*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Angela Tilby: The Left’s problem with anti-Semitism

19 July 2019

ISTOCK

THERE are several reasons why the Labour Party has become vulnerable to accusations of anti-Semitism (News, 12 July). The first is that, having swung so far to the left, it has forgotten the distinguished Jewish politicians who have contributed to its history. Second, sympathy for the Palestinians has led to a worrying tolerance of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories from the Nazi era, which are widespread in some pro-Palestine groups.

But there is also a hidden, perhaps more disturbing, factor behind the party’s problem with anti-Semitism, and that is the illusion that a programme of universal progress confers automatic moral superiority on those who promote it. In Jungian terms, a self-righteous community projects its own shadow on to the Other: in this case, the Jews. Anti-Semites imagine that the Jews are authors of an international conspiracy, oiling the wheels of global finance and driving imperialism.

The irony is that world domination has never been a Jewish theme. Jews want to be Jews, and, not surprisingly, have prioritised their own survival, hence the State of Israel. It is internationally minded Socialists who are determined that their ideology will prevail over all others. In a parallel, and perhaps softer sense, the hope that their “faith” will one day win the world is not unknown to Muslims and Christians.

Anti-Semitism has Christian roots. It was vigorously promoted by the second-century heretic Marcion, who rejected the God of the Old Testament as the enemy of the kindly God and Father of Jesus. Marcion reduced scripture to an edited version of St Luke’s Gospel and a few of St Paul’s letters. Christians of a Marcionite tendency continue to contrast law and gospel, to the detriment of the former. Luther was unashamedly anti-Semitic.

Christians often like to see themselves as “progressive”, and tend to identify Christianity with a set of correct ethical impulses such as “the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man”. Except that the Jews fall outside that philanthropic brotherhood. Karl Barth was perhaps correct in seeing that the optimistic Liberalism of 19th-century German theology ultimately paved the way for the Third Reich. The belief in moral superiority allied to nationalistic yearnings led directly to the Holocaust.

We should not forget that humans tend to be a selfish lot. Love is not the enemy of the law but the fruits of the law properly kept. Above all, we owe our faith to the Jews (one Jew in particular) and not to our own “good” impulses. Evil runs through the human heart, our own hearts included. What we fail to see in ourselves we invariably project on to others (motes and beams). When I hear Christians contrast the simple gospel of Jesus with the “angry God of the Old Testament”, I shudder. Anti-Semitism begins in an uncritical belief in our own innocence.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

 

Church Times Month

March 2024

For the whole of March, Church Times is offering completely FREE online access, so you can share stories without a paywall.

We are also asking our readers to spread the news of the Church Times among their friends, acquaintances, and fellow churchgoers (and non-churchgoers).

Find out more

 

Keeping faith in Journalism: a Church Times Webinar

11 March 2024 | 6pm GMT

An expert panel discusses trust between the media and the public

Online Tickets available

 

Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available

 

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

 

You are able to read this for FREE as part of Church Times Promotional Month, where for the whole of March, we are offering unlimited web access to the newspaper.

From next month to explore the Church Times website fully, you will need to sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers will return to only being able to read four articles for free each month.