Monthly Archives: February 2014

German Newspaper Cartoon of Mark Zuckerberg

Every so often, an attack is mounted against the Jewish people that demands we raise our voice in protest. Suddeutsche Zeitung, one of the largest and most influential newspapers in Germany, has performed such an attack by publishing a cartoon that hearkens back to hateful propaganda of the Nazi era.

The online Jewish publication, Algemeiner broke the story yesterday. They write,

The cartoon, published by Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and entitled “Krake Facebook,” German for “Facebook Octopus,” shows Zuckerberg as a half-human sea giant grasping with tentacles at computers around him. Depicted with a hooked nose, the 29-year-old entrepreneur is shown smiling while his curly hair creeps out from under an oversized hat that has the Facebook logo on its brim.

The newspaper, based in Southern Germany, linked the cartoon to the recent purchase of WhatsApp by Facebook.

Certainly Germany has made some progress over the years in making reparations to Holocaust victims. In recent years, an influx of Russian Jewish immigrants has even been welcomed by Germany. Yet, it is evident that some level of underlying anti-Semitism still exists within the psyche of some Germans. When the creator of the cartoon was asked about the anti-Semitic nature of the image, the Jerusalem Post reports,

The SZ cartoonist, Burkhard Mohr, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday he was “shocked” his cartoon was deemed anti-Semitic. “Anti-Semitism and racism are ideologies which are totally foreign to me,” he said, flatly rejecting the notion that his cartoon could be viewed as offensive to Jews. He explained that his cartoon was designed to be a commentary on Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp. What he “meant was a cartoon depiction of the company Facebook beyond a specific person,” he said. “I am sorry that it led to this misunderstanding and hurt the feelings of some readers.”[1]

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper on Monday called the cartoon “an outrage” and said is was anti-Semitic. Algemeiner further quotes Cooper, “The nefarious Jew/octopus was a caricature deployed by Nazis. That was used pretty much as a staple by the Nazis in terms of their hateful campaign against the Jews in the 1930s. [An] exaggerated Jewish nose removes any question if this was unconscious anti-Semitism.”[2]

I am not writing to bash Germans in any way, but rather to call attention to a cartoon that crossed the line of human decency and reflects deeper issues that must be addressed. We cannot allow anti-Semitism in any form – be it portrayed through a cartoon, article, film or comment by a public figure – to be ignored. If we do, we ourselves are guilty of a most heinous sin.

Let me explain. In the Book of Genesis, God gave Abraham a promise that became the basis for Jewish national existence. In other words, the creation of the Jewish people was not man’s idea but God’s. Evidently, the Lord of the universe had a plan for the family of Abraham to be used for holy purposes. The Bible tells us,

And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

Those who believe in the authority of Scripture should take this passage both literally and seriously. There is a promised blessing upon those who “bless” the Jewish people and a curse upon those who “make light” of the Jewish people – a more literal translation of the Hebrew. If we devalue the Jewish people in the plan of God, the Lord promises to bring punitive measures. This is plain to those who believe the Bible, but perhaps unknown or shrouded in mystery to those who do not!

It is an act of love to warn those who perpetuate anti-Semitic stereotypes. This is particularly true of images reminiscent of Nazi caricatures of the Jewish people – even very public figures like Zuckerberg.

When this occurs, we need to cry foul. As followers of the Scriptures, we are obligated to warn those who do this that God still loves the Jewish people. We must remind them that repentance is the only right response, once they have been told of their sin against God’s chosen people.

We can say it was just a cartoon. But we know that it was more! We have sounded the warning. God is not pleased with anti-Semitism. Those who act in this way, whether consciously or not, should listen and make amends. One day, we will all face a loving God, who does offer forgiveness through Jesus the Messiah. But God is also just, righteous and unflinching when it comes to keeping His promises to the Jewish people and to us all.

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A Response to Pastor Dan Delzell’s Article in the Christian Post

Pastor Dan Delzell’s thoughtful article has so much in it to commend that I almost hesitate to attempt to add to it. He strikes the right chords, particularly regarding the necessity of saving faith in Jesus the Messiah.

I especially commend him for stressing Jesus’ Jewish identity because, as a Jewish believer in Jesus and the president of Chosen People Ministries, a worldwide evangelistic mission to Jewish people, I live with these issues day in and day out.

I would like to make a couple of comments. Pastor Dan’s “Three Level” model of the unfolding will of God in creation could easily be misinterpreted to mean that because we’ve reached “Level 2” – the New Covenant, the Gospel and Christianity – that somehow the Hebrew Scriptures and the Jewish people represented by “Level 1” are now in God’s rear-view mirror.

While of course I would agree with Pastor Dan that the New Covenant brings believing Jews and Gentiles together in a new relationship with God as a body that acknowledges Jesus as Head, I would like to add that this new relationship does not by any means mean the clear break from “Level 1” that Pastor Dan’s article may be taken to mean.

I prefer to think that the New Covenant fulfills, but does not replace, what has come before it, any more that the Davidic Covenant somehow replaces the covenant God made with Abraham.

In a related vein, Pastor Dan’s reference to Paul’s words in Romans 2:28-29, “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God” must be carefully read in the entire context of Romans, particularly Romans 9-11.

Does Paul really mean in this passage that the only true Jews are Gentiles or Jewish people who believe in Jesus? If so, then why does Paul preserve the distinction, “To the Jew first and to the Gentile” in Romans 1:16? Who – if not the children of Israel – are the “beloved kinsmen” that Paul is willing to barter his own salvation for (Romans 10:1-5)? Who, if not the Jews, are those for whose sake salvation has come to the Gentiles (Romans 11:11) and whose final restoration in Christ must occur (Romans 11:27-27) to usher in Pastor Dan’s “Level 3?”

Both Pastor Dan and I certainly believe in the centrality of Yeshua – but I simply want to suggest that far from having become an irrelevant presence in the plan of God, the Jewish people have a key role to play even now in the events that will bring about the glorious moment of Messiah’s return.

Moreover, I am sure Paul would agree that the non-Jewish Christians of our day are a key element in bringing Paul’s beloved kinsmen the Good News that secures both Jews and non-Jews a place in God’s kingdom. (Romans 11:11)

May I add one final word as to why the continuation of God’s covenant with the Jewish people is so critical for Jewish evangelism? As Jewish believers, we know that the major roadblocks to faith in Yeshua are not theological, but historical – and even sociological.

Jewish people have generally not been treated well by the “Church,” and have therefore come to the reasonable conclusion that if one believes in Jesus – that person is no longer Jewish. This is not the teaching of the New Testament.

This message of God’s continuing plan for the Jewish people needs to be proclaimed in order to help Jewish people understand that receiving Yeshua is not the end of their Jewish identity or of the Jewish people, but a new beginning.

This does not take away from the message that personal salvation for Jew or Gentile is only found through the death and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah; I am simply reminding Pastor Dan and others that God still has a plan and purpose for the nation of Israel.

In closing – one more word from Rabbi Saul,

From the standpoint of the Gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:28-29)

Visit www.chosenpeople.com for resources that will help you in sharing the Gospel with your Jewish friends!

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