Monthly Archives: February 2019

Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism

Shalom. I pray the Lord is blessing your life, family, and ministry so far in 2019! We are already enjoying the celebration of our 125th year of faithful ministry for the Lord among the Jewish people. I hope you will join our celebration by attending one of our 125th-anniversary conferences or events. You can see the entire list by visiting http://chosenpeople.com/125years.

Antisemitism: The Oldest Hatred

Allow me to open my heart to you. Like many others, I was badly shaken when, on the Sabbath day of October 27, 2018, the horrible murders of eleven Jewish people in Pittsburgh grabbed our attention and directed it to the growing problem of modern and murderous antisemitism. Antisemitism, called “the oldest hatred,” has been around for thousands of years. And today it seems to be intensifying.

Social commentators, both within and outside of the Jewish community, have many theories about this, but they leave out what I believe is the most critical reason of all. Antisemitism is the devil’s invention! When God called Abram to be the father of His chosen people (Genesis 12:1–3), Satan made the Jewish people the target of his fury. The evil one has tried to annihilate the Jewish people in every age and in endless ways to prevent God from using us as His instruments of redemption through the Jewish Messiah. We know the devil will not prevail, although that does not prevent him from continuing to try.

Sadly, one of his ugliest tactics has been to use the Church to promote the hatred of Jewish people.

Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism

Of course, the picture is not entirely dark. We rejoice in the establishment of modern Israel as a sovereign nation and home for the Jewish people. The State of Israel rose out of the ashes of the Holocaust to provide the Jewish people with a safe haven and a bastion of protection against antisemitism.

Although God’s choice of the promised land is ancient and rooted in the Scriptures (Genesis 15:18–21), the vision for the modern State of Israel is the fruit of the Zionist movement founded in the late 19th century and led by the great Viennese journalist Theodor Herzl. Yet, this love for Zion is not new. It has been the cherished hope of both Jews and Christians for centuries because of the prophetic biblical teaching describing the return of the Jewish people to the land of promise found throughout the Old Testament (Ezekiel 36:22–34).

In fact, some of the earliest and greatest supporters of the Zionist movement were Christian Zionists who took the Bible literally. They fervently believed the Jewish people would return to the land of Israel.

Yet, today we see a rising tide of Christians who do not believe that the foundations of Zionism and the modern State of Israel established in 1948 are biblical. In light of the growing criticism of Israel among some Christians and the hierarchies of their churches, the question I want us to consider briefly is whether we believe anti-Zionism and, in particular, Christian anti-Zionism, is antisemitic in nature.

Can we equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism?

I would suggest the answer is sometimes yes, especially when those opposed to the State of Israel support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement1 and groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, which harass and persecute Israeli speakers on university campuses across America and around the globe.

The answer is also sometimes no! Some Christians simply do not interpret the Bible as teaching that the land of Israel ultimately belongs to the Jewish people. This is unfortunate, but should not necessarily be equated with antisemitism. However, when criticism of Israel specifically leads to hateful language and actions directed toward Israelis, and Jewish people in general, then I believe the line is crossed.

This is when anti-Zionism becomes antisemitism!

Our Response to Anti-Zionism

Again, we ask the question, Is anti-Zionism antisemitic (especially the Christian version of anti-Zionism)? In order to answer this question, we must begin with a clear definition of biblical Zionism, which is sometimes misunderstood, especially by the Christian anti-Zionists who might be more influenced by culture than by what they read in the Bible.

Biblical Zionism holds that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people through an unconditional, irrevocable covenant made between Himself and our forefather, Abraham, as found in many chapters of Genesis (12, 15, 17, 22, 35).

The belief that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people is still well-accepted by the majority of Christians in the United States, as shown by a recent survey of evangelicals (sponsored by Chosen People Ministries and Joel Rosenberg and implemented by LifeWay Research), entitled Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel and the Peace Process.

The Survey reports that over 80 percent believe the Abrahamic Covenant continues, and over 80 percent also see the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948 as the fulfillment of prophecy.2

Yet, according to Bob Smietana, who reported on the data discovered by this survey, negativity toward Israel and the hope of Zion seems to be influencing the younger generation of Christians.

Older American evangelicals love Israel—but many younger evangelicals simply don’t care, according to a new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. Three-quarters (77 percent) of evangelicals 65 and older say they support the existence, security and prosperity of Israel. That drops to 58 percent among younger evangelicals, those 18 to 34. 3

Our younger generation was born years after the Holocaust and the founding of the State of Israel, and they do not have the same theological or emotional sympathies as those who were born closer to this time period. They did not grow up during the days when a much larger coalition of Arab nations tried to destroy Israel or when groups like the Palestinian Liberation Organization murdered Israeli athletes and began terrorist attacks within Israel. It is hard for some to understand why Israel has been so careful to protect the Jewish people within her borders.

This has been difficult for Israeli leaders. There is a mistaken understanding that followers of Jesus who believe God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people also support every decision that Israeli politicians make. This is false. All leaders are human and capable of mistakes. Israel is not a perfect country! They have made mistakes.

I am hoping that Bible believers will carefully study the Scriptures and conclude that at the heart of biblical Zionism is the understanding that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people. It is a land to be shared among all her inhabitants since Israel was chosen to bless the nations of the world (Genesis 12:3Isaiah 44:8). And it is a land and a people to be loved, prayed for (Psalm 122:6), and reached with the gospel message.

The negative spillover of anti-Zionism is impacting the view of many toward the Jewish people within and outside of Israel. When embraced, this critical attitude toward Israel can easily, and unfortunately, lead to antisemitism.

If Anyone Should Oppose All Forms of Antisemitism, It Should Be US!

Recently, Jeremy Sharon and Sara Rubenstein, writing for the Jerusalem Post, reported on the European Jewish Congress held in November 2018. It was sponsored by the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, who initiated the development of a Catalogue of Policies to Combat Antisemitism. The 32-year-old chancellor was quoted as saying,

“Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are getting blurred, but they are two sides of the same coin.”4

He recommended the following actions,

The recommendations, which it is hoped will be adopted by the EU and by national governments, include adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism; the appointment by EU countries of a special commissioner for combating antisemitism; a commitment of a percentage of GDP annually to fighting antisemitism; barring antisemites from political parties and public office; committing financial and other resources to guaranteeing security for Jewish communities in Europe; making Internet companies liable for antisemitic content on their platforms; and advising companies not to do business with countries or organizations that support antisemitism in any way.5

Kurz added,

Fighting antisemitism deserves much more than simple statements of good will—we need concrete policies and reinforced legislation.6

Oh, how I hope the Church will take the lead on encouraging the above!

How can we possibly reach Jewish people for Jesus without cultivating a love for all Jewish people, including Israelis, and to have a tender heart toward Zion? This is my prayer for you in this New Year, that God would give you the same heart as the Apostle Paul, who wrote in Romans 10:1“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.”

Opposing antisemitism may be a crucial first step in leading Jewish people to open their hearts to Jesus, the Messiah. I pray my people will see that true Christians love the Jewish people (Romans 11:11).

Praying for God’s best for you and your family in 2019,

Mitch


1 https://www.influencewatch.org/movement/boycott-divestment-and-sanctions/.

2 https://allianceforthepeaceofjerusalem.com/lifeway-survey-full/.

3 “Support of Israel Wanes Among Younger Evangelicals,” LifeWay Research (blog), December 4, 2017, https://lifewayresearch.com/2017/12/04/support-of-israel-among-younger-evangelicals/.

4 https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Antisemitism/Austrian-Kurz-We-cant-undo-history-but-we-can-do-justice-to-our-history-572444 noted on 12.30.18.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

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You Can Help Us Fight Antisemitism

Dear friend in the Messiah,

Shalom in the great name of Jesus our King!

Jewish people today are living in perilous times as antisemitism is on the rise around the globe. Believers in Jesus need to know what is going on and, beginning with prayer, help do something about it.

It is hard to believe that, after all the atrocities that took place under the Nazis seventy-five years ago, a virulent and vicious tide of antisemitism is rising, recently resulting in the death of eleven innocent Jewish people attending synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Each year, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Holocaust research organization based in Los Angeles, releases the ten worst antisemitic incidents taking place worldwide. Remarkably and unfortunately, six out of ten of these occurrences in 2018 took place in the United States.

At the top of the list, of course, is the October 27, 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, described as “the deadliest anti-Semitic attack ever committed in the United States.”

According to the report, two additional incidents resulted from tensions created by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for the boycott of all Israeli products.

Even more frightening is the presence of anti-Israel movements on college campuses across the country. Students are regularly exposed to the antisemitic rhetoric of pro-Palestinian student groups at an unprecedented rate.

Antisemitism is Growing More Visible
Social media has become a new platform for antisemitism.

On October 28, 2018, the day after the Pittsburgh attack, an article in The New York Times discussed the social media site, Gab, where the synagogue shooter made antisemitic posts shortly before going on a rampage. According to the Times article, Gab is a site “that has become a haven for white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other extremists.”

Even radical Black Muslim leader, Louis Farrakhan, has taken to social media to promote his brand of antisemitism. Most recently, he sent a tweet that declared, “I’m not an antisemite. I’m an anti-termite.” While this has drawn criticism from many sources, Twitter has yet to impose any consequences on Farrakhan for this statement equating the Jewish people with insects.

What Can Christians Do to Make a Difference?
As believers in Jesus there is a lot we can do to share the love of the Messiah Jesus with the Jewish community in light of this rise in antisemitism:

  • Pray: We need to pray for the Jewish people and the peace of Jerusalem. Prayer is critical at this time, and, as believers, we need to pray for the protection of Israel and the Jewish people.
  • Act: If you see antisemitism in any form on your social media platforms, make sure you say something. I am not suggesting that you get into a heated debate with proponents of antisemitism. As one dear brother once told me, “We need to love what the devil hates and hate what the devil loves!” So, we cannot allow remarks to go unanswered!
  • Be informed: Inviting Chosen People Ministries to visit your church and speak on a topic related to Israel, the Jewish festivals as fulfilled in Jesus, or the spiritual origins of antisemitism would be a great way to encourage your congregation.

However, one of the best ways to show that the gospel is friendly to the Jewish people is to introduce Jewish seekers to fellow Jews who already know the Messiah. There is nothing like a personal testimony to help someone understand the benefits, both eternal and temporal, of putting their faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

We have filmed and distributed almost one hundred beautiful video testimonies of Jewish people from every walk of life. Millions of people have viewed these stories online, many have responded positively, and some have come to faith in Jesus.

In Messiah,

Dr. Mitch Glaser

President, Chosen People Ministries

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