A recent article in a Christian journal, Ichthus, published by Harvard students has repeated an anti-Semitic slur that was responsible for the death of thousands of Jews throughout the ages. The hateful words appearing in Ichthus (I hesitate to give them visibility here) were, “We, the Jews, collectively rejected God and hung Him up on a cross to die, and thus we deserved the punishment that were heaped on our head over the last 2000 years.” This diatribe was written by an anonymous person who was a convert from Judaism to Christianity. After an uproar, the Ichthus article was removed with a lukewarm and puzzling apology that it was not the policy of Ichthus or the writer “to present a piece that is anti-Semitic in nature or interpretation”. But Ichthus then concludes with, “the necessity of salvation through Jesus Christ alone”. So much for repentance
The import of these words was recited throughout Christian Europe on medieval Easter Sundays. It was the reason why Easters were a sacred commemoration for Christians but a day of fear and trepidation for Jews. After hearing about the Jewish culpability in the death of Christ on Easter Sundays, village toughs would spill out of their churches to attack, beat and loot their Jewish neighbors. These pogroms were an Easter Sunday village sport.
At least in theory since those days of open and rampant anti-Semitism, the world has moved on in social justice. Christian leaders, including Popes John XXIII and Benedict XVI have openly stated that Jews are not responsible for the death of Christ. If nothing else, a historical study of how the Romans ruled and controlled captive peoples pointed to the real perpetrators, but this message obviously did not reach Ichthus.
Yet this age-old, black stain on human morality continues. It seems the need for anti-Semitism to provide Jewish scapegoats to assuage feelings of rage and inadequacy goes on despite the world’s supposed progress in civility and governance. What has changed is the Jewish reaction to anti-Semitism. Learning from the stark, bloody lesson of the Holocaust, Jews have dropped their passivity to the scourge of anti-Semitism. Now Jews know that anti-Semitism must be confronted, exposed and squashed; silence leads to degradation and annihilation.