After the lively debate on Facebook sparked by the last post about whether anti-Semitism is really different from other ethnic hatreds, I was hoping to move on from the topic for a while. But apparently I’m not quite done. The issue of the National Review I received this morning had not one, but two reports just on the subject:
Incident #1: Norway’s largest paper, the Aftenposten, saw fit to use the following headline to report the fact that some American Jews are considering withdrawing financial support from the Obama campaign as a result of his “lack of friendliness” toward Israel: “Rich Jews Threaten Obama.” See report and commentary from the Jerusalem Post here. This is apparently no lone incident on this paper’s part. Among others, the author refers to an anti-Israel article published by the Aftenposten in 2006, written by Jostein Gaarder, author of the children’s book Sophie’s Choice – which, ironically, I enjoyed in Hebrew translation back in eighth grade.
Incident #2: A council of a small town in Scotland, to protest Israel’s behavior in the Gaza flotilla incident, decided to ban all new Israeli books from its libraries. I thought we didn’t do that in the twenty-first century?
The Jewish people have seen much worse than either of these, and at the end of the day nobody cares what some Scottish councilmen think of Israel – or, rather, of Jews, because if this wasn’t about Jews they would be banning books written in some real human-rights-violating nation. But the spooky point remains. When is the last time a major European newspaper wrote about the nefarious deeds of sly Armenians, or dumb Slovaks, or even dirty Gypsies?
Where does that leave us as Christian Jews? On one hand, it breaks my heart that when my family thinks about Christianity, they associate it with the sorts of behavior of which these little vignettes are a reminder and a harbinger.
On the other hand, it confirms Cardinal Lustiger’s point that anti-Semitism is not in any important way a Christian phenomenon. Before Christ, the Greek and Roman conquerors hated the Jews because they broke their idols. When Europe was Christendom, Jews were hated because they killed Jesus. Now that Europe is embarrassed of Christ, Jews are hated because they kill Palestinians. Christianity’s affiliation with anti-Semitism was but a longish blip in the history of anti-Semitism – in the history of all nations making war against God, whose quintessence and analogy is found in the war the Jews made against Christ.