George Bowers Sr.: Antisemitism wears many cloaks
Last weekend many Jews celebrated the Festival of Purim, which remembers God’s miraculous deliverance of their people through the courage of young Queen Esther. In this Old Testament book, an evil man by the name of Haman hatched a plot to annihilate the Jews through a craftily worded executive order that he convinced King Xerxes to sign. Except for the intelligence gathered by Esther’s relative Mordecai, her courage to face possible execution, and some divinely inspired insomnia, most, if not all of the Jews would have been exterminated 500 years before Jesus was ever born.
Certainly, most are familiar with Hitler’s plans to accomplish this same agenda more recently as well as those of many other leaders throughout history to do the same. Israel’s mere existence as a people and as a nation are miracles in and of themselves. No other ethnic group has maintained its identity and heritage without a homeland or leader for nearly 2,000 years.
It is most unfortunate that the scourge of antisemitism continues to raise its ugly head even in the United States, which professes to be open-minded and tolerant. Unfortunately, even recently, synagogues as well as Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized as these persecuted people continue to live under the threat of harm.
While many condemn these various acts of hatred, much of our country turned a blind eye to institutionalized antisemitism that recently occurred on the international level. Last October, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution denying any Jewish connection to the Jews’ holiest sites of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. The vote was not even close as 24 nations voted for the resolution with only 6 opposing it. Twenty-six others abstained.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee went even further passing a resolution ordering Israel to stop celebrating its Jewish heritage in Jerusalem and referring to the Temple Mount by only its Islamic name.
This ridge is the most contested piece of real estate in the world and is shared as a holy site by the three monotheistic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. A Muslim mosque currently occupies the ancient hilltop and has for 1,300 years, but prior to that it was home to two Jewish temples going all the way back to King Solomon. For anyone, much less an organization that claims to be educational, scientific, cultural, and united, to deny the deep Jewish link to these locations is blatantly antisemitic and worthy of great outcry. The fact that only six nations opposed this less than 80 years after the Holocaust is inexcusable.
In addition, for our nation to provide aid and make deals with Iran, which has vowed to blow the Jewish state off the face of the earth, is unwise at best and antisemitic at worst. Ironically, some of the very ones who bemoan the desecration of cemeteries ignore or even favor these international actions which are much larger both in scale and effect.
No other nation on Earth has endured what the Jews have lived through and yet they continue to persist. Two hundred years before both the Nazis and the rebirth of the Israeli nation, the Prussian king, Frederick the Great, asked his spiritual adviser to give a short definitive proof of the Bible’s trustworthiness. His chaplain simply replied, “The Jew, your majesty, the Jew.”
The Bible records many promises that God made to Abraham and to his descendants and God continues to keep those promises. The very best of these was that all nations would be blessed through Abraham and his offspring. This was one of many prophecies of the coming Jewish Messiah who would die and rise again for every person, regardless of nationality, heritage, or skin color.
God promised to bless those who blessed Abraham and to curse those who cursed her. Haman was hanged on his own gallows. Adolf Hitler and most of his evil cronies are also dead. Even empires such as Assyria, Seleucia, Rome and others that attempted to destroy Israel are now on the ash heap of history. But little ole Israel lives on.
Let us all rise up to condemn acts of hatred and violence against any people. But let us recognize such acts can be done on an international scale as well, and call it out whenever it occurs. And let us celebrate Purim with our Jewish friends, for their preservation blesses us all. Blessings, George
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored eight books including his latest, “Celebration Time, A Collection of Brethren Love Feasts.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.