As an evangelical Christian I have a deep-rooted affection for Judaism. Though my theological differences with the religion are profound, they cannot reduce the love I have for the children of Abraham and Moses. The story of the Hebrew people is, after all, my story too. So it saddens and frustrates me to see that my own belief denigrated by the very people I would give my life to defend.
The website of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, a group dedicated to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship by emphasizing our nations shared values, presents some outrageous claims in an editorial on anti-Semitism:
The trouble with Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion” is not the film itself, but the gospel story on which it’s based. The gospel story, which has generated more anti-Semitism than the sum of all the other anti-Semitic writings ever written, created the climate in Christian Europe that led to the Holocaust. Long before the rise of Adolf Hitler, the gospel story about the life and death of Jesus had poisoned the bloodstream of European civilization.
The article then goes on to spout the usual nonsense about the ‘historical Jesus” and pins the blame of anti-Semitic sentiment on Paul and the early Church. Finding this anti-Christian rant on the website of a respectable organization like the AICE is disturbing. Though they are not responsible for the sites content, I doubt the many members of the ‘honorary committee” of the advisory board, which is composed of such esteemed members of Congress as Sen. Rick Santorum and Sen. Charles Shumer, would agree with the views of the editorial.
While Christian anti-Semitism has been a genuine threat throughout history, many Christians — from Vatican II-era Catholics to American evangelicals — have worked to prevent such attitudes from ever taking root again. To claim that our most sacred scriptures are the cause of this evil is not only counter-productive and disrespectful, but is itself an anti-Semitic claim. The Gospels, after all, are about the Christian God. A God who also happens to be a Jew.