Christian-Jewish Relations in 5776

Christian-Jewish Relations in 5776 September 17, 2015

Jews and Christians disputing scripture (the Jews are wearing the poiny hats) in a 15th c. Dutch woodcut.
Jews and Christians disputing scripture (the Jews are wearing the pointy hats) in a 15th c. Dutch woodcut.

Let’s talk about the state of “Christian-Jewish” relations!

For most of the past 2,000 years, our relations consisted of Christians alternatively killing and forcibly converting (and killing and forcibly converting and exiling) the Jews.

Since the rise of the state of Israel, all kinds of power dynamics have changed and today the word “complicated” hardly begins to describe it. So as we begin the new year of 5776, let’s take a look at how representatives of two of the world’s most intertwined religious groups are doing.

Item One:

Israeli Christian schools are now in the third week of a national strike over funding. These schools are considered “unofficially recognized” and are paid for a by a combination of state and private funds. They serve over 30,000 students – including many Muslim and Druze – and pre-date the modern state by many, many years.

The Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews also maintain their own “unofficially recognized” schools. But there are differences and they’re not small. The Haredi schools – which receive massive funding – are notoriously lacking in academic value. They treat secular subjects like a joke and fail to prepare their students for the labor market.

Christian schools, on the other hand, are famously high quality. Almost 90% of Arab workers in the high-tech sector attended a Christian school.

Of course, the ideal would be to eliminate all religious schools in….

I can’t even finish typing that sentence because I made myself laugh so hard.

Let’s face it. In the holey … er… holy … land there is no way that religion and state and state schools will ever disentangle.

Yet the whole thing makes me wonder if the evangelical “Christian Zionists” are aware of how Israel’s Ministry of Education is treating their co-religionists.

Item Two:

Speaking of Christian Zionists, they’re getting ready to meet in Jerusalem for their big international pro-Israel Sukkot gathering.

This annual meeting is sponsored by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ). For years they’ve been gathering to march in solidarity with Israel during what they call the Feast of Tabernacles. The march has grown to a week-long conference of praying and speechifying.

The ICEJ does do some nice things for Israeli charities so on the night that they’ve dubbed “Israeli Night” they will be visited by IDF soldiers, Israel’s president, and PM Netanyahu who are there to say thanks for the support and also for the not boycotting.

Which is not sitting well with the two chief rabbis of Israel. As reported by the Times of Israel:

In a letter dated September 3, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef charged that the annual event organized by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem was a missionary effort to convert Jews to Christianity.

“This is a grave matter that runs contrary to our faith, and we must therefore denounce it and warn the public,” the letter read.

While the rabbis noted the staunchly pro-Israel ICEJ were friends of the Jewish state, they said that the gathering … intentionally targeted Israeli Jews with missionary activities.

“We call on the Jewish community in the Holy Land not to take part in this conference… the event is spiritually dangerous and undermines the nature of Judaism,” Lau and Yosef wrote.

Item Three:

The chief rabbis of Israel are not the only ones with concerns about all the Israel love being spread by conservative Christians.

Last night Ann Coulter also weighed in with some biting tweets about repeated candidate kissing-up to Israel during CNN’s Republican debate.

She didn’t like it when Huckabee did it:

Or when he and Cruz and Rubio and Christie did it (when they were supposed to be answering questions about “AMERICA”!):

And at first she seemed to think they were pandering to the Jews:

But then she came to her senses and realized that a significant majority of American Jews are not Republicans and aren’t going to be Republicans no matter how much Israel-love these candidates express. So she tweeted this:

Yes, Ann! That is the correct answer! They are sucking up to the evangelicals! You win a sack of apples and a year-long supply of honey!

With this, I conclude my look at Christian-Jewish relations as we kick off 5776.

It’s all actually kind of horrible. But also funny. And it definitely beats the Crusades.

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