anti-Semitism, a “mortal ill prevailing”?

In 2014, Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, releasing the results of an annual study, has reported a global surge in anti-Semitic acts, both in volume, nearly 800, and in violence, a number involving weaponry and deathly assault, especially in North America and Western Europe. This marks a 38% increase over 2013. Quoting the report, “The overall feeling among many Jewish people is one of living in an intensifying anti-Jewish environment that has become not only insulting and threatening, but outright dangerous.”

Why this fearsome rise in aggression against Judaism and Jewish people?

A key cause is traced to anger, particularly among Western Europeans, in response to this past summer’s Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The social media, in our cyber-connected world, often rife with anti-Jewish caricatures and satire, has played an undeniable role.

As a citizen of the world, I believe in peace and the essentiality of negotiation rooted in mutual respect, especially a sine qua non in encounters, however historic, between competing, conflicting interests. Therefore, I do not condone the destruction of communities of the Gaza Strip, and the inevitable displacement and death of innocent people, even in the name of state security and border integrity.

As a Christian, I, with heartfelt love and soul-deep respect, am beholden to Judaism, the culture and faith of Jesus of Nazareth, the One I follow, whose life of incarnate love and justice I pledge to live. Therefore, I consider any anti-Semitism to be an expression of a dangerous pathologic self-denial, verily a delusory and deadly schizophrenic loss of connection with reality. Anti-Semitism, to paraphrase Martin Luther (I realize, an ironic, though, I pray, a redemptive choice, as he is justly accused and condemned for his anti-Jewish beliefs and sentiments, writing and preaching), is a mortal ill that must not prevail.

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2 thoughts on “anti-Semitism, a “mortal ill prevailing”?

  1. Paul,

    Great reflection! I have been stunned to some degree by the rise in anti-semitism, and agree whole-heartedly with your assessment that it’s a mortal ill that can’t prevail. I was nodding vigorously to your comment about the role of social media is fueling some of the anger and aggression towards Jewish people. It really has created and perpetuated a scary and dangerous environment as you pointed out. Just recently I deleted two “friends” on Facebook, (who really were only acquaintances I met on my book tour) because of vile comments about Jewish people that they wrote on their Facebook page. Worse still were the hundreds of “likes” and supportive comments on their views that many wrote. I only made it through the first four comments before feeling absolutely nauseated. My heart was beating as fast as if the comments were directed at me. As fast as my fingers could move I deleted those “friends”… But I also wondered later if I should have responded to the comments before I deleted those individuals. I decided it was ok that I didn’t because we aren’t going to change those folks whose hatred is that deep anyway, and it would be a pure waste of my time and energy (and cause a rise in my blood pressure too)….So instead I continue with the same goal as yours… To continue to strive for Love and Justice for all in ways that I believe will make a difference.

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  2. Anti-Semitism is a virulent condition, I fear, that has been with (and within) humankind for generations upon generations. I laud your unfriending those who used cyberspace to communicate their prejudice. I agree that responding to them likely would not have changed their thinking and feeling. I, too, honor your continued striving “for love and justice.”

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