I have taken the liberty of quoting the title of a book written by the late Professor Robert Wistrich, and adding the word “Why?” Professor Wistrich, who was the head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was possibly the world’s leading expert on the history of anti-Semitism. He wrote his best-known book Antisemitism, the World’s Longest Hatred thirty years ago, in 1992.
I met Robert Wistrich on two occasions. The first was when he was a guest speaker at the premiere screening in Jerusalem of the Hebrew version of one of my films The Forsaken Promise, which is an in-depth look at Britain’s conduct of the Mandate for Palestine—a story of betrayal and treachery. The second time was over lunch, again, in Jerusalem just a few days before his sudden and tragic death in Rome. On that occasion we discussed a question that I had put to him when we first met: “Have you considered the possibility that the root of anti-Semitism is in fact spiritual?” This is the main question we examine in this article.
The first recorded attempt to wipe out the nation of Israel resulted in one of the most remarkable events in history as God delivered them from the armies of Egypt who sought to annihilate them on the shores of the Red Sea. The next recorded attempt at genocide of the Jewish people is written in the Book of Esther. The Nazis carried out the most recent attempt, and even today the ayatollahs of Iran continually threaten to wipe the Jewish State off the face of the earth.
The Jews have undoubtedly been the most hated people-group/nation on earth, and for the longest period of time—almost three-and-a-half thousand years. Which begs another question: how come they have survived for so long, and still thrive today? We will look further at that question later.
The word ‘anti-Semitism’ or ‘antisemitism’ is not necessarily the best word to describe the pathological hatred of the Jewish people. Strictly speaking the Arabs are also a Semitic people, and sometimes we are reminded of that fact. In today’s parlance ‘phobia’ is often attached to a word in order to accentuate the subject of the dislike, and for which those are vilified for so doing. “Something-phobia” is a term widely recognised in today’s Western society—so why not Judeophobia? So, for the purposes of this article I am going to use this word interchangeably with what is generally understood to be anti-Semitism.
A few years ago the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) provided a definition of anti-Semitism which has been adopted by a number of governments around the world, including the Australian government.*
What is often referred to as ‘anti-Israelism’ or ‘anti-Zionism’ is part of the IHRA definition, which includes the clause: Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor. Politically speaking, Zionism is exercising the right of self-determination in the historic homeland of the Jewish people—no more and no less.
The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement is all about de-legitimising the State of Israel, as is the recent Amnesty International report which falsely accuses Israel as being an ‘Apartheid State’ and specifically uses the wording ‘colonial racist endeavour’. The report is therefore, according to the IHRA definition, anti-Semitic/Judeophobic. That, of course, raises a question about the organisation itself.
Fortunately a number of Western governments, including the Australian government, as well as prominent Israeli Arabs and even at least one Palestinian Human Rights Activist—Bassem Eid—have denounced the Amnesty International Report.
Another clause in the IHRA definition says that regarding Israel: ‘Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation’ is also anti-Semitic. In this respect, therefore, why is it that the BDS movement, the UN Human Rights Council, and other UN agencies, turn a blind-eye to countries like Iran, North Korea and China, with its treatment of its Uighur population, yet they never come under condemnation?
Of course, much of the Western media—the BBC, Australia’s ABC, (both government funded), CNN, the New York Times, the Guardian and many others are all complicit in this. Hamas, which is a designated terrorist organisation, escapes scrutiny for firing thousands of rockets into Israel (a war crime), while Israel is vilified and condemned for defending its civilian population (which is allowed by international law). Without doubt, double standards are applied against Israel—i.e. Judeophobia.
Perhaps the most disturbing rise of Judeophobia today is found in the West, and particularly on the left side of the political spectrum.
So why is Judeophobia the world’s longest hatred? What is behind the centuries of hatred, vilification, blood-libels, persecution, pogroms, theft of property, murder and even genocide? I cannot give a definitive answer, but I would like to give some clues. Undoubtedly envy, jealousy and fear play a part. One of the characteristics of Judeophobia is that it is nearly always based on falsehood and lies. But why has it persisted for these thousands of years against one particular people? There has to be more to it than what is outlined above. Could the God-given destiny of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have something to do with it?
A few weeks after God delivered Israel through the Red Sea from the Egyptians, the Lord took Moses aside and gave him the Torah, which would be the moral building block for society. The Lord also declared that Israel would be “a special treasure to Me above all people, for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6) In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, writing specifically about Israel, emphatically affirmed: “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.”
It is important to remember that the first generation of the Church was virtually 100% Jewish. Paul was writing to the church in Rome, which was largely made up of Gentiles, the Jews having been expelled by Emperor Nero. If you have never done so, I suggest that you read through Romans chapters 9 to 11. Quite possibly the Apostle was addressing an emerging problem which then escalated through most of the Gentile church establishment in the centuries that followed: Judeophobia. Even though the canon of the New Testament was not finalised for several centuries, many of the church leaders from the 2nd century AD onwards actually disparaged the ancient Hebrew Scriptures—what we know as the Old Testament.
Jews were branded as ‘Christ-killers’ and accused of ‘deicide’ i.e. being ‘murderers of God’—and persecuted for it. A careful study of the New Testament will reveal that there are no grounds whatsoever for such accusations. Jesus Christ Himself said: “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No-one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again. This command I have received from My father.” (John 10:17-18)
Just before Jesus was baptised, John the Baptist declared to the surrounding witnesses: “Behold, The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) As He was hanging on the cross, Jesus uttered the words: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 22:34). The fact is that Jesus went voluntarily to the cross to die for our sin. And then He rose from the dead, and awaits, at the right hand of the Father, to return to Jerusalem!
It is a fact of history that the greatest persecutor of the Jewish people has been Christendom. Space doesn’t permit me to elaborate on the awful atrocities, including blood libels and mass murder, that the church establishment has perpetrated against Jews over the centuries, other than to say this: the church’s behaviour towards the Jews has seriously misrepresented the true mission of Jesus, and slandered not only His character, but the character of God Himself. When Judgement Day comes, He will hold Christians who engaged in such Judeophobic behaviour to account: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-22)
Today the most prevalent source of Judeophobia comes from radical fundamentalist Islam. It is not only the Jews whom the Islamic terrorist organisations have their sights set on, but—even more so—the Christians. This is the case not only in Africa—especially in northern Nigeria—but right across the Middle East. The only safe country in the region for these Christians to reside in is Israel. Hatred for both Jews and Christians is “hard-wired” into the spirituality of fundamentalist Islam, and verses in the Qur’an and the Hadiths certainly indicate this. Of course, there are Muslims who abhor the persecution of either Christians or Jews—and some who take a bold stand. In addition we have seen a number of Muslim-majority countries make peace with Israel through the recent Abraham Accords.
But the ancient mantra of exterminating ‘first the Saturday people, then the Sunday people’ is today being exercised by Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko-Haram, the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as the regime in Tehran that imprisons Christians who raise their heads above the parapet. It is also worth noting that both the Hamas and PLO Charters call for the liquidation of the Jewish state, and the murder of all Jews. In the territories controlled by both of these organisations, which are ‘Juden-rein’, Christians are persecuted and sometimes murdered.
Perhaps the most disturbing rise of Judeophobia today is found in the West, and particularly on the left side of the political spectrum. We see a rise in neo-Marxism, the aim of which is to destroy the Judeo-Christian ethos that has been the bedrock of society and politics of most nations in the Western world, including Australia, for centuries.
A precursor to the destruction of the Judeo-Christian heritage took place with the rise of Adolf Hitler nearly a century ago. I made a film about it in 2014/15 entitled Jacob’s Tears in which we looked at the spiritual dynamics that led to the Holocaust. Over the previous century, before the rise of the Nazis, the church in Germany had become what we would today call ‘progressive’. For the most part the Bible had been dismissed as being irrelevant, and moves of the Holy Spirit had been labelled as ‘satanic’. Moreover, Judeophobia was endemic throughout German society. So when Hitler, who was steeped in the occult, came to power he filled the spiritual vacuum and became Germany’s ‘messiah’, and won the hearts of most who professed to be Christians. Hitler used the writings of Martin Luther against the Jews as his excuse to exterminate them. And he wasn’t just out to exterminate the Jews of Europe, but also those right across the Middle East, including in the land of Israel (then Mandated Palestine) and Iraq, which had one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. He was out to achieve this aim with the help of Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem—another radical Jew-hater.
So, in terms of the history of the Jews, what was happening at that time? Through the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the San Remo Resolution of 1920, and the British Mandate for Palestine (1922) the restoration of the nation of Israel in its historic homeland, as prophesied in the Bible, was in the pipeline. I would suggest that Satan, the arch-enemy of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was absolutely determined this would not happen. So, first and foremost, this was a spiritual battle. God had promised that He would curse those who curse the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3) and consequently Nazi Germany was destroyed.
Most Bible-believing Evangelical Christians believe that the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to take up the throne of David is imminent. The rebirth of Israel in its Promised Land is a vital stepping-stone to that happening. Just before the Ascension the disciples asked Jesus: “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) He didn’t refute the question as such, but simply indicated that that was not the time, and in the meantime they had a job to do.
Most Evangelical Christians know the verses of Isaiah 9: 6-7 very well. “Unto us a Child is born …” An equally important and not so obvious promise of God was given when the Angel Gabriel visited Mary to announce the birth of YESHUA (Jesus), whose name actually means salvation. The angel said to her: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1: 32-33). This promise of God has yet to be visibly fulfilled. It is also a firm repudiation of the notion that God has finished with Israel, which is so popular in much of the church establishment.
The current film project I am engaged in is a series of documentaries entitled Whose Land? which has only been partially completed and released. It examines Israel’s legitimacy in international law, and particularly the right of Jewish domicile not only in their ancient capital city, Jerusalem, but in all of their historic heartland of Judea and Samaria (aka “the West Bank”). Today the nations are in uproar over the existence of the Jewish state as a powerful nation in her ancient homeland. It was the Nazi Josef Goebbels who is quoted as saying: “If a lie is repeated often enough, then the people will believe it.” This is the tactic being used against the state of Israel today: ‘Lawfare’—the deliberate distortion and misrepresentation of international law—and the rewriting of history to suit the BDS agenda. This is what Whose Land? tries to expose by simply telling the truth.
Put simply, many nations in the world, including the United Nations and the European Union, are trying to disinherit the Jewish people of their land and de-legitimise their existence as a nation. But their assault is not just against the Jewish nation. Even if they are blind to it, their assault is actually against God Himself. One passage of Scripture that illustrates this fact is Psalm 2:
“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and His Anointed (Hebrew: Mashiach) saying: “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” “I will declare the decree, the LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.’” (verses 1 to 8). In the latter three verses we have first the Father speaking, then the Son replying.
This hatred of Zion and hatred of Israel and the Jewish people, is also a hatred of the Godhead, and it has to be satanically inspired; but the outcome will result in the triumph of good over evil, the kingdom of Israel being restored, and the banishment of Satan from the face of the earth. Satan knows this, which is why he is so furiously trying to prevent it from happening.
I would just like to conclude by looking at a question posed earlier in this article:
How is it that the Jewish people have beaten all odds by surviving the longest hatred and thrive today as a small but powerful nation in the Middle East?
No other people have ever managed to maintain their distinct identity in exile for more than a couple of generations.
There is no doubt that one reason for this has been that the Jewish people have observed their religious traditions faithfully over the last two thousand years, regardless of wherever they have been scattered across the world. But beyond that, I would like to answer the question by highlighting a couple of verses from the Hebrew Scriptures:
‘Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the moon and stars by night, who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (the LORD of hosts is His name): “If those ordinances depart from before Me,” says the Lord, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.’ (Jeremiah 31: 35-36)
Quite simply God is true to His promises. If ever there was proof that God exists, it is the existence of the Jewish people today, and the existence of the State of Israel.
Will this onslaught of Judeophobia ever end? Again, the answer is in the Hebrew Scriptures: He (the Lord) will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8)