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May 12, 2013 7:05 am

The Church of Scotland’s War on Judaism

avatar by Ben Cohen /

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In a recent, exhaustive study of anti-Semitism, the German scholar Clemens Heni explains the significance for Christian theology of the story of Ahasver, a Jewish shoemaker in Jerusalem who, legend has it, refused Jesus a resting place as he made his way to Golgotha bearing the cross on his back. Ahasver’s punishment, says Heni, was to wander the world for eternity, an image that formed the basis for what the Nazis famously called “der ewige Jude”—”the eternal Jew.”

“The attribute ‘eternal’ cries out for redemption,” writes Heni. “For Christianity, it embodies the refusal on the part of the Jewish people to accept the coming of Jesus as the Son of God.” Of course, as Heni points out, this was a particularly strong theme throughout the Middle Ages. What’s notable, though, is that this same noxious depiction of the Jews is enjoying a new lease of life in certain sections of the Church today.

At the beginning of May, the Church of Scotland published a document entitled “The Inheritance of Abraham? A Report on the ‘Promised Land.'” Now, doing what I do, I spend a great deal of time reviewing anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic literature, and I like to think that I am passed being shocked. Reading the Church of Scotland report, was, therefore, something of a rude awakening; so immersed is the text in anti-Semitic clichés and malicious distortions of Jewish theology that I wondered whether I had been transported back to a time when people didn’t wash or brush their teeth, had a lifespan of 30 years or so, and spent their time on this earth living in fear of Jewish devils.

The purpose of the report is to dismiss the claim that the “Hebrew Bible”—heaven forbid that these people should use terms like Torah or Tanakh!—provides grounds for a privileged connection between the Jewish people and the “Promised Land,” which we Jews sinfully refer to as “Eretz Israel.” What follows is frontal assault on Jewish “exclusivism” that deploys the tired old trick of citing a Jew—in this case, Mark Braverman, an arch opponent of Zionism—in order to protect the text from accusations of anti-Semitism.

But anti-Semitic it most definitely is. Some choice excerpts:

“Braverman is adamant that Christians must not sacrifice the universalist, inclusive dimension of Christianity and revert to the particular exclusivism of the Jewish faith because we feel guilty about the Holocaust. He is equally clear that the Jewish people have to repent of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians between 1947 and 1949. They must be challenged, too, to stop thinking of themselves as victims and special, and recognise that the present immoral, unjust treatment of Palestinian people is unsustainable.”

“As long as Zionists think that Jewish people are serving God’s special purpose and that abuses by the state of Israel, however wrong and regrettable, don’t invalidate the Zionist project, they will believe themselves more entitled to the land than the Palestinian people.”

“Jesus offered a radical critique of Jewish specialness and exclusivism, but the people of Nazareth were not ready for it… Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple means not just that the Temple needs to be reformed, but that the Temple is finished.”

Let’s translate the above lines minus the academic, ostensibly reasonable tone in which they are couched: “Jews! Stop whining about the Holocaust. Stop making us feel guilty about the Holocaust. Repent, every single one of you, for the evil you have committed against the Palestinians. And, oh yeah, enough of the ‘Chosen People’ thing—you people are so arrogant, no wonder nobody likes you. Even Jesus himself ran out of patience with you…”

The moral crime committed by the Church of Scotland—and I use that phrase deliberately—is rooted not just in the trashing of centuries of Jewish learning and scholarship, nor the wholesale fabrication of a Jewish “crime” in the form of the “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians. More than all of that, this report is a declaration of war against Judaism itself. If the “Temple is finished,” then the only form of Judaism that is acceptable is the one subscribed to by collaborators like Mark Braverman, who want us to adopt an eternal posture of repentance and shame.

The report both cites and reflects the poisonous ideology of Sabeel, a Palestinian Christian institute whose mission is to attack both Zionism and Judaism. Note that Sabeel makes no distinction between Zionism and Judaism; just as the ideologues of the now dead Soviet Union insisted there was no difference between the two, so do these radical Christians. And to add grievous insult to heinous injury, Sabeel, as the Israeli organization NGO Monitor has repeatedly pointed out, receives funding from the governments, and thus the taxpayers, of countries like Sweden, The Netherlands and Canada to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The consequences of all this are clear, at least to my mind. To posit that Jews might engage in constructive dialogue with the Sabeels of this world is utterly ludicrous. They want to destroy us, and their war is a zero-sum game. Our response should be equally harsh: we must seek to destroy them.

That means confronting and exposing them every time they raise their heads, whether in the comments section of a blog or at a student meeting on a college campus. It means highlighting their ideological support for the terrorism that targets Jews solely because they are Jews—when it comes to Sabeel’s worldview, an outrage like last year’s massacre at a Jewish school in the French city of Toulouse should logically be regarded as the natural result of Jewish crimes that go back to the time of Jesus.

Above all, it means targeting their funding sources. And rather than just arguing for funding to be cut, let’s approach that aim more imaginatively. Approximately 100 million Christians today, most of them in Muslim countries, live with persecution of the most grotesque kind: pastors are locked up in Iran, churches are bombed in Nigeria, Copts are ethnically cleansed—yes!­—in Egypt. The money that would be otherwise squandered on the irredeemable anti-Semites of Sabeel, along with their global echo chamber, should be transferred into a global fund to help the persecuted Church.

In both the Jewish and Christian traditions, such an act would be regarded as both charitable and just.

Ben Cohen is the Shillman Analyst for His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Ha’aretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications.

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  • Wake up assimilated Jews! As for the rest of the world they can go and do themselves!

  • art frank

    The whole christian “thing” is based on idol worship and hatred of Jews, who rejected then and reject now, the fallacy of the messiah and man-god. The church of scotland is the embodiment of the teachings of low life martin luther. The church of scotland is a
    morally corrupt and degenerate entity.

  • Fred

    Ah! The old chestnut is used again to vilify the Jew. I wonder what happened to the Jewish intellectual who should counter all these hate mongers. The invention of new fairy tale stories with no basis seems the ground work. Palestine a figment of British invention seems to show how squatters work. Jewish proof as in Bible, Christianity & Islam seem to evaporate when it come to lies. You lie long enough with the support of Arab money it may become a false truth. I pity the Church of Scotland it seems the only way it can follow Christ by way of lies & hate.

  • Frantz

    Thank you for the interesting reports that can help us all overcome anti-Semitism. Concerning the Church of Scotland, here is the statement they posted at

    The Inheritance of Abraham? A report on the ‘promised land’

    9 May 2013

    The Church of Scotland and representatives of the Jewish Community in Scotland and the United Kingdom, held useful discussions facilitated by the Council of Christians and Jews this afternoon, Thursday 8 May. We agreed that the drafting of the report published by the Church and Society Council for discussion at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has given cause for concern and misunderstanding of its position and requires a new introduction to set the context for the report and give clarity about some of the language used.

    In particular the Church of Scotland needs to be explicit about some things that are implicit policies of the Church:
    There is no change in the Church of Scotland’s long held position of the right of Israel to exist.
    The Church condemns all violence and acts of terrorism, where ever they happen in the world.
    The concern of the Church about the injustices faced by the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories remain firm, but that concern should not be misunderstood as questioning the right of the State of Israel to exist.
    That the Church condemns all things that create a culture of anti Semitism.

    There is an equal sense of concern amongst both communities for justice and peace for all the people of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

    Sitting round the table and listening to each other more deeply has created a real opportunity for both communities to better understand each other and that this report now becomes a catalyst for continued and growing conversation.

    The two communities have agreed to work together both here and in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to continue what was a very positive dialogue.

    Church and Society Council, Church of Scotland
    Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
    Board of Deputies of British Jews
    Movement for Reform Judaism
    Rabbis for Human Rights


    A good source of information on anti-Semitism is the ADL at
    Shalom uvrakha vechag sameach!

  • thechurch of scotland should hang its head in shame –it does not speak for everyone in protestant scotland !!

  • Nadene van Staden

    I have never heard such rubbish in all my years of being a Bible Scholar.Jesus was not interested in resting until his mission was accomplished.The Book of Hebrews talks about Abraham and his promise and Jesus refered to his faith and many other writers spoke about Abraham and the promises given by God.
    I dont agree with David as once Mary and Joseph had enrolled and registered in Jerusalem decreed by Casear
    they went home to Nazareth where Jesus learnt to do woodwork .
    The sad thing is that most of the so called teachers of Christianity do not stick to our Masters teaching hence all the confusion.

  • Vivienne Leijonhufvud

    What can we expect from the Scots. In Scotland there is high Muslim population! But us for us Jews, in their opinion we are meaner than they are! They rejected Catholics, their first King whose name I can’t remember, though I remember his crimes. Murdered the pregnant Queen of the English King to ensure no British King would sit on a Scottish throne! However, a Scottish King sat on a British throne many times. James the first re-wrote the Bible! Need one say more!

  • Frank P. Mintz

    I believe I am speaking objectively when I tell you that Presbyterianism (which I assume in the U.S. is Scots-derived) has never been particularly sympathetic to Judaism or Zionism–despite the propensity of upwardly mobile, prosperous Jews to attend its services or marry into it. One should not expect the (at least outward) enthusiam for things Jewish or for the “People of Israel”
    that you may encounter among U.S. evangelicals. You may consult “Palestine is our Business,” by Millar Burrows
    in the late 1940s, which attempted to mold public opinion away from partition in Palestine as an example; late night TV broadcasts by a Presbyterian minister, I recall, designated Old Testament Judaism as a religion of darkness, which Paul rejected for the religion of light, turning humanity in the right direction. A notable exception (later in life) was the fundamentalist Presbyterian, Dr. Carl McIntire, who after Israel’s overwhelming victory in the 1967 war, strove energetically to turn the American right to a pro-Israel position. But he was not mainstream.

  • Joel Steinberger

    The Church Of Scot;and, like so many other organizations and individuals around the world, has swallowed the Palestinian narrative, not because of its inherent truth, but because it allows them to justify their pre-existing “Christ killer” hatred of the Jews.

    At this time in history, when Christianity is experiencing the reduction of its world influence, particularly in Europe and America, while at the same time witnessing the rise of Islamist Jihad, it is wise to understand that the demise of Israel will also bring with it the end of Christianity itself.

    Both Christianity and Judaism at last share this common destiny if they do not stand together and recognize Islam as a common threat to the Judeo-Christian tradition.

  • Alexandra

    I can assure you that there are those of us in Scotland who are challenging this section of the church on a regular basis. If it wasn’t for us and the world wide condemnation of these people’s views (totally un-Biblical)they would not have been altering their document. I know there are many ministers who also hold a Biblical view of the Jewish right to the land and who love Israel. There are also Bible believers starting to leave the church and forming congregations. I don’t expect a Scotland-wide walkout of believers as in the 1840s as false teaching is so wide spread. My daughter and I walked out of a service yesterday because it was promoting Christian Aid and Tearfund, both of which espouse anti-Semitic beliefs.

  • Richard Sherwin


    Nobody loves Jews.
    Southerners call us niggers
    turned-inside-out, and
    Blacks call us the oppressor-
    and Capitalists
    call us commies, and the Reds
    call us zionist-
    capitalists, and Christians
    call us the earthy
    (euphemism for sex-mad
    rapists…damned, of course)
    and what the Arabs call us, well,
    they’ve mastered unprintables.

    Nobody loves us.
    If God hadn’t chosen us
    no one would have. Some-
    how we don’t exactly bring
    the sweetest out of people.
    I’d almost suspect
    the world was right if I thought
    its words eternal.

    Oops! arrogantly
    I forgot the master charge:
    arrogance of a
    parasite whose servile smile
    hides Count Dracula behind.
    Ah, well. If the world
    prefers to live B-Movies
    how dispute its taste?

    What can one do with pagans
    who never met a real Lord?

  • Stuart Hersh

    Braverman’s reported statement: “Jesus offered a radical critique of Jewish specialness and exclusivism, but the people of Nazareth were not ready for it… Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple means not just that the Temple needs to be reformed, but that the Temple is finished.” is not new.

    Hitler used this Christian motif constantly, in his writings and speeches. For example:
    1. In Mein Kampf He wrote (Chapter 11, Race and People): “And the Fouunder of Christianity made no secret indeed of His estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary He drove these enemies of the human raceout of the Temple of God….”
    2. Hitler’s Munich Speech – April 12, 1922. (as published in the April 22, 1922 edition of Der Volkisher Beobachter: “As a Christian and as a man with boundless love, I read the passage whichh told how the Lord finally gathered His strength and used the whip in order to drive the money-changers, the vipers, and the cheats from the temple.”

    In summation, Mr. Braverman appears to be an extremist self-hating Jew whose desires to see Judaism (as symbolized by his reference to the Temple) destroyed. Since the Jewish collective exists bound by a religious identity, destruction of Judaism becomes a euphemism for physical destruction of the Jews (even if that is not Mr. Braverman’s intent). Anti-Zionism is merely one side of the same coin.

  • Carol

    Thanks for this article. I had no idea.

  • James
  • Jack Rescoe

    Take heart, Ben Cohen. I am a Christian who loves Jews and Zionism as much as I love anyone. I don’t understand the world condition these days. Perhaps it is humankind’s loss of its bearings; its moral compass. Keep the faith & we will prevail.

  • Fredric M. London

    Don’t confuse bigots with the facts. They obviously have trouble grasping any concept conceived after 1500. The Church of Scotland, and the Church of England, are morally bankrupt. Their leaders are delighted to return to the good old days of Jew hating. If G-d had meant for them to think, he would have given them brains.

  • Al Talena

    The Church of Scotland reeks from anti-Semitism. The only thing missing in their hideous philosophy is the a call for good Christians to give Jews a choice: forceful conversion or the stake.

  • Elliott

    I hardly think it’s worth wasting our time on such anti-semitic drivel – but, having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed Archbishop Cranmer of the C of E’s excoriation of the C of Scotland report ( ), which they have since agreed to reword to affirm they never doubted Israel’s right to exist…( )

    • Daniel

      Just by the way, Archbishop Cranmer isn’t actually of the C of E or at least he hasn’t been since 1556 when he died. the blog you link to is a conservative blogger writing under a pseudonym. I fear that the actual C of E is pretty much in sync with the C of S on this subject as they also support Sabeel..

  • Harold Gee

    It is very appropriate that the “Report…” has just this moment been shown up by Ben Cohen when we read the first Sedra in Bamidbar dealing with Jewish tribal encampments in the Desert and their individual numbers, and the Haphtora, namely Hosea Chapter which I know from experience is popular even with the Church, including the Church of Scotland. As Hosea-Chap.2 states and implies that in the Desert the Jews were counted but in the future it would not be possible to count them because they would be too many to count ie the Jews of the world spread all over earth. Then coming to the main point here, “And in place of when it will be said of them (i.e Church of Scotland and Arabs of today etc.) you are not my people,say of them the children of the Living G-d.”
    The remainder of the Chapter fits in exactly with the Jewish exile throughout the world and over the milleniums,even though Hosea who lived in the north of Israel actually prophesied before the Assyrian exile of the 10 Tribes.

  • david

    Its not true that the people of nazereth rejected Jesus. Nobody lived there till the 3rd century. Another fiction in the Jesus fabrication. Archaeological studies con firm…Google it.