Phony Christians And Their Hate-filled Flavor Of The Month

Phony Christians And Their Hate-filled Flavor Of The Month

I was reminded recently of something that happened a few years ago, but which I had neglected to share with you, my friends.  In June of 2015, the Institute for ReligiousTolerance, Peace and Justice received a letter in the mail that had no return address.  The handwritten address of the IRTPJ was somewhat shaky and the envelope elicited suspicion from me.  When I opened it, I found a pamphlet, somewhat roughly put together, but comprised of a tremendous number of unfounded stereotypes and accusations against Islam.  There was a salmon-colored post-it note affixed to the pamphlet which read, in the same shaky, almost juvenile hand, “Please help these people; they hate US….Peace”.  

I looked around for some indication of who sent this letter to us, and all I found was a Facebook page (Counter Jihad Coalition) and an email address:  Initially, I was annoyed, having just come from an interfaith event in which I witnessed a room full of over 300 Muslims and Jews praying side by side and sharing a meal together, in honor of the Muslim month of purificatory fasting, called Ramadan. 

This event was inspirin and demonstrated that Jews and Muslims can and do get along in many places around the world and always have, despite what many Right Wing media sources insist.  

After my initial annoyance, I began to realize that receiving this letter was a good sign.  An organization devoted to slandering, libeling and defaming Islam (as the enemy flavor of the month, now that global Communism is on the wane), had found us on the internet and thought us significant enough to reach out and contact us.  This is quite a compliment. 

It means we are doing our job, and that our web presence is effective. 

But despite this optimistic positivity, the thing that struck me is that the individual who wrote the note and enclosed the pamphlet took a tone that was decidedly “Christian” in its attempt to appeal to those who want to make peace.  Frankly, the rhetoric in the pamphlet was anything but conciliatory, or pacific; it was nothing but misguided, prevaricatory, one-sided rhetoric, devoted to revealing the “true colors” of the Muslim faith, and committed to its ultimate dissolution. 

The request that we “help these people” is a farce, since the authors and disseminators of this pamphlet are doing absolutely NOTHING to help those of Muslim extraction. 

This kind of hate-mongering and the spreading of one-sided half-truths about a major world religion comprised of over 1.5 billion peaceful people does nothing but contribute to the global impression of the US as a nation of uneducated bigots who travel the world bullying less powerful nations and torturing people—an opinion that a good friend of mine based in Korea had confirmed during the height of the Bush administration’s obsession with torturing “evil-doers” and restoring “democracy” to the world through the murderous henchmen of Big Oil like Halliburton, Blackwater, and others.  This is the impression held of us by many industrialized, civilized nations, including those of Europe and Asia, notwithstanding the many Islamic nations of the world that continue to reel from the West’s incessant meddling.  

I see many conservative Christians trying to assuage their collective consciences for bearing the banner of anti-Semitism for so long by expressing outward support for the Nation of Israel, as if it were the repository of Judaica and the representation of global Jewry, as if their sudden support were an act of contrition or a global confessional where one can do penance and purchase an indulgence for one’s sins; recognizing in their hearts that the Holocaust was the natural outgrowth of nearly two millennia of ingrained and systematic anti-Semitism and outright hatred for all that is Jewish.  And while they attempt to clear their consciences by giving money to pro-Israel causes and claiming to support Israel, they seek to divert attention away from their historical sins while purporting that Islam, as a monolithic entity, is seeking to wipe Jews off the face of the map—as if Christian nations and forces had not already come dangerously close to that themselves without the help of any Muslims! 

At this moment, I speak as a Jew (putting aside my maternal Christian heritage).  And I speak to the phony Christians, who have put country and nationalistic fervor before Christ: do not pretend that throughout your history, you have been our friend.  Time and again, you have tried to destroy us.  And numerous times, you nearly succeeded.  Only in very recent times have the most liberal minded and conscientious of you demanded that we be treated with respect, like equals.  And even still, many of your brethren continue to blame us for global problems well beyond our control, citing conspiracy theories that are preposterously unfounded.  Only recently, have some of your number seen fit to support Israel, as a symbol of Jewish identity.  But in reality, I see through your pre-Millenial ruse to employ Jewish autonomy as a tool for your own self-aggrandizement and world domination, presupposing that we will be the key to the manifestation and realization of your own version of the Christian apocalypse.  We are not your tool, nor are we your slaves.  

Do not use our story to support your fear-based grand narrative of rampant Islamicization as an eternal threat to the survival of Christendom.  The racist underpinnings of this grand narrative were similarly used against Black Americans over the last century and a half, and it was similarly used against Jews in the first half of the twentieth century.  Then, it transformed into red scares and fears of global Communism and the Domino Theory, fueling many wars and police actions fought in the name of “Democracy”, until it settled on its next enemy—global Islam.  And when Muslims around the world see your hate mongering, what will they think of you?  Will they put aside their religion and see the “truth” of your arguments, turning to favor Christianity?  

For centuries, while Christians were taking their time in recognizing the importance of Judaism to their religion, foisting upon us one expulsion after another, one genocide after another, we were largely safe and respected in Muslim lands.  While Jews were being brutally murdered and oppressed in nation after nation all over Europe throughout the Middle Ages, they were safe in Moorish controlled Spain, where Judaism flourished for centuries.  The lot of Sephardic Jews was dramatically different from the Ashkenazi Jews who eked out a living throughout Eastern Europe despite the odds against them, finding a niche for themselves in professions that Christians were forbidden to engage in.

But Jewish culture and art and literature flourished in Muslim controlled lands, with Jews treated as a protected minority—a dhimmi—the elder siblings of the Muslim people, fellow children of Abraham, and devotees of the same God.  

And when Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain issued the Alhambra Decree, everything changed.  Paraphrasing the old adage: in 1492, Columbus sailed the oceans blue; but never forget what happened, too, that Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jew. As many as a million Jews were expelled under pain of death, with their only option conversion to Christianity.  Many were brutally murdered in the process of expulsion, while a handful chose to convert nominally in order to remain in the land they had grown to love over the centuries.  But this exposed them to the Spanish Inquisition, which brutally tortured and murdered tens of thousands of conversos suspected of being “Crypto-Jews,” who were now officially under the authority of the Catholic Church, having just converted. As for the hundreds of thousands who willingly left, where did they go?

Many were lovingly accepted into the heart of the Ottoman Empire, the largest Islamic kingdom on earth at that time. 

Sultan Bayezid II had ships waiting off the coast of Spain to take these Jews, as refugees, into his kingdom.  And as he often said to his court, “Do you think this Ferdinand a wise ruler, who has impoverished his own kingdom and enriched mine?” 

For Bayezid knew that the Jews, as a whole, were an industrious, peaceable people who made model citizens for any nation, something that many Christians still have not yet realized today.  The descendants of those Spanish-speaking Sephardic Jews remained in Muslim lands for the next few centuries, until once again—now under Hitler’s Third Reich—they were rounded up and exterminated under the yoke of Christian anti-Semitism.  So, when I hear people slandering Islam, as a religion, as a culture; or people intimating that Jews and Muslims have never gotten along, or that they are, by nature, natural enemies, my ire is roused, and I feel I must remind them of these facts.  And to the Muslims who harbored my ancestors as refugees, I thank you.  And if the emblem and fruits of Christianity are racism and imperialism, then maybe we don’t need Christianity to “save” Western culture. On the other hand, maybe we just need to rethink who has the right to speak for global Christendom. And as for those who pretend to be our friends in the guise of serving their own political ends, how do we know that when you grow tired of toying with the Muslims, you will not go back to toying with us? Even as recently as August of 2017, hundreds of “alt-right” marchers gathered in Charlottesville for the Unite the Right rally, chanting “the Jews will not replace us!” As if that was our intention. 

All of our religions have imperfections. 

If we are to judge a religion exclusively on the evil it has wrought, we would all be found terribly wanting—perhaps Christians most of all!  If we were to judge a religion on the most embarrassing and inscrutable aspects of its scriptures, taken out of context and viewed without any knowledge of the history or debate over its interpretation, we would, once again, all come up wanting—perhaps the Jews most of all!  But if we were to judge a religion on both the good and the bad, and take into account the progress it has made in issues of compassion and human rights, and in their relationships with other faiths, we would see that all three of the Abrahamic faiths have come very far, but still have far to go. 

To end with my favorite quote from the Apostle Paul,

“We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23)

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