At one time or another, we hear derogatory remarks about Jews. It is tragic enough when such remarks are made by Jews to Jewish listeners. Even more tragic is when they are told by Jews to co-workers or business associates who are not Jewish. The subject of these remarks might be an individual Jew, a specific group of Jews, or Jews in general.
The Chofetz Chaim declares that to speak loshon hora about a Jew when the listener is a gentile is a much greater sin than when the listener is a Jew. One who is guilty of this sin “ disgraces the honor of Israel and desecrates the Name of Heaven.”
There is yet another reason for the particular severity of this sin. When one speaks loshon hora to a fellow Jew, there is a possibility that the listener will not be quick to accept the report as fact—especially if he is someone familiar with the laws of loshon hora. Gentiles, on the other hand, certainly do not have a predisposition towards judging Jews favorably. Upon hearing the derogatory report, the gentile will be quick to believe it and pass the information on to others.
When a Jew denigrates other Jews in the presence of gentiles, he is, in essence, contradicting the purpose of his own existence. Our mission in this world as a people is to spread the honor of Hashem by serving as His representatives before the rest of the world. We say in Shema each day: “V’Ahavta es Hashem Elokecha” And you shall love Hashem, your God (Devarim 6:4). Our Sages teach (Yoma 86a) that we demonstrate our love of Hashem by making His Name beloved in the eyes of others. When a Jew studies Torah, speaks pleasantly to people and deals honestly in business, then people say, “ Praiseworthy is the father who taught him Torah; praiseworthy is the teacher who taught him Torah. See how beautiful and correct are his ways and deeds.”
Thus the damage caused by relating loshon hora to gentiles goes far beyond loshon hora, which is devastating in itself. Instead of using his abilities to increase Hashem’s honor, the speaker has been guilty of chillul Hashem (desecration of Hashem’s Name).