Antisemitism part three...

Let me try to bring my three-part reflection on Christian antisemitism to a close today by starting with this quote from James Carroll in Constantine's Sword:

For Christians, Jesus Christ is a revelation of the mystery we call God. But Jesus did not come to put a fence around (this revelation), defining the corral gate as the way to salvation. There are numerous revelations of the mystery of God. (Some parts of the Church have already embraced this truth while Roman Catholicism tends towards a) grudging tolerance of other religions. (What is needed now) is an authentic respect for other religions as the true expressions of God "beckoning" the human heart.

Some of the branches of the Protestant Reformation have publicly rejected Christianity's historic supercessionist understanding of Judaism - too many have not. And while the Roman Catholic realm has affirmed that God's first covenant with Israel remains pure and uninterruptedit has done precious little to expunge its 2000 years of theological antisemitism. In fact, the case that Carroll builds for a direct connection between Christology and Auschwitz is staggering. Until we begin to credibly dismantle our hatred and mistrust of Judaism in our worship, our Scriptures and our theologies, we will remain necessarily suspect. Further, the existential security needs of modern Israel will continue to be unstable as long as bombs appear from desert tunnels and suicide warriors armed with knives attack bus riders. It is impossible to forget that the liberation of the death camps, after all, took place only 70 years ago.

Given the two millenia of hatred, death, violence, segregation, oppression and fear, is it any wonder the modern state of Israel - and many of its citizens - continues to mistrust Christians? This reality does not mean that Israel is beyond critique. In the past 25 years they have formed a temporary albeit weird theological/political alliance with Right Wing Christian fundamentalists that serves their short term security needs while ransoming their future to the Rapture. There is also a glaring imbalance in US aid. Nearly $3 billion in military aid goes to Israel each year with an additional $1 billion sent privately through tax-exempt organizations. US aid to Palestine - a much poorer nation with greater infrastructure needs given both the corruption of the Palestinian Authority and the viciousness of Israeli counter-attacks - totals $414 million. 

With Hamas entrenched in Gaza - still committed to the destruction of Israel - and still receiving funding from Iran (a nation that still publicly denied the Holocaust) -  and political stalemate in the West Bank reducing Fatah to mere political theater - there is very little room for hope on the ground  The recent election of Netanyahu in Israel - who played the anti-Arab card boldly and without shame - offers little new wiggle room for peace. Yes, people of conscience can continue to monitor the status quo. Yes, we can find ways to purchase consumer goods made in Palestinian cooperatives. (Check out their catalogue @http://www.koinoniapartners. org/catalog/2014catalog.pdf:) And yes we can be in touch with our legislators. One group I continue to support, Churches for Middle East Peace, can be reached here: .https://org2

There are six additional areas worth consideration:

1) Find ways to study and discuss James Carroll's Constantine's Sword. Find out what your religious group teaches about Judaism.  Create a similar study group to learn about Islam. Two very different, but useful, resources are: Karen Armstrong's, Islam: A Short History, and G. Willow Wilson's The Butterfly Mosque.

2) Read and study the real historical narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict that did NOT begin in 1949 - nor in the late 19th century with the rise of Zionism - but rather 4,000 years ago. Wrestle with the magnitude of this challenge and let it guide your heart. Learn about the subjugation of the Palestinian people under the Ottoman Empire and the various post WW I Arab nations. Begin to go beyond the headlines and political rhetoric.  One useful overview is One Land, Two Peoples by Deborah Gerner.

3) Discover the anguish of both the Palestinian nakba and the Jewish diaspora born of the Arab War against Israel in 1949. Learn how the Arab nations responded to the Palestinian refugees and compare this experience to what happened in Israel.

4) Take the time to understand how the Oslo Peace Accords collapsed - and what has happened since that time. The PBS special, Shattered Dreams of Peace, is a good starting point.

5) Support efforts on the ground in both Israel and Palestine that creates common security and shared economic and cultural experiences.  See this resource complied by YES Magazine for help @

6) Become active in the fight against both antisemitism and Islamophobia. One local group that I value is Music in Common @

As some of you know, I do not support the BDS effort against Israel at this time. I believe it is fundamentally about our own frustration and inability to deal with despair rather than a creative avenue of social change. I know, respect and love people who disagree with me profoundly on this issue - and will always do so. My perspective is simple: we are in a bind that seems impossible to resolve. In this, I am called both to prayer and the exploration of those small and often foolish things that can shift the balance of power in ways towards peace and compassion.


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