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Why Christians Care about Annexation

I have engaged with a number of reporters lately, both on and off the record, concerning the Trump peace plan. And one question keeps coming up: Why should Christians care about whether or not Israel annexes more territory in the West Bank? So for the record, here are some valid, sincere reasons why Christians should—and—do care about Israel and its current debate over whether to annex parts of Judea/Samaria in the context of the Trump plan. 

 

Standing for Fairness 

Because so many Christians were hostile to the Jewish people down through history, we view it as our moral duty as Christians today to stand with Israel and against those who are hostile to the modern Jewish state and its people. There are simply too many nations and peoples who treat Israel unfairly and even loathe its existence without just reason or cause. So we are determined to stand against the rising tide of anti-Semitism, the rampant anti-Israel media bias, the stone-hearted threats of sanctions and violence, and the outright bullying of Israel in international forums. 

 

We are simply standing for fair treatment of the Jewish nation and people in hopes it will create a more level playing field for Israel. The UN Security Council’s adoption of resolution 2334 in December 2016 is a prime example of the lopsided and prejudicial decisions routinely made against Israel. By declaring that the entire West Bank and eastern Jerusalem are “occupied Palestinian territory,” the international community ran roughshod over four millennia of Jewish claim and connection to the Land of Israel. 

 

So when Israel is debating whether to assert its rightful historic claim and title to the biblical heartland of ancient Israel, Christians are interested—and we have every right to be. 

 

Standing for Right 

Israel is a democratic state whose legitimate historic right and claim to the Jewish homeland was duly recognized by the international community not so long ago. Thus, “annexation” is not really the proper word for what Israel is considering, as it normally connotes the hostile taking of another’s property. Rather, Israel would simply be asserting sovereignty on lands it currently possesses and over which it already has a valid historic claim. Yet the world blithely treats it as an attempt to steal someone else’s lands. 

 

Admittedly, there is a rival Palestinian claim to these same areas but of such recent origin that it pales in comparison to the longstanding Jewish title over eretz Israel. The people of Israel must decide whether to compromise on their superior land claim for the sake of peace. And as Christians, we respect Israeli democracy and the right of its people to make this decision free of outside interference or threats. Thus, with great empathy and care we will be watching the annexation debate and will stand with Israel as it wrestles with this complex and consequential decision. 

 

Standing for Truth 

To build their rival nationalist claim to the historic Land of Israel, the Palestinians have found it necessary to deny any Jewish connection to the Land, and particularly, to Jerusalem. In doing so, they have decreed our Bible—both Old and New Testaments—to be full of falsehoods concerning the ancient Jewish presence in this land. This would mean King David did not rule over a large Israelite kingdom from his palace in Jerusalem, as recorded in the Hebrew Bible, and that Jesus did not enter and teach in the courts of the Second Temple as the Gospels all say.  

 

That should capture Christians’ attention, and rightly so! The Palestinians also have routinely damaged and destroyed important biblical sites that bear the archaeological proof that ancient Israel once inhabited the land. So Christians are standing for truth and the preservation of history when we partake in the debate over the fate of the disputed territories. 

 

Standing for Justice 

Christians believe God made a covenant promise to Abraham to deliver the entire Land of Israel as an “everlasting possession” to his descendants. How and when God ultimately fulfills that promise is up to Him. But we do believe the modern-day return of the Jews to the Land of Israel, including the mountains of Judea and Samaria, is part of God keeping His covenant promises to the Jewish people concerning their land inheritance.  

 

Our Bible also says that God scattered them from the Land for corrective and redemptive purposes, while at the same time vowing that He would always regather them to the Land of Israel one day. Thus, we consider it a matter of historic justice that the Jews have returned to their homeland in modern times. And since Christians also serve the same God as the Jewish people, our own faith is strengthened when we see Him being faithful to His promises to Israel concerning the Land. 

 

So to answer the question, Christians have plenty of reasons for why we care so deeply about the annexation debate and how the Jewish people hope to maintain their enduring connection to their biblical homeland.   

The Strategic Importance of the Jordan Valley

President Trump’s proposed peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians allows for Israel’s annexation (extension of sovereignty) of the major settlement blocks in the “West Bank” as well as the Jordan Valley. While the overall plan has been touted as the best plan presented thus far, it does allow for an eventual Palestinian State should the Palestinians come to the table. In the meantime, indications are that Israel can go ahead and begin extending sovereignty over those areas she requires in any future agreement.

 

 

The Trump administration previously recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel as well as Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, both recognitions that Israel had long-awaited. This peace plan seems to be opening another historic door for Israel to solidify the defensible borders she needs. 

 

Is Annexation the Right Word?

Some analysts argue it is incorrect to use the term “annex” for territory to which Israel already has a legitimate claim. It is even dangerous because the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines “annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State of part thereof” as “constituting the grave Crime of Aggression.” To describe Israel’s extension of sovereignty as “annexation” implies the territory belonged to another State and Israel is committing an illegal act, making her vulnerable to claims and legal rulings by the ICC. 

 

 

Neither the settlement blocks nor the Jordan Valley were territories of another State. They were Ottoman Empire territories that the British mandate, ratified by the San Remo conference in 1920, designated for a Jewish state. Jordan illegally occupied them from 1948–1967 when Israel took control of them. It is therefore disputed territory belonging to Israel that the Trump plan allows Israel to “extend sovereignty” over.

 

 

Last month’s Israel Answers article discussed this issue as it relates to the settlement blocs, and in this article, we will discuss the importance of the Jordan Valley specifically.

 

Jordan Valley

The “Jordan Valley” is used here to include the lower course of the Jordan River, from the spot where it exits the Sea of Galilee in the north, to the end of its course, where it flows into the Dead Sea in the south. The valley is a long and narrow trough roughly 65 miles long. This valley includes the lowest elevation in the world, and on both sides—to the east and west—it is bordered by steep cliffs rising as high as 3,900–5,600 feet high. 

 

 

The majority of the Jordan Valley is already administered by Israel, as it forms part of the West Bank’s “Area C” as outlined in the Oslo peace accords of the 1990s. Eighty-six percent of the land is Israeli farmland due to its year-round agricultural climate, fertile soils, and water supply. It is strategic militarily because it forms the border between Jordan to the east and Israel (and the West Bank) to the west and is regulated by the Israel-Jordan peace treaty of 1994. 

 

Israeli Security

The Jordan Valley has long been considered Israel’s preferred eastern border, and sovereign control over it will ensure Israel’s ability to respond to security threats from both Jordan to its east and the Palestinians to its west. Strategic positioning of this kind will prove far more effective and peaceful in the long run than the intervention of foreign military assistance or military technology used in conflicts in the past.

 

Keeping the Palestinians Demilitarized

Israel’s requirement that a prospective Palestinian state be demilitarized has been known since the 1993 Oslo process and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The requirement is a means of safeguarding Israel’s security by preventing the development of military threats against Israel—including conventional warfare, terrorism and guerilla warfare—from and via the Palestinian territories. The only way to keep illegal weapons from entering the demilitarized Palestinian zone is for Israel to maintain control of its borders. 

 

Jordan’s Security

Jordan gave lip service to cutting ties with Israel in response to the “annexation” but has no interest in conflict with Israel. It is Israel and the United States, not the Palestinian Authority, that bring peace and stability to Jordan. One senior Jordanian official reporting to Israel Hayom newspaper asserted:

 

 

We prefer an IDF presence west of the kingdom in the Jordan Valley over any other alternative. Contrary to the poor diplomatic relations with Israel, the security relationship is excellent. We have no interest or intention of damaging our security relations with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.

 

 

As expected, Jordan will beat its chest loudly in support of the Palestinian people while treasuring its strategic ties with Israel in a quiet manner. 

 

 

In conclusion, the chance to extend sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and major settlements is a unique opportunity. Everything, at least momentarily, is in place for such a move: the strong support of the White House; developing security and economic ties with Sunni Arab countries that will prevent legitimate pushback; and a strong Israeli security presence that is capable of deterring Palestinian unrest. This stated, Israel’s local friendships are not guaranteed tomorrow, and American support for such action rests on a shaky reelection bid for President Trump. If Israel desires to obtain defensible borders for the future, now is the time to act swiftly.

Does Israel Have the Right to Annex Settlements?

The Trump administration unveiled the long-awaited peace plan between Israel and the Palestinian people in January 2020. Perhaps the most realistic and balanced of any peace plan to date, it was rejected by the Palestinian Authority in less than two hours. 

One of the most controversial pieces of the so-called “Deal of the Century” included the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, recognizing the land as part of the State of Israel. Thus the quagmire brings old questions to light regarding the legality of the settlements and Israel’s right to annex them.

Biblical Foundation

The book of Genesis records God’s promise of the land of Canaan as an “everlasting possession” to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob. Several hundred years later, the law was given at Sinai, and one of the conditions of disobedience would be exile from that land—however, exile with the hope of return. After centuries of exile, the Jewish people saw that hope realized and returned to reestablish sovereignty in their God-given land in 1948.

International Legal Foundation

The ancient land of Canaan, referred to as Judea under Roman occupation, had been renamed Palestine in AD 135 and then occupied by one foreign entity after another until the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI. Leaders of the Allied nations and their German counterparts divided up the Empire, not for occupation but to set up self-rule. 

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 supporting the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine was endorsed by the leading world powers at the San Remo Conference in 1920 and affirmed by the League of Nations in 1922. Israel had a right to the land just as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq—all created out of the same legal agreements—had rights to theirs. This legal foundation has not been annulled and is still in place today. 

The Defunct UN Partition Plan

After 25 years of conflict between the Jews and Arabs living in the land, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181 in 1947, calling for the partition of the land and the establishment of both a Jewish State and an Arab State. The Jews immediately accepted the plan and established their state, but the Arab world rejected it and instead attacked the newborn Jewish State in an attempt to take all of the land. The UN Partition Plan was never implemented because the Arabs had rejected it just as they have rejected numerous other offers of statehood. 

The Failed Peace Process

Since the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, various initiatives and peace plans have offered more and more to the Palestinians and seemed to validate the claims by Israel’s antagonists that the Jews were giving back illegally occupied land owned by the Palestinians. But Israel’s willingness to negotiate and possibly even give away land did not mean the international legal claims to the land were now not applicable. Instead, Israel was negotiating with the land that rightfully belonged to her to obtain a peace agreement.

Palestinian Obstinance  

The increasingly generous offers of various peace initiatives under four US Presidents since 1991 were all rejected by the Palestinian leaders who seemed to be holding out for a better deal. What Western negotiators failed to recognize was Palestinian rejection is not about the details of any one offer but a refusal to sign an agreement with the Jewish State. 

Signing an agreement with Israel means recognizing Israel exists, and that would be a betrayal of the Palestinian dream of return to all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. It would also be a betrayal of the Islamic world that refuses to accept Jewish sovereignty on land that was once Islamic. Thirty years of Palestinian obstinance has created facts on the ground that need resolving, such as that of the Jewish communities in the West Bank.

Time to Annex the Settlements

Israel’s annexation of the settlements as allowed by the Trump peace plan is entirely legal. It recognizes the rulings of the San Remo Conference and League of Nations some 100 years ago. It should also be a wake-up call to Palestinian leaders that their continued rejection of peace agreements with Israel will mean less for them in the end—not more. 

Why Pandemics Are Dangerous for Jews

Abundant conspiracy theories and misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic have elevated fear and anxiety levels for many. We have had to sift through benign misinformation and intentional disinformation to understand the potential dangers of this virus and the best practices to avoid it. Even the US government's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has become controversial and many question whether it is the place to go for information one can trust.

Government Misinformation

Other countries have even less trustworthy and helpful governments. They are at the mercy of corrupt leaders attempting to hide their own mishandling of the crisis and place blame elsewhere through their state-controlled media.

Case in point: a Chinese government spokesman set off a disinformation frenzy in China when he tweeted the self-serving lie that it was the US army that brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Russian media then chimed in accusing both the United States and the United Kingdom of developing the virus to harm Russian ally China.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard generals claimed the virus was an American biological weapon aimed at both China and Iran, while Iranian state media also blamed the “Zionists.” Throughout the Muslim world, rumors abound that the Jews developed the coronavirus to gain power, kill a large number of people, and make a fortune selling the antidote.

Conspiracy Theories

These lies have infiltrated the internet in the United States and are used by conspiracy theorists to advance their anti-Semitic theories. The Anti-Defamation League is tracking and documenting the proliferation of these lies on both fringe internet platforms as well as mainstream platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit.

Conspiracies abound about the origin of the virus that blame everyone from the US government to Bill Gates to Israel. Some are using the virus as proof in their case for—or against—vaccination, immigration, or imposition of martial law. Racists are denigrating all things Chinese, while anti-Semites blame Jews for the virus as a means to manipulate the stock market to their financial advantage, bring down President Trump, or profit from a vaccine they developed beforehand.

Why the Jews?

Why the Jews? They are suffering from the virus like everyone else and trying to develop a vaccine just as fast as the rest of the world. Their religious leaders called for prayer at the Western Wall for the entire world to be spared this pandemic. Yet, they are blamed for creating it, using it to kill masses of people and then profit off of its treatment.

As wrong as it is, the proliferation of false accusations against the Chinese people is because the virus started in China. But what do the Jews have to do with this virus? Why the lies about Israel and the Jews? Because age-old anti-Semitism will use every opportunity to spew hatred on the Jewish people.

The danger for Jews during pandemics is not just the disease but also the conspiracy theories it spawns. One of the greatest catastrophes to afflict the human race was the fourteenth-century bubonic plague—known as the “Black Death”—that swept through Europe. Historians estimate that up to 50 percent of Europe’s population died in the pandemic, with rates of death as high as 75 percent in Italy, Spain, and France.

The Jewish minority had already been demonized by church and state, so they were an easy scapegoat. They also fared better than the general population, possibly due to their dietary and religious practices or the fact many were confined in walled ghettos. Their lower death rates, however, fueled suspicions they were behind the pandemic, and many Jews who survived the plague were then massacred in pogroms.

We should not dismiss conspiracy theories as mere craziness. Conspiracy theories produce anger, and anger moves quickly from words into actions; verbal insults often result in physical attacks. It is, therefore, our responsibility to speak up against these lies and point people to reliable sources of information.

Flattening the Curve

While seeking to flatten the curve of the coronavirus, we must do the same with the pandemic of anti-Semitism. It is a deadly virus that poisons hearts and minds, eventually destroying those it infects along with those they hate.

We must take the necessary steps to identify and isolate it, protect others from becoming infected, and develop educational “vaccines” against it in our churches, schools, and society.  

by Susan Michael, ICEJ USA Director, creator of Israel Answers, and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network

Article originally published April 2020 and was updated in July 2020 to reflect controversy regarding CDC handling of the coronavirus. 


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Does Christian Anti-Semitism Exist?

Many Evangelical Christians will argue that there is no such thing as “Christian anti-Semitism.” For them, it is a contradiction of terms—an oxymoron. They do not believe a “true” Christian can be anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, history has proven otherwise.

Jews and Christians have had a history of contentious relations. What started in the first century as an internal squabble among Jews over the messiahship of Jesus became a split into two separate religions, both struggling to differentiate from the other and survive under brutal Roman rule. Once Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, anti-Jewish theology paved the way for degrading laws and state-sanctioned persecutions, ghettos, and expulsions.

Centuries of this type of religiously motivated and state-empowered anti-Semitism prepared the way for the Nazi Holocaust. While Christianity did not cause the Holocaust, Christian anti-Judaism and the centuries of anti-Semitism it spawned made the Holocaust possible.

What Is Christian Anti-Semitism?

Let me be clear that Christianity is not anti-Semitic. Hundreds of millions of Bible-based Christians around the world today love Israel and the Jewish people. They understand that Christianity would not exist were it not for the Jewish people and their everlasting covenant with the God of Israel.

But the Bible can be used by twisted minds to say all sorts of things. Hateful people can interpret and quote Scripture in hateful ways and use it to support their anti-Semitic sentiments. When the Christian Scriptures are used by a professing Christian to denigrate the Jewish people and support anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories, then it is referred to as Christian anti-Semitism.

What Is It Based On?

The theological foundation for Christian teaching against the Jewish people is what is known as replacement theology. Replacement theology posits that the Jews were cursed by God for their rejection of Jesus’ messianic credentials and therefore have been replaced by the church in the plans and purposes of God. Historically, this theology often led to the teaching of contempt for the Jews as “Christ-killers” and gave sanction to their maltreatment.

Where Is It Today?

Not everyone who holds to a form of replacement theology is anti-Semitic. Some theologians simply interpret the New Testament in this way—and therefore spiritualize much of the Old Testament to support it—but have absolutely no ill intent toward anyone. Many pastors hold replacement views as a theological assumption yet have never been taught the ramifications of such faulty hermeneutics required to support it.

This more benign form of American Evangelical replacement theology may not be the anti-Semitic version of the past that went on to call for the persecution and demonization of the Jews. Nevertheless, it is the same theological foundation from which Christian anti-Semitism sprouts, and we need to correct it in all its variants.

A well-known pastor of one of the largest churches in America has been publishing his concerns about the loss of Christian faith among young people. He blames the influence of Judaism and the Old Testament, which he describes as irrelevant and having been replaced with the “brand-new and different” teachings and ethics of Jesus. He portrays Judaism as hypocritical, self-righteous, and exclusivist, and claims the apostle Paul considered it an eroding influence on the beauty, simplicity, and appeal of the early church. He even goes so far as to blame the sins of the church throughout history on the influence of Judaism and the Old Testament.

Many scholars agree that the Holocaust could never have happened had it not been for the centuries of Christian anti-Semitism rooted in this type of theology. Therefore, we need to be very concerned about its growth and learn to refute it.

Another lesser-known Evangelical Christian preacher has gone further than theology and is espousing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Pastor Rick Wiles of the TruNews broadcast has a history of blaming the Jews for everything from the failure of the Iowa Democratic primary app to the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump—or what he called a “Jew coup.” He also claimed the coronavirus began at the mostly Jewish AIPAC Policy Conference and is spreading via synagogues because God is dealing with “false religions” and “people who oppose His son, Jesus Christ.”

Conclusion

While this generation is privileged to be part of a historic correction in the church’s relations with the Jews, it cannot be taken for granted. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, and dangerous trends within American churches need addressing to protect this budding relationship. It is the American church that can stop anti-Semitism from gaining more ground in the country, but we must begin at home and relegate “Christian anti-Semitism” to the dustbin of history.
 

by Susan Michael, ICEJ USA Director, creator of Israel Answers, and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network


Send a Blessing to the Jewish People

Why does anti-Semitism still exist?

The evil pursuit of the Jewish people has continued for millennia, which is why historian Robert Wistrich called anti-Semitism "the longest hatred." Every time this irrational vitriol seems to be dying out, it reinvents itself with a different look and a different name. But the goal is always the same: to rid the world of the Jewish people.

In the ancient world, classical anti-Semitism was a clash between pagan rulers, who demanded obedient homage, and their Jewish subjects, who could only worship and obey the God of Israel. The Jewish people could not bow down to any other god and were bound by the Sinaitic Law to certain behaviors and observances that set them apart and incurred the wrath of tyrants.

This was the situation described in the book of Esther where the King’s consort Haman demanded the Jews bow to him, and when they would not, he turned the might of the Persian Empire against them. The Hanukkah story takes place under the rule of the Seleucid Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who attempted to make the Jews into Hellenistic pagans by banning their religious practices and desecrating their temple. 

Religious anti-Semitism

One would think that once Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, this problem would go away. Instead, anti-Semitism took hold in the heart of Christian Europe, and among those who persecuted and hated the Jewish people were professing Christians. Space does not permit a full treatment of this sad story, but centuries of state and church-backed denigration, persecution, forced conversions, and expulsions actually paved the way for the Holocaust.

Proof of this is found in the fact that Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic writings were published and distributed by the Nazis to justify their anti-Jewish laws and eventually, their extermination program. Hitler admitted as much when he told two Catholic Bishops who questioned his policy that he was only putting into effect what Christianity had preached and practiced for 2,000 years. 

Racial anti-Semitism

The form of anti-Semitism found in Nazi ideology was not based on religion, however, but on racial theories promoting the superiority of the Aryan race. Whereas Christianity had sought the conversion of the Jews, and state leaders had sought their expulsion, the Nazis sought the “final solution” to the Jewish problem—the murder of all Jews and their eradication from the human race. 

Political anti-Semitism

The modern form of anti-Semitism that has found a stronghold and large-scale acceptance today is political. It is against the Jewish state and is called anti-Zionism.

Not all criticism of Israel can be considered anti-Semitic. However, criticism of Israel becomes anti-Semitic when it: 1) delegitimizes the state and questions its right to exist; 2) uses anti-Jewish rhetoric and stereotypes or compares Israelis to Nazis; 3) judges Israel by a different standard than any other nation; or 4) becomes an excuse to attack local Jewish individuals and institutions.

During the 2014 war in Gaza, a defensive war on Israel’s part to prevent further missile launches from Hamas, there were attacks on synagogues and Jewish citizens in France, refrains such as “Jews to the gas” in Germany, the use of swastikas at anti-Israel demonstrations, and anti-Semitic caricatures in newspapers and social media. 

The Face of Evil

While anti-Zionism is the new “socially accepted” expression of anti-Semitism, it is important to note that racism and religious bigotry do still exist. Widespread religious anti-Semitism is found throughout the Muslim world. Interestingly, the secular globalists in the West will not condemn it because of their own anti-Semitic biases.

Anti-Semitism is likened to a virus that never entirely dies but mutates and begins growing again as a new strain needing new treatments. There is no explanation for this but a biblical one. Anti-Semitism is at its root spiritual—the ugly face of evil.

Psalm 83 describes it as a war against God Himself in which the Jews are the target. Revelation 12 describes it as war by spiritual forces depicted as a dragon.

It is, therefore, imperative that Christians stand up against this evil influence vocally, politically, and aggressively—but also with much prayer.

by Susan Michael, ICEJ USA Director, creator of Israel Answers, and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network


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How Anti-Semitic Alliances Unite Enemies

One of the first lessons we learn in the history of anti-Semitism is that hatred makes strange bedfellows. The oddest of partnerships have been formed around a common enemy. 

Nazi Alliance with Islam

An example of this friendship between enemies is that of the Nazi regime, which believed in Aryan supremacy, and the Muslim world, which seeks to assert Muslim supremacy. The two worlds would have collided over much of their respective ideologies but found a common bond that overshadowed all points of disagreement.
 
That unifying bond was their hatred for the Jew. The same paranoid worldview and irrational anti-Semitism that drove the Nazis then drives Islamist terrorism today. While it is true that Islamist ideology has theological foundations found in the Koran, the modern militant and delusional obsession with anti-Semitism was birthed during the Nazi period.
 
The conduit for this ideology was Haj Amin El-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and the movement that he helped to lead—the Muslim Brotherhood. Haj Amin El-Husseini’s anti-Semitism pre-dated Nazism, but from 1941 onward, he lived in Berlin, overseeing a staff of 60 Arabs who worked night and day promoting Nazism in the Arabic-speaking world. The German leaders were enamored with the Mufti and provided a steady stream of funds and arms to his followers in Palestine. Scholars debate whether he had the idea first or not, but the Mufti clearly backed the plan to exterminate Europe’s Jews to keep them from fleeing to their ancient homeland.
 
After the fall of the Nazi regime, El-Husseini found asylum in Egypt where he served in the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. Through that organization, he converted Nazi ideology into a militant, Islamic one and took the call for Jihad and martyrdom throughout the Muslim world. 

Islamic Anti-Semitism

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 in Egypt, and by the end of the Nazi regime in 1945, they already had 500,000 sympathizers.  Their manifesto is “Allah is our goal, the prophet our model, the Koran our constitution, the Jihad our path, and death for the sake of Allah the loftiest of our wishes.” 
 
They are credited with birthing the jihadist culture of death and the various groups committed to it, including Hamas, Khomeini’s revolution in Iran, and Al-Qaeda. This history explains the Hitler-like rhetoric of Muslim leaders today, for example in Iran, and their espousal of the same delusional and paranoid worldview, dehumanizing of Jews, and calls for their annihilation. 

Anti-Semitic Alliances Today

The lesson for us today is hatred makes strange bedfellows indeed! In our own country, we see the illogical alignment of the Progressive, secular left with the religious, Islamic movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood—a union that would be absolutely impossible were it not for their shared hatred of Israel. It is the classic example of the saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
 
We see this alliance in many ways, such as anti-Israel ideologues who blame Israel for security measures but refuse to address the abuse of the Palestinian people by their own corrupt and failed Arab leadership. In the same way, the women’s movement condemns Israel—where women make up 25% of parliament and serve in the military—and ignore the oppression and outright abuse of women in the Muslim world. Secular Human Rights activists do not speak out on behalf of Christians around the world suffering persecution and martyrdom for their faith, because most of this takes place in Muslim countries.
 
This alliance will also never speak out against the rising anti-Semitism in America, so we must. Christians in America are THE voice against anti-Semitism in the United States, and with your help, we intend to make it loud and clear

by Susan Michael, ICEJ USA Director, creator of Israel Answers, and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network


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How ‘Righteous’ Does One Need to Be?

The historical account of the Holocaust would not be complete without the amazing stories of the brave individuals who risked their lives to save Jews. This is why Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, works tirelessly to locate and honor them as “Righteous Among the Nations.”

While it can be said the majority of Europeans turned their backs on the Jews, there was an amazing minority who helped them. They are rays of light in an otherwise very dark era. They restore our hope in humanity.

Many studies have been conducted to determine what gave these brave souls the courage and moral strength to be rescuers. And while we evangelical Christians would like to think that they were all very spiritual Christians who understood the biblical significance of the Jewish people, nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, there were those lovely Christian saints such as Corrie ten Boom’s father who read from the Bible every day and was motivated to rescue Jews by his strong Christian faith. We think of the ten Boom family as truly being “righteous.” But most rescuers were just regular every day people.

The 27,362 Righteous documented by Yad Vashem so far come from 51 countries; they are Christians (from all denominations) as well as Muslims, religious and agnostic, men and women, people from all walks of life, of all ages, educated professionals and illiterate peasants, rich and poor. Some were even anti-Semitic. The only common denominator between these brave souls is the humanity and the courage they displayed by standing up for their moral principles.

What gave them the courage and moral strength to do what they did? What made them risk execution, or imprisonment, and endanger their own families?

Most studies agree that the rescuers all exhibited strong individuality. They were independent and did not need the approval of others. They also had strong convictions about helping the weak. Most said that the fact that the needy individual was a Jew had no bearing on their decision to help. They simply felt they should help those needing their help.

So how righteous does one need to be to rescue Jews? Actually, not righteous at all. We just need to care about those around us who are suffering and needy. How could something so basic to humanity as caring for others have been so rare?

How could there not have been more evangelical Christians in their ranks? That is the real question.

- by Susan Michael, ICEJ USA Director, creator of Israel Answers, and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network


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A Dangerous Theology – Not Irresistible at All

The pastor of the second-largest church in America, Andy Stanley, wants to change the way Christianity is taught to reach new generations of skeptics, according to his book Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World. While he has every good intention, he proposes a shocking approach that takes the church back centuries—not to the first-century church led by the apostles as he claims, but to a later time when Replacement Theology was the prevailing theology and the church was, therefore, largely anti-Semitic.

While that is certainly not his intent, it is the ramification of his dismissal of everything Jewish in the Bible—namely the Old Testament—deeming it obsolete. Speaking of the Old Testament, the apostle Paul said it was useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). All of the New Testament writers treated the Old Testament Scriptures as foundational. Stanley, however, sounds more like second- and third-century Church Fathers when he says that the Old Testament and Judaism have been brought to an end and replaced with something totally and completely new—Christianity.

Even more disturbing is the way he describes Judaism in only negative terms. It is a well-known fact that during the time of Jesus the priesthood and some of the Pharisees had become corrupt. Jesus was not the only one who denounced them for it. But in this book, Stanley describes Judaism itself as the problem—it is legalistic, hypocritical, self-righteous, and exclusive. He even claims the apostle Paul tried to keep Judaism from “eroding the beauty and simplicity” of the ekklesia (church) of Jesus. Of course, Paul was against legalism—not Judaism.

There are many issues found in his 330-page book to address. This article, however, is a summation of the dangers in adopting Stanley’s definition of irresistible Christianity.

The Bible No Longer Makes Sense

Because Replacement Theology creates a disconnect between the Old and New Testaments, it is hard to teach the former in an exciting way. I have been reading and studying the Bible for over 40 years and I find it is the most exciting book on the planet—one that makes perfect sense from Genesis to Revelation! To teach the Old Testament is obsolete is what produces this disconnect. To teach it in its proper context, however, and under the inspiration of the very Holy Spirit who inspired its writing, makes it stand up and come so alive it is life-changing!

Anti-Judaism Leads to Anti-Semitism

A lesson learned from Christian history is that the anti-Judaism of some early Church Fathers led to anti-Semitism and persecution of the Jewish people by later generations. This highlights the danger in Stanley’s negative descriptions of Judaism. He even blames the sin of the church throughout history on the influences of Judaism—the ultimate example of anti-Semitic scapegoating if ever there was one. Leading Christian voices today must resist this theology and thereby stop the slide down a slippery slope toward renewed anti-Semitism in the church.

Jesus Becomes Gentile

Reading Jesus from any perspective other than a first-century Jewish one lends itself to misinterpretation. If a church considers the Old Testament irrelevant to the Christian faith, then it is studied less and less, creating followers of Jesus who are unaware of the Old Testament foundations for all he did and taught. He was not some Greek god with a mythical birth and resurrection story, but came in a carefully prepared Jewish context that explains His teachings, death, resurrection, and His future return to the earth as King. Without that context, we read Jesus through gentile, twenty-first-century eyes that see Him just like us, and not who He really is.

A Blind Church

Replacement Theology holds that the Jewish people have lost their standing with God, due to their rejection of Jesus as Messiah, while the church has assumed their place. Therefore, their return to their ancient homeland in the last 100 years is just an anomaly—a political accident—and has no theological significance. These Christians deny that the God of Israel has brought the Jews back to the Land just as the Hebrew prophets said He would. This return prepares the way for the next great act of God in which the Messiah returns to the planet to defend Jerusalem, judge the nations for their evil treatment of His people, and establish the kingdom of God on earth. A blinded church will not understand the times we live in and may find itself outside the move of God in our day.

Throws out the Baby with the Bath Water

Instead of throwing out legalism, Judaizing, or misapplication of the Mosaic Law, Stanley has thrown out the entire Old Testament. In so doing, he has set a dangerous precedent for new generations of believers adhering to a Christianity that is void of its eternal, spiritual context, which is, simply put, a Jewish one. A better solution to the problem Stanley is trying to address is to study Scripture in its proper cultural and religious context and teach the overarching story of the Bible that truly makes it the most exciting book on the planet!
  

- by Susan Michael, US Director and creator of IsraelAnswers.com

How the Church Failed the Jewish People

It is a part of fallen human nature to need a scapegoat. Human beings tend to look for someone else to blame for their problems, someone to look down upon so they feel better about themselves. It’s easier to hold grudges and even take revenge than to forgive and demonstrate the very compassion we preach.

This is true of the history of the church and its posture toward the Jewish people. Soon after its inception, the church fell prey to Satan’s lure and embraced the idea that the Jewish people were cursed by God and deserving of maltreatment for the crucifixion of Jesus.

Theological Seeds Sown

Evidence of the differences between church and synagogue showed early in the life of the church. Disputes between Jewish Christians and Jewish leaders created a schism that eventually led to the separation of Jewish Christians from the community. By the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–135 AD), Jewish leaders saw Jewish Christians not as Jews with different views about the Messiah but as Christians. Jewish Christianity began to fade, while gentile Christianity gained preeminence.

Anti-Jewish thought soon permeated the theology of early Christian leaders such as Justin Martyr (185–254 AD), Origen of Alexandria (185–254 AD), and Tertullian (160–225 AD). Saint John Chrysostom (349–407 AD), one of the most eloquent preachers of truth and love (whose very name meant “golden-mouthed”), said of the Jewish people, “God hates you.”

Centuries of anti-Jewish rhetoric had become embedded in church doctrine and gave Christians ample reason to hate the Jews. Their children were kidnapped and baptized to save them from hell. They were rounded up and beaten as a highlight of Easter celebrations, since they deserved it as murderers of the Lord.

Anti-Jewish theology then paved the way for degrading laws against the Jews in the Middle Ages. They were eventually forced to live in walled ghettos or expelled from their country.

The Protestant Reformation produced more of the same. Martin Luther is best known for the 95 Theses that he nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church birthing the Protestant Reformation—a return to the Bible as the source of religious authority.

Unfortunately, in his later years, Luther turned bitter toward the Jews and in his writings outlined specific ways to persecute and degrade the Jewish people ending with a plea for some solution “that we all may be free of this insufferable devilish burden—the Jews.”

Hatred in Full Bloom

It is no coincidence that 400 years later, in Luther’s Germany, Hitler came up with his solution for “the Jewish problem.” Hitler reprinted Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic writings for distribution and leaned heavily on one of Luther’s works, On the Jews and Their Lies, to create his own “solution” when crafting his autobiographical manifesto Mein Kampf.

After Christian leaders known for love and charity had called the Jews “monstrous animals” and “evil seed,” it is no wonder Nazi cartoons could depict them as devils with horns and tails. It was not Hitler who thought up the distinctive yellow-star badge to be worn on their clothing like lepers, but thirteenth-century Pope Innocent who called for Jews to be identified by distinctive clothing pieces.

Hitler also used medieval Catholic anti-Jewish legislation as a model for his own. Eventually, this outright evil, anti-Jewish sentiment manifested in the Holocaust. And the church was silent—neither the Catholics nor the Protestants withstood him.

To paraphrase Raul Hillberg in The Destruction of the European Jews, the early church declared: “You have no right to live amongst us as Jews.” The secular rulers who followed that era expelled Jews from their lands as though to say, “You have no right to live amongst us.” Then Hitler later decreed: “You have no right to live.” The Nazis were just one more step in the progression of anti-Semitism and those who brought the previously planted theological seeds of hatred to full bloom.

The Need for Humility

Ironically, the Christian religion—an offshoot of Judaism, founded by the Jewish Messiah, and built on teachings of forgiveness and love—was the devil’s tool to bring hatred, persecution, and even murder of the Jewish people. This in spite of the apostle Paul’s instruction to believers to honor the Jewish people (Romans 11:28–29) and Jesus’ teaching that salvation comes from them (John 4:22). Something went horribly wrong.

To be clear, Christianity did not cause the Holocaust. But Christian anti-Judaism, which led to anti-Semitism—history’s oldest hatred—made the Holocaust possible.

The lesson for us today is to be careful of the seeds we plant. As Christians, we should walk in the compassion and forgiveness of our Lord. If the church had walked in the humility and meekness Jesus modeled and taught, the Holocaust might never have happened.

No matter what brand of Christian we are, we must be on guard about the human tendency to find someone else to blame—someone to look down upon—and the tendency to walk in blind self-righteousness. May we instead learn to walk in the compassion and humility of our Lord.

- by Susan Michael, ICEJ US Director (www.icejusa.org), creator of Israel Answers and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network- by Susan Michael, US Director and creator of IsraelAnswers.com


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