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The Middle East: Anti-Semitism

Counter-CutThis is the third in a series of essays examining the Middle East situation from a Biblical perspective.

There are 13.4 million Jews in the entire world – a mere 0.2% of the population.  Yet there is no other people group who is the subject of such world-wide enmity and hatred.  Why is that?  …and what is anti-Semitism, actually?

We will examine the following aspects of anti-Semitism in this study:

 Let’s start by proposing a definition:

Anti-Semitism is an irrational, unhealthy, unnaturally intense dislike (akin to hatred) of Jewish people as a group.  This emotional response often has no personal experiential basis or cause; often the Jewish people as a group are made to be a convenient scapegoat for perceived personal or social injuries and failures.

Let us now examine some of the key elements and characteristics of anti-Semitism.

Irrational

Anti-Semitism is not rooted in logic; rather it is rooted in emotions.  For example, I will most likely dislike any group of people who injured me personally or inflicted grievous pain upon members of my family, tribe, or people.  Such dislike is a natural self-protective reaction; however it normally does not drive me to demand total extermination of the people I dislike.  The Jews have not gone around the world inflicting grievous pain on other people groups, and most people with an intense dislike and hatred for Jews had absolutely no interaction with one.  Remember that Jews represent a mere 0.2% of the world population!  How could they actually inflict pain on so many others?  Each Jew (including infants) would have to personally harm over 200 people!  It’s physically impossible.  Thus any hatred of Jews as a group is irrational.

Unhealthy

Anti-Semitism is unhealthy in the same way that brooding over a perceived slight is unhealthy.  It festers anger and grows like a sore.  Interpersonal issues can usually be mitigated and relieved through rational dialog and ultimately in forgiveness.  Unfortunately because the root of anti-Semitism is irrational, a dialog is virtually impossible, and forgiveness is totally impossible because Jews are perceived to have committed some “unforgivable” sin that doesn’t really exist!  Therefore the hateful emotion will continue to fester and grow until it becomes all-consuming and inevitably erupts into violence against the Jews.

Akin to hatred

Anti-Semitism is an unnaturally intense dislike of a people group.  Nothing short of hatred drives the desire to wipe an entire group of people out of existence with the vehemence of anti-Semitism.  Although dislike and hatred are kindred emotions, they are not equivalent.  Dislike is to hatred as the Little Leagues are to the World Series.  Dislike is a bothersome thorn, but hatred is an all-consuming fire.

Rooted in false perception

Anti-Semitism is rooted in false perception.  For example, how many neo-Nazis have actually experienced personal injury inflicted upon them by a group of Jews?  Yet they ascribe all kinds of evil deeds to Jews.  How many Christians or Muslims have actually been killed by Jews for blaspheming the God of Israel?  Not many.  How many intelligent people believe without any substance that Jews control and manipulate the financial system, or the media, or [ fill in the blank ]?  Yet many intelligent people act on such false perceptions as if they were true.

Now, might there be a kernel of truth in the fact that there are a disproportionate number of Jews in certain professions and industries?  Absolutely, for the LORD God blessed them!  But is that sufficient cause for hatred?  Absolutely not.  After all, there are many Asians in certain professions, and they are not vilified!  Thus anti-Semitism arises as an emotional response to an unverified and false perception.

Convenient scapegoat

Lastly, anti-Semitism provides a convenient scapegoat for one’s perceived personal or group failures.  If the Jews have been more successful than the rest of us because the LORD God blessed them [LINK Blessings and Curses], should we be jealous, covetous, and envious?  Of course not.  But it’s easier to point the finger at someone – or some group – that is different from us and blame our failures on their success instead of our own shortcomings.  “Oh, if they hadn’t succeeded, I could have…” allows us to escape the unpleasant truth about and to shift blame onto a convenient scapegoat – oftentimes a Jew.

History and examples of anti-Semitism

It’s easy to be deceived into thinking that anti-Semitism is a fairly modern phenomenon, but it’s not.  Many trace its roots back to the Nazis, or Luther, or the Crusades, or even to early Christians.  But the truth of the matter is that anti-Semitism existed as early as the time of Pharaoh around 1800 BC:

When Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”  (Gen 46:33-34)

The Jews hadn’t even become a nation yet, but were already an abomination to the Egyptians in the time of Jacob!  Of course the situation got much worse as the LORD God showered the Israelites with many blessings:

But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.  And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us.  Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.

But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.

So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. (Exo 1:7-14)

The Israelites’ situation continued to worsen, until finally the LORD God personally intervened through Moses:

Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.  (Exo 6:5)

Subsequently the Israelites left Egypt and entered the Promised Land, where they were under continuous attack from their neighbors, much as Israel is today.  Wherever they went, even during exile, an irrational hatred developed for them in their host communities.  Whenever they were able to return to their homeland under foreign rule, anti-Semitic persecution followed.

The pattern did not stop in ancient times, but continues uninterrupted through modern days.  After the Romans, the Muslims conquered the Promised Land and persecuted the Jews because they would not convert to Islam.  During the Crusades, both Muslims and Christians persecuted the Jews at various times.  In the Dark and Middle Ages, the Catholic Church persecuted Jews for “deicide[1].” When the Jews were expelled from the Promised Land, the LORD God continued to bless the Jewish people wherever they settled, and the local indigenous populations rose up against them in envy to persecute them wherever they fled.
http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/HistoryJewishPersecution/
http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/HistoryPersecution.htm

Anti-Semitism is still alive and well, as can be seen from the following links:

Book Review“A Lethal Obsession:  Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad”

“The title is a little misleading, this is not a majestic survey of the history of anti-Semitism from antiquity to the present. The focus is on post-Nazi exterminatory anti-Semitism and the bulk of the book is focused on anti-Semitism in the Islamic world.”

This book is referenced based on the book review only.  The book itself is 1200 pages long and appears to provide a wealth of facts and documentation.

Sources of anti-Semitism

Historians have classified six explanations as to why people hate the Jews:

  • Economic — “We hate Jews because they possess too much wealth and power.”
  • Chosen People — “We hate Jews because they arrogantly claim that they are the chosen people.”
  • Scapegoat — “Jews are a convenient group to single out and blame for our troubles.”
  • Deicide — “We hate Jews because they killed Jesus.”
  • Outsiders, — “We hate Jews because they are different than us.” (The dislike of the unlike.)
  • Racial Theory — “We hate Jews because they are an inferior race.”

Source:  Why Do People Hate the Jews?

Some have even tried to cast blame on the Jews themselves, which is like saying to the girl who was raped that she was responsible for being raped!

Then there are those who insist that Christian anti-Semitism is rooted in the teachings of Jesus himself – who is a Jew!

Most of the above theories are easily dismissed:

  • Economic – Economic statistics do not support the statement
  • Chosen People – There are many examples of “chosen people” who are not persecuted.  Why are the Jews the primary target in all the world?
  • Scapegoat – This is a possibility, but why does 99.8% of the world choose the Jews for a scapegoat?  Why not others?  It’s way out of proportion – something else must be the cause.
  • Deicide – This is a possibility, but it doesn’t explain Jewish persecution by non-Christians.
  • Outsiders – Same comment applies as for “Scapegoat”.
  • Racial theory – This is absolute nonsense.  Humans are humans, and Jews belong to the human race.  Nevertheless the same comment applies as for “Scapegoat.”

Which brings us back to the original question:  Why this great global dislike for the Jews?  What is the root cause of anti-Semitism?

Root cause of anti-Semitism

Given that all Jews are human beings, and human beings are all fundamentally alike, there is nothing physically unique about the Jewish people.
Given that there are many different cultures throughout the world, the existence of a unique Jewish culture that differs from other cultures cannot explain why Jews are particularly singled out for persecution either.
Given that peoples generally can live together in harmony[2], one would expect the same to be true of the Jews.  But it isn’t so.

Why are the tiny minority of Jews frequently persecuted to death wherever they go and with whomever they attempt to assimilate?  What makes them so different from everyone else?

What makes Jewish people unique in all the world is their God, the LORD God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The LORD God is unique, like no other.  He was, and is, and is to come; forever the same; forever perfectly good.  He created everything, and therefore is outside this world; thus it is impossible for man to perceive Him with his five senses.  But the LORD God’s signature is clearly visible throughout the Universe, as well as in our hearts and minds.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psa 19:1)

The Bible, the Word of God, teaches that the entire world is in rebellion against its Creator, the LORD God of Israel.  This rebellion is led by Satan, a rogue created being who usurped man’s delegated authority and wields power over the world to this day.  He wants to be god and he rules the world.  His goal is to kill, steal, and destroy in a vain effort to topple the LORD God from His throne, banish Him from this world, and displace Him as the one being worshipped by all.

The Bible teaches that the LORD God one day will set things right, and at that time Satan himself will be banished to eternal torment.  Clearly the stakes are high for Satan, so he tries to do everything in his power to thwart the LORD God.  Whatever good the LORD God does, Satan opposes with evil.

Now the LORD God has chosen the Jewish people to be the vessel through which He will accomplish His plan, and has set them aside from all other peoples to be holy unto Himself for that specific purpose:

“When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them.

You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the LORD would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.

But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers (Deu 7:1-8)

The LORD God will bring forth a Messiah, or anointed King and ruler, from among the Jewish people, and in particular from the lineage of King David. (2Sa 7:8-16)  The Messiah will execute judgment on all rebels – including Satan – and restore God’s original order in the world.  (Psa 2:7-9, Isa 9:6-7)

So if Satan can destroy the LORD God’s chosen vessel, the Jewish people, and prevent the Messiah’s arrival, he can thwart God’s plan and escape the coming judgment.  Therefore Satan is highly motivated and not at all shy about using lies, misinformation, disinformation, economic developments, natural catastrophes, human frailties, culture, personal thoughts or feelings, and many other tools to achieve his sole purpose – which is to thwart the LORD God’s plan by destroying the Jewish people and preventing the Messiah’s arrival.

But we know with certainty that just as the contest between the prophets of Baal and Elija was no contest, (1Kin 18:19-40) the LORD God will prevail in this contest.  (Rev 20:9-10)  In the meantime anti-Semitism, the physical manifestation of a grand spiritual war, will continue until the arrival of the Messiah.  It will pop up in different places and forms as it has in the past, but it will always be driven by the war being waged in the spiritual realm.

Now Satan has at least three options available to thwart the LORD God’s plan:

  1. He can kill off all Jews so none will be left to produce a Messiah.  It’s too late for that because the Messiah, Christ Jesus, has already come once.  But Satan did in fact try and failed to destroy all Jews at the time of Esther.  (Est 3:6)
  2. Failing that, he can kill off all descendants of King David so none will be left to produce a Messiah.  Satan tried that, too, and failed – see Jer 36:30 and Mat 2:16.
  3. Failing that, Satan can prevent the Jewish people from calling on their Messiah, who will only come if called by the Jewish people.  What if Satan convinces the Jews that Jesus Christ is not the true Messiah and they don’t call?  Hmmm.  (Mat 23:37-39)  The LORD God has a plan for that, too.   (Future event)

So we can expect Satan’s spiritual warfare to target these three objectives as a minimum.  There may be other options as well that are beyond human understanding.

Lessons and warnings from Martin Luther

WARNING:  Christian, beware self-righteousness and being judgmental, lest you be judged, found wanting, and chastised by the LORD God.

Martin Luther was a German theologian who sparked the Protestant Reformation through his teachings and writings.  His teaching forms the foundation for much of the modern Protestant and Evangelical movement.

But in spite of Luther’s great accomplishments, he was still a sinful human being like all the rest of us.  In his great zeal to spread the Gospel message, he attempted and failed to convert local Jews to Christianity.  Consequently he became embittered against Jews and wrote a number of highly critical and incendiary pieces regarding them.[3]

One of these pieces is a book titled “On the Jews and Their Lies.”  In the book Luther argued that the Jews were no longer God’s people but the “devil’s people” and advocated violent actions against them such as setting synagogues on fire, seizing property, and worse.  The book ultimately was used by Hitler and the Nazis as justification for the Holocaust, and some of the arguments in the book still reverberate in modern “replacement theology” which holds that the Church replaced the Jews in God’s plan.[4]

Martin Luther’s experience ought to be a warning of caution to all Christians.  Because we are all fallen sinners, each of us is a work in progress through Christ during his entire earthly life:  We all remain sinners until death.  Though Christians may become more and more like Christ as they grow in Him, they nevertheless still remain sinners.  (Rom 7:13-20)

Martin Luther was no different.  He was a brilliant theologian, but he was not perfect and wandered from fundamental Biblical Christian principles:

1. He was frustrated that he couldn’t convert Jews to Christianity.

Well, it’s not his job to convert! His job is only to tell Jews the good news. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to bring everyone to a personal relationship with Christ. (Mar 6:11)

2. He became embittered by his failure and began to judge and blame the Jews as a people group for his perceived failure.

It’s not his job to judge another person or people group. That’s God’s job; therefore Martin Luther was usurping God’s authority. Our job is simply to love God and love our neighbors – not to judge our neighbors! (Mat 22:37-40)

 It’s not his job to judge another person or people group.  That’s God’s job; therefore Martin Luther was usurping God’s authority.  Our job is simply to love God and love our neighbors – not to judge our neighbors!  (Mat 22:37-40)

Therefore, Christian, be kind to the Jews your brothers.  Tell them the Good News, give them the Gospel in love.  Jesus commanded you to do that to all the world, not just to Jews.  (Mar 16:15-16, Mat 28:19)  But do not become vengeful, hateful, or angry if rejected.  Remember that you yourself had at one time rejected the same message.  But you were pardoned by the LORD God once you repented of your evil ways.  (Eph 2:4-8)  Let it be so with all you meet, including the Jews, for the LORD God in His wisdom and love gave each one of us free will to choose.  If you have told the Gospel, rest in peace that you have completed your assignment.  Be assured that the LORD God will complete the task He planned, for not one will be lost to the Kingdom of God.

So, the difficult lesson for us all, for every Christian, is to remember and consciously follow fundamental Biblical principles lest the enemy distracts and destroys through deception.  Clearly Satan was able to deceive Martin Luther, a great disciple of Christ, and ultimately use that deception to justify the horror of the Holocaust.  How much more can he deceive any one of us if we don’t cling to Jesus tightly, study and follow the Word diligently, and watch our hearts carefully!

To read more about Luther and his anti-Semitism:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther
http://www.nobeliefs.com/luther.htm
http://www.gotquestions.org/Martin-Luther-anti-semitic.html

Conclusions

In John 15:20 Jesus warns the disciples,

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

Although Jesus’ words were directed toward Christians, they apply equally to the Jews.  Jesus is after all God in the flesh – the same Creator who created and chose the Jews.  Therefore as the world persecuted God in the flesh, so it will continue to persecute all people of God relentlessly, Jews and Christians alike.  Global anti-Semitism and Christian persecution, especially in Muslim countries, is only a continuation of ancient history.

Did Christians also persecute Jews?  Yes, but it was wrong to do so.  By doing so those Christians violated the command of Christ Jesus:  Love our neighbors (Mat 22:37-40).  Just like Luther, Christians who persecuted the Jews fell under the influence of the enemy, dishonored the name of their LORD and Savior, and possibly caused many souls to lose their eternal salvation.  So let all Christians be vigilant to repent and not make the same mistakes.

Lastly, what is the relationship of anti-Semitism to the Middle East situation today?

  • Understanding the true source of anti-Semitism clarifies the uncompromising nature of spiritual warfare waged through Israel’s foes.
  • Understanding anti-Semitism’s true source highlights the futility and foolishness of any two-state political solution because it violates God’s covenants and plan, and because Israel’s opponents – driven by anti-Semitism – will never relent seeking the total destruction of all Jews everywhere, including Israel.
  • Understanding anti-Semitism at its core allows one to discern truth from lies, and make wise decisions accordingly.  For example, understanding the true nature of anti-Semitism could have prevented the foolishness of the recent U.N. vote to offer the Palestinians observer state status – and much future bloodshed that will result from that decision.

All is not as it looks – especially in the Middle East!

(932)


[1] The concept of deicide itself is absurd numerous reasons.  Just four are listed below:

  • God cannot be killed.
  • If humans could kill God against His will, then they would be more powerful than God!  We know that’s not the case.
  • Jesus went to the cross willingly: “… Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Heb 12:2)
  • Furthermore, he died for the sins of all mankind, not just Jews, so we are all responsible for His crucifixion.

[2] Local genocidal wars do exist, but when one of the participants leaves the region the genocidal killing generally does not pursue that person and the conflict stops.

[3] Interestingly, a similar scenario occurred with Mohammed, the founder of Islam.  Mohammed tried to convince the Jews to convert to Islam, but they refused.  As a result, he declared an everlasting war on them.

[4] Replacement theology is a blasphemous doctrine.  It contradicts Biblical writings and the unconditional covenants made by the LORD God.  In effect this doctrine violates the LORD God’s character because it makes the LORD God out to be

  • Not all knowing and all powerful because the Israelites were able to thwart His original plan
  • Either a liar or an unreliable covenant breaker – which we know He is not.  Therefore it is an erroneous doctrine.
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  1. March 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm

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