Rabin, Gibson and the Anti-Semitism Connection
© January 2004 by Asher Intrater
Probably the most impactful event in Israeli society over the past decade was the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin; in the Christian church it may very well be the release of "The Passion" by Mel Gibson; and in world politics it would certainly be the Twin Towers attack. Interestingly enough, there is a connection between all three in the issue of anti-Semitism.
There is a symbolic parallel between the assassination of Rabin and the crucifixion of Yeshua. Rabin, as prime minister of Israel, can be seen as a figure of Yeshua (Jesus), the King of Israel. Yigal Amir (the assassin) can be seen as parallel to Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Yeshua.
When Rabin was killed the majority of the Israeli public was angry not only with Amir, but with the entire right-wing ultra-Orthodox community, which gave Amir the psychological and religious justification for his crime. Their rabbis claimed that the murder was an isolated event that had no connection to their beliefs. However, everything that Amir said pointed to the fact that his sole motivation was to fulfill his religious beliefs.
When the liberal secular community grew more critical of the right-wing religious, some of the rabbis began to counter that the seculars were being anti-Semitic. Their reasoning was that the "ungodly" secular Jews were so against rabbinic Judaism that they were exploiting the assassination to vent their anti Jewish sentiments.
That logic, however, necessitates defining the secular Jews as not "really" Jewish, and ultra-Orthodoxy as the only "true" Judaism. In their eyes, any criticism against ultra-Orthodoxy is anti-Jewish and therefore anti-Semitic. To justify the claims that the critics of Amir's religious beliefs were anti-Semitic, one would have to in effect deny the Jewishness of Rabin himself.
The social and spiritual conditions that led to the assassination of Rabin are complex. They may indicate profound problems both in religious nationalism on one side and in liberal secular Israeli society on the other. However, since both the liberal Israelis and the Orthodox rabbis are Jewish, the claim of "anti-Semitism" is unwarranted.
A similar analysis can be applied to the claims that Gibson's film (or the crucifixion of Yeshua itself) is anti-Semitic. Criticism of the religious establishment of the first century that created the spiritual climate that rejected Yeshua is not necessarily anti-Semitic. Nor is the depicting of Judas Iscariot, like Yigal Amir, as a despicable figure.
To view the crucifixion of Yeshua as anti-Semitic demands denying the Jewishness of Yeshua Himself, of all His disciples, and of the multitudes of Israelis who did welcome Yeshua. It would demand a monopoly by one section of the Jewish religious leadership on the right to define its viewpoint as the only "true" Judaism.
To claim that the story of the crucifixion of Yeshua is anti-Semitic is like claiming that criticism of Yigal Amir for having killed Rabin is anti-Semitic.
On the other hand, if Gentiles (whether liberal humanists, Muslims or so-called "Christians"), use the gospel story to justify racial discrimination and even genocide against Jews, that certainly is anti-Semitic. [That would be like Muslims taking the Jewish disagreements over the Rabin assassination out of context in order to justify terrorist attacks.]
To use the claim of anti-Semitism as an excuse not to consider the valid message of the gospel is illogical and unwarranted. However, to twist the gospel story to justify real anti-Semitism, Nazism, or Islamic terrorism is despicable and poisonous.
The misguided claim of anti-Semitism has become the main objection by which the religious establishment today rejects the meaning of the gospel. Yet, on the other hand, there is a horribly real anti-Semitism that lies at the root of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism (and of the international criticism of Israel for defending itself against the terrorism).
In the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, the terrorists linked the attack to United States support of Israel. Terrorism may be seen as a jihad against all Western non-Muslim societies. Yet it can also be seen as an attempt to disenfranchise the evangelical Christian community from its loyalty to Israel. Terrorist attacks around the world are usually connected to anti-Jewish propaganda. (Of course, terrorism is also an attempt to scare people of all nations into submitting to Islamic triumphalism.)
II Corinthians 10:5
We must patiently continue to fight the misunderstandings, lies, and false arguments on all sides.
In all these cases, understanding the Jewish identity of Yeshua and the Jewish roots of the gospel are the keys to dispensing those lies. [Dan Juster's pamphlet, Jewishness and Jesus, (written almost thirty years ago) touches on the core of the problem, as well as the simple JFJ bumper sticker, "Jesus is Jewish."]
The only way that either Gentile anti-Semites or Jews who reject Yeshua can claim that the Gibson film is anti-Semitic is to ignore the fact that Yeshua Himself is Jewish. (In the gospel story, 99% of the "good" guys are Jewish...) Ironically, the Jewish leaders today who claim that the Gibson film is anti-Semitic are reinforcing the same incorrect interpretation of the gospel promoted by the real anti-Semites. In that way they are strengthening the hands of the enemies of the Jewish people.
All these claims and counter-claims have a spiritual connection with the Second Coming of Yeshua. The fact that Yeshua is Jewish is almost irrelevant to being "saved" (forgiven of sins and going to heaven). However, the fact that Yeshua is returning soon in the midst of a battle over Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2) to set up His Kingdom on earth is essentially connected to His Jewishness.
Worldwide anti-Semitism is the gradual trend of all nations toward attacking Jerusalem in that last battle. The claims of the gospel being anti-Semitic are aimed at keeping the Jewish people away from Yeshua (which in turn is also connected to the Second Coming, since one of the necessary events leading to the Second Coming is a revival of Jews in Jerusalem believing in Yeshua [Matthew 23:37-39]).
Both the anti-Semitism itself and the separation of the Jewish people from the gospel are an attack on the "Jewishness" of Jesus. Since the Jewishness of Jesus is connected to the Second Coming, then the issues of anti-Semitism are ultimately connected to the authority of Yeshua to return and rule.
God gave divine right to David and his descendants to rule over the earth from Jerusalem. (He reigns in heaven as Son of God, but on earth as son of David.) The covenant by which Yeshua will return to and reign from Jerusalem comes through His being the seed of David - in other words, Jewish. If there is no Jewishness to Jesus, then He has no authority on planet earth.
While I do not see anti-Semitism in the Gibson film, I do see the popularity of the pre-tribulation rapture series "Left Behind" as patently anti-Semitic (and indirectly "anti" the real Second Coming). Pre-tribulation rapture is based on a mistaken theology in which all good things happen to Gentile Christians, while all the bad things happen to Jews. If the end-times battle over Jerusalem takes place in the tribulation period, then the claim that all the Christians will not be there during that time is to divorce them from the biblical mandate to stand with Israel as that battle approaches.
Anti-Semitism is gradually transitioning to "anti-Zionism." (Zion simply means Jerusalem.) The conflict of human history will culminate in a war in which all the nations will gather against Jerusalem to battle. Since the Bible describes the attack on Jerusalem as an attack upon Yeshua as well, the issue of anti-Zionism becomes a crucial dividing line as to who is standing with or against Yeshua in the end times.
To believe in the cross is to believe in Yeshua and His lordship. Part of His lordship is that He will return and reign from Jerusalem. The Jewishness of Jesus is connected to Jerusalem; and therefore the Second Coming; and ultimately His authority on planet earth. That's why this anti-Semitism issue just won't go away.
Back to Articles 2004