Today the Jewish people are surrounded by a rising tide of anti-Semitism that is sweeping the world with a force not seen since the days of the Holocaust. In country after country around the globe, Jewish people are being attacked in their homes, synagogues, and places of business. Vandalism and theft are often precursors to more violent attacks. Every single Jewish man, woman, and child living in the world today—no matter where they live—is at risk of death at any moment simply because they are Jewish.
The Muslim world is filled with propaganda aimed at demonizing Jewish people and encouraging attacks against them. Palestinian young people are raised on a constant diet of cartoons and children’s programming that glorifies violence against Jewish people and praises those who kill them. Iranian leaders frequently and publicly call for the destruction of Israel. The former leader of Egypt called Jews “descendants of apes and pigs.”
And while the open hatred and calls for violence spread, a more subtle and socially acceptable form of anti-Semitism (that in the long run may be even more dangerous) is spreading. There is a strain of underground hatred toward the Jewish people that expresses itself only as condemnations of what the nation of Israel does.
These sophisticated anti-Semites would never publicly disdain the Jewish people. Instead, they focus their attacks on consistently and systematically condemning everything the Israeli government does, with a particular focus on criticizing anything Israel does to protect its people from the unrelenting terrorist attacks and threats they face on a daily basis.
For example, former President Jimmy Carter infamously referred to Israel as an “apartheid state” after the security fence was installed that cut the number of successful suicide terrorist attacks against Jewish people by more than 90%. In any rational world, a people should have the right to build a fence to keep out those who are trying to kill them. This normal behavior is viewed as oppressive only by those who are predisposed to find fault with Israel.
In a sense, Israel has become a “collective Jew” and thus a safe target for anti-Semitic attacks to be openly launched while being plausibly denied. It is a travesty that well-educated, well-connected, and supposedly sophisticated people peddle ridiculous falsehoods about Israel on a regular basis. The propaganda claims of Palestinians and their supporters are accepted at face value, no matter how blatantly false they are.
Last year, a video made the rounds online showing a Palestinian victim “killed” by an Israeli rocket laughing and moving under the sheet that covered his body once he thought the cameras were off. Recycled footage is frequently presented as new, and innocents killed by Hamas or other terrorist groups are often pictured as the victims of Israel instead.
Islamic governments have significant ownership stakes in most of the major American media networks, and as a result there is a definite slant to the news that is presented from the Middle East. Often when I have been in Israel over the past several years, I have seen an event unfold only to find that the description offered by the liberal media is completely different than what actually transpired. This false information plays a crucial role in encouraging and justifying opposition to Israel.
The enemies of Israel are using every means at their disposal to vilify and undermine the legitimacy and security of the Jewish state. We are going to look at some of the specific tactics being used in this effort, beginning with the ways in which Christians are lured into anti-Semitism.
There is a long history of tension between Christians and Jews, dating back to the early centuries of the Church. With the union of political and religious power in the Middle Ages, the divisions became more pronounced and the impact on the Jewish people much more severe. The expulsion of Jewish people from European countries was carried out by regimes explicitly Christian in their self-descriptions. During the Black Death, Jewish people were often blamed for outbreaks of the plague and killed or driven out of their homes.
From the Spanish Inquisition to the Protestant Reformation, many of the leading voices of the differing branches of Christianity were overtly hostile to the Jewish people. The following centuries saw continuing economic restrictions placed on the Jewish people. There were frequent outbreaks of violence, notably the pogroms in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Of course, the Holocaust is the best known expression of Jew-hatred. The leadership of Nazi Germany explicitly grounded their persecution of the Jewish people in terms of defending Christianity. While this is a distorted view of Christianity, it is no surprise that many Jewish people still regard Christians with some suspicion. The sad reality is that there are many today who claim to be followers of Jesus (whether they actually are or just professing a faith they do not truly possess) who treat the Jewish people with less respect than they should.
One of the most damaging teachings that has impacted relations between Christians and Jews is what is known as replacement theology (sometimes called supersessionism). This doctrine teaches that the Church has completely replaced Israel in God’s plan, becoming the new “Chosen People” and that the modern state of Israel has no prophetic underpinnings.
The early Church did not teach this. The root of this doctrine dates back to when Constantine brought paganism into the Church. He banned all things Jewish from the Church and replaced them with pagan traditions. For example, the Feast of Passover and Resurrection Day were replaced with Easter. It was taught that the Church has supplanted Israel in God’s plan for the ages. Constantine’s actions began to wash away the Jewish roots of the Church and opened the door for replacement theology, which teaches that the Jews had been rejected, that Israel failed God, crucified Jesus Christ, and as a result was replaced by the Church. The Church, it teaches, is the spiritual Israel and Jerusalem is any town in which there is a church. These heretical doctrines have done great harm to the Jewish people. The teaching that God has turned His back on Israel legitimizes the actions of Adolf Hitler and the fanatical Muslim jihadists, who seek to destroy the Jews.
From the earliest centuries, the Roman and then the European Church failed to realize and honor the tenet that our eternal salvation comes through the agency of the Jews. The fingers of the physical descendants of Jacob wrote all but a small portion of the world’s best-selling book: the Bible. Almost all the prophets in the Bible were Jewish, as were all of the apostles, the parents of Jesus, and most importantly, the Messiah. How could the Church have overlooked such critical factors in supporting the Jewish people?
The insidious doctrine of replacement theology propagates the age-old practice of blaming the Jews for the world’s ills, weighing them in the balance and finding them wanting. This frees the Church from any obligation to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those whom He came to seek and to save. When speaking to the Samaritan woman about eternal life, Jesus pointed out that His heavenly Father’s free gift of eternal salvation had been brought to the world via the Jews: “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).
If the most precious gift that Christians will ever possess came by means of the Jewish prophets, leaders, teachers, and in particular, Jesus the Messiah, how can our attitude be other than one of deep gratitude toward Jacob’s offspring? We who were born Gentiles and became Christians should be extremely thankful that God, in His shining wisdom and gracious mercy, has allowed us as “wild olive branches” to be grafted into the rich Tree of Israel, as revealed in Romans 11:17.
In his New Testament letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul went on to point out that the “grafted in” Gentile Believers do not tower over the Jewish people, as many have maintained over the centuries and still do today. Rather, regenerated Jews (including Abraham, our father in the faith) were the original covenant people that remain the bedrock “root” that supports every Christian’s spiritual life: “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you” (Romans 11:17-18 ESV).
There is a global effort underway to wage full-scale economic warfare against Israel. The Palestinians and their supporters have argued with a great deal of success that companies, religious and educational institutions, and governments should economically punish Israel for “occupying” the so-called West Bank. These are the Bible lands of Judea and Samaria, and they were never part of a Palestinian state. The Israeli army captured the land that had been occupied by Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967. It belongs to Israel both by the conventions of history and more importantly, by Divine decree.
The program of economic warfare is known as BDS—boycott, divestment, and sanctions. The opponents of Israel push for boycotts of all Israeli products from companies that have any operations in the so-called occupied territory. (Interestingly enough, they never seem to consider the impact of their economic warfare on the thousands of Palestinians who are employed by Israeli companies in the region.) In extreme cases, the call is for boycotting all Israeli products.
This divestment campaign has had a great deal of success in certain American religious groups. It seeks to remove any financial holdings from companies that deal with or are seen as supporting Israel. Frequent targets for divestment campaigns include Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard. Among the groups that have supported full or partial divestment are the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, and Mennonite Central Committee. In addition, leading universities and foundations have been targeted by the divestment campaign.
The growing threat posed by these efforts was recently publicly pointed out by former CIA Director General David Petraeus. Petraeus noted the possibility of an “international intifada” being carried out by economic means and warned that it could become a “strategic issue”—intelligence code for something that poses a substantial risk.
A Campaign of Slander
There is an organized and systematic effort taking place to demonize Israel in the eyes of the world. This effort, funded with millions of dollars furnished by the Arab oil nations, is a slick high-tech propaganda machine that Hitler and Goebbels would have loved to have had in their possession. This program produces “news” stories and photographs that are carefully packaged to damage Israel’s credibility and moral authority. These are then released to the world—and frequently accepted as gospel truth.
Commentator Professor Michael Curtis pointed out the success of Palestinian propaganda. He wrote, “Faking news has become a Palestinian cottage industry. A familiar aphorism is that a picture is worth more than a thousand words. The most diabolic aspect of Palestinian propaganda is its use or rather abuse of children by using them as stage props. The most well-known use of children was the incident of the supposed death in September 2000 of Mohammed al-Durah, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly killed by Israeli fire. Emotional documentary footage of the scene with the boy and his father supposedly endangered by Israeli fire was narrated by a French reporter, Charles Enderlin, who had not been there, but who apparently accepted the Palestinian version of events.
“The acceptance and reporting of the story by the international media provoked anti-Israeli riots. Yet the story was false; it was a hoax with fake photos devised by a Palestinian propagandist, as Richard Landes and others have explained. If al-Durah had been killed, which is in doubt, it was by Palestinian not Israeli fire. However, the image of the boy was used throughout the Western as well as the Muslim world to depict Israel engaged in criminality, equivalent to that of Nazi Germany.”
All too often the Palestinian propaganda machine finds willing allies in the Western media and the relief agencies that funnel millions of dollars into the territory—money that frequently gets diverted to the cause of making war on Jewish people rather than on making life better for poor Palestinians. As one recent example, during the war with Hamas over the terror tunnels last year, Israeli soldiers discovered that the tunnels were built with concrete which was donated to build schools and homes for the Palestinian people.
One of the greatest threats to Israel and the Jewish people does not come from the evil anti-Semites, the radical Muslims, or the Jew-haters. Instead it comes from Christians who are at least kindly disposed toward the Jewish people...but who do nothing about the threats facing them. The sad reality is that while there were a number of professing Christians involved in the Holocaust, most of the Christians of Europe and the rest of the world did not support or endorse the mass murder of the Jews.
They just said nothing and looked the other way. They did not want to get involved. They feared the consequences of speaking out and taking a stand. They were silent in the face of great evil. They hid their lights as the darkness grew deeper around them. They did not care enough to make a difference.
Six million Jews perished as a result, including many of my relatives.
One of the most important truths of human life was articulated centuries ago by Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” For far too long, far too many of God’s people have ignored the threats facing Israel and the Jewish people. They may wish them well in a general and non-specific way, but they are doing nothing to resist the evil or to support and bless God’s Chosen People.
Those who do not take a stand have still made a choice. It is a silent and respectable choice that will not garner criticism or opposition. But it is a choice for evil to triumph. It is time for God’s people to say, “We will NOT be silent. We will take our stand with Israel.”
Centuries ago the prophet Isaiah heard and answered the call of God with the words “Here am I. Send me.” Today it is our time. It is our duty as Believers to show God’s love to the Jewish people. It is our duty to speak out against those who are cursing Israel. It is our duty to stand in the gap and make up the hedge and be part of the defense of God’s Chosen People. If we fail to hear and answer the call, disaster will follow.