First let me state the obvious. I am not a Christian. I do not believe in Christian theology. I am a Torah-observant Jew with a Torah-observant theology. So the idea of a Trinity is anathema to me and I certainly do not believe in the divinity of Jesus.
That said, I am absolutely appalled at what has happened to a church in Israel recently. The expression of hatred towards Christian beliefs and institutions rivals that of pre-Holocuast Germany of the mid 30s. Anti-Christian graffiti on the walls of a church and the recent public tearing up of the Christian bible by a Knesset member [MK Michal Ben-Ari -Ed.] are acts reminiscent of the anti-Semitic graffiti seen on the walls synagogues and Jewish owned businesses in Germany.
Unfortunately, I can all too well understand why this is happening. It is a culture of hatred of the goy (non-Jew) that permeates certain circles. And a history of anti-Semitism perpetrated against our parents, grandparents and great grandparents going back for centuries in Europe – pre-dating the Reformation.
The Church had always had it in for the Jews back then. Persecutions were often sourced in what the Church saw as heresy on our part for denying the divinity of Jesus. They either wanted to convert us or destroy us. That finally came to a head during the Holocaust where Christian Germany with centuries of hatred imbedded in their souls – ingrained in them by previous generations underpinned the Nazi determination to annihilate us. Even though the expressed hatred was entirely racial, not religious.
So it is not a surprise that certain Jews react reflexively to non-Jews by hating them. Nor is it surprising why that hatred produced this kind of activity. When hatred is ingrained in this historical way we cannot expect tolerance. I am reminded of a tape I once heard by a Chasidic Rav saying that even though we must have good relations with gentiles, we must hate them!
That is incorrect. There is no mitzvah to hate non-Jews. There is a mitzvah to treat all of humankind with the dignity they deserve as God’s creations, created in His image! There is instead a mitzvah to enlighten the nations with the morality, values, and ethics of the Torah. In fact according to one source I saw, the reason for our lengthy exile is precisely for that purpose – to get the rest of the world to believe in God and to appreciate the truth of the Torah.
Why doesn’t the segment that fosters the kind of hatred displayed in the above mentioned acts abide by any of this? In certain cases historical experiences combined with an insular lifestyle and lack of education prevents them from seeing reality.
In other cases, it is simple fanaticism as seems to be the case here. Some of the graffiti indicates that this was done by fanatic settlers of Ramat Migron and Maoz Esther as a ‘price tag’ operation for the police closing down two structures in Migron.
This is an outrage! No matter how justified these illegal settlers feel they are in building illegal settlements, and no matter how angry they are at the Israeli government for doing it, they have no right to retaliate. Certainly not against innocent Christians!
They probably think this is a Mitzvah. But they are wrong. This is a completely immoral act that is inexcusable!
The Christian world of today does not hate us. Many of them, such as the Evangelical community embrace us. And since Vatican Two, Catholics no longer believe in the doctrine that blames us for the crucifixion. We are now considered their ‘older brother’ religion. These new attitudes are clearly and constantly expressed in tangible ways. Relations have never been better. While there still may be pockets of Christian anti Semitism – they are relatively few in number and in any case non violent. (With the obvious exceptions of fringe groups like the neo-Nazis and the KKK.)
But the people who do this kind of thing either don’t know any of that, or don’t care. They will say that all this ‘love’ is false. Or that is it just a ruse to convert us. Most of them will not however be stupid enough to act on it – especially as an act of revenge against the government! But you only need a few who do. And that is what seems to have happened here.
It is futile to try and teach these people how to behave in the civilized world. They will not listen – rejecting anything we tell them that contradicts their pre-conceived notions. Notions of anti gentile hatred that is so ingrained it would be easier to separate them from their right arms!
The only thing we can do is protest it as loudly and as clearly as we can. And to apologize as did the Chief Rabbi of Israel:
Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger spoke out against the “heinous deed.”
“I object to any attack on a holy site, and hope the perpetrators are punished,” he said in a statement to AFP. “I do not know who was behind the deed, but if it was Jews — I ask for forgiveness.”
The rest is up to the government of Israel. They have to put in the extra effort to catch those who did it. And to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law! And if a lawmaker tears up another Christian bible, he ought to be at the very least publicly censured by the Knesset! The last thing any Jew should ever do is act like a Nazi!
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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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