by Mike Pyatt
Somalian Muslim freshman Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, has a penchant for anti-Semitic comments, sparking another divide of the GOP and Democrats, an extension of a story of hatred of Jewish people is as fresh as today’s headlines and ancient as the Old Testament Book of Genesis. Only last year on the Jewish Sabbath week, a “white national” terrorist murdered eleven worshipers in the Tree of Life Synagogue, described as the deadliest attack on Jewish people in U.S. history. Of course, the apex of Jewish hatred was Hitler’s slaughter of nearly six million Jews. Christians, Evangelicals in particular, shouldn’t let the 24/7 news cycle advance without a sober reflection of what that attack, and Omar’s tropes mean to us. As followers of Christ, we should voice an unequivocal message of rejection of such hatred, from a Biblical perspective, and why it matters. While our contemporary society is ignorant of the fact that if one hates Jews, one hates Jesus. Anti-Semitism is ultimately a repudiation of Christianity to include Judaism. Vice President Pence, an Evangelical, understands Christians must reject anti-Semitism because we love Jesus. Anti-Semitism has sadly been called “history’s oldest hatred,” as it continues to rear its ugly head. Hate monger, Louis Farrakhan, former Episcopalian, labels Jews as “termites.” He extols “Hitler was a very great man.” Note that often when anti-Semitic remarks come from the Left, the term “alleged” is attached like an asterisk. It’s still shocking to comprehend how many still deny the Holocaust every happened, blaming it on a Zionist scheme to divide Europe.
As Christians, we are, all of us, adopted into a Jewish family, into an old Israelite story, according to Romans 11:17-18. We’ve been grafted into this story, not only at Bethlehem, but millennia before, in the promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations. Regardless of one’s ethnic background, if one’s in Christ, one is joined to Him. In a real sense, that means the Jewish people are our people. Translated: an attack on the Jewish people is an attack on all of us. Over the centuries, anti-Semitism has taken on a myriad of distorted forms-a religious conviction; a national ethic; or an expression of one’s opinion, like Alice Walker, the black novelist, best known for her “The Color Purple,” for which she won a Pulitzer Prize. Even the New York Times disagreed with Walker’s anti-Semitic tomes, and her recommended reading of David Icke’s repellently anti-semitic writings, that blames evil Jews for most of the world’s ills. The Anti-Defamation League offers a brief history of anti-Semitism from Biblical times through modernity. One may not agree with all of its conclusion. However it’s worth a survey.
One with a heart for any people, would think, that after the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, that the world would’ve been so repulsed at the hatred of Jews, that hatred should’ve been nearly eradicated from the face of the earth. As we moved further from the lessons of sinister hatred, stereotypes and myths are often at the heart of hatred, as they evolved over time. For centuries Jews were a convenient target of hatred for societies and cultures in Europe and beyond. The Jews’ religious difference were viewed by many as a challenge to their rule, when the Greek and Romans conquered Israel, the center of Jewish religious life. With the emergence of Christianity, and the canonization of sacred texts, we see in Matthew 27:25, as the Jews called for the death of Jesus, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” Misinterpretation and time seemed to implicate not only those Jews of that time, but the inheritors of that tradition for future generations. Evangelicals understand that crucifixion was a Roman punishment, not Jewish. Consider the image of John 8:44, from the mouth of Jesus, addressing an assembly of Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” Jesus was tough on the Pharisees, a Jewish sect, known for their ostentatious style of religious expression, focused on “being seen by others.” In Matthew 23;27, He characterized them as “Whited sepulchres.” A tomb full of bones of dead men. He knew their intentions. Within a span of a few hundred years, bolstered by Emperor Constantine, Christianity grew to become the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.
The confluence of distorted myths and historical events proved to be a toxic elixir for continued Jewish vulnerability. The Crusades were fought to regain “holy territories” expanding “Christian interests” which had little to do with Biblical Christianity. Every time man added something to Redemption, it turned out ugly. Pope Urban II’s 1095, call for the First Crusade led to the first mass murder of thousands of Jewish people in regions of France and Germany. In the 12th century in England, for example, this idea that Jews were using the blood of Christians for ritual purposes, reenacting the killing of Jesus again. Facts to the contrary were rarely explored. Then, in the 14th century, in the context of the Black Death, in which nearly a 1/3 to 1/2 the population was decimated by this plague perpetuated the myth that Jews were poisoning the wells, and that this was the source of the contagion leading to this mass death. By the 16th century, Jews were mostly confined to ghettos or Jewish quarters, in which they were forced to live in relative isolation. History hasn’t been kind to Luther, Roman Catholics, Jews and Protestants. Truth, myth and distortions must to be unravelled with a diligent, indefatigable study of history. Suffice it to say, as new Christian theology and doctrines took root, religious conflicts broke out across Europe. Once again, Jews were forced to adapt to changing circumstances and the whims of kings, despots and tyrants. Their faith and loyalties were once again called into question. Old stereotypes die hard. The hardness of their heart is no different than the gentile, or those of any ethnic heritage, who’ve rejected Jesus Christ.
Some notable Jewish scholars converted to Jesus Christ, and have proclaimed the Gospel with sway and vast influence. Dr. Alfred Edersheim was a 19th century, Vienna born biblical scholar, Jewish convert to Christianity in 1845, becoming a missionary to the Jews of Romania. He’s best known for his four volume “Bible History of The Old Testament” and “The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah,” leaving a priceless legacy for followers of Christ. If one loves Jesus, one must love the Jew. After years of presidential rhetoric, which president finally moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? Some theologians claim, “Israel’s God’s timepiece for the end times.” Genesis 12:1-3 has a promise with no expiration date for those who bless Israel. Is it haute couture to hate Jews? Too many have short memories regarding gulags or pogroms. What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s email@example.com