American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (IM)

International Ministries Resolution On Anti-Semitism (September 2014)

BIBLICAL-THEOLOGICAL RATIONALE

Christian faith is rooted in Judaism into which believing Gentiles have spiritually been grafted. (Romans 11:17-18) We worship and follow God revealed in Jesus of Nazareth, who was born a Jew, revered the Hebrew scriptures, was crucified under the title “King of the Jews” and was buried according to Jewish burial custom. (Luke 2:1-7; Matthew 5:18; 7:12; 22:40; John 19:19; John 19:38-42) 

We believe that Jesus is the “anointed one,” the Messiah sent by God to save the world. (John 4:25-26; 3:16-17) We believe that Jesus was raised by the power of God, has sent the Holy Spirit and lives as Lord of our lives. 

As our teacher and Lord, Jesus commands us to do to others as we would have them do to us. (John 13:13; Matthew 7:12) 

MISSION CONTEXT

Jesus commissioned his followers to share the good news of God’s love and reign with all the peoples of the world. (Mark 13:10; 16:15) This good news, or “gospel,” is at the heart of God’s work to transform the world. In this work God gave a special role as agents of blessing to Abraham and Sarah and their descendants:

Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)

We have been called to glorify God in all the world by crossing cultural boundaries to make disciples of Jesus Christ while meeting human need. Our work as agents of God’s blessing continues the mission that God began with Abraham and Sarah.

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ (Galatians 3:8) 
As our faith is rooted in the faith of the Jews, our mission is rooted in their mission. 

SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS

Anti-Semitism is prejudice, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as a national, ethnic, religious or racial group. In its 2013 report monitoring human rights around the world, the U.S. Department of State noted a global rise in anti-Semitism.[1]

The State Department’s assessment is confirmed by two other current studies. 

In May 2014 the Anti-Defamation League released a report entitled The ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism. The report is “a comprehensive data-based research survey of the level and intensity of anti-Jewish sentiment across the world.” The survey, considered the largest poll ever conducted on the subject, measured anti- Semitic sentiments in over 100 countries and is the first time such a global study has been conducted. Responses to the survey’s eleven test statements indicate that more than one-quarter of those surveyed (26%) harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. This represents an estimated 1.09 billion adults around the world. Among a number of other findings, the data indicated that 70% of those who harbor anti-Semitic attitudes have never met a Jewish person.[2] 

The second report, also released in May 2014, is a study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). This is the first-ever attempt to collect comparable data from the eight member states of the European Union (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom) that are home to over 90% of the European Union’s estimated Jewish population. While the ADL study (noted above) surveyed the attitudes of non-Jewish people, the FRA surveyed Jewish people to collect data on their perceptions and experiences of anti- Semitism, hate crime and discrimination. FRA found that Jewish people continue to experience discrimination, particularly in employment and education. The data revealed that in the past 12 months, one in five respondents (21%) had personally experienced at least one incident of anti-Semitic verbal insult or harassment and/or a physical attack. The rate of victimization was highest among the youngest respondents (16–29 years old), one third of whom reported being a victim of an anti-Semitic incident in the previous 12 months.[3] 

The U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor Anti-Semitism also confirms the growth of anti-Semitism. Speaking at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, he reported that the Jewish community in France recorded a 58 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks between 2011 and 2012. In Hungary, the government is less than diligent in challenging anti-Semitic rhetoric by leaders of The Movement for a Better Hungary (“Jobbik”) which is Hungary’s second largest political party and describes itself as "a principled, conservative and radically patriotic Christian party." In Greece, the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn has been linked to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and racist activities.[4] And in Romania on December 3, 2013, a government-run TV channel broadcast a Christmas carol with anti-Semitic lyrics suggesting that Jews belong "in the chimney as smoke.”[5]   Global knowledge or denial of the Holocaust is of particular concern. The ADL found that 2 out of every 3 people surveyed “have either never heard of the Holocaust or do not believe the historical accounts to be accurate.” 

Meanwhile in 2012, anti-Semitic slogans were spray painted on the campus of Yad Vashem, Israel's main Holocaust memorial site. “Hitler, thank you for the wonderful Holocaust" was one of the slogans.[6] In 2013 author Rhonda Fink-Whitman, daughter of a Holocaust survivor, interviewed students at four Pennsylvania colleges. Few U.S. states mandate Holocaust study in high school, and Fink-Whitman’s widely viewed YouTube video powerfully illustrates the lack of knowledge about the Holocaust among her interviewees.[7] And in 2014 Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi death camp in Poland, has been hit by a wave of thefts and vandalism. An estimated 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, were killed in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.[8]   Acts of anti-Semitic vandalism and attacks continue in 2014.

  • January 2014 – an exhibition of child Holocaust victims was defaced in Paris,  France.[9]
  • March 2014 – vandals defaced the Holocaust Memorial in Philadelphia, PA.[10]
  • April 2014 – swastikas were painted on the Holocaust monument and “death to the Jews” painted on the wall surrounding a Jewish cemetery in Odessa, Ukraine. [11]
  • April 2014 – one day before Passover, shootings took place at both the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas, and at the Village Shalom Retirement Community in Leawood, Kansas. The suspect arrested for the shooting shouted a Nazi slogan. [12]
  • May 2014 – four people were killed in a shooting at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels, Belgium. [13] 

RESOLUTION 

Therefore, whereas anti-Semitism is wholly contrary to Jesus’ teaching, demeans Jesus and all people of Jewish ethnicity, disrupts and distorts our mission to be agents of God’s blessing to all the families of the earth, be it resolved that American Baptist International Ministries

  1. reaffirms the historic American Baptist stand against anti-Semitism.
  2. commends the U.S. government for appointing and maintaining a Special Envoy to Monitor Anti-Semitism.
  3. commends the Anti-Defamation League and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for their ongoing documentation of anti-Semitic attitudes and actions.
  4. commends the Baptist Union of Romania for its public denunciation of the December 2013 anti-Semitic television broadcast.
  5. commends the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey Council Executive Committee for issuing “A Statement of Solidarity with the Jewish Community” following the April 2014 shooting in Kansas. [14]
  6. urges individuals to petition their states to mandate high school teaching about the Holocaust and other forms of genocide.
  7. urges local churches to assess the knowledge of the Holocaust among their youth and provide age-appropriate, Biblically contextualized teaching within the congregation concerning the Holocaust and other forms of genocide.
  8. urges congregations in the United States and Puerto Rico as well as mission personnel and the international partners with whom they serve to use this Resolution as an occasion to reach out to Jewish neighbors and/or synagogues to build relationships of solidarity and to initiate mutual actions to confront anti-Semitic attitudes and actions. 

Adopted by American Baptist International Ministries – September 11, 2014 

POLICY BASE

American Baptist Policy Statement on Human Rights, December 1976 American Baptist Resolution Against Manifestations of Prejudice, June 1989 American Baptist Resolution on Anti-Semitism, September 1983 

END NOTES


  1. The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 issued by the U.S. Department of State.   ↩

  2. AD Global 100. http://global100.adl.org  ↩

  3. Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013. http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-2013-discrimination-hate- crime-against-jews-eu-member-states_en.pdf   ↩

  4. Forman, Iran N., “Stemming the Tide: Confronting the Rise of Global Anti- Semitism,” U.S. Department of State. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/rm/2013/210287.htm  ↩

  5. “Anti-Semitic Christmas carol broadcast on Romanian television,” United Press International, December 11, 2013.
    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2013/12/11/Anti-Semitic-Christmas-carol-broadcast-on-Romanian-television/UPI-10511386788184/ “Press release concerning intolerant and anti-Semitic remarks broadcasted on the public television,” Revista Creștinul Azi, December 15, 2013. http://revistacrestinulazi.ro/2013/12/press-release-concerning-intolerant-and-antisemitic-remarks-broadcasted-on-the-public-television/  ↩

  6. “Vandals deface Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial,” Israel Hayom, June 11, 2012. http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=4629  ↩

  7. “94 Maidens – The Mandate Video,” YouTube, September 27, 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V4bmm6yJMw  ↩

  8. Dr. Ruchama Weiss, Rabbi Levi Brackman, “Auschwitz hit with wave of thefts, vandalism,” Ynet News.com, May 6, 2014. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4516766,00.html  ↩

  9. “Des panneaux sur la déportation d’enfants juifs vandalizsés dans le 3e,” MetroNews, January 30, 2014. http://www.metronews.fr/paris/des-panneaux-sur-la-deportation-d-enfants-juifs-vandalises-dans-le-3e/mnaD!lnRivpphHbkQg/  ↩

  10. “Vandals Deface Holocaust Memorial in Philadelphia,” CBS Philly, March 12, 2014. http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2014/03/12/vandals-deface-holocaust-memorial-in-philadelphia/  ↩

  11. JTA, “ ‘Death to Jews’ Painted on Jewish Cemetery in Ukraine City,” The Jewish Daily Forward, April 9 2014. http://forward.com/articles/196298/swastika-vandals-deface-odessa-holocaust-monument/  ↩

  12. Matthew Stucker, Catherine E. Shoichet, “3 killed in shootings at Kansas City-area Jewish centers,” CNN U.S., April 14, 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/13/us/kansas-jewish-center-shooting/index.html  ↩

  13. Laura Smith-Spark, Elwyn Lopez, Pierre Meilhan, “3 dead in shooting at Jewish Museum of Belgium,” CNN World, May 24, 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/24/world/europe/belgium-jewish-museum-shooting/index.html  ↩

  14. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, “A Statement on Black Sunday – Solidarity with the Jewish People,” ABCNJ.net, April 15, 2014. http://www.abcnj.net/a-statement-on-black-sunday-solidarity-with-the-jewish-people/  ↩