Weekly Update: Antisemitism: the oldest hatred

22 October 2021

For years, critical race theory, identity politics and neo-Marxism have been leading to a surge in condemnation of Israel in the West. It is not just the situation in the territories captured by Israel in 1967 that is condemned. The Jewish state of Israel is – simply because it is Jewish – increasingly labeled as an “apartheid” state that practices genocide, persecution and discrimination.

Somehow, Zionism – the calling of the Jewish people to live in the land of their forefathers – arouses an inexplicable hatred and resentment.

The paradox is that there is no other people or state that is the subject of so much criticism and contempt as the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel. And yet there is no other people or country that has – pro rata – contributed as much to mankind’s well-being.

At its core, this is the paradox of “antisemitism”. In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) formally adopted the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism (“the IHRA Definition”), which states:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

This describes the symptom. But what is the cause? As Melanie Philips remarks, there is no rational explanation for the hatred of the Jewish people; antisemitism is a mystery. It is as old as the Jewish people. It has, no doubt, to do with the “uniqueness” of the Jewish people, their claim to “chosen-ness”. Perhaps, we may say that the root cause is envy and pride.

Of course this does not mean individual Jews or the State of Israel cannot be criticized. But condemnation of a Jew as a Jew, or the Jews as a people, is not legitimate. Former Russian refusnik and human rights advocate Nathan Sharansky once developed the “three D’s” test: delegitimization, demonization and application of double standards to the Jewish State of Israel are all indicia of antisemitism.

The commonly-heard slogan “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be Free” is nothing less than pure antisemitism, because it denies the legitimacy of the Jewish people in the land, and can even be understood as advocating their extermination.

Whatever the cause, and whatever its manifestation, Christians are called to fight antisemitism at every turn. As long as we can speak, we should oppose hatred of the Jewish people. As Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel once said: “God has given man the power of words. With these words we can build castles. We can bring hope or despair — it’s always in our hands.”

To change our prejudices, we first need to try to understand better who the Jewish people are, what the Jewish State is all about, their hopes, despairs, challenges and dreams and the dilemmas they face. Listening to Micah Goodman explain the developments in Jewish thinking on all sides of the political spectrum is a good start (see the link below).

The second thing we should do is try and look at Israel from a Biblical perspective – understand God’s calling and purposes for the Jewish people. Johannes Gerloff continues his study of Romans 9-11, the most detailed exposiiton in the New Testament about the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. This week it’s about the “promises” given to the Jewish people.

The Editorial Team – Israel & Christians Today

American and Israeli Jews are at ‘crisis point’

Israel Kasnett writes: “There are processes underway in the United States that have nothing to do with us,” said former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. “We didn’t invent critical race theory or ‘woke’-ism and yet Israel is on the receiving end. It’s been shocking to me.”

> Read more..

The real reason for Western support of the Palestinians

Melanie Philips, responding to Michael Oren, argues that the Jewish Agency must address the root of the problem: anti-Semitism. “Israel is being demonized through a perfect intellectual storm: a combination of Marxist identification of capitalism with oppression; liberal internationalist hostility to the Western concept of the nation-state; and the Palestinian propaganda program cooked up in the 1960s with the former Soviet Union to turn the Arab war of annihilation against Israel into Israel’s oppression of the newly-minted ‘Palestinians.’”
> Read more..

About Those ‘Opposing’ Views on the holocaust

Tsvi Sadan writes at Israel Today: “Opposing views on the Holocaust of any kind, to sum it all up, is but a euphemism for antisemitism. And those who propagate these views, be they the superintendent of a small American school district, the UN secretary-general or Israel’s own Foreign Minister, are antisemites.”
> Read more..

Jews are indigenous to Israel

Sarah Levin writes: “For thousands of years, the Middle East has been one of the most ethnically and racially diverse corners of the world and is home to a multitude of indigenous communities, including Jews, Bedouin, Copts, Kurds, Shabaks, Tabaris, Samaritans, Assyrians, Yezidis, Chaldeans (the list goes on … ).  The indigeneity of any one of these communities does not negate the indigeneity of another. Unfortunately, imperialism and colonialism have had a devastating effect on the religious and ethnic diversity of the region. Luckily, many Middle Eastern diaspora communities, like the Jewish people, have clung tightly to their heritages, practices and ways of living that indelibly root them to land and place. For Jews, it is this rootedness—not vague and ephemeral “ties,” but concrete, ongoing, unbroken practice—that connects us directly to the land of Israel and the Middle East.
> Read more..

Antisemitism: how the origins of history’s oldest hatred still hold sway today

Gervase Phillips writes in The Conversation: “Antisemitism has been called history’s oldest hatred and it has shown itself to be remarkably adaptable. It is carved from – and sustained by – powerful precedents and inherited stereotypes. But it also taking on variant forms to reflect the contingent fears and anxieties of an ever-changing world. Understood this way, it is the modern manifestation of an ancient prejudice – one which some scholars believe stretches back to antiquity and medieval times.”
> Read more..

The Ideas Behind The Politics: What is The Debate Over Israel really about?

Micah Goodman sheds light on the ideas that have shaped Israelis’ thinking on both sides of the debate.
> Read more..


The Promises | Romans 9-11 with Johannes Gerloff #16

We do have a future – but not without Israel, because to them the promises belong. Any future without Israel is a future without hope.

Scripture for the week: 

Romans 9:1-5

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.