
Antisemitism does not need a reason. It accompanies the Jewish people since our birth 4,000 years ago. Next time we get hit by a boycott, a condemnation, a UN report – do not blame yourselves. It is not because of what the IDF does. It is not because of the settlements. It is because we are Jews.
In other words, a carte blanche to carry out any action which is “good for the Jews” (in the eyes of Bennett and his followers, of course). No questions will be asked. Indeed, no questions need be asked. No forethought or introspection. Because the truth is the world hates us, therefore any and all criticism is due to antisemitism and not due to our actions.
It is ironic that this position is expressed by the leader of “The Jewish Home” party. The Prophets and our Sages faced innumerable, and considerably worse, hardships from the nations of the world. And not once did they blame these hardships on “antisemitism” or “Jew hatred”. Not once did they absolve themselves, and the Jewish public, of all responsibility. Quite the opposite.
The Bible (especially the books of the Prophets) and the Talmud are full of examples where the Jewish people are urged to look inward, to find out what they did wrong, where they sinned, to be deserving of these hardships. The constant call was to repent and to cleanse. My grandfather, of blessed memory, was always uttering the word “בעוונותינו” (“due to our sins”) whenever he heard about some tragedy happening to Israel or to Jews.
Of course there is antisemitism. Of course most of the criticism Israel receives disingenuous. But the Jewish way has always been to search within, to first make sure we are doing the right things. Not a blind call to ignore all criticism and act whichever way we like.
“The Jewish Home”? Evidently not so Jewish…