The answer to your question is vast, such that it would take volumes to properly discuss; and, even so, we would still not finish it. My mentor from Jerusalem ob”m once exclaimed that there are myriad theories and explanations for anti-Semitism offered by sociologists, historians and other scholars. If we would combine all of these many theories together, perhaps they would explain five percent of the anti-Semitism we have endured over the generations!
There are those who think that we are living in the post-anti-Semitism era today. “Hatred of our people is a thing of the past,” claims Alan Dershowitz, in The Vanishing American Jew. But a cursory glance at worldwide headlines refutes his arguments as well as the euphoria of a generation that wanted to imagine the world has truly changed.
Unveiled anti-Semitism has again reared its ugly head in official government forums, after hiding that ugly head for a short while, out of shame, after the Holocaust.
The Talmud tells us that anti-Semitism will exist until Messianic times. We’re witnessing its fulfillment today.
Although it is not possible in the short space of this article to do justice to this subject, there is one thing I would definitely suggest you express to your children. The world’s fixation on the Jews is certainly not a natural occurrence. With billions of people in the world and problems galore, it is unusual that the “family of nations” of the UN has nearly nothing better to do than to focus their time and energies on a small sliver of land holding a few million people. Modern Israel fits into the State of Texas some 24 times! On most world maps Israel’s name must be written on the Mediterranean Sea for lack of space to fit its own space. Yet the amount of front-page coverage it receives often rivals the U.S. and Russia!
All this shows that God continuously puts us into a position where we are the focal point of the world, and as a result are able to influence them. There’s something very unique about us and our land – the world just can’t forget about us. That certainly makes it incumbent upon us, the Jews, to learn a lot more about ourselves and our land, to know and understand just what it is that’s making them all so jealous of us to the point of constant attention, and sometimes deep respect.
Another perspective on this is the understanding of the source of Judaism, Sinai. The Talmud points out that the word “Sinai” comes from the same root as the word “Sinah”, or hatred. This is to teach us that when we entered the covenant at Sinai and agreed to receive the Torah, this encompassed times that we would not uphold the covenant; at which time we are guaranteed the bitter reminder, by way of the hatred of the nations, that we are not living up to our part of the deal.
That message is a double-edged sword; two edges of kindness. This is because often it has been that very same bitter hatred which has prevented us from assimilating into the melting-pot of our surroundings and remaining a distinct nation. In this way the covenant of Sinai-Sinah ensures our very survival; ironically that which threatens our survival ensures our survival.
All of this is part of the Divine plan for the Jewish people. Anything less than a Divine plan could not begin to describe or explain any or all of what we have traversed in this long and, often, bitter exile. May we be redeemed from it soon!
Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried