As many of the nations of the world align themselves against Israel, this is an appropriate time to be reminded of the unique nature of antisemitism—hatred of the Jews simply because they are Jews. And while few people would claim that the modern state of Israel is flawless in its conduct or that the Jewish people are above moral reproach, it is clear that there is something irrational, even diabolical, about Jew hatred and the wholesale demonizing of the nation of Israel.
On Oct. 7, Israel experienced the most horrific bloodbath in any one day since the Holocaust, with details too sickening to repeat, and who gets blamed? Israel! In the words of the infamous document signed by 31 student groups at Harvard, “We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”
Of course. Israel is always to blame. The leaders of the people who were murdered, slaughtered, butchered, incinerated and raped are to blame—not the murderers, slaughterers, butchers, pyromaniacs and rapists.
Israel dropped more than 1 million leaflets throughout Gaza City, urging the civilians to flee to the south. Israel made tens of thousands of phone calls—yes, calls to individuals on their phones—as well as sent out tens of thousands of text messages, saying, “We’re going to bomb your neighborhood. Please get out so you can be safe.”
Hamas, in contrast, urged their people to stay, blocked them from leaving, put up roadblocks to stop them and allegedly confiscated car keys and shot their own people dead. Hamas leadership even made clear that they welcomed the death of their own people. In short, Israel seeks to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza while Hamas seeks to maximize civilian casualties there—yet it is Israel who is guilty in the eyes of much of the world.
But this is only part of the much larger phenomenon of antisemitism. Consider the evidence in its totality.
1) Antisemitism is the longest hatred of all time. Catholic scholar Edward Flannery wrote: “What other hatred has endured some 23 centuries and survived a genocide of 6 million of its victims … only to find itself still intact and rich in potential for many years of life?” Today, antisemitism is at its highest levels since immediately before the Holocaust, equaling, in fact, those pre-Holocaust levels.
The accusations against Israel in the Book of Esther, roughly 2,500 years old, still ring true in the hearts of antisemites today: “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples … whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey [international] laws; it is not in [our] best interest to tolerate them” (Cf. Esther 3:8).
2) Antisemitism is the most widespread hatred of all time. It can be traced from the Greco-Roman world to Christianity (yes, Christianity, including vicious comments from some of the church’s greatest leaders); from Islam to fascism to communism; from white supremacists to black supremacists; from university campuses to the world press; from the philosopher Voltaire to the historian Arnold Toynbee; from the composer Richard Wagner to the car designer Henry Ford; from Japan to Russia to Iran.
3) Antisemitism is the most vicious hatred of all time. Both the incredible violence and the depth of animosity against the Jews defy rational explanation. The enormity and depravity of the Holocaust alone testifies to the viciousness of this hatred.
So depraved were the Nazis that Jewish infants were sometimes thrown into burning pits alive in order to save a bullet, leading to the oft-quoted dictum of Rabbi Irving Greenberg: “Moreover, summon up the principle that no statement should be made [about the Holocaust] that could not be made in the presence of the burning children.” Or think of the barbarous acts of the Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Nothing more needs to be said.
4) Antisemitism is the most irrational hatred of all time. The absurdity of antisemitic libel defies rational explanation.
When the Black Plague decimated Europe, Jews were accused of starting it by poisoning the wells with spiders, lizards and the hearts of Christians, mixed together with the sacred elements of the Lord’s Supper. Outraged mobs slaughtered thousands of Jews as a result of that rumor.
When the Catholic Church declared in 1215 that the elements of communion literally become the body and blood of Jesus, Jews were accused of stealing and torturing communion wafers, leading to Jewish communities being burned at the stake.
In the Muslim world today, it is still believed that every year, Jews kidnap and torture a priest or other victim, using his blood to make Passover matzah (unleavened bread). Jews have even been accused of controlling the Catholic Church.
And Article 17 of the Hamas Charter refers to “Zionist organizations under various names and shapes, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, espionage groups and others which are all nothing more than cells of subversion and saboteurs.”
Ultimately, it is Satan himself who drives antisemitism, wanting to wipe out the ancient chosen people and to thwart God’s plans for them and for the world. We must resist him together. ©2023 Michael Brown
Michael Brown, Ph.D., is an international speaker and the author of more than 40 books.
Above: Harvard Graduate Students for Palestine rally on the steps of Wider Library at Harvard University on Oct. 14.
Photo: Rick Friedman/Alamy Live News