Tuesday, February 09, 2021

  • Tuesday, February 09, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
Peter Beinart writes in his Substack blog:

Christian hostility to Jews draws more attention than Jewish hostility to Christians. And for good reason. Christian hostility has produced millennia of persecution. Jewish hostility, for the most part, hasn’t produced much more than the occasional nasty line in a prayerbook (sometimes accompanied by spitting).

Still, Jewish misgivings about Christians go way back. When Christianity was still in its infancy, the rabbis of the Talmud taught that if Jews saw Christian religious texts burning on Shabbat, they should let them burn (Shabbat 116a). And as Christian anti-Semitism grew, Jewish animosity intensified. To grasp the intense anger toward Christianity carried by even highly enlightened Eastern European Jews, listen to this curious vignette by Professor Moshe Halbertal about the great Israeli intellectual and social critic Yeshayahu Leibowitz (It starts around minute nine and ends around minute twelve). Growing up, I encountered the residue of this hostility myself. I remember being reprimanded for calling Mary a pretty name and for proposing Christmas colors for a school costume. (Call me self-hating: I still like red and green).
This is only a preface to his main point, which we will get to. But what exactly is the purpose of Beinart bringing examples of supposed Jewish hate for Christians? 

The "nasty line in the prayerbook" is in the original Aleinu prayer, composed according to most scholars by Rav in 3rd century CE Babylonia. It had some early Christians but it seems unlikely that he was referring to them when he composed " For they worship vanity and emptiness, and pray to a god who cannot save." 

Similarly, when the Talmud says which texts should not be saved on the Sabbath, it is indeed referring to early Christians, but they are not the same as today's Christians. The word that the Talmud uses is "heretics" and it is their heresy that is offensive, not their Christian beliefs. They pretended that they were still Jews and tried to convert real Jews. This is referring to scrolls with the sacred name of God in Hebrew which can normally never be allowed to be erased (or burned) but the consensus is that it must be burned when written by a heretic. 

It has nothing to do with modern Christianity. 

Of course there is some antipathy towards Christianity among Jews -nearly 2000 years of persecution in the name of Jesus leaves a mark. But Beinart is going out of his way to cherry pick instances, real or imagined,  of what he characterizes as irrational Jewish hate for Christians. 

Why does he want to do this? To lead up to this crazy theory:

I mention all this because my friend Matt Duss, who currently serves as Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy advisor, is reportedly being considered for a job in Joe Biden’s State Department. As in the case of Rob Malley, hawks are calling Matt anti-Israel. As in the case of Rob Malley, they’re attacking Matt’s father. But Matt has a vulnerability that Rob didn’t: He’s a Christian, and his faith is central to his views on foreign policy, including Israel-Palestine. That’s a good thing—because Matt is a Christian in the tradition of Reverend William Sloane Coffin and Reverend William Barber. His Christianity makes him care about the powerless and the abused, whatever their race, religion or nationality. And yet, in Washington today, it’s more perilous for Matt to talk about how his Christian faith compels him to care about human rights in Israel-Palestine than it is for Mike Pompeo to talk about how his Christian faith compels him not to. The ancient Jewish anxiety about Christians has become morally warped. In the hands of the Israeli government and its American Jewish allies, it has become an anxiety directed solely toward those Christians who care about justice.
Who knew that Matt Duss was Christian? He barely mentions it on his Twitter feed. Not once have I seen criticism of Duss - and there is plenty of it, quite deserved - mention his religion. 

Beinart creates an entire prologue of Jewish hate for Christians to lead up to a theory that Zionist Jews don't have any serious issues with Duss' opinions, and anything they say about him comes from irrational anti-Christian bigotry!

How can you read this as anything but incitement to get Christians to hate Jews?








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