Anti Semitism - What is in a Name



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From Anti-Semitism to Anti-Zionism

By Asher Eder

The question of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism seems to be very timely, this the more so as there is much confusion about it, in general and due to the claim of the Arabs that they cannot be blamed for anti- Semitism as they themselves are Semites.

Well, the term Anti-Semitism is relatively new, dating back to the middle of the 19th century. When scientists discovered different language groups and related cultures - e.g. the Indo-Germanic one with its sub-groups, they also found out a common origin of "Semitic" languages, as e.g. Assurian; Canaanite; Arabic; and Hebrew. Consequently they spoke of the Jewish people as a Semitic race – a term which is incorrect from the biological point of view; and is as absurd as if someone would speak of a "Catholic race"; or a "Moslem race". The people of Israel developed from non-Jewish mothers (e.g. Joseph had his two sons Ephraim and Manasse from an Egyptian mother; and Judah begot his descendants from a Canaanite lady); and absorbed numerous proselytes throughout history,

The term "Semitic" traces back to one of Noah's three sons, called Shem, from whom the "Semites" came forth. The Hebrew word shem (pronounced Sem, in English), means "name", and is often referred to as the "Name of the Lord", or "Name of Names". From Noah's son Shem derive indeed also the Arab tribes, as well as Assur, while the Canaanites according to the genealogy of the Bible (Gen. chpt 10) derive from Ham, another son of Noah.

The Bible restricts then the term Shem to the people of Israel: the Cohanim (priests), when pronouncing the Divine blessing upon the people of Israel, do instantly "put the Name (shem) of the Lord upon them" (Numb. 6:24-27). Eventually, "all peoples will know that you (=Israel) are called by my Name = S(h)em" (Deuter. 28:6); and will become known as the "People of the [Divine] Name": Semites. That is, the term "Semites" coined as a racial designation in the middle of the 19th Century, happens yet to hit the mark - except that Arabs may be Semitic by biological origin but not by Divine call.

Consequently, anti-Semites are indeed against Israel's Divine call, but they are not against other peoples of the Semitic language group. (Nazism made an exception by degrading everyone and everything who/which was not "Arian" according to their fashion).

The Book of Genesis (chapt 10 & 11) shows Nimrod as the prototype of anti-Semitism: His name, literally translated, means "Let us revolt"; and in building Babel, he devised "Let us make a name [=shem] unto ourselves, and build a tower with its top in the heavens". His revolt was directed against Noah's son S(h)em and his descendant 'Ever the Father of the Hebrews ordained by Noah as the priestly tribe for the mankind after the Flood. Nimrod’s aspiration was to establish Bab-El = (liter. a direct Gate to God), without Semites and Hebrews; and take the Name of G-d, S(h)em, upon themselves, disregarding G-d's revelations and instructions.

Interestingly enough, the Book of Genesis in its record of the coming into existence of the 70 nations after the Flood, does not mention Nimrod neither as father nor as founder of one of them. This may indicate that his enterprise is not confined to one people or nation. In comparison, Egypt is Egypt; Assur is Assur; Greece is Greece; Canaan is Canaan; etc. While each of them may exert a certain cultural influence on other peoples or nations, it remains always itself. This is apparently not the case with Nimrod: he seems to be an archetypal figure whose traits can be adopted by any nation, people, or culture.

Were, then, Pharaoh; Assurbanipal; or Nebukadnezzar; anti-Semites? In case they were merely conquerors and slave-holders for the sake of conquests and slaves’ work, we can hardly count them as anti-Semites (except we would call anything anti-Divine as anti-S(h)em = anti- Semitic, but doing so we would deprive that term of its specific meaning). But in case they were motivated also by a hostility against the Divine principles Israel stands for, they would certainly have to be counted as anti-Semites. In comparison, figures like Haman; or Antiochus Epiphanes, were definitely anti-Semites.

From that point of view, the majority of the Christian Churches are plainly anti-Semitic at least by their self-styled theologies of superseding the “Israel of the flesh”. This theological highmindedness translated often into blatand Jew-hatred (e.g. Crusaders; Inquisition; pogroms; theatre games). On the other hand, Jews who joined the ranks of the Church(es) were highly welcomed.

From that point of view, modern Islam with its frantic hatred of Israel (in which they depict her as the “embodiment of the cosmic evil”) is plainly anti-Semitic. The call of the Mufti Amin el-Husseini (in 1943 from Radio Berlin!) to “Kill the Jews wherever you find them – this is pleasing to Allah”, is widely followed by killing Israelis and Jews all over the world, by blowing up synagogues, etc.

All this, in plain contradiction not only to the so-called "Old Testament" but to the so-called New Testament, and in case of Islam to the Koran as well.

Here, we should bear in mind that the Greek word "anti" means basically "instead of" (cf The Concise Oxford Dictionary. It gives as example the medieval episode of the anti-Pope who was not against Papacy but rivaled the ordained Pope). The Church rivals Israel by claiming that she is the "New Israel of the Spirit" superseding the "old Israel of the flesh". This claim of hers found its legal expressions in the "Codex Justinianus" with the Inquisition; the Crusades, the various pogroms; and now the "even-handedness" in the Arab/Israel Conflict as subsequent aftermath.

From that same point of view, the Arab/Muslim hostility against independent Israel is candid anti-Semitism not less than that of the medieval Church. Indeed, it is even more fierce and more gruesome: heeding the battle cry shouted by Mufti Amin el-Husseini (mentioned above), the "The Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research" held in September 1968 at Cairo's Al Azhar University, had Sheikh Muhammad Abu Zahra, a member of the Academy, charging: "Jihad is not confined to the summing of troops … there should arise a group of people reinforced with faith, well equipped with means and methods; and then, let them out to the usurpers [=Israel] harassing them with incessant attacks until the land they had seized turns to be for them an abode of everlasting torments, instead of being the country they had intended to be flowing with milk and honey".

In the final "Resolutions and Recommendations issued at the end of the first session", the Conference urges (page 924): "Against them [=Israel] make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of God and your enemies, and others besides them ye may not know, but whom God does know" (Quotations from pages 103 and 924 of the Proceedings of that Fourth Conference, published and distributed by the "General Organization for Government Printing Offices", 1970, Cairo). The various "Jihad"-groups – El-Fatah; Islamic Jihad; Hamas; el-Qaida; etc are merely putting those calls into practice.

Is the UNO anti-Semitic? On the 29th of November, 1947, its majority voted for the establishment of the State of Israel, alongside with a Palestinian state. Then, in 1970, it passed its ill-famous resolution equating Zionism with racism (rescinded several years later), followed by numerous one-sided anti-Israel resolutions. As the Arab and Moslem countries muster the biggest bloc of nations; and as numerous other nations depend on Arab oil, a majority voting against Israel is assured from the start. Longstanding anti-Semitism of some Christian countries as well as of former communist/atheistic countries may well play its role, too.

Indeed, how can the coming into existence of the State of Israel be explained without referring to the vilified "Old Testament"? The problem is aggravated by the fact that the existence of the People of Israel is dealt with in schools at best within the frame of anti-Semitic religions, never as a subject of history. In Christian education, the existence of "ancient Israel" ends with the last book of the Bible (Prophet Maleachi, in most translations); and Islam prides itself to be a-historic. Consequently, Arab propaganda depicting Jewish return to the ancient homeland as invasion similar to that of nazi-Germany into Russia, falls upon hearts ready to absorb it...

Anti-Semitism entails often Jew-hatred, as is now especially the case with the Jihad fanatics. In contrast, the Catholic Church, after Vaticanum II, remains anti-Semitic but has dropped Jew-hatred, even claims that she has sympathy for the Jews (hoping, of course, that the latter would find the way into her bosom).

In rounding up the picture, we should have a look also at Communism/Bolshevism: By its very proclamation of materialistic Atheism it was plainly anti-Semitic and consequently also anti-Zionist (and likewise anti-Christian and anti-Muslim), but it did not preach nor practice hatred against Jewish, Christian, or Muslim citizens - in contrast to nazi-Germany which preached and practiced anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred to the extreme, with the Holocaust surpassing all other anti- Semitic / anti-Jewish hostilities.

On the other side of the spectrum, there might be Jew-haters who are not anti-Semitic. Maybe they hate Jews because of indoctrination, or because of a bad experience with a Jew; or simply because Jews don't mingle with them but remain a "suspicious" outsider group with different dress and customs, etc, but in all these rejections of theirs they do not object Israel's specific call (which they usually don't even know). This kind of anti-Jewishness can be compared to the "natural" animosities which exist e.g. between "whites" and "blacks"; between British and French; Japanese and Chinese, etc.

We human beings cannot see what's in the heart of another one, and consequently often mix up anti-Semitism with Jew-hatred (although they go hand in hand more often than not). But wherever possible, we should discern, and draw the consequences.




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