Confronting the Source of Antisemitism

CONFRONTING THE SOURCE OF ANTI-SEMITISM written by Rabbi Barry Silver and appeared in “The Jewish Journal” on March 15,2017


On March 2, 2017, the Jewish War Veterans, issued a call to action against anti-Semitism declaring:  “In light of bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers, cemetery desecration, and the rise of anti-Semitism and xenophobia, it is time to act!”.   We salute the valor of the Jewish War Veterans and their willingness to fight for what is right. They understand better than most what Elie Wiesel meant when he said “Silence always aids the oppressor, never the oppressed”.


But for Jews to simply denounce anti-Semitism without confronting its source, is as effective as a doctor denouncing cancer without discussing the cause, treatment or cure.   Some people look to education and interfaith dialogue as the answer, but sadly, most such efforts remain superficial due to political and religious correctness.  As Catholic scholar Bishop John Shelby Spong observed, anti-Semitism is as much a part of the foundations of Christianity and its holy writ, as the flying buttress is foundational to the structure of a Catholic church.


The “New Testament” has much to say about the Jews, e.g. “You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out.  They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved.  In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit.  The wrath of God has come upon them at last.”   (I Thessalonians 2:15)


This theme is repeated ad nauseum in Christian Scripture, reinforced by the teachings of the Church fathers, and was graphically portrayed as Gospel truth in the bloody and repugnant movie “Passion of the Christ”, produced and directed by the anti-Semite, Mel Gibson, which is shown today to millions of children, indoctrinating new generations of hatred.  If such statements were made by a public figure, he would be condemned, however, when contained in the Christian Bible, they are revered by many Christians as the word of God and accepted without question as Gospel truth.  Sadly, virtually no Jewish organization or leader challenges the lies upon which the movie is based, i.e. that the Jews killed Jesus, which is the oldest and most pernicious of the blood libels, and which historians know to be patently false.


Many Jews who were led to the slaughter in the holocaust and subjected to unspeakable cruelty along the way, were told by their killers that this was the penalty they paid for rejecting and killing Jesus.  Catholic theologian James Carroll traces anti-Semitism in Christianity from Christian Scripture, through the Middle Ages and culminating in the holocaust.    Yet, in most interfaith dialogue today, these truths are ignored, and even worse, are denied by appeasers who are willing to sacrifice the truth in a false effort to promote interfaith “understanding”.


Most right wing Jews today give a pass to such hatred due to their new found friendship with fundamentalist Christians, seeking their continued support of Israel in what could be described as a pact with the devil.  And many left wing Jews give a pass to vile anti-Semitic statements in the Koran and the Hadith which compare Jews to apes and pigs and suggest that Jews must be killed by Muslims in the “end of days”, in a misguided effort to appear “tolerant”.  I am all for dialogue as much as the next guy, and engage in interfaith discussions all the time, but until we have the courage to hold every idea up to the light of reason, no matter the source, “Never again” will be an empty phrase, and the weed of anti-Semitism will continue to grow.