- Pathfinder

Reply To: Why is it important for Christians to keep the sad history of Christian antisemitism in mind when responding to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the present?

Rhya Stepanova

Of course, examining the past helps to guide the future, however, when examining the context of Christian antisemitism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is also the matter of connection. Christians are tragically connected to the push for Zionism through the Christian role in antisemitism, but it is also through this connection that Christians can garner sympathy and support towards the Jews. It is through establishing an emotionally driven connection that truly creates the spark that fuels the flames of passion.

For example, it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I felt and understood the horrors of antisemitism through the devastation of the Holocaust. I knew of the Holocaust, but I hadn’t had an emotional connection until I was visiting Yad Vashem in Israel. While zigzagging through the museum, I felt just a small bit of the torture experienced by my Jewish brothers and sisters and was able to sympathize with the victims on a human level. Do not get me wrong, I by no means intend to compare my suffering to that of the Jews, but I did feel a connection. I felt a connection in the story of a seven-year-old survivor by imagining one of my seven-year-old triplets suffering the same fate. I felt a connection to a Jewish woman in Kiev, standing before a ditch of knotted bodies, waiting for a bullet in the head by envisioning my husband’s grandmother, a Jew that escaped Kiev just as the Einsatzgruppen arrived.

Christians are connected to Jews, not only as an Abrahamic religion, but through the long suffering of the Jewish people. It is through knowing the Christian role in antisemitism and the knowledge that without Christianity, antisemitism would not be the monster that it has become, and then using this knowledge to spark the flame of passion needed for discernment…the passion needed to engage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.