Here in America, anti-Jewish hatred is experiencing a dangerous Renaissance.
From Kanye West’s incessant conspiratorial claims, to Elon Musk’s re-platforming of banned users, to Donald Trump’s dinner with a Holocaust denier, to the MAGA movement’s continual bed-making with white supremacists groups, to the radicalizing of the GOP, to the emboldened acts of hatred in school and workplaces—the volume and frequency of the attacks are daily increasing.
And though it’s all fully horrible on its face, the deeper story is far worse.
As a longtime pastor, perhaps the most disturbing part of the ugly rise of open anti-Semitism in America is that it is so often coming from the professed devoted followers of a Jewish rabbi born in Judea and versed in the Old Testament. Their present bigotry doesn’t just testify to their cancerous hearts, but to their theological ignorance, to their complete disconnection from the very faith story they are supposed to be living in.
They’ve literally forgotten where they came from.
Judaism is the genesis of the Christian tradition, the deep and rich root system without which it would simply not exist. The New Testament and the work of Jesus cannot be fully understood or appreciated untethered from the Hebrew Scriptures, and anti-Semitic disciples of Jesus are simultaneously committing violence against Jewish people and to their faith’s namesake.
The very Bible Conservatives so easily invoke and so continually declare obedience to, traces the intimate relationship of God to the Israelites (the chosen people of God), and later in the New Testament to the new tribe defined by the disparate congregation who found affinity in Jesus’ life and teachings. But even then, Judaism remains, forming and informing.
Anti-Semitism wherever it comes from is sickening and inhuman, but when it is perpetuated by Christians it becomes a tragically ironic act of self-violence, a blasphemous act of terrorism.
In the face of a more open and common anti-Semitic movement, people who claim to celebrate and emulate the character of Jesus need to be the loudest in condemning it. We cannot be conscientious objectors in this holy war so often perpetrated by our own. As acts of violence become more commonplace and as bigotry continues to be normalized, is not enough for us to internally abhor acts of hatred toward Jewish people or to offer vague discomfort and imagine that is enough. We cannot abide incendiary sermons, reckless social media posts, dangerous political diatribes, or casual comments of our families to go unchallenged.
Christians need to come out of the shadowed silence so many have resided and to flip the tables of this too-often tolerated hatred. With clarity and specificity, followers of the Rabbi Jesus who have a desire to truly embrace the complexity of their story, need to condemn the anti-Jewish violence trending in these days, because these things are not only antithetical to human decency at its fundamental level, but because our brothers and sisters in this spiritual journey deserve our raised voices.
Republished with permission from John Pavlovitz.
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.