Antisemitism: Beware of the Subtle

Written by Rabbi Michael Weygant on . Posted in Antisemitism

When approaching the subject of antisemitism in America, the subtle must scream to our hearts as loudly as the obvious, although one could rightfully say that detecting the subtle is far more difficult than noticing the obvious.

Observing a small crack in the foundation of a house involves more keen awareness than being alerted to a considerable gap expanding through the house's walls. Those of us who have heard the adage addressed to our children by a visiting relative, "My how you have grown since the last time I have seen you!" realize that the daily changes of human growth exhibited in our children can go virtually unnoticed even by those closest to them. Our relatives are correct... our children have grown and matured. It may be true; there is a slight crack in the foundation. It may be equally true that certain subtle changes can alert us to the possibility of even more great and dramatic changes as yet not revealed. A keen sense of awareness may help us detect the less obvious changes even before they mushroom into the unimaginable and consequently get out of control.

Undoubtedly, we live in a nation that has gone to great pains socially and judicially not to condone the venom of hatred towards any of its citizens regardless of one’s national origin or religious persuasion. Eyebrows barely flutter though, when the term "racist" is slung at an opponent who disagrees; and bigotry is suggested when decisions rendered are not what had been anticipated or desired. We have become somewhat anesthetized to the sting of such foreboding terms.

Are there subtle changes blowing in the wind within our country? It may be so. Antisemitism, with its illogical and misconceived epithets, has historically been most often associated with what is commonly called the "Right Wing" of the political spectrum. This seems to be changing. Have you sensed the subtle? Since the advent of the Palestinian uprisings in Israel (originally termed the intifada) during the last decade or so, it has gone almost unnoticed that certain left-of-center politicians have described Israel as "imperialist," "colonialist," and incredibly, "racist." These pejoratives mirror the perspectives of much of the body politic of the world, as was definitively pronounced by a United Nations resolution of 1975, which equated Zionism with racism. Although this 1975 resolution has theoretically been overturned within the world assembly, the mentality of much of the populace represented therein has not. Israelis remain personae non grata in a considerable number of nations. The Arab economic boycott against Israel persists despite what was perceivable movement in peace negotiations between Israel and Arafat’s PLO. Israel is consistently being pressured by a barrage of continuous American diplomacy that advocates Israeli geographical concessions that would, by all accounts, threaten nearly all Israel's predominately Jewish citizenry. Is there anything new under the sun when it comes to the idea of Jewish people willfully imperiled? It has been a dastardly and tragic pattern throughout modern and ancient history. It remains a truism -- history tends to repeat itself. Beware of the subtle!

Incredibly, even elements within the American Jewish community have attempted, at times, to distance themselves from Israel. Particular Israeli policies have caused uneasiness in the comfortable American Jewish community. Some of these discomfiting policies have included the establishing of new settlements in Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank"), past military excursions into Lebanon before the Israeli withdrawal in May 2000, the 1982 bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor, and the "rounding up" and incarceration of known terrorists. Each of these Israeli policies bore one indelible earmark: a nation must do all that is necessary to protect and defend its inhabitants.

Then there was Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish American, who was serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison in the United States. The charges against him? Transferring secret intelligence information of the United States military to Israel. The subsequent issue, whispered behind closed doors, and implied by the news media heavyweights was an issue of dual loyalties. Is Jonathan Pollard a Jewish American or an American Jew? Not since the Rosenberg trial of yesteryear has the American Jewish community been so vulnerable to such implications and wrestled with such uneasiness in the kishkes of the community.

These uneasy feelings, coupled with a continuing menagerie of hate crimes throughout the world that have dramatically increased with the tempo of the conflict in the Land, bear witness to the inevitable: antisemitism still exists, and could arise with force given suitable conditions. Our first tendency as Messianic Jews may be to think that it can't... Not in the United States! Not in a pluralistic democracy! Not from within the Church! Not where Jewish people are so prominent! In reality, though, there is no lack of triggering mechanisms already at play within the fiber of American society. Economic hardships, spiritual ignorance and misconception, and social devastation helped precipitate the rise of an obscure painter to the dictatorial helm of the Reich in Germany barely sixty years ago. Today, revisionist historians continue to present the Holocaust as a myth, and the maniacal German Fuhrer as a "misunderstood genius." These same historians, together with revisionist theologians who long ago abandoned sound Biblical exegesis, downplay or even deny the inherent spiritual roots of our country and the American forefathers. The humanistic culture they now offer as a substitute is far from the spiritual aspirations of the framers of the American Constitution. At best, the modern humanistic substitute is spiritually anemic and potentially extremely dangerous. Who or what will fill the measure of the national vacuum our progeny will inevitably inherit if the subtle changes within our society continue and increase? What new developments await us in the coming years, should Yeshua tarry?

That these questions and similar ones to them will be answered in action and deed in the course of time by the coterie of politicians and government officials seems frighteningly assured. More than ever as Messianic believers, it behooves us to fulfill our purpose before GOD as a witness people. In the grand scheme of things, we are called to proclaim to a darkened world our Messiah Yeshua, the ever-shining Light. That the days are evil, and increasingly so, is beyond question. Our call to redeem the times, is also beyond question. Our peculiar calling is to be a people set apart for His purposes; remembering our ancient roots, and holding dear to our heart that which is dear to GOD's heart. GOD's love towards Israel is firm and true. Our love for the Jewish people should be nothing less.