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Christians, it’s time to show up in the fight against anti-Semitism

A general view shows the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City December 4, 2017.
A general view shows the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City December 4, 2017. | REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

I shouldn’t have to say this, but anti-Semitism is wrong. Full stop.

In the last few weeks alone, swastikas have defiled a synagogue in Chicago, defaced Union Station in Washington, D.C. Literal Nazis held a demonstration in Orlando last weekend, and Whoopi Goldberg, a household name for all Americans, used her platform to state unequivocally that the Holocaust had nothing to do with race.

All of these are different symptoms of the same root cause: hatred and prejudice of the Jewish people.

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While each of these instances is despicable in its own way, they are hardly new. These are new amalgamations of a century’s old hatred that the world tends to marginalize time and again. Jews are left out of intersectionality conversations, and the presence of anti-Semitism in the modern world is disputed at best, and at worst, denied altogether. It is relegated to an issue that only the Jewish people should be concerned with that is wrong.

Today anti-Semitism has two faces: the hatred and prejudice of the Jewish people and the hatred of Israel.  The modern state of Israel is the only Jewish state in the world and is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. Israel is integral to the faith and heritage of the Jewish people.

It is the land where Abraham became a nation. Zion is mentioned in the Jewish Bible 850 times. Yet, in conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, any mention of legitimate Jewish connection to the Holy Land is typically shut down, criticized and demonized.

This month, Amnesty International accused Israel of being an apartheid state within its own borders, as well as outside of them. These false accusations, unjust criticism and hatred manifest in what is called anti-Zionism. Though media and the international community try to disassociate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, they are one and the same.

The Jews were the people by which God brought the moral order into the world. Since the earliest of times, the Jewish people have contributed so much to humanity, yet they still stand alone. While they have had many a fair-weather friend, Jews need true friends to stand with them. Friends who are physically present in both the trials and triumphs.

As a Christian, I recognize that the roots of my faith are part of the legacy of the Jewish people. I was raised to love thy neighbor and so I stand as a friend of the Jewish people. Showing up takes courage. In the 1930s showing up for what was right and standing with the Jewish people often meant suffering the same fate. Though the cost isn’t the same as in the past, there is a cost. Despite that cost, I stand because it is the just and right thing to do.

I am not alone in feeling this way. There are other Christians like me who believe in fostering Christian-Jewish friendships and showing up in solidarity with our Jewish friends and neighbors. Christians who want to replace the ugliness of hatred with the beauty of love and friendship and who hold the conviction to use our voices wherever they need to be heard.

As anti-Semitic attacks continue to rise, both domestically and abroad, it is becoming more and more apparent that the time to act is now. Christians must draw attention to this issue and remind their Jewish friends and neighbors that they are not alone. The Body of Christ must not commit the same sins of the past, standing by while injustices were being perpetrated against the Jewish community. We must be friends that show up for them, stand with them and remind the world that anti-Semitism is always wrong.

Hannah Johnson is the Advocacy Associate for the Philos Project. Born, raised, and based in New Jersey, Hannah holds a BA in History and Jewish Studies from Rutgers University as well as an MA in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. 

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