I find it disturbing that so many on both the left and right have sided with the militant Hamas after the butchery of men, women and children in Israel from the neighboring Gaza Strip. The latest count is more than 1,300 Israelis — at least 25 of them U.S. citizens—killed in the carnage. Dozens more were taken hostage and held in Gaza, with Hamas using them as human shields and threatening to execute them if the Israelis retaliate retroactively.
Hamas is now the ruling political party of the Palestinians who were displaced to Gaza and the West Bank after Israel achieved statehood in 1948. The group’s surprise attack came on October 7, which, being my birthday, struck home in its inhumanity and depravity, making it an anniversary date of evil on much the same scale as we regard September 11. Not a good event with which to share your birthday. The enduring animosity and sporadic violence between the Israelis and Palestinians do not excuse the horrors that occurred last Saturday, but it is not necessarily surprising when we consider the history of this Middle East snake pit. It is perhaps the most combustible area on the globe with Jerusalem, claimed by the religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, at its heart. Prophecies in all three religions see the apocalypse and the end of civilization emanating from the biblically proclaimed “Holy City.”
It escapes me why protestors have gathered in the United States and other countries to celebrate and justify the brutality of Hamas. Students and faculty at American universities are issuing proclamations stating the same. More confounding is their claim that Israel and, by extension, Jews are somehow deserving of these horrible acts of murder, defilement and torture— much of it blatantly live streamed to taunt families of the victims and their compatriots.
Although many Palestinians regard the Israeli Jews as an enemy for forcibly evicting them from their homeland some 75 years ago, it reminds us that antisemitism has also been long practiced, and sometimes inhumanely and grotesquely so, by Christians. I have never understood why Protestants, Catholics and the many Christian denominations within have looked upon Jews as not just inferior among the human species but so evil and subhuman that they should be expatriated, even exterminated, as they were at the hands of German Christians barely five years before Israel became a nation.
Even ancient pagans, many of them polytheists who adulated multiple gods, excoriated Jews for recognizing only one God with a capital “G.” Christians, who were named after a Jew, could not fathom why Judaism did not regard Christ as the son of God— even though they deemed him as the holiest of prophets. You reject Jesus, many believe, and you reject the entire premise of Christian salvation and the importance of his crucifixion.
These became more than theological differences, because some of the early Christian leaders, as well as more contemporary Christian preachers and priests, have professed what are clearly antisemitic views. Martin Luther, frustrated in his efforts to convert Jews to Christianity, declared that he could not “have any fellowship or patience with obstinate [Jewish] blasphemers and those who defame this dear Savior.” He came to advocate the burning of synagogues and expelling Jews from Christian lands. Another German, Adolf Hitler, took that a giant step further almost 400 years later. An increasing number of evangelical Christians, following the lead of their pastors, are following a trend some are calling Christian antisemitism. One Christian mega-pastor, parroting other evangelicals, described Jews as “a dominant and moving force behind the present and coming evils of our day.”
Many Continue to Deny Horrors of Hitler’s Holocaust
Holocaust denial continues around the globe as a dwindling trickle of survivors remain to remind us of the lessons we should be learning about the evils of antisemitism.
Then there are those who, over the centuries, rationalized their hatred of Jews by branding them as the killers of Christ. You would have thought that the extermination of millions of Jews, led by a dictator who was partially empowered by Catholic and Protestant leaders who looked the other way, would have taught us a valuable lesson in the moral depravity of dehumanizing people due to race and religion.
What Hamas did was as inhuman as you can get, but the saddest thing is while they were killing babies and raping young girls, they believed they were faithful to Sunni Islam precepts and the concept of “decolonization.” Some excuse it as some kind of depraved nationalism, even patriotism, but it boils down to religion and politics.
Antisemitism has not gone away. Far from it. And it’s not merely evident in militants whose chosen political cause excuses the most heinous acts perpetrated against other human beings. Hitler and his minions may have committed their atrocities on a larger scale than Hamas in the cowardly killing of innocents, but they were all motivated by politics and religious extremism in its most inhuman form.
Tragically, some are portraying this as a heroic act of reclaiming their homeland as if Israelis deserved being brutally exterminated in their own homes where they lived peacefully with hopes of one day living in harmony with their Palestinian neighbors.
That includes liberals in our own so-called institutions of higher learning like Texas Tech Associate Professor Jairo Fúnez-Florez who posted the following on social media: “It’s about a Free Palestine. It’s about liberation and self-determination. It’s about living with dignity.” It has been liked and reposted thousands of times.
This suggests that Jews have no history of territorial rights in the Middle East and that they were outsiders colonizing territory where they had no right to be. The truth is that the Israelites of the Holy Land we read about in the Old Testament had the earliest claim on the land where they live and were technically “recolonizing” what in now Israel.
When Hamas defenders talk about doing the right thing and “living with dignity,” they are saying any act of terrorism is justified under the banner of reclaiming their homeland.
Ilian Benjamin once believed in forgiving antisemitic terrorists and that he could “promote the goodwill of our Palestinian neighbors” even after his Jewish cousin, Daniel Pearl, an American journalist, was kidnapped and beheaded by Islamic terrorists while on assignment in Pakistan in 2003. As was the case with the Hamas murderers on October 7, Pearl’s executioners gloated by releasing a video of the beheading for the world and Pearl’s Jewish family to see.
Benjamin has abandoned his idealism as a peace advocate after seeing the response around the world in support of the cowardly Hamas and their so-called call for decolonization by any means necessary. “They embrace pure evil,” he says of these worldwide protests on behalf of Hamas that “mock our tears.” He forgave and forgave again, but he stated in the October 14, 2023, issue of The Free Press that “when you kill my idealism, I have no forgiveness left.”
I remain mystified by this historical prejudice toward Jews, and the one thing that seems clear to me is that there is something inside of us that nurtures this hatred. I may be naïve for not grasping whatever it is that continues to fuel this historical prejudice, but I do know that antisemitic incidents are at the highest level ever recorded in the United States since the Anti-Defamation League started taking an official count in 1979.
It seems to me that we as Americans need to take a stand when others cheer on the mass murder of innocents as the means to an end in what is essentially a land dispute. At the very least, history should tell us that looking the other way, as the majority of German Christians did in the 1930’s, will lead to even more tragic consequences.