Protests outside the British Parliament on Monday (26th March) followed the “Enough is Enough” open letter to Jeremy Corbyn. The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish leadership Council accuse Mr Corbyn of not tackling antisemitism within the Labour Party – “Again and again, Jeremy Corbyn has sided with anti-Semites rather than Jews. At best, this derives from the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism, Zionists and Israel. At worst, it suggests a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy“.
An investigation into antisemitism in left wing British politics published in 2016 concluded “ There is a sickness at the heart of left-wing British politics, and though predominantly below the surface, it is silently spreading, becoming ever more malignant”. The left wing tend to see Jewishness as a marker of international capitalism, and the post 1967 State of Israel as anti-socialist western imperialism.
Antisemitism is “hostility, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews”. Of note is the fact that the term itself is a deception. Some may think that it covers hatred of all semitic people, but this is false. “The root word Semite gives the false impression that antisemitism is directed against all Semitic people. However, the compound word antisemite was popularized in Germany in 1879 as a scientific-sounding term for Judenhass “Jew-hatred”, and that has been its common use since then“.
A standard text on anti-Semitism by Prager and Telushkin explores the reasons for the almost universal and timeless hatred of Jews, but they conclude that the real question is “why, to begin with, people hate Jews, and then invent reasons to do so”.
- belief in One God led to hatred from Roman pantheists and “Christian” trinitarians;
- Biblical belief that they are the chosen people has attracted universal opprobrium but especially Islamic anger.
- Wanting to change the world for the better has given them prominence (“Had the Jews removed themselves from society, or been social failures, while adhering to their distinctiveness, they would have provoked far less hostility”)
- living better lives – Jewish communities have usually been more successful, healthier and, when allowed, wealthier – meant they become targets for easy money for bankrupt regimes and scapegoats for economic troubles.
In the past the Bible has been used to justify antisemitism but this is a massive abuse of scripture which teaches us to do good to all. The apostle Paul, also accused of antisemitism, said this, “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew” (Romans 11:1-2).
So the Bible insists that the Jews are still the “chosen people”, their unique identity has been miraculously preserved through the ages (Jeremiah 30:10), and it is God’s purpose is to gather them back to the land of Israel (Ezekiel 36:24) where Messiah (Christ) will come to set up the Kingdom of God with Jerusalem as the capital city (Isaiah 2:1-5). And here is an amazing thing, the Kingdom of God will see a miraculous change from antisemitism in the world to philosemitism – Zechariah 8:23 – “Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”