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ON THE FUTURE OF THE JEWS: And its dependence on the future of Christianity

by Barbara Lerner


It's Holocaust Remembrance Day, and secular Europe is sick of it. Certain that they have long since been cleansed of any guilt for the sins of their fathers, Eurosecs see themselves as the very incarnation of postmodern virtue. Naturally, they reject the grotesque racist stereotypes their fathers embraced. They know today's Jews are their moral inferiors for an entirely different, entirely factual, reason: that Israel is a poisonous foreign element in the Middle East - a racist, colonial state whose 5 million Jews are oppressing the Palestinians, occupying their land, and preventing peace and progress in the 22 failed Arab states that surround them.

Wait, how can that be? Forget the Arab world. Forget ideology. Focus only on the Eurosec description of the Jews and the facts - the plain, demographic facts. Wonder with me how Israel's Jews can be either "racists" or "colonial occupiers" when 3 million of the 5 million are Mizrahi, the Jews of the East, native Semites who lived in the Middle East in Abraham's time and never left to live anywhere else? How can people whose mother tongue is Arabic or Farsi - people who have been a continuous presence in the region for 3,700 years - be foreigners? The answer, of course, is that they're Jews, and Eurosecs see Jews as a foreign element, always and everywhere - a landless foreign people. So if they're on land, it must belong to someone else, to the "natives" - Arabs who migrated to Israel in the 1940s and decided, in 1964, to usurp the old Roman name for the Jews and call themselves "Palestinians" in order to lay claim to the 24 percent of the Palestine Mandate that was left after Great Britain gave 76 percent to the Arabs to create the new state of Jordan.

Catholic Europe sees Jews differently. Even though the Holocaust was a product of secular Europe, the Church is not sick of it; it's sick about it. From the end of World War II to the present, a succession of remarkable European popes have struggled to come to grips with the Church's responsibility. Men like Giovanni Roncalli of Italy, Karol Wojtyla of Poland, and Josef Ratzinger of Germany zeroed in on the old Christian idea that, in refusing to accept Christ, Jews defy God's will and become God's enemies. These popes faced up to the fact that this idea makes Jews seem wicked and hatred of them righteous, and makes it easy for secular forces to single them out for persecution whenever secular failures call for a scapegoat. The post-war popes decided that this idea isn't just destructive, it's false. The truth, as Pope Benedict XVI proclaims it today, is that God has a purpose for the Jews, and by maintaining their fidelity to the 3,700-year-old religion of Abraham, they are not defying God's will but fulfilling it.

That would be a profoundly reassuring message if Europe were still Christian, but it's not. Eurosecs prevail from one end of the continent to the other - everywhere save, perhaps, in Poland. And in Europe, it's not just the elites who are post-Christian. The people are too. Christian faith is dying in Europe, along with the formerly Christian population. Eurosecs may be active fornicators but they're not fruitful, and their numbers are dwindling. The new Pope, Benedict XVI, is determined to change that. He's all for reaching out to Africa, Asia, and Latin America, but he chose the name Benedict for a reason. He's not about to give up on Christianity in its ancient home. Look for a major effort to re-evangelize the continent, and reconnect the people of Europe to their Christian roots. Eurosecs may snicker at the pope's mission impossible, but all men of good will should wish him well. If he succeeds, Europe may yet learn to reject Jew hatred and join John Paul II in embracing the people who gave the world monotheism as "our elder brothers."

In the long meantime, the safety of the Jewish people and the fate of the Jewish state will be decided where most great questions are decided today: in America. The great, unspoken question is whether these things will be decided by secular America or by Christian America. Secular America is a lot like secular Europe, but to a lesser degree. In postmodern Amerisec circles, outright demonization of Israel is often restricted to everybody's favorite whipping boys - "the settlers" - but the essential view of Israel and the Jews is the same, and many postmodern Jews share it. The great difference here is that this is still an overwhelmingly Christian country: Amerisecs predominate only among our elites.

Of course, those elites are sprinkled with groups like the National Council of Churches - Eurosecs with crosses who worship Abu Mazen and Fidel Castro - but the overwhelming majority of Christians in this overwhelmingly Christian nation are not like that. They worship Jesus of Nazareth, and they read the Bible. And, although Catholics are an important part of the mix, Protestants outnumber them. The largest, most rapidly growing category of Protestants are Evangelicals, and that, too, bodes well for the survival of the Jews.

Evangelical Christians share the Catholic understanding that God has a purpose for the Jews, and take it one step further by focusing on the role of the state of Israel in fulfilling that purpose. They know God promised the sliver of sacred land between the River Jordan and the sea to the Jewish people because the Bible tells them so, and millions believe He has chosen America to see that His promise - not the U.N.'s or the EU's - is fulfilled.

If you are growing uncomfortable at this point, dear reader, it may be because the Biblical claim to the Holy Land is the great unmentionable in American foreign policy. Amerisecs join with Eurosecs, the U.N., and the Arab League in insisting with lockstep unanimity that religious claims have no legitimate place in our Middle East policy, and in demonizing and dismissing any Christian or Jew who dares suggest otherwise as a dangerous fanatic, hell-bent on undermining our secular Republic and turning it into a medieval theocracy.

But to see what a perfectly senseless double standard this is, try applying it equally to Muslim Holy Lands, arguing that religious claims should play no role in determining who rules Mecca and Medina and the sacred sands around them. No Christian or Jew would dare suggest such a thing, and no self-respecting Muslim would stand for it. Even the tolerant Hanafi Muslim Turks, proud citizens of a republic as secular as our own, while they might prefer the stewardship of a sect less fanatic than the Wahabis, would be up in arms at the thought of non-Muslim rule in Saudi Arabia. Could they ever accept Jewish sovereignty over the whole of Israel as we accept Muslim sovereignty over the whole of Saudi Arabia? Ironically, they might find that easier to do than Eurosecs or Amerisecs. After all, Abraham is their father too.

Barbara Lerner is a freelance writer. She lives in Chicago but travels to Israel frequently and often writes about Israeli personalities and politics. She is a frequent contributer to National Review Online (NRO). This article appeared in NRO May 5, 2005 and is archived at


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