Shalom in His grace. There is another unseen virus wreaking destruction upon God’s chosen people today that demands our attention. That virus is antisemitism.
This newsletter will look at the unfortunate growth and virulence of modern antisemitism in North and South America. We will also look at contemporary European antisemitism, including the United Kingdom.
We witnessed synagogue members in Pittsburgh murdered in 2018 simply because they were Jewish. Anti-Jewish slogans and graffiti regularly mark our college campuses today, fueled by hatred of the Jewish people and often further inflamed by posts on social media.
Antisemitism all too often expresses itself through political opposition to the State of Israel. It leads to various movements such as BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and other groups actively opposing the Jewish state. But antisemitism is not a term we want to throw around lightly, as this “oldest hatred” is now considered a hate crime.
The U.S. State Department in cooperation with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), developed a non-legally binding “working definition” of antisemitism in 2016, which is generally accepted across the globe: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”1
The Anti-Defamation League also provides an excellent definition of antisemitism, defining it as “the belief or behavior hostile toward Jews just because they are Jewish. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews.”2
Antisemitism is on the rise in the United States, and it is essential for us as a Jewish mission to address this crucial topic. My people often blame Christianity for antisemitism because of tragic events like the Crusades, Pogroms in Russia, and the Holocaust. WE believe that loving Jesus the Jewish Messiah is incompatible with antisemitism. Yet, the fear of Christianity because of past actions by alleged Christians created a deep antipathy on the part of Jewish people toward the gospel, which is why it is so crucial for us to dispel this association between Jesus and antisemitism.
The Spiritual Roots of Antisemitism
We always need to view life’s critical issues through the lens of Scripture. The roots of antisemitism are ancient and have changed dramatically over the centuries. What started as Greek and Roman disdain morphed into theological anti-Judaism in the early and medieval church. It became racial antisemitism in the nineteenth century leading to the murder of more than six million Jewish people. At the time Adolf Hitler implemented his catastrophic “Final Solution,” antisemitism was primarily racial. If you had a Jewish mother or father, or even a Jewish grandparent, you were declared Jewish, placed in a concentration camp, and likely put to death.
But, if we pull back the curtains of time and history and consider the role God gave to the Jewish people in the redemption of the world, it becomes evident that the roots of antisemitism are spiritual and satanic. When God chose Abram to become the father of the Jewish people, the devil chose the Jewish people to be his perennial enemy (Genesis 12:1–3).
Throughout biblical history, we see attempt after attempt to destroy the Jewish people, which was predicted by the ancient Jewish prophets, especially Daniel. He envisioned the Jewish people’s oppression by Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome in the post-Old Testament period. The Bible never mentions the antisemitism-inspired activities of the Crusaders, the Russian and Ukrainian pogroms, or the Holocaust. The Bible also did not predict the attacks in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018, when eleven Jewish people were killed. Nor did it foresee the attack at the Chabad congregation in Poway, California, on April 27, 2019, when Lori Lynn Gilbert-Kaye was killed, and others shot, only for being Jewish.
The reasons for hating the Jewish people have changed over time, but the source remains the same. The devil is not all-knowing like God, but he truly believes he can thwart God’s plan. That is why he has focused on destroying the Jewish people throughout the ages. Satan hates the Jewish people because he knows that it was through the Jewish people the Lord revealed Himself through the Scriptures. At the right moment in history, God unveiled Himself through His Son by choosing a young Jewish virgin to give birth to the Jewish Messiah (Isaiah 7:14)!
God is not finished with His chosen people. There is so much more to come! One day, the Jewish people whom God promised to preserve—will repent, recognize Jesus as Messiah, and the Lord will return and establish His Messianic kingdom on earth (Romans 11:25–29).
Antisemitism is satanic. A good friend of mine once said, “We need to love what the devil hates!” As followers of the Jewish Messiah, we have a holy duty to bless the Jewish people, which fulfills His sacred purposes and demonstrates our loyalty to the One who chose the Jewish people for His divine purposes.
What Can We Do Today to Counter Antisemitism?
1. We should counter antisemitism and enlist the help of the church to do the same.
2. We should counter antisemitism as a witness of God’s love for Israel and the Jewish people.
3. We should help mobilize Christians to stand with the Jewish people in opposing antisemitism. These activities could save Jewish lives.
4. We should post messages of love and support for our local Jewish communities on Facebook, Twitter, or even encourage our pastors to use their church marquees.
5. We should provide believers with information about the Jewish people and antisemitism. Good communication helps believers better understand God’s love and plan for the Jewish people.
A Call to Action:
Some things are just too horrible to let pass!
That was the theme of an article that appeared in a newspaper.3 The horrible act that could not go unnoticed was the writing of antisemitic statements on a subway car’s walls in New York City—my hometown. Several good Samaritans saw the remarks and came up with the idea of erasing them, using hand cleaner that had high alcohol content to cut through the thick, waxy strokes of a sharpie pen. I cannot tell you how happy I am that New Yorkers took the initiative to act on their outrage and eradicate these despicable statements. Their quick-thinking act of righteousness demonstrates to me that New Yorkers—and Americans, in general—believe we have a culture of freedom, respect, and goodness that is worth preserving. We are willing to put our most cherished values into action.
As a Jewish New Yorker who follows Jesus the Messiah, I am impressed by what these good citizens did on behalf of the Jewish people, especially since the newspaper does not indicate that those who erased the graffiti were Jewish. I long for my fellow believers to take the same kind of actions when we see antisemitism rear its ugly head in our local communities. I would love to see local churches make a public stand against antisemitism. What a testimony that would be of Christ’s love to your local Jewish community!
When believers in Jesus take personal or public stands against antisemitism, they express God’s heart for His chosen people, which is one way to bring your Jewish friend another step closer to thinking about Jesus.
Thanks for your prayers and generous support! I pray that you and your family will have a safe, healthy, and fruitful 2021.
1 “Defining Anti-semitism,” U.S. Department of State, https://www.state.gov/defining-anti-semitism/.
2 “Antisemitism,” ADL.org, https://www.adl.org/antisemitism.
3 Mark Sundstrom, “Police Investigating Anti-Semitic Graffiti in Upper West Side Subway Station: Officials,” Pix 11, November 11, 2019, https://www.pix11.com/2019/11/11/police-investigating-anti-semitic-graffiti-in-upper-west-side-subwaystation-officials/.