Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It is “almost impossible” for Jews in Europe to support Israel, says former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks

From Archbishop Cranmer, a Christian blog:

[...] The former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks gave a speech earlier this week at the Herzliya Conference, entitled ‘Islam and BDS in Europe: a strategic threat?’. He pointed out that unlike the anti-Semitic pogroms of centuries past, the BDS campaign is succeeding in its objectives. “Israel was always a uniting factor in Jewish life; it has become a divisive factor,” he explained. The BDS movement has made it “almost impossible” for Jews living in Europe to support Israel: “Jews have been faced with a choice: live in Europe and criticise Israel or be silent, or leave Europe,” he said.

And he placed the BDS movement in ‘blood libel’ perspective on a historic continuum: “In the middle ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, they were hated because of their race. In the twenty first century, they are hated because of their nation state. Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism,” he said.

The status of Jews and the land of Israel in God’s design may well be a matter of controversy: it has been so since St Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans. But we must not forget that the gospel of Christ is ‘the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Rom 1:16). We so easily forget that the Church came out of the Synagogue: Christians were grafted in to the Jewish vine of salvation.

“If Israel is thoroughly isolated, it too will be seen to be defenseless, and that will be very dangerous indeed,” Lord Sacks said. “Jews have for far, far too long defined themselves as Am Levadad Yishkon, a people that dwells alone. If believed for long enough, it becomes a self-justifying prediction.” The solution, he avers, is for Jews to make it clear to us all that if Europe “is not safe for Jews, it is not safe for Europeans”; that “if Europe loses its Jews, it will have lost its freedom”. And he invoked a familiar spectre: “The hate that begins with Jews never ends with them… We must not be left to fight this battle alone.”

The evil of the de-legitimisation of Israel is that it isolates the only democracy and persecutes the only free people in the Middle East. BDS casts Israel as villain and Palestine as hero, when theologically and politically it is much more nuanced. God has not rejected His people: ‘And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins‘ (Rom 11:26f). The Sinai covenant remains soteriologically valid: you may repudiate Israel, but God is true and faithful.

If the past century has taught us anything at all, it is that our failure to confront anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism has tragic consequences. How Christians should regard Israel and the Jews should be a central ethical issue; not one shunted to the periphery by church obsessions about gender and sexuality. If you think the Nazis were bad, try living under the reign of terror of the Islamic State. We may yet live to see another holocaust.

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