It is time for evangelicals to take a public stand against antisemitism.
I never thought I would see the rise of American based antisemitism in my lifetime. As an American of Jewish decent it grieves me to see that during the past few months, the Jewish community in New York City and the surrounding area has been subjected to a terrible spate of antisemitic attacks.
On December 10, 2019, there were two connected shootings in Jersey City, one in a kosher market and one at a nearby cemetery, resulting in the loss of four lives. Then, during Hanukkah, there were a string of attacks in New York—one for almost every day of the festival—where Jewish people were either physically attacked, pelted with hate speech, or both. The worst of these attacks happened on December 28, when five people were hacked by a machete at a Hassidic rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration. You can imagine my shock when I woke up that morning and saw the headlines.
There has been an additional dozen plus attacks over the last month.
The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, says that antisemitic hate crimes in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago—the three largest cities in our nation—are about to hit an eighteen-year peak. Antisemitism is on the rise in the United States and it is important for us, as a Jewish mission, to address this crucial topic that is of such great concern to the Jewish people today.
What is antisemitism? The Anti-Defamation League, one of the oldest US based Jewish defense organizations, has an excellent definition that I believe articulates the issue well:
The belief or behavior hostile toward Jews just because they are Jewish. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress, or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews.
Antisemitism and Spiritual Warfare
I believe we are told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem because the Lord knows that antisemitism is fundamentally a spiritual issue. The devil, who never stops trying to destroy the Jewish people, is at the heart of antisemitism. He wants to overturn the plan of God and, throughout Scripture, we see his diabolical efforts to destroy the Jewish people and to thwart God’s unfolding plan of redemption.
The antisemitism we see is evidence of the spiritual warfare we do not see! For instance, do you recall the heavenly conflict between angels and demons described by the angel Gabriel to the prophet Daniel? In the following passage, Gabriel explains his lateness in bringing answers to Daniel’s prayers because he was detained by the prince of Persia—a reference to some type of heavenly creature and probably a fallen angel. Gabriel mentions that if not for the efforts of the Archangel Michael, he never would have made it to Daniel’s side:
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. (Daniel 10:13)
It is a cryptic passage, but it gives us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the true spiritual battle being fought in the heavenlies that rages each day of our lives, even though we are not always aware of it!
The Apostle Paul wrote about this battle as well:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
Gabriel lets Daniel know that the heavenly fight for the soul of Israel would continue as he would soon do battle with the prince of Greece, the next Gentile power who would replace the Persian empire in oppressing Israel and the Jewish people.
Then he said, “Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come.” (Daniel 10:20)
If I am correct in the way I view Scripture, the return of Jesus is tied to the end-time repentance of the Jewish remnant (Romans 11:11–29). Therefore, it is obvious why Satan still wants to destroy the Jewish people. Satan wants to prevent Jesus the Messiah from fulfilling His ministry and returning to a repentant Israel (Matthew 23:367-39, Romans 11:11-29).
Israel and Antisemitism
Today, we see racial antisemitism giving way to national antisemitism. In other words, those who hate the Jewish people are now focused on showing how Israel is a “bad actor” on the world stage. As a result, antisemitism is now conflated with anti-Israel or “anti-Zionist” sentiment!
The following statement, penned by the Anti-Defamation League, is helpful in distinguishing between a legitimate concern for Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians and outright antisemitism:
How can one distinguish between criticism of Israel that is within the bounds of legitimate political discourse, and that which crosses the line into anti-Semitism? Natan Sharansky, an Israeli leader and former Soviet “refusenik” identifies “3 D’s” to determine when anti-Israel criticism crosses over into anti-Semitism: demonization, delegitimization and when Israel is held to a double standard.
Tragically, the more venomous forms of radical Islamic antisemitism are currently meshing with older antisemitic attitudes and ideas. And antisemitism, couched as anti-Israelism, is growing and becoming more violent and virulent on the most populist level within North America and Europe.
Suggestions for the Church Regarding the Jewish People
The people of God in the past have intervened and taken action when the Jewish people are under threat Future pastors and those who lead the work of God in a variety of ways should heed the following suggestions.
- God’s people should be involved in serving the Jewish community and therefore involved in countering antisemitism and enlisting the help of the broader church in doing the same. Chosen People Ministries is in the process of launching a series of online petitions to counter antisemitism, along with blogs, some additional articles in our newsletters, and we are also participating in public marches and events.
- We need to help our brothers and sisters understand that countering antisemitism is not only a witness of God’s love for Israel and the Jewish people but also an affirmation of God’s ongoing election of the Jewish people. We need to clarify that Satan is the cosmic cause behind antisemitism and that it should be viewed as a spiritual problem.
- We should help mobilize Christians to stand with the Jewish people in opposing antisemitism. These activities alone could potentially save lives.
- We must use social media as a way for the greater body of Messiah to communicate with the Jewish community. We should take advantage of these great new tools to do online advocacy: Facebook ads, petitions, prayer declarations, etc. We can also use our publications and the Christian media to do the same.
- We should inform Christians by helping our fellow believers understand the urgency of the situation and hope our fellow believers will lead them to take action.
A Call to Action
In New York City, we all know the slogan, “See Something, Say Something, Do Something!” This is true for countering antisemitism when we see it growing in our local communities. We need to encourage others, as well as ourselves, to say and do something and not let these statements and actions pass!
Antisemitism on Campus
We must also pay special attention to what is happening on our university campuses!
As long as we have brave souls who will not sit back and allow others to vent their hate in public—actions which tend to embolden those who already have twisted racial views, including antisemitism—I believe that there is hope for our country! There are two verses in the Bible that these brave souls put into action—probably without knowing it—that might inspire our continued resistance to those who hate the Jewish people.
First, the Jewish prophet Micah wrote,
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
Additionally, Yeshua the Messiah said:
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. (Matthew 5:13)
You have probably heard the idea that all it takes to allow the cancer of tyranny and hatred to destroy our souls in our community is to do nothing.
The Power of Prayer
Finally, the greatest weapon God has given us to support and help the Jewish people is prayer. We can go to rallies, sign petitions, and educate those around us, but if we do not pray, our labors will not have the power of heaven that is so desperately needed.
Please pray for God’s protection of Jewish people around the world and that they would know the peace that comes from Jesus—Yeshua the Messiah. Pray for those who hate the Jewish people; that God would transform their hearts to love Him and the His people. Finally, pray that our mission, and other ministries like ours, may become an instrument of Messiah’s message to the Jewish people and others in our world.
Antisemitism may be one of the oldest forms of hatred, but it must be countered today and, in every age, as we try to make tomorrow safer for future generations of His chosen people. We are stronger together, so please join your voice to ours now by going to the link and signing the petition.
Thank you for your continued support of Your Mission to the Jewish People and for helping us sound the alarm to stop the hate. This is the time to support the Jewish people and let them know that true followers of Jesus the Messiah oppose antisemitism and love the Jewish people.
Thank you for your prayers and for taking action!