Editorial: Quantum of Hatred

Jewish Light Editorial

Why does the world take solace in hate?

When things go bad, we seem to revel in our loathing. We blame, we curse, we lash out, we condemn. We do just about anything other than accept personal responsibility.

Thus, activists who send ships in to challenge the Gaza blockade, some with a clearly stated mission of provoking a violent counteraction, spew hate toward Israel and Jews, unwilling and pathologically unable to admit their true intentions.

Israeli leaders who most clearly botched the entry onto the Mavi Marmara throw all culpability away from themselves and in the direction of world hostility toward Israel, failing to grasp that your opponent ‘s abhorrent actions don’t automatically make yours immune from criticism.

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Longtime UPI reporter Helen Thomas, in a moment of ugliness that raises a question of whether she’s learned anything in her 89 years on this Earth, tells Jews to get out of the Middle East and return to Europe, showing a fierce contempt rooted in what appears to be deep-rooted anti-Semitism.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose nation lent its flag to the Gaza flotilla, menacingly threatens to break ties with Israel over the incident, as though Turkey couldn’t have possibly known that there were mercenaries and Islamist terrorists among the crew of the Mavi.

And as we’ve seen in our recent special series, “The State of Hate,” a variety of incidents and crimes against any number of groups – Jews, racial and ethnic minorities, the LGBT community – stem from the uneducated and venomous beliefs by some that “those people” (whoever they may be) are somehow responsible for ruining their otherwise idyllic lives.

There are countless problems with hate, of course, but one awfully tragic one is that it so often enables the avoidance of our own culpability. If you can divert attention from yourself and your own wrongs, then you can create the perception that you have no ownership of the bad stuff; it was all created by the other guy.

But here’s a news flash: There are almost no situations in the world that are that simple. Even (and especially) if the moral compass tilts firmly in your direction, you get no license to hold yourself to a lower standard.

In our report, we exemplified perhaps the lowest standard of them all, by showing how the internet has become a spawning ground for those who have tried to “legitimize” hate by alchemizing racism into things that sound noble such as “white pride.” Funny how so many of those movements were spawned from groups and individuals known for patently hateful and racist views.

But it doesn’t stop with hate groups; society as a whole must believe that the casting of stones is a valid way to live our lives. Why else would the Glenn Becks and Keith Olbermanns be considered media success stories? They don’t work to find common ground; they don’t solve problems; they don’t bring people together. They’re like a game of verbal dodgeball.

These voices basically appeal to those who like to hate the same things that they do. If you hate the left, listen to me; if you find the right offensive, tune in. It’s so much easier, isn’t it, to just nod reflexively at those who mirror your own hostile views, rather than trying the heavy lifting associated with working through problems to find constructive resolutions.

Except that, in the long run, this preaching to the choir does nothing, nothing at all, to advance our public discussions. It doesn’t lead to deals, it doesn’t lead to peace, it doesn’t lead to progress.

Look, we’re not sophomoric fools. We understand there are principles to be defended, and defend them we must. The State of Israel. The battle against such evils as Iran and North Korea. The preservation of liberties. The quest for peace and social justice here and abroad. And so on.

But in so defending, too frequently and readily do we substitute venom for our own core values. Thus, in showing our staunch support for Israel some may emphatically reject out of hand the plight of Palestinians, when in other contexts we would cringe at any human suffering. Or consider those who blindly stand by Gaza, many of whom would give its leadership a free pass and advocate for boycotts against Israel, while turning a blind eye to terrorist bombings or the thousands of rockets hurled for years toward civilians in Sderot, Ashkelon and other southern Israeli cities.

We certainly are aware that the words above will foment resentment among those with a vested interest on either end of the spectrum, and some will no doubt accuse us as traitorous to their cause.

But hey, that’s really the point we’re trying to make here, isn’t it?