Someone emailed this to me right after Christmas, and as it is a controversial topic in many Christian circles, I decided to hold off posting it until after the holidays.
Well the holidays are over and there’s nothing like a good sticky topic to start off the new year right!
I joke, but its actually a very serious topic, especially for believers.
Read it if time allows, feel free to offer your thoughts as Christians.
IS CRITICISM OF ISRAEL ANTI-SEMITIC?
By Rev. Ted Pike
Five hundred international lawmakers, diplomats and academics met in Jerusalem Dec. 16-17 to consider the threat of “mushrooming” criticism of Israel. “The Global Forum for Combating Global Anti-Semitism” was hosted by the government of Israel. Its premise is that criticism of Israel, her government, and military policies toward Palestinians is anti-Semitic if it is “strong” or uses Nazi/apartheid imagery.
This criterion for anti-Semitism is shared by the Anti-Defamation League and its Office of Global Anti-Semitism in the US State Department. In fact, ADL head Abe Foxman and the State Department’s Hannah Rosenthal (Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism) were honored guests at the conference.
Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman quoted Foxman and said much of the world has “crossed the line” from legitimate criticism to an epidemic of anti-Semitism. Diaspora Foreign Minister Yuli Edelstein also spoke for Israel. He warned that global anti-Semitism “has been able to gain endorsement from academics, media outlets, and even political parties.” Edelstein went so far as to say:
to be ‘anti-Israel’ is to be anti-Semitic. To boycott Israel, Israeli professors and Israeli businesses, these are not political acts, these are acts of hate, acts of anti-Semitism!…Look at the reality Israelis face when traveling to international athletic, business and academic events. More and more, when they arrive in Sweden, Turkey, England, and even the United States, they must lecture and perform before hostile or even violent crowds, requiring police protection. We must not hesitate to expose this hatred for what it is. It is a strong and vile form of xenophobia [fear of foreigners]. It expresses itself through violence, mockery and exclusion. It is directed toward the outside, toward that which is different, in appearance, speech or prayer.” “It is discrimination against Jews, because they are Jews. In short, it is anti-Semitism.” (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 16, 2009, “Verbatim: Anti-Semites Have Warped Tiny Israel Into Goliath”)
In its 2008 report to Congress, the Office of Global Anti-Semitism says “classic anti-Semitism” is the New Testament belief that Jews masterminded the crucifixion of Christ 2000 years ago. (See U.S. Government, Talmud Mock New Testament) ADL says anti-Semitism is harsh criticism of Israel. ADL agrees with the State Department and the government of Israel that anti-Semitism is visual or verbal comparison of Israeli leaders or military to Nazis. Webster’s New 20th Century Dictionary defines anti-Semitism as “fearing Jews or Jewish things.” Israel is a quintessentially Jewish thing. Thus, fearing Israel, its leaders, or military is anti-Semitic.
Are beliefs of Christians and critics of Israel’s policies really an ominous scourge which should be silenced by governments worldwide?
Lest We Forget
In 1982, largely in response to sporadic rocket attacks from the north, Israel killed at least 19,500 in three days of saturation bombing of refugee camps in southern Lebanon. ADL was Israel’s PR bulldog then, as it is today. ADL and the Israeli government downplayed the casualties and damages at Sidon as well as Beirut.
Yet Stan Mooneyham—highly respected leader of World Vision International, a Christian relief organization—managed to penetrate the area much sooner than other Western observers. He reported:
If the Israeli figure of 165 killed in Sidon is accurate, I saw all but 10 of those bodies in one school basement still unburied three weeks after the invasion. That says nothing about the township of Ein-el-Hillweh just outside of Sidon which had a normal population of 60,000 and was obliterated by saturation bombing…There is no Ein-el-Hillweh anymore. Never before have I seen such total destruction, not even in Minagua, the earthquake-stricken capital of Nicaragua. If the world’s war-makers and peace-makers want to see what saturation bombing looks like, they should look here. Israel, a country skilled in making the desert blossom like a rose, knows how to turn rose into desert. . .it’s one of the major massacres of modern times.
As the head of an international relief organization bringing $400,000 of medical and relief supplies to victims of this modern holocaust, Mooneyham was astonished that Israel refused to allow distribution of such necessities, even two weeks after fighting ended and the area was secure! He explicitly described the smell of rotting bodies, the pervasive wreckage and grief of large communities blitzed out of existence.
Mooneyham’s viewing of Lebanon prompted him to make an ominous comparison:
“The sheer magnitude of this one visible piece of the Israeli war machine is incredible. David seems determined to become Goliath.” (World Vision Magazine, September, October 1982)
Is this Christian observer’s account anti-Semitic?
According to Israel, ADL, the US State Dept., and Webster’s New 20th Century Dictionary, it is.
In 1982, ADL and Israel argued that, considering Israel’s “right to defend herself,” her military response of saturation bombing on southern Lebanon was necessary, just, and proportionate. Virtually all politicians, big media, and all major Christian leaders (except for Mooneyham) were either silent or defended Israel.
After “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza last year, most evangelicals similarly agreed with ADL and Israel that Israel’s “right to exist” was challenged by sporadic rocket fire from Gaza and her response of bombardment and continuing blockade has been appropriate.
Ever Broadening Definition of Anti-Semitism
In contrast to the defective definitions we have considered, actual anti-Semitism is the racist belief that all Jews are genetically subversive, degenerate and corruptive. Hitler taught that to a generation of Germans.
But it is not anti-Semitic to protest what you sincerely believe to be grievous injustice by Israel’s leadership. All the Hebrew prophets, including John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, did so. In fact, it was always the false prophetic majority who blessed ungodly Jewish leadership unconditionally. This perfectly describes the evangelical position over the past century.
If you listen to critics of Israel today, you will virtually never hear them criticize Jews according to racist criteria as Hitler did. (Sixteen international and European humanitarian and human rights groups have just released a report critical of Israel’s “collective punishment” of the Gazans. A similar report by Amnesty International is typical of many.) Rather they complain of human rights abuses by Israel. They say the Palestinians have been driven to fanaticism and terrorism by Israeli oppression. Whether or not you agree, such criticism can’t be properly termed anti-Semitism. Yet more than a billion of such dissidents are now labeled as anti-Semitic by Israel, ADL, and our US State Dept.
Israel’s name-calling of critics during the recent Jerusalem conference is dangerous and irresponsible. It ignores the possibility that many (including Jews) use strong words out of love for Israel and the Jewish people. They may employ “tough love” language to bring Israel to what they believe is reality. They want Israeli leaders and war makers to realize the extreme danger their policies and actions might have on the future of Israel and the safety of all Jews. Many Jews are concerned that Israel’s actions may cause a massive backlash of actual violent and vulgar anti-Semitism worldwide. Instead of softening, Israel gives concerned Jews and the world only two options:
“Don’t strongly criticize Israeli policies and be our friend, or oppose our actions and be branded a hateful anti-Semite.”
Israel’s two simplistic options threaten millions. Under ADL’s hate crimes laws in countries such as Germany and Canada, the accusation of anti-Semitism can easily embroil the victim in financially devastating litigation, huge fines and even imprisonment if convicted.
Evangelical Christians are also directly threatened by broad, incriminating definitions of anti-Semitism.
ADL’s Dept. of Global Anti-Semitism accuses hundreds of millions of evangelical, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and other Christians of being “classic anti-Semites” for believing the New Testament account of Jewish complicity in the crucifixion. (See U.S. Government, Talmud Mock New Testament) Tens of millions of evangelicals still support Israel unconditionally and inherit a 20th century pro-Zionist tradition to which Israel owes the bulk of its nationhood and success.
But they are now, incredibly, viewed by the US State Department and Israel’s public relations arm, ADL, as anti-Semitic. They are already regarded by Canada as “anti-Semitic hate criminals” if they speak their convictions publically.
Who remains free from possible suspicion of anti-Semitism? Only people with no opinion at all or those too cowardly to open their mouths. At the rate ADL and Israel are expanding the definition of anti-Semitism, an “anti-Semitic hate criminal” could soon be anyone who does not support whatever Israel does—even if it is outrageously evil.
How will ADL respond if alleged anti-Semitism increases?
I’ll make a New Year’s prediction.
Unless ADL is restrained through worldwide exposure and criticism, it will introduce a new bill into Congress, probably called The Global Anti-Semitism Prevention Act. As an adjunct of ADL’s recently passed federal hate crimes law, this law will make it a federal felony for any American to “strongly” criticize matters Jewish, including the Jewish role in the crucifixion or present Israeli policies.
Tragically, just as most evangelical “watchdog” groups allowed ADL’s federal and 45 state hate laws to pass over the past 20 years (for fear of ADL reprisal against in-depth hate law education), they will probably allow this bill to become law—still fearing being labeled anti-Semitic. In one fell swoop, ADL, the U.S. government and the state of Israel will possess a federal statute in America (also to be passed in Canada, Europe, and Australia) making the greatest lovers of Jews in human history—tens of millions of evangelical Christians—into “anti-Semitic” enemies ripe for prosecution.
If that happens, Jesus foretells what comes next: “they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons…for my name’s sake.” (Luke 21:12)
Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.