Lapid’s Speech on Antisemitism Admitted Something Jews Rarely Admit

Nir Gontarz
Nir Gontarz
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Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at a cabinet meeting in the Knesset last week.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at a cabinet meeting in the Knesset last week.Credit: Marc Israel Sellem
Nir Gontarz
Nir Gontarz

A recent speech by Yair Lapid was a foundational event in the history of Israel, and maybe even in the history of the Jewish people. It's unlikely the new foreign minister thought about the significance of his speech before he gave it. It's doubtful whether he would have made his address if he had given it some thought and realized its importance.

I think, based on my acquaintance with his public persona, he simply woke up in the morning with an idea, went to Wikipedia to find examples of hatred, and integrated them into the abstract idea he woke up with.

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In his speech to the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, Lapid tried to explain to the world what antisemitism is, and said the time had come to tell the true story of antisemitism. The time had come to tell the world what we're facing.

Lapid claimed, justifiably, that antisemitism is just a subspecies of racism, no different from it. The antisemites are the members of the Hutu tribe in Rwanda who massacred members of the Tutsi tribe. The antisemites are the Muslim fanatics who over the past decade have killed more than 20 million other Muslims. The antisemites are the Islamic State and Boko Haram.

So what then was so special in the short speech that triggered such a major reaction? Between the lines, Lapid made the most simple and correct claim, but one that angered all those who argue and live their lives from a perspective of Jewish supremacy. Lapid denied one of the fundamental principles of the Jewish people when he said that the Jewish people is the same as all other peoples – no longer the “chosen people” or “a light unto the gentiles.”

Lapid is right; the Jewish people, which has always taken care to lord it over the peoples and nations of the world and separate itself while adopting an immoral stance of Jewish supremacy, isn't really different from the peoples and nations of the modern world, or the ancient world. The Jew isn't different from the Egyptian or the Iranian. Not from the Lebanese, American or Tutsi.

This is why the hatred of the Jews because of their ethnic or religious origin is no different from the hatred of the Muslims by those of other religions, or of Christians (infidels) by the Muslims, or of Black people by white people.

Moreover, the percentage of racists among the Jews toward people of other races, religions and nationalities is no lower than the percentage of American or English racists. The Jews are not different in their nature than people of other nationalities. The variability between the peoples and religions is expressed through their lifestyles, customs and religious practices, but not in the basic character of the person.

I can't remember when an Israeli leader of such high stature as Lapid – the foreign minister who's due to become prime minister halfway into the term – claimed with such clarity that the hatred of Jews is no different from any other hatred against any other religion or nationality. And as a derivative of this idea, nothing is unique about the Jewish people except for whatever uniqueness it attributes to itself.

All people, regardless of their nationality or gender, are racist toward each other. Due to their nature and education that keeps them separate from a young age, people are usually afraid of those who are different from them, and gradually learn to be arrogant, hate these other people, and in extreme cases even attack them.

The Holocaust is no different from the Armenian genocide except in its scope, and this is largely because of the efficiency and determination of the Germans and the technology they had at their disposal. It's not different from the destruction of an entire tribe in Africa, or from the massacres carried out during the Crusades or the Muslim campaigns of conquest.

Lapid did something good, even if he didn't intend to, when he tried to tell the world that “we are the same as you.” Yes, he did something good even if he riled up the Jews of Israel and the world those who have been educated throughout the generations on the lap of Jewish supremacy and are convinced with all their heart that the Jew is superior to the gentile and that to hate the Jew is something many times more serious than to hate the Black, Armenian or Muslim.

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