The cheer of this Christmas season was shattered last week with the breaking news of a murderous attack on a Kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey that killed four people. According to the attorney general of New Jersey, the killers were motivated by their hatred of the Jewish people.
A small ultra-orthodox community of Jewish people had moved into this largely African-American neighborhood, fleeing the high costs of living in Brooklyn. Although this has been given as an explanation for the shooters’ resentment, what has largely gone unreported are the rantings of neighbors at the scene, waiting for their children to be released from the nearby school which was still on lockdown. One woman said “My children are stuck at school because of Jew shenanigans. “They all the problem. Because if they ain’t come to Jersey City this (blank) would never go on. Take that (blank) somewhere else.”
Another person said to a Jewish man on the scene, “It was your kind that did it here, right? … Four of ya’ll dead, right? Four of your people that were dead, right? That’s great. If they was dead, they got shot dead. That’s great. Get them (blank) Jews the (blank) out of here. Get these (blanking) Jews. Get the Jews out of Jersey City.” These and other vile comments blamed the shooting not on the murderers but on the victims.
To top it off, a US Congresswoman expressed her sympathy for the victims on Twitter and wrote, “White Supremacy Kills.” Unfortunately, when it comes to Anti-Semitism, it is not merely a white, ultra-right wing problem. These shooters were associated with a cult that claims that the true Jewish people of the Bible were from Africa and that Jesus was really African.
But that is not to say that hatred of the Jewish people is limited to the Black community. The shooting in the Pittsburgh synagogue was carried out by a right wing extremist. Anti-semitism is now found on both extremes of the political aisle, right and left, segments of white and black communities, in the Nation of Islam and in traditional Islam, even among evangelical Christians. For example, an evangelical newsman, writing in support of the President recently, called the impeachment hearings, a “Jew Coup.” What in the world is going on?
What we’re seeing is merely a revival of the world’s oldest hatred—the reviling of God’s chosen people. From Pharoah to Haman, to Antiochus IV, to Titus, to the Crusades, to Hitler, to the Ayatollah, Jewish people have been despised with a gruesome, genocidal hatred. The reason is found in Psalm 83. There the Psalmist tells the Lord, “Those who hate you have acted arrogantly . . . They say, ‘come, let us wipe them out as a nation so that Israel’s name will no longer be remembered.’”
Moreover, the Bible reveals the true source behind the hatred of the Jewish people is the enemy. In Revelation 12, the Woman, who is symbolic of Israel, is attacked by Satan, also known as the Devil and the Serpent of old. The reason for his assault is that Satan wants to thwart God’s plan for the Jewish people. Beyond this, Satan despises the Jewish people because He hates whom God loves.
Yet at this Christmas season, we’re reminded that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. We remember that the angel Gabriel told Mary, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:32-33). Mary responded by worshiping the Lord who “has helped His servant Israel . . . just as He spoke to our Fathers, to Abraham and descendants forever” (Luke 1:54-55). This is why, at this season we sing of Jesus as “Israel’s hope and consolation” and remember that “born is the King of Israel.”
Someone once pondered, “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” In response, Leo Rosten quipped, “But not so odd/ As those who choose A Jewish God/ Yet spurn the Jews.” As we celebrate the birth of the Son of David, Jesus the Messiah, we must redouble our efforts and enlarge our voices to oppose any hatred of His family, the Jewish people.