The US Senate Antisemitism Resolution: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

On June 13, 2019, a joint resolution was introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, and Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, and on June 14, it passed unanimously! The resolution is a short document that unequivocally denounces antisemitism. It comes less than three months after the House brought another resolution of the sort, but changed the wording at the last minute to speak of "bigotry of all kinds" instead of clearly denouncing antisemitism. This is a bold and necessary move in the right direction at a time in our history when global antisemitism is increasing exponentially on a daily basis.

That resolution is definitely a move in the right direction.  It uses words that cannot be misconstrued. The opening statement says " Antisemitism is a unique form of prejudice stretching back millennia that attacks the equal humanity of the Jewish people." It is indeed very unique and history's longest lasting hatred against one specific group of people. We need to take a close look at that bi-partisan resolution that was just passed unanimously. Indeed, we need to look at the good, the bad and the ugly! Let's start with the ugly.

What I think is very ugly, is the fact that we even have to pen such a resolution in 2019. How long will the Jewish people have to suffer unmerited persecution before the world wakes up to the reality of antisemitism? It is so despicable to have to come up with a resolution condemning antisemitism in all its forms, just a few months after a similar attempt was made, but watered down in its verbiage. It is pathetic that Senator Cruz would even have to list some of the myths that have been believed about the Jewish people. To be sure, I do not criticize Senator Cruz' initiative, but rather the fact that he would even have to delineate what antisemitism has done over the last two millennia.

One of the reasons why such a resolution is needed, as Mr. Cruz so clearly stated is that "Unfortunately, we're living in an era where the need for a strong and clear condemnation of antisemitism has become acute." The world has become desensitized to the hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Antisemitism is undergoing a transformation, a normalization that is making it more acceptable by the masses. How long before those who fight antisemitism become the very victims of the Jew haters? Not too long I am afraid. So now, let 's talk about the bad.

My goal is certainly not to denigrate the effort made by senators Cruz and Kaine, they are certainly very commendable. Yet, when I read the resolution, which is almost identical to what we call a "bill", I see a great list of condemnations that are all on point, and an extremely short closing statement reading " Resolved, That the United States condemns and commits to combatting all forms of antisemitism." As commendable as the resolution is, its conclusion is weak and definitely open-ended. It goes without saying that the purpose of such a resolution is to "condemn" antisemitism. As to the commitment to "combatting all forms of antisemitism", it sounds great, but these statements almost always remain that; statements! Condemning and combatting do go hand-in-hand, but few people end-up combatting.

If and when the bill becomes a law, then it can be to be enforced with all the consequences attached to its breaking. But, we are not there and we might never get there. Before it even has a chance of becoming a law, there should be some guidelines as too how people will be penalized, indicted and even convicted if and when they commit acts of antisemitism.

What the resolution fails to do is:

• Define the difference between antisemitism and freedom of speech.

• Define different levels of antisemitism such as thoughts, words or deeds. While the driving force behind it may be the same, there is a difference between calling someone a "dirty Jew" and throwing a Jew out the window as happened recently in France to Sarah Halimi,

• Define how the opponents of antisemitism will combat it. Real fines and real prison sentences need to be clearly established to deter potential perpetrators. Additionally, the law must be enforced when antisemitism acts are identified.

By now, you are probably asking yourself if there is anything left that would qualify as "good" in this resolution? The good in all of this is that we still have some politicians who care enough to speak up. They are not the majority, but they exist and they need to be recognized. It must be noted that support for Israel and a desire to fight antisemitism is easier to find among conservatives and evangelicals. This doesn't mean that the fight is one-sided. The bi-partisan aspect of this new resolution would prove the opposite.

That some people would recognize the gravity of the situation is encouraging, but the road to the eradication of antisemitism is long and chaotic. Obstacles such as political correctness, multiculturalism or fear of offending "anything Islam" are constantly in the way. Senator Ted Cruz was heard, and the resolution was passed. Now comes the hard part, combatting the beast in ways that can be measured before that resolution becomes another obscure number in the crowded pantheon of political rhetoric.

Southern Baptists support Israel "for such a time as this!"

The Southern Baptist Convention (the largest evangelical denomination in America), just passed a resolution that boldly proclaims support for Israel. This is not highly unusual for the SBC that has a solid reputation for supporting Israel and the Jewish people. Yet, it comes at a time when other evangelical denominations such as PC USA have chosen to pledge allegiance to the Palestinian cause and are heavily promoting its narrative with whatever baggage comes with it (Christian Palestinianism, BDS, Campus Intifada to name a few.)

The SBC has a long history of biblical support of Israel coming from a rather conservative and mostly dispensational view of the land and its people. That biblical foundation can be found in the new resolution, especially in articles 1-4, 8 and 11 reading as follows:
• The Old Testament declares God’s promise to Abram, “I will make you into a great nation…. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1–3)
• Israel represents the descendants of Jacob as an ethnic, cultural, and national entity (Genesis 32:28)
• The New Testament affirms that salvation is from the Jews and that God’s Word concerning Israel will be fulfilled (John 4:22; Romans 9–11)
• We are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the salvation of Israel (Psalm 122:6–7; Romans 10:1)
• We thankfully remember that we are indebted to the Jewish people, who gave us much of our Bible and our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
• At this critical time when dangerous forces are mounting up against the nation of Israel, we recommit ourselves to pray for God’s peace to rule in Jerusalem and for the salvation of Israel, for the Gospel is “God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew” (Romans 1:16).

This 2016 resolution (#5) is different because it is extremely bold. It clearly speaks out against the vile agenda of the new antisemitism. The biblical approach taken by SBC regarding Abraham, the Jewish people and Jerusalem has become somewhat of an expected position by the SBC–not that every single one of its sixteen million members adhere to it in one accord. But this wan't just a theological resolution, it was also a political move by SBC, as delineated in articles 5, 6 and 9. This is what makes it very unique:
• The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement seeks to isolate the nation of Israel economically and socially.
• We are concerned by anti-Israel activities in this country within certain university campuses, academic and professional associations, and popular culture.
• We support the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state and reject any activities that attack that right by promoting economic, cultural, and academic boycotts against Israel.

SBC made a bold statement against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. To date, twenty three US states as well as some evangelical denominations have taken a stand against BDS. More and more people are seeing the destructive agenda of the Palestinian Authority through the BDS propaganda. They are also realizing that it is extremely biased at best and certainly seldom relying on factual truth if ever! I would have liked to see the SBC statement to read more like: "The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement seeks to unjustly isolate the nation of Israel economically and socially. But even without that clarification, their statement is already going further than many other denominations.

Continuing its political stand for Israel, the SBC resolution also denounced the [antisemitic] activities across many American university campuses. This is also known as Campus Intifada and is more present on the West coast in places like UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Irvine. It consists of pro-Palestinian groups gathering on US campuses where antisemitic speakers come to boldly accuse Israel. These are US university campuses you say...So what about Freedom of Speech? I would tend to agree, except that when pro-Israel groups or speakers attempt to speak or simply dialogue, they are harassed and abused with very little disciplinary action from university faculty or management.

It was very brave for the Southern Baptist Convention to put out such a resolution. The current evangelical trend is to not show support to Israel. Christian Zionists are turning into Christian Palestinianists as the biblical narrative is increasingly suffering from historical revisionism. This is why conferences like Christ at the Checkpoint are becoming more and more attractive to mainstream evangelicals including "once reputable" names such as Hank Hanegraaff.

This pendulum swing creates a grave danger for Israel and diaspora Jews at a time when they already suffer from a resurgence of violent antisemitism. Jewish people suffer at the hands of the liberal left, the extreme-right AND radical Islam. Biblical Christianity understood and applied properly should offer a "No-Strings-Attached" sanctuary to Jews worldwide. In light of current events and the rise of End-Times antisemitism, the SBC made a very unpopular move. In other words, they made a biblically correct move, knowing very well that it was politically incorrect. Jews and Southern Baptists might still disagree on who the Messiah is but this obviously doesn't negate the Southern Baptists' unconditional love for Israel, simply because the SBC answers to a higher authority and takes the Bible very seriously. They made the right move for such a time as this!

The Relentless Pressure of Palestinian Opportunism!

We are approaching the time of the year when the United Nations meet in New York at the end of September. This year, the General Assembly will meet from Sept 28-Oct 6. As in previous years, the Palestinian Authority will do anything in their power to push for recognition by the United Nations. Considering the plethora of resolutions against Israel–being accused of crimes against humanity towards the Palestinians–the vote should be a no brainer, right?

While it hasn't happened yet, international recognition of Palestine is closer than ever before. Palestinian opportunism has a lot to do with that. But why are we closer in 2015 than we were in 2014? For this we have to review how much has happened since the last United Nations General Assembly of September 2014. Palestine currently holds a seat at the UN with a "non-member permanent observer" status.

Sweden was the first Western European country to officially recognize the State of Palestine in October of 2014. They joined the only two other EU countries that already had made that move; Malta and Cyprus. It is interesting to note that Sweden's move took place only a few months after the end of the 2014 Gaza War, at a time that common sense should have dictated the opposite. Sweden has long been know for its near all inclusive tolerance of immigrants. This has of course not alleviated the current danger of extreme Islamism in the country.

There are currently 136 countries that have recognized Palestine, but each attempt at a UN vote has been vetoed by the United States. Today, only the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe are still resisting recognizing Palestine, although most of them would follow the United States if they chose to vote yes at the UN.

On April 1, 2015 (no joke here), the Palestinian Authority became an official member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in La Hague, Netherlands. They [The Palestinian Authority] expect the ICC to investigate Israeli war crimes during the 2014 Gaza War. If the ICC does its job ethically, this is a move that could eventually backfire for the PA.

Of course, the Vatican also made the news as they joined Sweden when a treaty was signed between the Palestinian Authority and the Vatican in June of 2015 leading the Holy See to officially recognized Palestine. The treaty took fifteen years and three popes to be ratified, but it is now official. So much so that the current pope used the expression "angel of peace" in a conversation about Mahmoud Abbas.

Additionally, France has been working very hard for a while, preparing a draft for a UN resolution to be passed this coming September. The same France whose Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after the January 2015 terrorist attack that "France without Jews is not France", seems very interested in throwing Israel under the bus. If one was to look at the level of anti-Semitism in France alone, the push for the recognition of Palestine would come as no surprise.

So now, the PA is again on the threshold of pushing for a United Nation recognition. Yet, in their neverending opportunism, they have come-up with one more ploy to force the UN into compliance. This one involves the raising and flying of two flags. This seems so insignificant, yet I think it is devious at best.

Around the time of the United Nation Assembly, Pope Francis is scheduled to make his first visit to America. There are only two "entities" that have the status of a "non-member permanent observer" at the UN; the Vatican and the Palestinian Authority. The latter has chosen to make a clear statement by requesting that both flags be raised and flown at the time of the pope's visit. I doubt that the pairing of the flags have anything to do with respect for the pope or Catholicism. Instead, the Palestinian Authority decided to "piggy back" on the pope's visit to make it very difficult to say no to one and yes to the other or even worse, no to both and offend the pontiff. It would appear that yes to both is the only outcome possible. Time will tell.

This might not appear to be a major political move, yet it is just one more small step towards a (not so) forced recognition of the Palestinian State by the world. Frankly the more dangerous aspect of this year's attempt at recognition is the French push. It includes a proposal for a divided Jerusalem capital and Israel boundaries going back to pre-1967. If Mr. Obama chooses to back France on their proposed resolution, most if not all of the rest of the non-supporting countries would change sides. This would give instant validation to a group of people run mostly by terrorists and funded by anti-Semitic, anti-American states like Iran. Not to mention the fact that it would squish Israel further into the current Middle East vise– its aim being the complete eradication of the Jewish State.

We are only a few weeks away and there is still time to pray for a reversal of the Iran deal as well as again, a veto on the Palestinian State recognition by the UN. In the meantime, I cannot help but remember God's promise that He would punish all those who go after Israel. America might not be in the Bible by name but it is clearly in the Bible by deeds. Punishment awaits those who turn their back on Israel (Genesis 12:3, Joel 3:2, Zechariah 12:9).

I will gather all the nations And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; And they have divided up My land (Joel 3:2)