New York Daily News, September 18, 2020
Jews won’t be your scapegoat any longer
By MARC D. ANGEL
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |
SEP 18, 2020 AT 5:00 AM
For centuries, Jews have been the world’s scapegoat. No matter how absurd the charge, haters have attributed all sorts of evils to this one tiny group of humanity. The great Tunisian/French writer, Albert Memmi, described the predicament: “To be a Jew is first and foremost to find oneself called to account, to feel oneself continuously accused, explicitly or implicitly, clearly or obscurely…There is that constant hostility, that noxious haze in which the Jew is born, lives and dies.”
The haters do not relate to Jews as fellow human beings, but as stereotypes. Their hatred is not aimed at this Jew or that Jew but at “the Jews.” In their warped fantasies, “the Jews” are responsible for all sorts of terrible things; they accuse the entire group, they spread lies and slanders, and ultimately they too often resort to violence.
In a world of over 7 billion people, the Jewish population is less than 15 million — an infinitesimal fraction of humanity. Yet the haters somehow think that this very diverse group of Jews constitute a threat to the world’s wellbeing. Conspiracy theories against Jews would be laughable if they weren’t so dangerous. The haters will readily believe any and every malicious motive and action of “the Jews.”
Jews, in all their diversity, share some common values: the importance of education; the centrality of family; the responsibility for social justice. Although they are such a tiny segment of humanity, Jews — as individuals and as a group — have contributed mightily to the advancement of humanity.
The haters have deep problems. They project their own evil intentions on their scapegoat victims. They think that they are stronger if they can oppress those who they perceive as being an easy target. They want to prove their own worth by tearing down others, rather than by actually raising themselves.
Jews have been the world’s scapegoats for many centuries. We have suffered scorn, ghettoization, violence and murder. We want to notify the world: We resign, we no longer will serve as your scapegoat. From now on, please take your fears and feelings of inferiority to your mirror. Instead of projecting evil on Jews — or any other group — heal yourself. Instead of seeking a scapegoat to relieve your frustrations, think of how you can be the best person you can be.
The Hebrew prophets of the Bible foresaw a time when people will no longer devote their energies to war and destructive hatred. We are, unfortunately, not yet living in such an ideal world.
But each person can either bring us closer to the goal, or drag us further from it.
Angel is director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals and rabbi emeritus of the historic Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York.