REACTIONS TO MY LAST POST
REFLECT TODAY’S ATMOSPHERE
Frequently they’ll focus on some secondary point I’ve made. Or they’ll offer an elaborate comment on a line I had considered a mere throwaway. Often they’ll bring an entirely unexpected view to the topic under discussion.
There’s very little predictability to how people react.
Response to my recent post about anti-Semitism has revealed that some folks have serious questions about what I would have considered a basic and obvious human reality. They aren’t sure that there’s any such thing as Jews, especially in Israel, and if there are Jews, what makes them such.
Writing on Gab, a social network that champions free speech and, consequently, attracts people who have a colorful variety of grudges, someone calling himself RedAngel2 engaged in a bit of eschatological theorizing (with a distinct edge)…
“The people inhabiting the nation called ‘Israel’ are not true ethnic Jews. They are Zionists and converts. The real Jews are still scattered along with the rest of the 12 tribes of Israel.”
In answer to my assertion that, since Jesus was himself a Jew…
“you cannot be a Christian and hate Our Lord’s own people.”
“These are not the Lord’s ‘people.’”
He argued that…
“The physical nation of Israel should not exist at this point in time, not until after the return of Christ.”
Another responder, named William, honed that edge even more sharply, though in a novel way, theorizing that the Israeli people are actually the…
“vestigial remnant of the Ruling Religious Caste of Egypt.”
He then added a conspiratorial touch…
“I grew up in the Baptist Church and they told us Israel and the Jews are God’s Special Race and Israel is God’s Special Nation. Look up what the sign of Israel really means. The Rothchild’s own Israel.”
I’m not sure what William meant by “the sign of Israel.” Perhaps the Magen David (six-pointed star) on the Israeli flag?
I got into an exchange on Facebook, going back and forth with someone named Steve, who took issue with my comment that even though Jews may be thoroughly integrated into the larger society…
“they remain distinct. Usually identified easily. Very much a community of their own.”
Steve sent me a message, asking…
“Could someone please tell me who a Jew is?
I replied that I wasn’t claiming any one individual can be easily identified as a Jew. (After all, Judaism embraces a wide array of nationalities and ethnic types.) Rather, I was talking about the character of the Jewish community as a whole.
This prompted Steve to explore what makes one Jewish — or more particularly what doesn’t…
“It isn’t theological belief. You can be an atheist and be a Jew.
“It isn’t belief in rabbis, synagogues or the Talmud. Ethiopian Jews don’t accept any of those things.
“It isn’t matrilineal descent. Ethiopian and Cochin Jews trace their own lines via patrilineal descent, not matrilineal descent. Matrilineal descent is a post-Christian invention.
“It isn’t circumcision. Reform Jews don’t require circumcision in order to be a Reform Jew.
“It isn’t DNA. There is no DNA test that distinguishes a Jew from a non-Jew.
“None of the ‘Jews’ in the last 2000 years have offered sacrifice in the Temple.
“No ‘Jew’ in the last 2000 years does or believes any of the things Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did and believed.
“There is no correspondence between modern ‘Jewish’ belief or practice vs pre-Christian Jewish belief and practice.
“So what the hell is a Jew?”
Steve is clearly someone who knows a great deal. I’m not sure that everything he knows about Judaism is indisputably true. But evidently he does a lot of thinking about the things he assumes he does know.
However, the closing line of his little essay is suggestive…
“And if there is no way to really define who a Jew is, then ‘anti-Semitism’ is a shibboleth.”
In case you don’t know what that means, a shibboleth is a word or saying (a platitude) that is closely associated with a particular group, but that has no recognizable, agreed-upon meaning outside of its specific cultural context.
So, does Steve considers anti-Semitism to be something esoteric, insubstantial, even totally made up?
Someone named Rudi objected on Facebook to what he saw as my conflating of Jews, as a religious / cultural group, with Israel as a state. While he maintained that anti-Semitism is “obviously wrong,” Rudi rejected the idea that there’s a godly mandate for a Jewish state…
“Jews NO LONGER have any divine right to live in the land. They may hold it by power like any other state but by nothing else.”
Rudi was confident that the torch of spiritual nationhood has passed to Christians…
“The Church is the New Israel and if the Jews wish to be part once again of the Chosen they need to convert to the Church. Bear in mind religious Jews till recently did not support the State of Israel on religious principle. [That’s true. Certain Orthodox groups opposed the UN vote in 1947. A few still hold that the Jewish nation should not be restored until Messiah comes.] For sure they are an extraordinary people and endure to this day. They also have some obvious glaring flaws.”
Blessedly, there were readers who did get my point and who defended me against my critics. One, named Rosie, thanked me for my article, and commented…
“Some Christians never cease to amaze me with going against Israel. Who do they think Jesus is?”
That’s very much in line with what I had pointed out about Jesus…
“He was born a Jew. He lived his life as a Jew. He died a Jew. While he offered a new teaching and a new way to live in faith, he never renounced his Judaism.”
All of which brings me back to the concern I expressed in my post about the surge of anti-Jewish sentiment we’re seeing in the wake of Israel’s action against Hamas.
I do not assume that everyone who criticized my essay is a raving anti-Semite. But the (shall we say) reservations they expressed about Jews and Judaism reflect the current atmosphere, the zeitgeist, in which anti-Semitism is having its revival.
That cultural tide is rising most dramatically among the young. This is evident in recent surveys, such as a December poll conducted by The Economist which found 25 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 believe the Holocaust never happened.
Even more striking, a Harris poll found that more than half of respondents between 18 and 24 think the State of Israel shouldn’t exist.
Similarly, polling done by the Daily Mail showed that one in 10 voters under the age of 30 has a “positive view of Hamas.”
And if you dismiss all of this as just Israel’s problem, that same research also showed considerable sympathy for terrorist activity more broadly. One in five 18-29-year-olds expressed positive feelings about Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.
As has often been observed, Jews are like the canary in the coal mine. They’re only the first to feel the effects of a poisoned atmosphere.
I’m left to conclude my thoughts as I did before: You cannot be a Christian and hate Our Lord’s own people.
That message is becoming increasingly urgent, and cannot be repeated too many times. I pray more followers of Christ see that it’s true, and take it to heart.
The canary is beginning to swoon on its perch.
A version of my last blog post has been published on All Israel News, where a handful of reactions also appeared. This online journal is primarily aimed at Evangelical Christians, among whom support for Israel is usually quite high. So I was surprised at the anger expressed in a couple of the reader remarks. Talk about zeitgeist!…
Writing on American Thinker, Nathalie Voit, a graduate of the University of Florida, reflected on the particularly virulent strain of anti-Semitism being exhibited by young people. She finds its roots in the leftist ideology that permeates most college-level instruction these days…
“According to this narrative, the world is divided into two classes by group: the oppressors and the oppressed. The oppressed can do no wrong, while the ‘oppressors’ are the ultimate perpetrators of injustice — evil incarnate. In the case of Israel, Israel is your standard ‘settler colonial state,’ while the Palestinian people — considered occupied by most of the international community — are the ultimate victims, relegated to the bottom of the oppression hierarchy by the colonizing forces.”
Check out her reflection at…
The current animus toward Jews has percolated down into high schools as well. When students at a Queens, New York, school found out one of their teachers had attended a pro-Israel rally, they threatened her, trapped he in a restroom, and started a near-riot. Then they harassed her at home. A small group of police officers couldn’t quell the mayhem, so the counter-terror taskforce had to investigate. As the New York Post reported…
“The chaos and lockdown, which sources said lasted roughly two hours, was one of the most frightening incidents of antisemitism in New York schools and colleges since the Hamas massacre in Israel Oct. 7 sparked the Jewish state’s war with Gaza.”
And on the high school sports scene — also from the Post — a girls basketball game between Leffell School, a private Jewish institution in Hartsdale, New York, and Roosevelt High School, a public school in Yonkers, was cancelled when the public school students started hurling anti-Semitic slurs at their opponents…
“I support Hamas, you f–king Jew,” a Roosevelt player snarled at a Leffell opponent, according to the New York City Public Schools Alliance, a group of parents and teachers fighting antisemitism.”
Just another example of what passes for sportsmanship these days…