by Earl Cox
This article is sure to push the hot button of many, even my Christian brothers and sisters who have, despite facts, made up their minds that Israel is the aggressor and guilty of oppressing the poor Palestinians along with other non-Jews.
This growing and rapidly spreading misconception is causing a rising tide of anti-Semitism to take hold in educated societies around the world. It is creating an alarming trend within the American Christian church where support for Israel was not a topic of discussion, but was taken for granted as a foundational expectation of the Christian faith. Christian support for Israel, once rock solid, is shifting and drifting in the opposite direction. Far too many are being enticed into embracing a “politically correct” social posture rather than standing strong in our Christian faith by adhering to the Word and promises of God, even though it means going against the tide of popular public opinion as it relates to support for Israel and the Jewish people. Faithful church leadership and Christian youth are unwitting targets of many who are pursuing carefully crafted, anti-Semitic agendas. These persons have learned to “talk the talk” and appear to “walk the walk” as they stealthily influence Christians into believing that Israel and the Jews are no longer important to God, that, in God’s sight, Christians replaced the Jews. This view has a name–“Replacement Theology.” It is a lie from the pits of hell.
Anti-Semitism is an ancient evil that can be found in writings as far back as 270 B.C.E. Modern anti-Semitism stems from a concern for social justice. During the Roman Occupation Jews were greatly persecuted as a religious and as an ethnic group. Unfairly taxed, expelled from their homes, having their land and property confiscated, they were also prohibited from practicing their religion. These scattered Jews were known as Diaspora Jews. While the Romans persecuted many in their conquered territories, the Jews were singled out for harsher treatment because they refused to assimilate into Roman culture and embrace Roman religious practices. Instead, they preferred to live separately and hold fast to their faith in the “one true God–the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”At some point, however, following Bar Kokhba’s Revolt (132-6 C.E.) there came a slight shift in Roman sentiment towards the Jews of the Diaspora. Exactly why the shift occurred is not clear, but the Jews were again allowed to maintain their religious practices and were not expected to assimilate into local cultures wherever they had resettled within the Roman Empire. Roman authorities did not necessarily afford the same degree of tolerance to other people groups, therefore tension and jealousy against the Jews by others living under Roman rule again arose. Acceptance of Jews totally reversed when Christianity became the official religion of Rome in the 4th century. Jews once again became an oppressed group–politically and in their religious practices.
Few Christians today are cognizant of the historical role the Church has historically played in fostering and fueling anti-Semitism. Nor do they seem to recognize the role today’s church is playing as the floodgates of anti-Semitism open wide allowing more and more anti-Semitic poison to flow through. Hearts and minds of otherwise good and decent people are being filled with Jew-hating thoughts and attitudes. Few would even recognize anti-Semitism in themselves, because the Church is teaching that persecution of Jews is actually a service to God. “After all,” some say, “Didn’t the Jews kill Jesus?”
The answer to that question is, “NO!” The Bible, in the New Testament, clearly teaches that Jesus suffered on the cross to pay the price for the sins of all mankind. In the New Testament book of Romans the Bible emphatically teaches that Christians are only branches grafted onto the natural olive tree (the Jews) and that we (Christians) should be careful never to think ourselves “as supporting the root” but rather to be mindful that it is the root (the Jews) which supports us. After all, we Christians worship a Jewish Messiah. But, as is true in politics and just about every other aspect of life, people read and extrapolate that which suits their purposes, goals or agendas often without regard for real truth. Ignorance is at the heart of all anti-Semitism and social injustice.
To the modern mind, the phrase “anti-Semitism” generally conjures up images of goose-stepping Nazis. This very caricature is what causes many today to miss the new anti-Semitism catching hold everywhere at an alarming rate of speed. Most westerners believe the Nazis are responsible for having perpetrated the worst imaginable evil and human suffering upon the Jews when actually they were only tools in the hands of anti-Semites. The entire world bears the blame for the horrors of the Holocaust and no people group more so than Christians. After all, we Christians are the people Jesus taught to turn the other cheek, to love others as Christ loved us and to even plead for God to forgive the trespasses of people who “know not what they do.”
When we otherwise decent westerners, particularly church-going Christians, equate the phrase “anti-Semitism” with Nazis only and fail to recognize and accept our own inherent blindness and guilt, we become blinded to the rising tide of anti-Semitism that has been slowly flooding our local churches, communities, families and even our own hearts and minds. It is hard to believe that gentle people who claim to love God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, “God the Father” as Christians call Him, could actually have come to believe that they are living true to the Christian faith by speaking out against Israel and the Jewish people.
I have a friend, a very gentle and highly educated person whom I have known for years. I suspect that he would be shocked and perhaps even appalled if he were told that he harbors an anti-Semitic attitude. A short message he sent me some time back contained this short excerpt: “Hello Brother Earl. God the Father sent his Son to redeem Israel. Israel rejected Him, insisting that He be crucified, which He was. Today Jesus is still one to be crucified by Israel, rejected and defamed. Christians are restricted there, yet they (Christians) love Israel and the Jew. How long should America support Israel while Israel rejects Jesus Christ, our founders’ hope?” Does this portray an anti-Semitic attitude? You bet. Is it Biblical? Absolutely not!
Many devout Christians make regular trips to Israel and the Palestinian territories. These are devout Christians who care deeply about the world we live in and have a genuine desire to make a positive contribution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. While this is wonderful, deception creeps in through this open door. Innocent, people-loving tourists believe all tour guides (licensed by the State of Israel) are created equal, that they provide their services without personal, social or political agendas. After all, the guides are licensed by the State of Israel so what they say about Israel must be true, right? No so. Tour groups often innocently hire tour-guide services that indeed have an agenda to slant tour participants against Israel and in favor of the Palestinians.
What do these biased tour guides do? They provide a very-one-sided portrayal of the problems between two peoples. Unsuspecting Christian tour groups are often met by Arab Christian guides who start off with a lot of rhetoric about Christian love for both sides of the conflict. Then they proceed to give a very one-sided portrayal of issues demonizing Israel for a laundry list of sins. These “sins” have no basis in fact, but the lessons are nonetheless powerful for Christians who do not know the real history. In addition, because these Arabs are Christian, they immediately have a distinct advantage in finding rapport with other Christians from the west. After all, they share the same faith and some of the same world-views. Furthermore, it seems so natural for Christians to believe bad things about Jews as history clearly demonstrates.
I remember learning about the “Black Death,” the Bubonic Plague that swept across Europe in the 14th century in school. Do you? Did you know Jews were accused of causing it by poisoning wells? Did you know that thousands upon thousands of Jews were put to death as a result? Of course, the world now understands that bacteria carried by rat fleas caused the Bubonic Plague. Nevertheless, the world was quick to blame Jews and thus threw more fuel on the 14th century rapidly spreading wildfire of anti-Semitism. Please understand that this is only one of many examples of how the world has demonized Israel for centuries with many and varied pogroms (organized massacres) that culminated in the Jewish Holocaust.
It is important to note that not all Arab Christians are cut from the anti-Israel/anti-Jewish cloth. Many, many Arab Christians know and understand the Bible and the significance of Israel and the Jews. Yes, they, too, suffer severe persecution for their faith, even to the point of death. They suffer discrimination, harassment, loss of income, physical assaults and death. Yet, many have remained faithful. Some of you who are reading this might point the finger at Israel as the perpetrators. Yet, this persecution comes not at the hands of Israel or Jewish people. The perpetrators are Arab Palestinians, their own people. You may be shocked to learn that the town of Bethlehem is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Christians may visit Bethlehem, but they do so at their own risk; it’s kind of like swimming in the ocean without a lifeguard present. The beach is open, but “Swimmers Beware!” Doesn’t say much for the Palestinian Authority, does it?
In truth, most Christians did not participate in the pograms of the past that led to the slaughter of countless Jews. It was only a handful that actually participated, but this is fact: a huge portion of society became convinced of the validity of the pograms and of Jewish guilt; these pograms were allowed to take place because the vast majority remained silent. Consider this. Even Europe’s overt anti-Semites were horribly shocked when they learned about the Holocaust. They were totally opposed to what Germany did yet apparently never saw the connection between their own anti-Semitism and the enterprising initiative of the Nazis to set up an efficient system to actually act out on those beliefs. It was people of conscience, such as German clergyman Reinhold Niebuhr, an early supporter of Hitler’s National Socialist Party who, after the war, confessed that the church in Germany had a share in the guilt of the Holocaust.
Now, fast-forward to the new face of anti-Semitism in today’s world and in today’s Church. The Muslim Brotherhood has been working patiently and quietly under the radar screen for years. They have been infiltrating and embedding themselves into positions of influence in countries throughout the Middle East, Europe and, yes, even in America. So too are they, and other nefarious groups, working under the guise of the Christian faith, to influence the Christian Church in America and around the world to adopt a pro-Palestinian stance. This Palestinian stance, of course, translates into an anti-Israel bias. They are targeting other arenas also, such as the universities, but we as Christians are a huge target because American Christians have historically been pro-Israel. They need us to jump boat, switch sides. Anti-Israel groups are subtle, sly operators and…very patient. Patience is their greatest asset–patience and a general ignorance of history on the part of the American public combined with the public’s failure to recognize when they are being manipulated.
Many Arab Christians have obtained places on the speaking circuit to address church congregations across America. Like the Arab Christian tour guides, they begin by talking about how we should love one another, followed by a subtle shift in the monologue. Without a discernable transition, the talk becomes about how the poor Palestinians are suffering in refugee camps and how it is all because of Israel. The thought of this injustice fills the audience with righteous indignation. The speakers omit the fact that Palestinians are being used as (s omitted) pawns by Arab nations. Keeping them in squalor as refugees serves to keep the (e omitted) Palestinians stirred up so as to keep pressure on Israel.As evidence, Sir Alexander Galloway, former director of UNRWA, Jordan (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians Refugees in the Near East) once said, “…the Arab nations do not want to solve the Arab refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore as a weapon against Israel.” People always seem to want to favor the one perceived as the underdog. To this end, the Palestinians have and are continuing to do a masterful job at gaining sympathy. The UNRWA was created specifically to deal with Palestinian refugees when the UN already had an agency that effectively deals with all other refugees in the world; it is called the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Why do the Palestinians need their own agency? It’s because the goal is not really to resettle. It’s to keep them stirred up hating and blaming Israel for their miserable plight.
My Christian brothers and sisters, if we do not want to see another Holocaust take place, please wake up and recognize what is happening right before our eyes. In a famous quote attributed to George Santayana he said, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” My prayer is that the Church would not be lulled to sleep but would be stirred to action.
God promises He will bless those who bless Israel. Contrary to what many in the church are taught, the Christian has not replaced the Jew. We must not be ignorant of foundational Truth and we must possess knowledge of history. Otherwise the doors are wide open for the enemy to manipulate the hearts, minds, souls and spirits of all–especially those who claim the name of Christ. The wolf is often disguised in sheep’s clothing.
Israel is consistently and wrongly held to a different and higher standard than the rest of the world. Without the benefit of a thorough and proper hearing revealing all the facts, Israel and the Jews are repeatedly tried and condemned in the court of public opinion and with no recourse. The Bible clearly states that the Jews are God’s chosen people and Israel is His special land. It is the only land in the world whose surveyor was God Himself. The Bible warns us about touching the ‘apple of His eye.’ We must not take this lightly.