Demonizing the Children of Israel

Yael Eckstein  |  September 13, 2022

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But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. —Deuteronomy 26:6

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Ki Tavo, which means “when you have entered,” from Deuteronomy 26:1–29:8.

One question that I am often asked by my Christian friends is how I deal with anti-Semitism? They will ask me what it feels like to be demonized and hated just because I’m Jewish. It’s a good question, but the truth is that I don’t really let it bother me. There has always been Jew-hatred, and until the ultimate redemption, there always will be.

The story of the Jewish people is the story of God’s promises to His chosen nation. Everything that has happened throughout the long history of our nation was foretold in the Bible. And that includes anti-Semitism. So the way I see it is that we are in the same battle that the Jewish people have been in since biblical times — the battle for God.

Take the State of Israel, for example. It should be obvious to anyone that the remarkable ingathering of millions of Jews to our homeland after 2,000 years of exile is a fulfilment of the promises of the Bible. So why doesn’t everyone see it? Why do so many in the media and secular society demonize Israel and deny our right to exist? Because if they accept the legitimacy of Israel, they have to accept the truth of the Bible.

Demonizing the Children of Israel

We see in this week’s Torah portion that demonizing the Jewish people has always been used to justify our persecution. We read, “But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor.”

The Hebrew for “the Egyptians mistreated us” is vayare’u otanu hamitzrim. The literal translation should be “the Egyptians were evil to us.” But these same three Hebrew words could just as accurately be translated as “the Egyptians ascribed evil to us.” Based on this, the Jewish sages explained that this verse contains a powerful lesson about the hatred of our people.

In order to justify “mistreating” us, the Egyptians first “ascribed evil” to us, demonizing and slandering the children of Israel. And tragically, the same has been true throughout history. Those who seek to destroy Israel also must demonize and defame us to justify their attacks.

But the difference today is that there are millions of Christians worldwide who reject anti-Semitism and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jewish people in love and support. May we all continue to work together to fight Jew-hatred wherever it rears its ugly and anti-biblical head.

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