Divided Opinions without Divided Hearts

[This segment was broadcast on Arutz-7 approx. one week prior
to Yigal Amir's assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin z”l]

A friend of mine asked me, "How can I not hate those people? After all, they have terrible opinions and ideas which are simply dangerous for the Nation, the Land, and the State of Israel! Must I maintain cordial relations with them, and nod to everything they say?"
The answer, of course, is no: he need not agree with all that they say. But he also must not hate them. His entire question is based on a blurring of two different concepts. Disagreements are legitimate, and sometimes even necessary. One is obligated to wage a forceful intellectual confrontation against ideas that may destroy the Jewish people. But this is a far cry from an obligation to hate the person expressing those ideas. Divided opinions – yes. Divided hearts - no. We must understand that even when an idea is hateful, the man expressing it is not.
"But," comes the response, "it is too difficult to make this distinction. After all, it is only natural to identify the person with what he says." The answer to this is that it may be hard to make this distinction, but we have no choice. We cannot make one big salad out of everything. We must understand that if, for example, one takes a certain political stand, it doesn't constitute his entire identity. We must remind ourselves that the man is not a "political animal" whose entire being is merely a support system for his party's opinions. He also breathes, and goes to work, and has a family, and does kind acts for others. Why must we box his entire personality into one narrow compartment? It is incumbent upon us to separate in our minds between the man, and the opinions that he holds. For if we don't, but instead form stereotypes, and create mental caricatures - blowing this one aspect of his personality way out of proportion - this distorted image replaces our perception of him as a human being created in the image of G-d, and we begin to view him as a foreign object, a "political animal."
From here easily arises the (mistaken) dispensation to hate, and to attack, and, who knows, even to murder.
True, it is often natural for the relationship between people with opposing ideas to deteriorate. At least one side will almost inevitably begin to feel less respect for the other. The solution for this is simple: communication. They must talk with each other, listen to each other, and exchange ideas. Should we then start to organize symposia, or public meetings? No, no - nobody ever really understands each other in those types of settings. I am referring to small groups, such as one-on-one, or maybe a few more. The English sociologist Parkinson once said that the exchange of ideas is most effective between three and five people. If there are any more than that, the person is no longer talking, but making a speech. Speeches don't help bring about true understanding among people, talking does.
Everyone knows people whose opinions differ from theirs: friends, colleagues, family members. In every family there are Jews of Ashkenazic descent and Sefardic descent, religious and non-religious, conservatives and liberals, Charedim and Zionists. Open a friendly dialogue with them, and you will reap a double benefit. First of all, you will destroy his caricatured perception of you, and second of all, it will destroy your caricatured perception of him. I'm not saying that you will convince him of your position, but rather that each of you will begin to see the other as a human being, and therefore deserving of your respect and love.