How can followers of Jesus fight antisemitism?

Antagonism against Jews continues to rise in United States, home to nearly half of the world's Jews

By the Rev. Cariño Casas 
CMJ USA 

Antisemitic incidences continue to rise in the United States, home to 6 million Jews, the second largest Jewish population in the world. The Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry also notes that despite there being plenty of well-fund organizations dedicated to fighting antisemitism, hatred continues to increase. “Something has gone terribly wrong.” 

The number of violent physical assaults reported in news media more than doubled last year from 2020, from 12 to 28. An alarming number of Jewish hate crime reports were recorded in New York and Los Angeles, the two largest Jewish cities in the US.1 There were 214 hate crime reports recorded by New York police in 2021, up from 126 in 2020 and nearing the 252 in 2019. The 79 anti-Jewish hate crimes reported in Los Angeles last year were about double what they were in each 2020 and 2019, before the pandemic. 

antisemitism - Hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people. Just as concerning is the rise in the distribution of antisemitic propaganda. The Anti-Defamation League reported a 27 percent increase in anti-Jewish propaganda generated by white supremacist groups from 2022. The 352 incidents recorded in 2022 were 113 percent more than the pre-pandemic reports of 165 in 2019.2 Such propaganda is alarming because words reveal the heart, which motivates to action.  

As we reported in May 2021, antisemitism in the US and elsewhere was stoked in part by the most recent open conflict between Israel and Hamas. “Social media played an exceptionally alarming role in the process,” the report states. American intelligence services exposed Iran’s efforts to promote antisemitic content on the internet,3 reminding us how social media is susceptible to outside manipulation.  

The pandemic has also contributed to the rise in antisemitic incidents. As early as March 2020, libelous accusations were circulating online that Jews had engineered the virus to become rich by selling the cure. The antisemitic trope that Jews are carriers of disease goes back into ancient times and was a caricature used to devastating effect by the Nazis.4

How do we address hate in our societies? As the April report out Tel Aviv University states, more money, more laws, and more speeches do not seem to be working.  

How do we address hate in our societies? More money, more laws, and more speeches do not seem to be working.  

What is needed is a change of heart

Followers of Jesus know antisemitism is a spiritual problem. Education will only get us so far. What is needed is a change of heart. 

How can disciples of Jesus make a difference? 

  1. Pray – We must pray that those who hate the Jewish people would have a revelation of Jesus, Son of David, Son of God. Pray for the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts so they would know the mercy of God. Pray for more laborers to proclaim the Gospel in its Jewish context to all nations.  

  1. Study the Bible in its Jewish context – Jesus and his disciples were Jews engaging with other Jews. Learn the Jewish theology that informs Jesus, Paul and the other New Testament writers. 

  1. Get to know your Jewish neighbors – We cannot really understand why those outside our social circles might feel unsafe or unwanted until we “walk a mile in their shoes.” That requires getting to know their life challenges. Is there a synagogue or a Jewish neighborhood in your area? Go introduce yourself and ask them to teach you about the Jewish holidays. Why? Because Jesus celebrated the Feasts of the Lord. Or ask if they feel safe as Jews in your area. If they say no, ask how you can help make your neighborhood or town safe and welcoming. 

  1. Humbly learn more about antisemitism – learn how the Church has struggled with antisemitism and be prepared to hear how your new Jewish friend’s family may have been affected directly by some pogrom or inquisition that was led or instigated by Christians in Europe or elsewhere. This history should humble us and move our hearts to repentance. Basilea Schlink was asked, “So for how long are you going to repent” for Christian antisemitism and the Holocaust? She responded, “So long as a Jewish heart is grieving, we will continue to express our grief for what happened.” 

  1. Speak out when you hear (or read on social media) an antisemitic joke or when somebody – even ignorantly – speaks in stereotypes and insensitive tropes. Educate family and friends of how such language is hurtful to Jewish people. Taking care how we communicate is a mark of compassion for our neighbors. 

CMJ USA is eager to help you and your church family grow in loving our Jewish neighbors. Schedule a CMJ rep to speak on antisemitism, the Jewishness of Jesus and the Gospel and more: info@cmj-usa.org. 

 

The Rev. Cariño Casas is the Communications Director of CMJ USA. She began as the media coordinator of Christ Church Jerusalem in 2014. She previously worked as a newspaper copy editor and photojournalist. Cariño serves as a deacon in the Anglican church in the Pittsburgh area. 

Footnotes

  1. And the first and third largest Jewish cities in the world. “Antisemitism Worldwide Report 2021,” The Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, April 27, 2022, Tel Aviv University, 5. https://cst.tau.ac.il/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Antisemitism-Worldwide-2021.pdf 
  2. “Antisemitism Worldwide Report 2021,” 6.
  3. “Antisemitism Worldwide Report 2021,” 16.
  4. Dina Porat, “Blaming the Jews and Israel for the Coronavirus Pandemic – Historical Background and Current-Day Reactions,” Kantor Center Position Papers no. 3, July 26, 2020; available at https://en-humanities.tau.ac.il/sites/humanities_en.tau.ac.il/files/media_server/Humanities/PP_DP_260720.pdf. 

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Article published on 06/10/2022