Posted by Dr. Larry Taylor
“Jews not welcome,” read the sign at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland last week. About four miles away, a swastika was painted on a wall at Montgomery Mall.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported 2,717 antisemitic incidents in the United States last year, the highest ever and a 34% increase over the year before.
The rapper Kanye West (AKA Ye) tweeted an image of a swastika blended with a Star of David. In an interview with far-right Sandy Hook massacre-denying Alex Jones, West praised Adolf Hitler. He and white supremist and antisemite Nick Fuentes then dined with Donald Trump.
According to the ADL, 1.09 billion people hold antisemitic views; 24 million of them in the United States.
Sociologists search for answers. The rise of antisemitism corresponds with the rise of racism and fascism, but antisemitism, like racism and fascism, defies logic. Instead, together they seem to provide significant evidence for the existence of malevolent forces. Tragically, contemporary American racist, fascist, and antisemitic propaganda is coming from some people who claim to be Christians.
Antisemitism is hatred of and prejudice against the Jews. It takes the form of conspiracies, scapegoating, mockery, and violence.
It is not antisemitic to oppose a policy of modern-day Israel. Many Jews do so. Support of militarism, oppression of Palestinians, and opposition to a two-state solution is not required, nor advisable, much less Christian.
Ancient Israel was destroyed by the Romans in the Jewish Wars (64-73 CE). Judaism as a religion had to be reinvented without a Temple or animal sacrifices, so rabbinic Judaism gradually arose in the succeeding centuries. Contrary to popular, erroneous, and chiefly American eschatology, there is nothing in the Bible to suggest a connection between modern Israel and the second coming of Christ.
Nevertheless, the necessity of a modern state of Israel should be politically obvious. A third of all Jews were murdered in World War II. Nations like the United States turned away thousands of Jews fleeing Nazi Europe. If Jews were to survive, they needed their own country. That country was created by the British with the Balfour Declaration and became the primary Jewish refuge. Israel was established on May 14, 1948. It is a modern diverse democracy. Most of its citizens are non-religious. Palestinian families had lived there for some 600 years. Many Palestinians fled to Jordon where they were not welcomed, but instead interned in refuge camps. The stage was set for the on-going struggle over a piece of real estate the size of New Jersey.
That the Jews need a homeland is obvious to me, especially with the rise of antisemitism in America. That the Palestinians also deserve a homeland is equally obvious to me. All people deserve dignity, safety, and freedom from fear and violence.
That antisemitism should never enter the heart of a Christian ought to go without saying. Jesus was Jewish. Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. He had dark skin and covered his head with a prayer shawl when he prayed. All of Jesus’ original followers were Jewish. Almost the entire Bible was written by Jews. The central character of the Bible is the God of the Jews. Only an antichrist can hate a Jew.