From Bill Sutter’s Desk Mar/Apr 2006
When swastikas were spray painted on our Friends of Israel signs last summer, this hateful action was not a random occurrence. When anti-Semitic slogans and vulgar images were plastered on the Jewish Community Center building and on a synagogue in a nearby community in the dead of night months earlier, these threats were not merely isolated incidents.
Hostility toward the Jewish people is part of a pattern of anti-Semitism that represents the oldest, most continuous form of hatred known to mankind. Biblical history; ancient history; and, sadly, even church history are replete with accounts of hatred for God’s ancient people.
And the hate keeps rearing its ugly head. Today global anti-Semitism is rampant. In the Muslim world, clerics issue religious edicts known as fatwas that target Jews for violence, even death; the media spews forth daily doses of hatred; and children are raised on a steady diet of vehemently anti-Jewish propaganda.
In Europe violent attacks on Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, schools, and community centers have become all too commonplace. France is a worst-case scenario, as the fires of anti-Semitism are driving many within the Jewish community to consider following others who have already emigrated.
In the United States and Canada, a host of liberal college and university campuses—previously deemed friendly to Jewish students—have become hotbeds of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish outbursts. And at the United Nations, member states regularly rail against Israel. They spend huge amounts of time scrutinizing every action of this tiny country for new and creative pretexts to condemn the Jewish state. Law Professor Anne Bayefsky got it right in a speech she delivered at the UN on June 21, 2004. She declared, “The UN has become the leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism, intolerance, and inequality against the Jewish people and its State.”
How shall we, as Christians, respond to this world of anti-Semitism, a world that our Jewish friends and neighbors know and experience firsthand?
We must understand that anti-Semitism is anti-God. Psalm 83:2–4 makes it abundantly clear: Those who plot against God’s chosen ones and seek to cut Israel off from being a nation are enemies of God Himself. Further, Zechariah 2:8 emphasizes God’s sensitivity on behalf of His people: “For he who touches you [Israel] touches the apple of His eye.”
As Christians, we must fight anti-Semitism wherever we find it—in our communities, in our churches, and in the political arena.
We can respond to incidents in our communities by writing letters and making phone calls expressing our concern and support for the Jewish people and the leaders of Jewish organizations that have been subjected to the horrors of anti-Semitism. When a Jewish family moved into a neighborhood not far from FOI and their property was defaced in an act of anti-Semitism, Christians visited them to express their concern and love. When Jewish students at Rutgers University in New Jersey were subjected to anti-Semitic scrawlings in their dormitories and Hillel House Jewish Student Center, Christians joined the on-campus rally organized by the Jewish community. Jewish participants were profoundly grateful for this support from Christian friends.
Christian leaders in churches and other organizations must speak out publicly. And as churches and denominations themselves become agents of anti-Semitism, such as when several Protestant denominations issued outrageous calls for economic boycotts of Israel, we must counter their voices with ours.
Shortly after the Arab Voice newspaper in Patterson, New Jersey, began serializing the infamous anti-Semitic forgery known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The Friends of Israel participated with Jewish leaders in a press conference called to condemn this vicious and evil publication.
When anti-Semitism rears its ugly head in politics, we must express ourselves by contacting our elected representatives.
By responding to acts of anti-Semitism, we share in God’s love for the Jewish people, a love He expressed in Jeremiah 31:3: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
Let’s demonstrate God’s love by making our homes friendly places for our Jewish friends and neighbors, by encouraging our churches to be sensitive to the needs of Jewish people, and by shaping our communities into warmly accepting environments for those who are objects of hatred.