I'm not anti-Semitic, but...
Did you see John Pilger's documentary on tv?
'Palestine is still the issue' was the title. And TV One's
intro, telling us that 'he is unashamedly authorial in his writing and this
documentary represents his personal point of view' turned our radar up to
a decile ten. A few seconds into the film, Pilger - an experienced journalist -
was relentlessly promoting the cause of what he called, in blatant defiance of
all facts, the 'Palestinian nation'.
Viewers were asked to believe a series of unsubstantiated
incidents, including alleged vandalism, torture and murder, claimed by Pilger to
have been perpetrated by Israelis. Jewish attempts to protect homes and cars
from Palestinian suicide bombers were labelled 'apartheid', and
international law was misquoted to denounce Israel's presence in 'the
Etcetera and so on.
Somebody needed to remind TV One they are legally obliged to
screen programmes that meet standards of balance, fairness and - believe it or
not - accuracy. So we sent a six-page Formal Complaint to the CEO of TVNZ,
received a far-from-satisfactory reply, and have referred the matter to the
Broadcasting Standards Authority.
Anti-Semitism is never far away.
After Pilger's documentary was shown on tv, Linda Clark
interviewed him on National Radio's Nine to Noon show. Her interview
was bland, not probing. (Later, Media Watch stated that Pilger had
imposed certain pre-conditions on the questions that were asked.) However, the
balancing interview with the president of the NZ Jewish Council, David Zwartz,
had Ms. Clark in fine form, continually interrupting and talking over Mr. Zwartz's
So what's new?
But what really gets up our noses is when Christians come out
with remarks which start 'I'm not anti-Semitic, but...'
Which, being interpreted, means they are anti-Semitic,
Maybe we shouldn't expect anything better from 'the world'
(despite our Formal Complaint to the masters of the idiot box) but we wince at
weasel words voiced by believers - people who ought to know better.
Oh, sure, they decry the Holocaust. And Hitler. And the
Pogroms. And the Crusades. But...
Always the 'but'.
So - what is anti-Semitism?
(We're not talking about the ideologies of Farrakhan's
Nation of Islam in the US. Nor Islamist fundamentalism. Nor the neo-Nazis in
Europe. We're talking about Christian anti-Semitism.)
Anti-Semitism is when you think God finished with the Jews
Anti-Semitism is when you believe those trouble-making
Zionists should pack their bags, stop causing all that unrest in the Middle
East, and go back to wherever it was that they came from.
Anti-Semitism is when you say that Jews aren't really Jews
anyway, just a bunch of Khazars who converted to Judaism 'way back and
infested European society over the centuries.
Anti-Semitism is when you don't care to know about the
essentially Jewish nature and origins of Christianity, and simply shrug when
someone points out later, pagan addition.
Anti-Semitism is when 'Christ and the Church' overshadows
the clear references to God and Israel in many Old Testament headings of our
Bibles; anti-Semitism is in the maps labelled 'Palestine' at the end of our
Bibles; and in sermons that teach Replacement theology.
Let's switch to the positive side.
(And, for the pedants among you: yes, the term 'Jews'
originally meant folk from the tribe of Judah. Not now it doesn't, though. It
has become a generic term. Even Cohens are Jews today. Also, all descendants of
Shem are strictly Semites. But 'anti-Semitism' means against Jews. Okay?)
God chose Abraham. Made several covenants with him. Confirmed
them to his descendants. Later, made covenants with the Israelites at Sinai.
Read all those covenants carefully. They're legal documents, covering every
aspect of life. Note that the Deeds are in perpetuity, with penalty clauses in
the event of default. Huh? What's that in English?
Simply this: God's relationship with the Jews is forever.
There are consequences (including temporary exile from the Land of Israel) for
sin, but neither God nor His people can wriggle out of the contract. Never,
Question: what d'you reckon Satan thinks about that? About
God having a special on-going relationship with the Jews? Do you think that -
just maybe - Satan doesn't like the set-up? Doesn't like the Jews?
If so (and it's obvious, isn't it) then, for the good of
our health, it would be very, very wise to start showing a deep love for God's
people. Wouldn't it?
No, we're not so starry-eyed that we tip-toe around,
pretending that Jews in general (and Israelis in particular) are all cute 'n'
cuddly. God doesn't choose cute 'n' cuddly. (After all - he chose us
and he chose you, didn't He? We rest our case.)
But it's not a bad idea to approve of God's people.
Especially as the Jews are referred to as the wife of God. It's a somewhat
foolhardy act to dislike Someone's wife if that Someone just happens to be the
No, Jews aren't perfect. But hey! Cast the beam out of your
own eye: read church history, see what we got up to in the past two
millennia. And shudder.
And don't get tainted by the world's attitude to the
Jews. The media tells lies. Everyone loves a winner, right? Not if they're
Jews. Then it's Tall Poppy Syndrome time, folks. 'Jews in America make
fortunes'. 'Jews control this, that and whatever'. And so on.
Plus 'Israelis oppress the Palestinians'.
Absolute arrogant claptrap. Please, pretty please, would
someone kindly give us a whacking great suitcase-full of dollars. We'd love to
make a documentary with a catchy title like 'Israel is the only nation that
cares for the Palestinians'. Have a few facts...
(And no, we won't pretend that the Israeli attitude to
Palestinians is one of boundless benevolence. It must be damned difficult when
Palestinians are under continuous religious and political pressure to maim, kill
and annihilate every last Jew in the Land.)
Arabs in Israel have full citizenship - except they may not
fight in the army. They have equal access to medical facilities. They can work,
set up businesses, enter any profession, become academics and judges, even be
elected to parliament.
East Jerusalem is predominantly Arab. Unsurprisingly the
population of that area wanted - and started - Arab-run schools, with their own
curricula. But when Jerusalemite Arabs went begging for funds from the
unbelievably wealthy Arab nations and sheikhs, they returned empty-handed. So
who now finances these Arab schools? The state of Israel.
What did Egypt and Jordan do for Palestinians in the twenty
years those refugees were on Arab-ruled territory? Nothing. (Unless you count
King Hussein's murder of 28,000 Palestinians; an event that passed largely
unnoticed by the media.) But when Israel 'occupied the Territories' (a
perfectly legal act under international law, as we said before) the Jewish state
began building not only high-rise apartments for the refugees, complete with
water, power and sewerage, but added parks, shops and mosques - and was roundly
condemned for 'resettlement' by the United Nations.
One of our many bosses during our year in Jerusalem was an
observant Jew whose husband and son had been deliberately murdered by
Palestinians. She supervised us - and a staff of Palestinians. Yes, there were
the normal incessant Middle East arguments; no, there was never, ever, any
tension relating to the Jew v. Arab conflict.
We could take you to any number of merchants around the
(Arab) Damascus Gate who have lived in turn under British, Jordanian and Jewish
rule. Each would admit that the Jewish government has given them the best deal.
And every last one of you who has been on a tour to Israel
has walked through the Hurva Square in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. You
have seen that an Arab woman or a couple of girls in traditional Arab dress can
go through that crowded square untroubled. No jostling. No cat-calls.
Israelis are far from perfect. (We lived with them; we know.)
But despite the terrible danger to their own safety, they do more for the
Palestinians than all the Arab neighbours combined.
We tend to go on about the return of Jesus the Messiah to
Jerusalem, Israel. Okay, we haven't got a cast-iron date for that event, so we
have to concede that he may still be a few hundred years away.
But, hey, the Jews are back in the Land after a
near-2,000-year absence. And (in case you hadn't heard) the United Nations are
threatening war against Babylon. We could be forgiven for thinking that we 'see
the Day approaching', like the Book says. We'd be somewhat dumb to shrug and
say we'll catch the event on tv when it happens.
So how do we prepare?
One way is to get our attitude right vis-à-vis the
Jews. Don't give us the put-down that 'oh, we must love everybody'.
Start where it matters. With God's People.
After all - they've got a lot to teach us. And there is
just the possibility that the personality of Jesus the Messiah was - and will be
- Jewish. Forget the sentimentality of Sunday School choruses and sugary
songwriters. Forget words like 'mild', 'sweet', 'winsome' and the
rest. Read the gospels, read Paul's conversion, read Revelation - Jesus is Jewish.
And one day - perhaps terrifyingly, wonderfully soon -
believers will need to decide whether they are for Israel or not. Perhaps Phil
Goff, Helen Clark and the tv networks won't be our best guides at that time.
It's wise to pick the winner while there's still time to
place your bets.