The November issue of Commentary includes Natan Sharansky’s long meditation on the phenomenon of anti-Semitism: “On hating the Jews.” The article presents a wealth of riches and concludes with a thought-provoking comparison of the hatred directed to Jews, on the one hand, and America, on the other hand: “Israel and the Jewish people share something essential with the United States. The Jews, after all, have long held that they were chosen to play a special role in history, to be what their prophets called ‘a light unto the nations.’ What precisely is meant by that phrase has always been a matter of debate, and I would be the last to deny the mischief that has sometimes been done, including to the best interests of the Jews, by some who have raised it as their banner. Nevertheless, over four millennia, the universal vision and moral precepts of the Jews have not only worked to secure the survival of the Jewish people themselves but have constituted a powerful force for good in the world, inspiring myriads to fight for the right even as in others they have aroused rivalry, enmity, and unappeasable resentment.
“It is similar with the United States–a nation that has long regarded itself as entrusted with a mission to be what John Winthrop in the 17th century called a ‘city on a hill’ and Ronald Reagan in the 20th parsed as a ‘shining city on a hill.’ What precisely is meant by that phrase is likewise a matter of debate, but Americans who see their country in such terms certainly regard the advance of American values as central to American purpose. And, though the United States is still a very young nation, there can be no disputing that those values have likewise constituted an immense force for good in the world–even as they have earned America the enmity and resentment of many.
“In resolving to face down enmity and hatred, an important source of strength is the lesson to be gained from contemplating the example of others. From Socrates to Churchill to Sakharov, there have been individuals whose voices and whose personal heroism have reinforced in others the resolve to stand firm for the good. But history has also been generous enough to offer, in the Jews, the example of an ancient people fired by the message of human freedom under God and, in the Americans, the example of a modern people who over the past century alone, acting in fidelity with their inmost beliefs, have confronted and defeated the greatest tyrannies ever known to man.
“Fortunately for America, and fortunately for the world, the United States has been blessed by providence with the power to match its ideals. The Jewish state, by contrast, is a tiny island in an exceedingly dangerous sea, and its citizens will need every particle of strength they can muster for the trials ahead. It is their own people’s astounding perseverance, despite centuries of suffering at the hands of faiths, ideologies, peoples, and individuals who have hated them and set out to do them in, that inspires one with confidence that the Jews will once again outlast their enemies.”
- Subscribe now!... Get rid of ADs!Support Power Line...VIP MembershipPresentsPower Line
Most Read on Power Line
Subscribe to Power Line by Email
Find us on Facebook
“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill
“Proclaim Liberty throughout All the land unto All the Inhabitants Thereof.” Inscription on the Liberty Bell