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If It Is Antisemitic to Complain About Israel, then the Hebrew Prophets and Jesus Were All Antisemitic.

IF it is antisemitic to complain about Israel — to censure or react against horrific behavior by Israel and its leaders — THEN these Bible writers are all anti-Semitic and should all be despised and rejected.

If it is antisemitic to complain about IsraelIf it is antisemitic to complain about Israel —
to censure or react against horrific behavior by Israel and its leaders —
THEN by that standard these Bible writers are all anti-Semitic and should all be despised and rejected.
BUT IT IS NOT antisemitic to complain about or try to interfere with vile, wicked behavior by the government of Israel and in particular its leaders.

A) It is in clear truth ok, and necessary, to point out wickedness in Israel and its leadership, as these Bible authors did.
B) Also, let us take warning for ourselves and our own nations.

WE need to listen to these prophetic complainers, and understand their complaints, because we’d better not be guilty of similar evils (injustice, oppression, expropriation, murder) or we may be similarly held to account for our sins.
So — Look how the Bible talks about Israel!!

Antisemitic Hebrew Prophets?

What IS “antisemitism”?

– “Feeling or showing hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a cultural, racial, or ethnic group” (Miriam-Webster online dictionary)
– “Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish).”  (The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism website)
– “Criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic” (“Defining Antisemitism” page of the US Dept of State website)

I see these Hebrew prophets as “antisemitic” ACCORDING TO A STRONG IDEA afloat in our culture, that any criticism of Israel (or certain Jews) is antisemitic.

But the point is, THAT IDEA IS NOT TRUE. It is NOT antisemitic to complain about specific actions or attitudes of specific individuals or agencies, regardless of their national, racial, or religious self-identification.


“A people whose guilt is great.”

The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.
Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him. (Isaiah 1:3-4)

Your Hands are Full of Blood!

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood! stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.  (Isaiah 1:15-17)

Say it out loud!

Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God. (Isa 58:1-2)

There IS Hope.

If you do away with the yoke of oppression
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame. (Isaiah 58:9-11)


Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel,
the city where David settled!
Yet I will besiege Ariel
; she will mourn and lament …
I will encamp against you on all sides …
Brought low, you will speak from the ground;
your speech will mumble out of the dust …
These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me. (Isaiah 29:1-4,13)

Micah, Hosea, and Jeremiah

“Criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”

They Covet Fields and Seize Them

Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds!
At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.
They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them.
They defraud people of their homes, they rob them of their inheritance.
… I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves.
You will no longer walk proudly, for it will be a time of calamity. (Micah 2:1-3)

You Rulers Who Build Zion With Bloodshed

Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel,
who despise justice and distort all that is right;
who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness
… (Micah 3:9-10)

“This Judgment is Against You”

Hear this, you priests!
Pay attention, you Israelites!
Listen, royal house! This judgment is against you: (Hosea 5:1)

Shedding Innocent Blood

Your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain,
on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.” (Jeremiah 22:15-17)


“Such Men Will Be Punished Most Severely.”

Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes
and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces
and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.
They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers.
These men will be punished most severely. (Lk 20:45-47)

Angry at Violent Religious Hypocrisy

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” (Mark 3:4-5)

IF it is antisemitic to complain about Israel

— specific behaviors that are oppression, expropriation, and genocide —
then the Bible’s Hebrew prophets and Jesus himself are clearly antisemitic.
But they are not. They LOVE their people, their tradition, their religion. We must allow that reality as we think about Israel’s current oppressions and genocide. I’m completely confident the burden of these prophets would vigorously criticize Netanyahu and his government, AND their cowardly enablers on this side of the Atlantic.


See Also, Here on PublicChristian:
Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin du Mez: Evangelicals’ 2 Saviors, Jesus or Trump; Choose Wisely.
Can We Love Our Problem Nation – Like Jeremiah Did?

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