Last summer, I had an occasion to visit a synagogue. I had preached in protestant churches for forty-three years and had never attended a Jewish worship service. Well, that is not entirely true. When Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, the local synagogue invited the public to a memorial service, so I went. As you might imagine, it was a moving experience. But, I had never participated in a regular Sabbath day service.
So, I invited myself to attend Friday night worship with a Jewish friend. My biggest surprise was encountering two armed guards at the door. When my host saw me staring, somewhat in shock, at loaded pistols worn by greeters at a house of worship, he apologized. I said nothing, but I was thinking that the apology needed to come from my side. The thought that in Atlanta, in 2008, his pre-school daughters had to walk through armed guards, with weapons showing, in order to be safe in worship made me aware that anti-Semitism was not yet dead. I was embarrassed and later sent the synagogue a small check to help pay for those guards.
At the same time, I think the state of Israel, created as an answer to anti-Semitism, has become the cause and source of anti-Semitism’s revival. That insight is not original nor limited to me. Twenty years ago, Yehoshafat Harkabi, former Israeli Chief of Military Intelligence referring to Israel’s treatment of non-Jews, wrote:
Israel threatens not only Israel but Jews throughout the world. These actions weaken the Jew’s ability to defend themselves against anti-Semitism. It would be a tragic irony if the Jewish State, which was intended to solve the problem of anti-Semitism, was to become a factor in the rise of anti-Semitism. Israelis must be aware that the price of their misconduct is paid not only by them but also by Jews throughout the world. In the struggle against anti-Semitism, the front line begins in Israel.
Just last month, Alan Hart, referring to Ariel Sharon’s harsh treatment of the Palestinians in an effort to break their will and crush their hope, referenced Harkabi’s fears, and wrote:
What Harkabi had feared could happen was happening. Israel’s “misconduct” was awakening the sleeping giant of anti-Semitism…The possibility of a new and virulent wave of anti-Semitism being provoked by Israel’s behaviour at some point in a foreseeable future was a real one.
It’s time to admit that Zionism is a failure. Zionism was built upon the proposition that there was no place on earth where Jews could live in security. Thus, they needed their own theocratic state… in Palestine. The truth of the matter is that Jews then and now have lived all over the world in peace and security. Today about 16 million Jews have chosen to live outside Israel, compared to the six million now living in Israel and in illegal settlements. There has never been a time when there were not more Jews choosing to live in America than in Israel, including now. (And I am glad. One of my favorite doctors is Jewish.)
And why have Jews not chosen to live in Israel? Two reasons, I think. First is that Israel is a Zionist state, not a Jewish state. Zionism violates the moral and ethical values which make up the heart of Judaism.
Also, Zionism fans the flames of anti-Semitism which has plagued Jews throughout their entire history.
I belong to a group called the North Georgia Progressives. (Some people think the name itself is an oxymoron.) Next month, we are having a speaker from the Anti- Defamation League of B’nai B’rith who is to speak to us about anti-Semitism. I will be very respectful. After all, I will be introducing him and praying for his effectiveness. Anti-Semitism is a sick and sinful evil and should be put to death. But, if he equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, I will caution him that he might be waking up the sleeping giant which should be left to die in its sleep.
August 22, 2009
 Yehoshafat Harkabi, Israel’s Fateful Hour, (Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1988.) p. 220.
 Alan Hart, Zionism, The Real Enemy of the Jews, Volume One (Clarity International,, Atlanta, 2009) p. 40.
 According to the American Jewish Yearbook, Vol. 50, by the end of 1949, there were a million Jews living in Israel compared to five million living in the US.