A Jewish cemetery in Missouri was desecrated last week and 11 Jewish Community Centers across the nation had to be evacuated because of bomb scares. In fact, there have been 69 of these threats against Jewish Community Centers and Synagogues in recent weeks. The oldest hatred, Anti-Semitism, is raising its ugly head again. Just what do we need to know about it?
Most of us know Jewish people have been hated and persecuted in the past. But too often we think that anti-Semitism was only a historical problem. But now, with hatred of the Jewish people fast reappearing and even growing, it’s necessary for Bible believers to become knowledgeable about it. So here are ten fast facts about anti-Semitism
- Anti-Semitism means hatred of the Jewish people, nothing more and nothing less. It doesn’t include hatred of any other people groups, even some that speak Semitic languages. The word was actually coined by a 19th century political writer, Wilhelm Marr. He thought the term “Jew hatred” was too vulgar. So to make his hateful ideas more palatable to the masses, he replaced “hatred of the Jews” with the more scientific sounding “anti-Semitism.”
- Anti-Semitism is the world’s oldest ethnic hatred. It goes back to Pharoah’s enslavement of Israel and then his attempted genocide of Israel by killing of the nation’s sons. It persisted, affecting Balak, who hired Balaam to try to curse Israel, to Haman who wanted to destroy all the Jewish people, and on into the 20th century, with modern murderers like Stalin and Hitler.
- Anti-Semitism need not be genocidal for it to be true anti-Semitism. People express their hatred socially, by excluding Jewish people from clubs and societies. They believe false stereotypes about Jewish people and express resentment regarding the success of some Jewish people. At UCLA last year, a student government group tried to exclude a Jewish student solely because she was Jewish. Just because certain haters don’t want to kill all Jewish people, they can still be anti-Semitic.
- Anti-Semitism is found across the political spectrum, with both the extreme left and the extreme right holding noxious views of Jewish people. It seems that political extremists of any perspective find common ground in hating the Jews. Members of ANSWER, the radical leftist group, carry anti-Jewish signs at their rallies and members of the Alt-Right express their hate of Jewish people on Twitter. They are only united by their hate for the Jewish people.
- The Church has a terrible history of hating Jewish people based on the false Christ-Killer charge. Although Acts 4:27-28 clearly teaches that there was a conspiracy of human guilt for killing Jesus, the church has historically placed the blame solely and eternally on all Jewish people.
- Islam also is notable for its expressions of hatred for the Jewish people. Although present throughout history, Islamic anti-Semitism has grown in modern times because of Muslim resentment of the reborn state of Israel.
- Anti-Semitism will increase in the end of days. Zechariah 13:7-9 and Jeremiah 30:7 both depict persecution of the Jewish people during the future tribulation. Jeremiah says that era will be called “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.”
- Anti-Semitism has a Satanic motivation. The persecuted woman of Revelation 12 is a symbol of the Jewish people. The dragon, an image representing Satan, will persecute her. The reason is that Satan hates whom God loves.
- Despite human anti-Semitism, God loves the Jewish people and cares for them deeply. In Zechariah 2:8, they are called the apple of God’s eye. Romans 11:28-29 says God still loves the Jewish people and they are still His chosen people even though most don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah.
- Followers of Jesus need to be the most outspoken opponents of anti-Semitism. Our faith rests on Jesus, who Romans 9:5 says was Jewish according to the flesh. Since the covenant God made with Abraham is still in effect, we can be assured that God will still bless those who bless the Jewish people and curse those who curse them (Gen 12:3).
In the late 1970s, neo-Nazis were planning a march in Skokie, IL, a community with the greatest concentration of Holocaust survivors in the US at that time. One of my heroes of the faith, Dr. George Sweeting, then President of Moody Bible Institute, took out a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune, to express God’s love for the Jewish people and Moody’s solidarity with the Jewish community in opposing anti-Semitism. This leader, a godly role model, understood the dangers of Anti-Semitism, and the need for believers to take their stand against it. God is still calling us, the followers of Jesus, who is the Son of David and the son of Abraham, to stand by His people and to oppose this demonic hatred of those whom God loves.