We Jews are numerically a very small people in this world. When I look at us in proportion to other peoples, I am astonished at the degree of interest and concern about the State of Israel and Jewish people generally in the public discourse. It is out of all proportion to our number and our impact on the world.
Of course, we care about ourselves as a people. I know many jokes about how we Jews always try to figure what any issue – even elephants in the wild – has to do with us and our survival as a people. But why do other people care about us at all?
When I visit other communities in Canada or elsewhere in the world, I try to connect with the Jewish community there. More often than not, I hear stories of our needing to keep a low profile, of security issues and of doubts about the future.
When I listen to my lefty friends here at home, I cringe at their self-righteous generalizations about the Jewish people and Israel. So many people want to stand in judgment of us. What does one say in return? A rational argument does not affect their point of view. They retort that I have the facts wrong and further, that I lack empathy for the suffering of others.
I go back to my question. Why do we matter so much to other people that they feel they must pass judgment? I think their faith and values teach them a sense that they have the only right answers to the human existential questions: Why are we born and then die? What happens after death? What is the right behaviour? Why do we suffer? The daughter religions of Judaism – Christianity and Islam – have tried to convert us to their own beliefs for centuries. Their resentment of those who chose to retain their identity with the Jewish people affects even those Jews, Christians and Muslims who became atheists.
It is mostly fruitless to try and change those people who want to change us. As for me, I cannot appoint myself a judge of others either. There are many ways to fix the world if it is coming apart for you. I will continue to listen to their ideas and I trust that some of them will listen to mine. We must always live in hope.