I was recently made aware of a facebook group called “We hate Israel.” Of course, they also put the word Israel in “scare quotes” to imply the very existence of the nation is illegitimate in the first place. I think it goes without saying where that group stands on the political scale, but it is not my intention to discuss Middle Eastern politics in this article nor to defend or counter their group.
I want to focus on the hate itself.
My primary intent in writing Arguing with Friends was to help people understand that it is possible to have serious disagreements on major life issues in a way that allows both parties to express their views, honestly explore the ideas, and remain friendly toward each other. My thought is that there is already too much hate in the world and I wanted to do my little part (admittedly a very little part) to reduce the hate and move people toward the truth instead of interpersonal conflict. Though the focus of my book is discussions of a religious nature the same principles apply to other fields as well (as I mention). Politics would obviously be one of these other fields.
Naturally, I find groups like this frustrating. Hate is something the world could do with less of, not more of, but here is a group that not only hates another group but advertises that hatred; wearing it like a badge of honour. In fact, their hatred is not even merely one ingredient in their make-up, it has been elevated to a defining property. Their very reason for existence is centered around their hatred.
But there is no honour in hatred nor is anything accomplished through it. When humans hate each other it never leads to resolutions of problems, it merely propogates problems. What does this group imagine it will accomplish? Suppose an average Israeli were to stumble upon that facebook group. How likely is it the Israeli is going to think to herself, “boy, some people really hate us, perhaps we should change our foreign policies?” The likelihood of that is virtually zero. When people find that somebody else has an incredibly strong emotionally negative disposition toward them their first instinct is to get self-defensive. They are more likely to strengthen their resolve than to weaken it. Their deepened devotion to their cause in the face of blatant hatred will then lead the hater to become even more aggravated, continuing the cycle.
There will be some who will respond to hatred through appeasement. If this happens then a victory was won not through civilized discourse leading toward a mutually beneficial arrangement, but because one party bullied the other into submission. That is almost always a short-term gain (the submissive one usually rises again at some point), and even if it is long-term it establishes a relationship of superiority-inferiority between the two parties. Frankly, it is dehumanizing and opposes equality for all. Even that form of “success” requires dehumanizing another human being which simply reveals that the hater was never fully human themselves. The cost of success is too high to really consider that an honourable victory.
Hatred fails. It’s that simple. We need to find a better way. Even if you truly hate another person’s philosophy (you should never hate the person!) it is imperative that you keep your hatred to yourself and find ways of showing the other person that their views are false. One should never embrace or renounce any viewpoint as a result of any popularity contest, or because of emotions their perspective may inspire in others. Truth needs to be the final arbiter, not nose-counts and peer pressure.
Groups like “We hate Israel” are little more than juvenile expressions of the worst in human nature and they are destined to make the world a worse place, not a better one. It is wrong to hate Israel and it would be equally wrong for Israelis to hate those around them. Fostering and celebrating an attitude of hatred resolves nothing and only exacerbates the problems. If they really want change for the better in the Middle East they will disband that group and find a more productive means to strive for peace. They must also learn to sincerely love those they disagree with; the most difficult challenge of all.