by Larry Brook
(Israel InSight) — At February’s National Religious Broadcasters convention, Tennessee-based Proclaiming Justice to the Nations challenged Christian media outlets to join in the fight against antisemitism.
The organization held a lengthy panel discussion on Feb. 27 at the convention in Nashville “to educate Christians about their Biblical responsibility to stand with their Jewish brethren,” said founder Laurie Cardoza-Moore.
Eight panelists spoke about different aspects of how antisemitism is prevalent in society and what to do about it, from the college campus to the church, and in general society.
Cardoza-Moore, special envoy to the United Nations for human rights and antisemitism, founded the group after discovering antisemitic, anti-Christian and anti-American content in her children’s textbooks. The organization “educates, advocates and moves to activate Christians, Jews and all people of conscience in building a global community of action and prayer in support of Jews and Israel.”
Cardoza-Moore said the NRB panel was to examine “what our role as Christian media is in combating and confronting” antisemitism.
Cardoza-Moore traced much of the current climate of antisemitism to the 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism, which despite its name degenerated into an antisemitic hate-fest. The boycott-Israel movement known as BDS came into prominence at that event. It “came out of South Africa, under the watchful eye of Christians… and It was never challenged,” she said.
She recently spoke throughout South Africa, and said because Christians did not speak out, “antisemitism has risen in mainline denominations, and even among evangelicals.”
She said the popular comparison of Israeli policy to South African apartheid is a “violation of the ninth Commandment, bearing false witness against Israel.” She told South African audiences that “if anybody knows apartheid, you do.”
She visited the Museum of Apartheid in Pretoria, where she saw how Jewish women protested against apartheid. It reminded her of the United States. She asked, “who was marching in the streets of Selma with our black brothers and sisters… it wasn’t the white evangelicals, it was the Jewish community.”
Audiences in South Africa “admitted they were silent and they admitted they want to reverse the course” about antisemitism.
Author and radio personality Jan Markell said there used to be greater enthusiasm for “the miracle of all time — the rebirth the nation of Israel, promised in the Bible.” While the parable of the Dry Bones used to generate excitement, today it is often met with a shrug.
Over the last 20 years, she said that excitement has been replaced with a “passion for social justice, and when you talk social justice, you hear churches say the Palestinians are the persecuted ones and we have to look out for the persecuted.”
Markell hosts a weekly program, “Understanding the Times,” and hosts the world’s largest Christian prophecy conference in Minnesota each year.
A decade ago, her alma mater, Bethel University, had a “Hope for the Holy Land” event, which she said was “a bash Israel for two hours session,” and “those of us who tried to speak truth were shut down.” That is alarming, she said, because that is one of the primary evangelical colleges.
“I’m sounding an alarm,” she said. “We need to pray for our churches” and go back to the day “when churches have a burden for things that matter. If the nation of Israel doesn’t matter to the church anymore, we have a serious problem.”
While many churches have shifted their attention to the Palestinians, she noted that “Bethlehem is unrecognizable” because the Palestinian Authority has driven out most of the Christian community. She called it “a tragedy of tragedies.”
As part of the event, Markell was presented with the PJTN Tree of Life Award. Cardoza-Moore, who said Markell has been a mentor to her, said the award was “for your commitment to combat antisemitism and support Israel,” and she has “gone above and beyond in defending Israel.”
Sandra Alfonsi, who speaks about “educational terrorism” through misleading narratives in textbooks, said in recent years “antisemitism has been made palatable.” The goal, she said, is “through education, to sever the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.”
Alfonsi noted that the British textbook giant Pearson Publishing has a history a falsifying the history of Israel, minimizing Jewish contributions to American history and downplaying Judaism as a world religion. “We find this over and over,” since the 1970s when Saudi Arabia poured billions of dollars into American curriculum development. The problem also extends to the college campus, such as Georgetown, “where our diplomats are trained.”
Similarly, multiculturalism “had a tremendous negative impact on our education system… what we find is bias and slant on the Jews” and drawing division between Americans.
She spoke of the history of Christian antisemitism and stereotyping of Jews. “There would have been no inquisition without Christian anti-Semitism.”
Pulitzer Prize nominated author Carol Swain, a former professor at Vanderbilt who writes extensively about antisemitism in academia, said “It’s all about division. It’s not about unity but it uses the language of social justice.”
She mentioned that in 1935, Albert Einstein denounced anti-Semitism in American academia, and she commented, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” But now, “academics don’t openly condemn Jews, they do it in very subtle ways,” claiming they are merely criticizing Israel or the level of Jewish influence.
Swain spoke about in the importance of recognizing the techniques of what she referred to as “cultural Marxism.”
Rev. Jeffrey Jemison, a leading voice of black leadership in Ohio, spoke about the deterioration of relations between blacks and Jews. “Social justice is love everybody,” he reminded.
Jemison spoke about how Martin Luther King Jr. was “a fighter for the Jews,” making it more troubling that “most anti-Semitism comes from civil rights leaders and activists… a lot of leaders have forgotten how much Dr. King loved the Jewish community and how much they loved him.”
He said the relationship between blacks and Jews in New York City over the last 50 years has been very complicated. Part of it, he said, is after many Jews left the areas they “didn’t have that person-to-person contact,” then Arab and Asian communities became the business owners in the area. “It’s hard to hate up close,” and Jews often aren’t up close any more.
In the 1990s activists like Al Sharpton “helped to incite problems and divisions,” and the emergence of identity politics “really helped create walls between people, when in reality we are all God’s children, we are all one nation.”
He said the lack of communication and the emergence of Nation of Islam rhetoric has led to higher anti-Semitism rates in the African-American community. He said this can be overcome through bringing faith leaders together, along with economic engagement through business coaching and empowerment.
Also, because African-Americans are proud of their Judeo-Christian heritage, it is imperative to educate about the basics of scripture and the responsibility to embrace Israel, he said.
While many panelists spoke of Christian theological roots of antisemitism, author Andrew Bostom spoke of the roots of antisemitism within Islam. He spoke about how global Zionism is conflated with Judaism, and discussed the outsized prevalence of antisemitism among Muslims versus the population at large.
He also noted that both Jewish and Christian leaders refuse to condemn canonical Jew-hatred by Muslim leaders.”
Rev. Tricia Miller, who is Christian research analyst for the Committee on Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, said a key teaching of Christianity that had been used to justify antisemitism for centuries and is being widely rejected today has instead been adopted by the Palestinians.
She said the politically correct way to be antisemitic or anti-Jewish is to be anti-Zionism, which has at its core denying the theological “centrality of the land to the Jewish people.”
Palestinian Christians adopted replacement theology — the idea that Jews were rejected by God and replaced by the church — to fit in their narrative and promote a false claim that they are indigenous and Jews did not live in the land of Israel. Furthermore, they identify Jesus as a Palestinian. “You have to do great violence to everything the Bible says about the identity and historical context of Jesus” to accomplish that, she said.
Another method is to portray the situation as “two equally valid national narratives.” Nothing is said about how many times Israel has made tremendous concessions for peace or the repeated refusal of the Palestinians to accept any offer, she said. It is an “insidious narrative that ignores history and reinterprets facts on the ground.”
She said those distortions are egregious enough, but “when this is done by Christian leaders in the Middle East, it is even more egregious” and counterproductive.
Accepting the Palestinian narrative, she said, is to show a tolerance of the Palestinian demonization of Jews. It “gives the Palestinian Authority hope they will succeed in possessing all the land from the river to the sea without recognizing Israel’s right to exist” and perpetuates an unwillingness to negotiate. Those Christian leaders are “actually doing more harm than good,” and “we need to remain grounded in the truth, which is the only real path to peace.”
Dexter Van Zile, Christian media analyst for CAMERA, reports extensively on anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric by Christian leaders, and spoke about Christians who use their platforms of influence to spread antisemitism.
Van Zile said antisemitism, after World War II, was discredited and antisemites were generally kept to the fringe. “Unfortunately, those days are over,” he said, as anyone with a webcam can gain prominence, and two of the worst examples are Christians.
One of them, Rick Wiles of TruNews, is a conspiracy theorist who recently made headlines for calling the Trump impeachment a “Jew coup.” Van Zile first ran into him at the 2018 Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem, “an anti-Israel event organized by Palestinian Christians, most of them affiliated with Bethlehem Bible College.”
He also referenced E. Michael Jones, a Catholic activist who spreads antisemitism through his “Culture Wars.” He has recently been de-platformed on numerous sites, which Van Zile noted “enlivens their base” because they can say “look at what those Zionists have done, undermining our democracy and our right to free speech.”
To fight anti-Semitism, he said one must “get to those angry young men” who are attracted to the vitriol of Jones and Wiles before they do. “As evangelists, that’s your calling,” he said.
Jones says the Jews are behind the problems of the world, something that appeals to those looking to blame others for their own situation.
Markell referenced Wiles, saying she and Cardoza-Moore “have a passion to shut down this kind of antisemitic bully.”
“He is bullying every one of you,” she added. “Christian antisemitism on steroids. Try to wrap your brain around that.”
Some “so-called” Christian peacemaking organizations also promote the idea that Jews control the media or U.S. political discourse, Van Zile said, and are the primary facilitators and enablers of antisemitism in the West in the last few decades. Though they present themselves as peacemakers, “They affirm the Palestinian vendetta narrative against Israel,” and he used the word “vendetta” because it is in the Palestinian national anthem.
Organizations such as the World Council of Churches translate and “sand off” explicit antisemitism but leave the “overall grievance and vendetta narrative intact” and promote self-determination for Palestinians while the Palestinian leadership denies the right of Jews to the same.
Van Zile said one can’t buy into that narrative and expect to be taken seriously when expressing opposition to antisemitism.
Rabbi Jonathan Hausman of Ahavath Torah in Stoughton, Mass., gave a perspective about Jews and Christians working together for Israel and against antisemitism. “Is it a new era? I don’t know. Is it messianic? That’s not my field. Is it something unique? Absolutely.”
He said there are many in the Jewish community who are perplexed regarding Christian support for Israel. “They have no context when it comes to this form of conversation,” because they have “liberal political sensibilities” and are “divorced from” Jewish knowledge and history.
Hausman said being Jewish “is the most grateful gift that God can give you. If that’s the case, you can’t marginalize Christian Zionists… If you’re sitting across the table with somebody who supports BDS, what in the hell are you doing?”
He referenced the move away from replacement theology and the affirmation of the eternal nature of God’s covenant with the Jewish people. “If God breaks his covenant with the Jewish people, what does that mean for you as a Christian? If God can break one promise, God can break another promise,” and that should be discomforting to Christians. More Christians are realizing that and reaching out their hands to the Jewish community, he added.
“Something is happening,” Hausman said. “I don’t know what.”
In summing up the event, Cardoza-Moore said “we are to protect our Jewish brethren so they can worship God without fear.”