Anti-SemitismAn old friend of mine–call him Cohen–likes to say that Jews regard any sentence spoken by a Gentile beginning “Jews are” as presumptively anti-Semitic provided it doesn’t end with something like “wonderful people devoted to their families and committed to equality for all.”

By that standard, you can understand how the likes of Elliott Abrams could consider Chuck Hagel “frankly an anti-Semite.” After all, the former Nebraska senator once referred to the organization known to Jews as “the Jewish lobby for Israel” as, yes, “the Jewish lobby.”

Then you’ve got President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt, who as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood a couple of years ago has been found on tape urging Egyptians to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred” for Jews and Zionists. As reported by David Kirkpatrick in today’s New York Times, Morsi also referred to Zionists as “these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”

Now that’s what I call real anti-Semitism, combining a classic European slur (“bloodsuckers”) with good old Muslim zoological contempt (“apes and pigs”). Well played, Morsi!

It would be nice if some of Israel’s tougher critics in America’s religious community (yo, Mainline Protestant BDS crowd!) would not only condemn such language but actually give some thought to what it means to live in a neighborhood where it’s coin of the realm. As for the Jews, we need to ponder what’s more advantageous to Israel’s interests–the disabused perspective of Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel or the evangelical embrace of Jordan Sekulow and Matthew Clark.

I’m saying the latter. Nope, just kidding. The former.

Categories: Beliefs

Mark Silk

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

4 Comments

  1. In other words, Silk’s anti-Catholicism is noble; but anything that could possibly be viewed even broadly as anti-Semetic is evil. Bigotry by any disguise is still bigotry.

    I wonder if Trinity College would tolerated a tenured faculty member who as demonstratively an anti-Semetic bigot as they apparently tolerate an anti-Catholic bigot.

  2. I consider “anti” anything as hatred inspired, that means, that you hate someone just because of what he is religiously, ethnically, etc. Criticism of Jews is valid as well as criticism of anybody else. It does seem to me that very discriminatory remarks about Roman Catholics go quite unpunished.

    Witness the popular narcissistic idiot, John Stewart–would he dare say anything comparable about Jews or Muslims (the latter would probably do him in) as he does with Catholics? As a nice Christian boy, I am sick of the double standard. Would anyone dare to do a satire on Hasidic Jews (not that I want it) as they have with Mormons? They wouldn’t dare.

  3. For the record, this (old) Catholic enjoys both Mr. Silk and Mr. Stewart and finds them each merely anti-nonsense.

    P.S. Mr. Silk, you can thank me later for giving you top billing in the sentence that links you to my favorite television performer.

  4. There is also antisemitism’s evil twin anti-Judaism. This is one what theologian, whose names escapes me, called “the theology of contempt” for Judaism as a religion. Even well-meaning Christians come out with statements that surprise and offend me without even realizing it.

    To give just one example, Torah does not mean law, it means teaching or intruction. Even the author or Religious Literacy got this wrong in the first edition of his book. The wrong idea that Torah means law was proof that Judaism was a religion of law and Christianity was a religion of love.

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