Friday, February 29, 2008

Why Don't Jews Like Christians Who Like Them?

And interesting question indeed, asked by Dr. James Q.Wilson, a celebrated professor at Harvard and Pepperdine, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a prominent evangelical.

In the United States, the two groups that most ardently support Israel are Jews and evangelical and fundamentalist Christians. Jewish support is easy to explain, but why should certain Christians, most of them politically quite conservative, be so devoted to Israel? There is a second puzzle: despite their support for a Jewish state, evangelical and fundamentalist Christians are disliked by many Jews. And a third: a large fraction of African-Americans are hostile to Israel and critical of Jews, yet Jewish voters regard blacks as their natural allies.

The evidence about evangelical attitudes is clear. In 2006, a Pew survey found that evangelical Christians were more favorable toward Israel than the average American was—and much more sympathetic than either mainline Protestants or secularists. In another survey, evangelical Christians proved much likelier than Catholics, Protestants, or secular types to back Israeli control of Jerusalem, endorse Israeli settlements on the West Bank, and take Israel’s side in a Middle Eastern dispute. (Among every religious group, those who are most traditional are most supportive of Israel. The most orthodox Catholics and Protestants, for instance, support Israel more than their modernist colleagues do.)

Evangelical Christians have a high opinion not just of the Jewish state but of Jews as people. That Jewish voters are overwhelmingly liberal doesn’t seem to bother evangelicals, despite their own conservative politics. Yet Jews don’t return the favor: in one Pew survey, 42 percent of Jewish respondents expressed hostility to evangelicals and fundamentalists. As two scholars from Baruch College have shown, a much smaller fraction—about 16 percent—of the American public has similarly antagonistic feelings toward Christian fundamentalists

I can sympathize with Dr. Wilson's puzzlement in his excellent and mostly accurate piece.

Here's the missing part of the puzzle.

For centuries, Jews were demonized and locked in ghettos in Europe (literally - the gates were often chained and guarded after dark). That ended with Napoleon, and as Jews for the first time experienced civil rights, a number of them decided that the best way to be `real Frenchmen' et al was to throw away their ancient culture and become totally secular. Many of them found out what a fallacy this was around the time of the Dreyfus case and the Chelminitsky Pogroms, but by then it was too late.

Some went back to traditional practice of their religion, especially in Eastern Europe. Many emigrated to places like the United States, Australia and South Africa.

Others took the Dreyfuss case and similar incidents as a clear sign that Jewish assimilation in Europe was a lost cause, among them a totally secular Jewish journalist from Vienna by the name of Theodore Herzl, who witnessed the French mobs in Paris howling 'Death to the Jews' during the Dreyfuss case, concluded that the Jew, the Eternal Stranger could only have self-determination in his own country and helped form the Zionist movement.

A third group, having already given all or most of their Jewishness in favor of assimilating ended up migrating to the Left, which promised an end to ALL religion - and thus would remove the stigma of being Jewish. They could, in a sense finally be 'normal' again in that milieu.

Prejudice over centuries can easily warp human beings into self-hatred. This can result in some strange twists in the human psyche.

While Jews were never treated with the kind of genocidal hatred here in America that they experienced in Europe, many of the Jews here in America who emigrated went through the same process, coming from the shtetls of Eastern Europe and experiencing normal life for the first time.

Again, some reveled in the opportunity to practice their traditions and culture. Others did exactly what some of their fore bearers in Europe did and dropped their traditional religion and culture with the idea of becoming 'real Americans.'

There was never the equivalent of a Dreyfuss case here in America, but there was enough classical anti-Semitism in the 1920's, `30's and `40's to make a substantial number of Jews identify with the Left, a process that was accelerated by Soviet penetration into various areas of American life. On the extreme end of that scale, many of the so-called Red Diaper Babies were Jews born into devoutly Leftwing and communist families who went on to indoctrinate their own children in 'the faith.' David Horowitz's book `Radical Son' is a superb examination of how this worked.

There's a spectrum here, of course, but many of the anti-Christian Jews Dr. Wilson is talking about remain ethnically Jewish, but are almost entirely divorced from their religion and have embraced a new one - leftwing politics.

As the Left has distanced itself from Israel, so have many of these Jews. And why not? Israel is no longer really part of their religion any longer. They are merely conforming with the tenets of their new faith as part of a broader anti-Americanism, although many of them would never admit to it as such. To get an understanding of how this works, imagine if Israel, instead of allying itself with the US had proceeded even further along the secular socialist path and allied itself with Russia. Were that the case, I guarantee you that the Left would have embraced Israel from the beginning, the dinosaur media would now be totally supportive of Israel and would not be running the pro-Arab garbage it does now, and Israel would be as celebrated in Hollywood as Cuba.

Given a choice between supporting Israel and supporting the Leftist agenda, it's no contest for these people.

Other Jews whom identify with the Left but still consider Israel important temporize and rationalize. They ignore the anti-Israel part of the Left's agenda so they can embrace the broader part of the agenda, especially if a Leftist politician is savvy enough to give them a few general statements or gestures that could be taken as pro-Israel. Or they co-opt it, embracing chimeras like Oslo even when their common sense revolts at the reality of what that means.

To many of these Jews, Christians are part of the Evil Right. They might even be *gasp!* Republicans and therefore must be shunned and vilified, no matter how philo-semitic they may be. Believe it or not this attitude doesn't merely extend to Christians but to religiously observant Jews and Jews with conservative political views as well . Screwy, I admit, but there it is.

Dr. Wilson and those like him will wait a very long time if they expect a significant amount of reciprocity from Jews on the Left for their support of Israel. They may take comfort in the satisfaction of doing the right thing and in the words of the prophet Isaiah and the Gospels. Righteousness still has some meaning, after all.

On the other hand, the situation may actually be improving. When one looks at the demographics, the Jewish population in the US has actually increased, and it is increasing in an interesting direction. While many secular leftist Jews are mostly having few children and intermarrying, religious Jewry has had something of a renaissance. It's the Orthodox and observant Jews who are expanding synagogues, funding Jewish day schools and most of all, having the kids. And as Dr. Wilson has no doubt observed personally, most of those Jews by no means shun Christians, but welcome them as people of faith and allies.

I would expect this trend to continue and even to accelerate, given the common threat both Jews and Christians face.


Anonymous said...

Obviously the history between the church abd the Jewish people have something to do with it. Most Christians do not even know the bloddy hitory of their religion. When brought upm the statement that is heard most often is, "those were not real Christians." That statement does not support the facts!

My particular opinion is pretty simple. Christians like Jews, not for what we are but what we coukd potentially be. Fist we can convert to Christianity. That would make a Christian as happy as can be. The second idea is that the Jews are the key to the second coming. In that scenario, the Christians beleive that all the Jews will be destroyed. Is that what a true friend believes?

I would be happier if Christians loved another group rather than the Jews.

And let us not forget that insidious, but favorite group within the Chritian community, the inaptly named, "Jews for Jesus." There are no Jews for Jesus! You cannot accept Jesus and remain a Jew, sorry!

Freedom Fighter said...

Hello Jeff,

Ma Nah Mim?

There are a few things I feel I should point out to you that may change your views somewhat.

Where Christian philo-Semitism is not from `what the Jews could be' but what they are. Where this comes from is from the Torah, which as you know Christians accept as part of their scripture along with the New Testament.

If you look in Isaiah, you will see that it specifically says that when the Messiah comes and the Beyt Hamikdosh ( Holy Temple) is rebuilt on Mount Moriah and G-d's kingdom is re-established on earth, G-d will judge the nations according to how they have treated the Jews.

The New Testament likewise echoes this theme, saying that the Jews are considered the Bride of Christ and that they will sit at G-ds' right hand on the Day of Judgement.

Others feel guilt for the Holocaust,even though it was a manifestation of the Left rather than the Church.( And yes,the NSDAP,the National Socialist German Workers Party,commonly known as the Nazis was a movement of the Left).

And stillothers are smart enough to realize that, just like in the1930's what happens to Israel and dthe Jews will happen to them next.

That's where it comes from,Jeff.Not from any zeal for converts or the fictitious BS that Christians want the Jews gathered in Israel so G-d can destroy them and bring on Armegeddon. The number of Christians who swallow that far out interpetation of Revelations is a tiny minority.

Respectfully, I don't think you have any idea of what Christian Zionists have done for the Jews.

For example, Pastor John Hagee's Crossroads Church raised $8.5 million dollars to literally ransom Soviet Jews out of Russia, bring them to Israel and help them to settle there.

His group, Christians United for Israel has been manning the trenches in Washington DC to lobby for Israel in the face of massive lobbying by Arab-bought
ex-politicians, along with a lot of other Christian Zionists.And they're not alone.

Care to see what Christian Zionist Mike Huckabee has to say on the subject?

At the last pro-Israel protest I attended, a third of the participants were from Calvery Chapel, bubba. And they ain't doing it to snatch a few converts.

I defy you to spend serious time with any of these incredibly decent people and still question their motives.

And frankly,I think it's the height of arrogance and ingratitude for Jews to question those motives when they're some of the best allies we have. That's exactly the sort of attitude of self-hatred I was talking about in this article.

When it comes to love for Zion and support for the Jews and Israel, I'll take Pastor Hagee and the rest of the Christian Zionists as allies over Jews like Micheal Lerner, Richard Cohen,Tony Judt, The Peace Now crowd or the New Israel Policy Forum bunch any time.

G-d help Israel if it depended on the support of people like that.

One last thing,about conversion and Jews For Jesus. I don't agree with their view of scripture,but I respect that the Jews For Jesus are making a sincere attempt to reconcile Halacha and Torah with Christian messianic belief. I don't demonizre them for it, I've had some interesting theological conversations with some of them, and you know what - they realized early on that I was sincere and observant in my beliefs and they never tried to convert me. That's also true about the evangelicals I hang out with. Never a problem.

You see, Jeff, part of Christianity involves spreading the Good News, as they perceive it.
If a shoe salesman sees a barefoot man walk by the store, it's second nature for him to try and sell him a pair of shoes -he thinks he's doing a mitzvah.

They don't bother someone they see walking by with a nice pair of shoes already on his feet - which is why the Jews that get the most apoplectic about groups like Jews for Jesus are secular or mostly non-observant Jews.

Think about it.

Thanks for dropping by.


Jack Steiner said...

And frankly,I think it's the height of arrogance and ingratitude for Jews to question those motives when they're some of the best allies we have.

And many of us think that it is the height of arrogance to spend millions of dollars trying to convert us.

Your shoe store analogy is B.S. The store owner doesn't try to sow fear of eternal damnation for not buying shoes from him.

It is really hard not to look for a hidden agenda here when we consistently hear and experience stories of witnessing.

Stop the missionary activities and you'll see a much different response.

Until then you'll just have to accept the lack of faith in your motives.

Jack Steiner said...

One more thing

Jews For Jesus are making a sincere attempt to reconcile Halacha and Torah with Christian messianic belief. I don't demonizre them for it,

You can't be Jewish and believe that jesus is G-d. It is like being partially pregnant, impossible.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hmm Jack..a leetle bit of hostility on your part perhaps?

I'll say it one more time...a Jew who is sincere and committed in his beliefs is in no danger of being converted,especially by Evangelicals...they won't even attempt it. I can testify to that personally.

Again, I note that it is mostly non-Observant secular Jews or certain reform Jews who are what I might call quasi-observant that tend to react the most violently towards Evagelicals.

And frankly, I think it's because of the worship of left wing politics in these particular Jewish circles and the perception of Evangelicals as `Right wing Republicans' rather than any major theological anethema.

As I can also testify (and I'm not talking about you necessarily, since I don't know you) that these two groups of Jews tend to be quite lukewarm when it comes to their support of their Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel.

Pastor Hagee and his congregation raised $8.5 million dollars ot rescue Jews from the Soviet Union and bring them to Israel,without trying to reap a single convert in the bargain.

They've been manning the trenches in Congress lobbying for Israel.

What have you done?

Them's the facts, Jack. Like it or not.

When you're in danger of drowning,sometimes it's not a good move to insult someone who's throwing you a rope.

All Best,

Anonymous said...

I am a jew. My lontime boyfriend is an evangelical Christian. Hes NEVER tied to convert me. Loves Judaism explain his Zionist belifs like this. "You are G-ds chosen children. Christianity was the way for the Gentiles to become Family too. I am a stepchild ransomed by christ. You are born into the family."

Hes a decent man. A righteous Goy. And frankly the best man I know. So I think it truly is possible that some folks just think that respect for Israel and her children is plain decent, and a way to a closer relationship with their G-d.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Karagush,
Welcome to Joshua's Army.

My experience with Evangelicals has been similar...well, without the boyfriend part anyway!

If you are sincere and observant in in your faith, few if any Evangelicals will ever try to convert you.

As I say in my article, it is basically Leftist secular Jews who voice the most hostility towards evangelicals ..and it's about politics,not religion IMO.

Shabbat Shalom.


jaya said...

As a Christian, I believe that the Jews are God's chosen people. As a human, I abhor what's been done to the Jews in the past and what's being done to them now. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem every Sunday in Church. I pity those Jews who are so cynical that they would refuse the offer of friendship from a Christian. IMHO it makes them scarcley better than those who persecute them. I would never ask a Jew to convert, but rather welcome him as one of God's children, a fellow person of faith.

Anonymous said...

Thanks freedom fighter, very well stated.

-William Grant

Anonymous said...

most jews do not believe that some faith is better than no faith at all. they believe that their faith is the right one and others are the wrong ones. many jews see faith not as a moral footing but simply accept the god they fear. look, many jews don't eat pork because it is their religious law, but not very concerned with moral compass of society. many also find that turning away from god is better than converting to the "religion of nazis" many jews have secular jews as relatives and disagree with ignorant assertion that atheist means immoral. there are indeed more jewish atheists than there is even dutch atheists. many jews do not want to be converted or accept the moral views being pushed on them. plus, there is a common misconception that fundamentalist christians and observant jews share values. in many ways it is not true. they do not look at spirit of jewish law, many just follow the letter of jewish law. many haredi jews still believe that jesus was rightfully crusified, oppose reporting fellow jew to a gentile authority and do consider a 13 year old an adult rather than a child. now there is a different issue. i think that jews do not need to compromise their views on domestic issues but should still welcome support for israel from evangelicals. christians should also be more tolerant of jewish liberalism and not try to convince them to become conservative or to agree on their moral agenda. evangelical support for israel is a good thing and jews need to welcome it. both jews and evangelicals should keep their views and disagre e if they choose to but to be more understanding of each other. i believe some left wing jews will be more accepting of christian friendship provided christians are going to be more understanding of their positions. also jews should be more understanding of the views of christians

Freedom Fighter said...

Hello Anonymous 3:05,

To be honest, I find several of your assertions to be factually incorrect.

First Judaism makes no judgments on the relative merits of different faiths, with the singular exception of paganism and idol worship. Unlike the New Testament, which is essentially an effort via the Gospels to prove the divinity of Jesus and, in the Epistles, to provide some guidelines to setting up the new Church and converting unbelievers, the Torah is unconcerned with converting anyone and only deals with the subject as a matter of law and procedure should someone approach and ask to become a Jew.

I think you're also incorrect in attributing Judaism to 'fear' as opposed to a moral footing or a concern with moral law. The great contribution of Judaism to the world is the development of ethical monotheism, something Jesus himself paid tribute to during the Sermon on the Mount.

And on that subject,I have never heard a single reputable rabbi assert that Jesus was 'rightfully crucified.' And I doubt you have. The Jewish laws and traditions of compassion and of ransoming captives would relegate anyone who said or wrote such a thing to crackpot status.You might remember that Judea was under a ruthless occupation during the life of Jesus, with the inhabitants having little say in anything...Mel Gibson to the contrary.

The Torah, Talmud and Gemara and designed to provide guidance in moral law and have a great deal of space devoted to various meditations and commentaries on the Law, how top apply it to everyday life and what it means.

That's where kashrut, the Kosher dietary laws come from, BTW. The whole idea of avoiding certain animals, separating meat from dairy and only eating meat slaughtered according to the rules of kashrut has a distinct moral and ethical basis,as any observant Jew could tell you, and you might wish to read up more on the subject before commenting on it.

There are a few other points in your comment I could go over, but the most important one is the notion that Jews and Fundamentalist Christians somehow do not share ethical and moral values.

This is dangerous nonsense, and easily disproved by the fact that Christians accept both the Torah and New Testament as binding on them, the common roots of the messianic traditions of both faiths in Isaiah, and the very statements of Jesus as given in the Gospels.

While there are a number of philosophical and ritual differences, the moral values of observant Jews and Christians tend to be pretty close together..that old biz about ethical monotheism, y'know.


Anonymous said...

freedom fighter, I know you don't assert that it was not Jews who killed Jesus. I am part Jew and I do believe that although Romans had a part in killing Jesus but so were the Jews. I do not believe that today's Jews are to blame, nor do I believe that all Jews were part of the crucifiction, but you cannot deny that Jews killed Jesus

Freedom Fighter said...

Anonymous 8:41,
Ahhh, the old, tired canard, come down through the centuries like a waft of poison.

Shame on you.

I DO assert that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus.That evil nonsense was first promulgated by Constantine in order to consolidate his political power, and the early church bought into it because he was calling the shots as the Emperor.

Understand this please, one more time...Judea was under a particularly harsh military occupation where the Jews had NO SAY IN ANYTHING THE ROMANS CHOSE TO DO.

There is no historical record of the Jews ever using crucifixtion as a means of punishment or execution.

Jesus wascondemned by the Roman Procurater Pontious Pilate and killed BY THE ROMANS, along with a great many other Jews during their occupation of Judea.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

so Romans started rewrote the history to suit their agenda when they proclaimed themselves Christians. Now, I get it. I recklessly forgot that history is written by winners. Now that makes perfect sense

Anonymous said...

Annon said, "I am part Jew... " Jews don't speak like this. A true jew would have said, "I am partly Jewish, or I have Jewish heritage". Jews would not use the term "Jew" in the context you have!

As far as the death of Jesus is concerned, I agree with freedom.

Chistianity has a huge problem in its dogma.

Chistianity claims that the death of Jesus was preordained from the beginning of time. They also state that Jesus needed to die in order to save the world from sin.

Up until this last century, all of Chritianity from its inception blamed the Jews for the death of Jesus (wrongly, of course). But instead of prasing the Jews for enabling the saving of mankind, Chirstianity treated the Jews very harshly. Therefore, Christians do not believe in their own religious doctrins!

Anonymous said...

jeffrey, i was not born in u.s., I was born in russia, therefore some of my speech is not correct among american jews

Anonymous said...

Dear Annon...
Sorry, for picking on you. It's jist that people are always claimng to be part Jewish, in order to denigrate Jews and Judaism. They often se the term "Jew", where the word "Jewish" is appropriate.

Sorry, again!