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January 19, 2015 12:12 pm

Anti-Christian Prejudice: The Last Acceptable Form of Bigotry

avatar by Ari Morgenstern / JNS.org

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A Coptic church in Egypt. Photo: ctsnow.

Few (if any) people have suffered the consequences of bigotry as have the Jews. This tragic reality has taught us some lessons, chief among them: Never Again. Likewise, our history has taught us that as Jews, we should be the first to stand up to bigotry wherever it lurks. And I’m proud to say that we are often at the forefront of the effort to stamp out prejudice. But at times, we forget that first and foremost, our community itself must not be guilty of xenophobia. When it comes to anti-Christian prejudice, we have failed. In some parts of our community, such is the last acceptable form of bigotry.

For example, Eli Valley, a contributing editor to the Jewish Daily Forward, recently tweeted a link to an article about a Christian individual who was indicted by Israeli authorities for allegedly seeking to attack Muslim holy sites. Valley prefaced the link with the statement, “I guess this casts a pall over the @CUFI (Christians United for Israel) annual gala.”

I sent an email to Forward editor Jane Eisner and publisher Sam Norich expressing my dismay at Valley’s disgusting remark. “To use the action of one—likely mentally disturbed—individual to cast aspersions about an entire faith group is bigotry, plain and simple,” I wrote.

I further noted that this is not the first time Valley has displayed his hatred for Evangelical Christians on his Twitter feed, and that he has even been allowed to advance his prejudice on the pages of the Forward—through a cartoon described at the time by David Hazony in Commentary Magazine as a “ferociously repugnant” item that used “grotesque caricatures playing on dehumanizing stereotypes… .”

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Eisner was unmoved. And the crux of her response was quite candid. “The Forward cannot be held responsible for the social media conduct of its contributing editors,” she wrote.

Interestingly, the Forward‘s editorial board had a dramatically different take earlier this year when discussing the social media conduct of a former professor, Steven Salaita, who authored incendiary tweets about Israel:

“If a journalist working at a reputable news organization employed such language, he or she would be fired in a flash. Rules of conduct for social media have become a fundamental expectation in most workplaces. Not, evidently, in academia. (Emphasis added)

“Salaita’s tweets are part of his public record, a reflection of his character no less important than his reportedly stellar student evaluations of his teaching at Virginia Tech. His speech ought not to be suppressed, but it certainly can be evaluated. Universities would do well to consider how behavior on social media reflects on the characters of their scholars, especially in tenure decisions. It’s not censorship to suggest that faculty avoid offensive statements that could make the classroom toxic to students and dishonor their roles as public intellectuals.”

In her email to me, Eisner didn’t defend Valley’s bigotry. Rather, she stated the Forward is not responsible for its contributing editors’ social media statements. I won’t bother replacing all the nouns in the above excerpt, but change academia to journalism and student to reader, and you get the idea.

The double standard is clear and shameful—but so be it, one might say. After all, there will always be hypocrites and bigots in the world. But the issue is worth examining because Eisner’s hypocrisy and Valley’s bigotry are symptoms of a larger problem.

According to a July 2014 Pew Research Center poll, Jews hold exceptionally negative attitudes towards Evangelical Christians. Conversely, white Evangelicals hold exceptionally positive attitudes towards Jews. While the stereotype of the ignorant southern Evangelical might make for snarky tweets, collectively, they are far more tolerant of us than we are of them. So which community has a bigotry problem?

If we accept the logic of the aforementioned Forward editorial, had Valley used the actions of one Jew, Muslim, African American, or member of another religious/ethic group to cast aspersions on an entire community, he would’ve been “fired in a flash.” But he’s still on the Forward‘s masthead because, to my utter shame and dismay, some parts of the Jewish community consider it perfectly acceptable to demonize Evangelical Christians.

Ari Morgenstern is the communications director for Christians United for Israel.

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  • The Forward that anti Israel rag.Most of the backwards articles if you Google the names of writers you’ll find they are to the left of Jstreet.Many of their writers have ties to ‘Jewish Vices for Peace’.I think they write such articles to get hits on their site.It’s like people slowing down to watch a car accident

  • charlie johnson

    I don’t think the REAL Christians have any violet reactions nor ask politicians to form an agency to tag the anti Christian citizen with federal discrimination laws. There are extremist in every group. Even though the liberals deny their own. But I think Christians are fairly tolerant as a rule. The evidence is easy to find.After forty or fifty years Jane Fonda is in good health.Then there is this hero in the picture who just put the word out that snipers are cowards.Referring to the new movie on the US navy SEAL sniper from Texas.. This puts my tolerance to the maximum test.These are the kind who attack Christians but enjoy the prosperity and safety of this nation. ( Go to Arlington and look at the rows of tombstones and see who defends these folks freedoms.) God bless these fools.>> http://newsbusters7.s3.amazonaws.com/images/2012/October/michael_moore.jpg

    • Marco Redwolf

      Amen.. As a Jew and a combat veteran I have seen first hand the good hearts of Southern Christians as a whole not just Evangelicals. I believe that I can speak for almost every Jewish person that has served in our military. Sure there were some ignorant knuckle heads, bigots and Anti Semites, but they were the rare exception not the rule. I fear that the ignorant Hollywood Elites and east Coast Liberals that are Jewish are perceived as representing Jewish thought in the US. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      • charlie johnson

        I guess we should have all came with tougher hides as we are so easily offended by a fellow who came from a distance from our own little world.I think the Hebrews had twelve tribes and had conflicts among their own.I think those who have the power of influence in this world today enjoys our conflicts but remain isolated and elite in their own world in the land of the hypocrite.

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