At our house this year, the Saturday before Easter was also the second night of Passover, and the day my wife chose for our annual Seder. For non-Jewish readers of The Catholic Thing, that’s the traditional remembrance of the beginning of the Exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt. But it’s much more than that.
In the opening prayer of the particular Haggadah (the printed Seder ritual) that we use are these words: “May the problem of all who are downtrodden be our problem; may the concern of all who are afflicted be our concern; may the struggle of all who strive for liberty and equality be our struggle.”
The Last Supper our Lord shared with his apostles was a Seder, as, in a way, every Mass is the re-creation of that Passover meal, a celebration of our deliverance, although in this case not from the bondage of Pharaoh but from Satan and sin.
In the lands where Christianity first took root and Judaism early thrived, there are suddenly, again, many downtrodden, afflicted, and abused: people with little hope of returning to their homes – their personal promised lands – and who have little meaningful liberty or equality. These are mostly Christians, but the world’s Jews know something about their suffering. The Seder is proof of Jewish solidarity with them and of the compassion which is, has always been, and always will be at the heart of Judaism.
If only America’s liberal Jews showed such solidarity and compassion towards modern Israel!
But equally on my mind this year is the alarming worldwide resurgence of anti-Semitism. Unjust discrimination is always wrong, but it’s especially so in largely Christian nations. As Pius XI famously said, because of Christianity’s dependence on its Jewish roots, “spiritually we are all Semites.”
I always view the data of advocacy groups with some suspicion – whether it’s the Catholic League or the Anti-Defamation League [ADL] – because they’re in the business of cataloging outrages upon which fundraising depends, but I assume ADL is correct in stating that more than a billion people on the planet now harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. It’s no shock to learn that ISIS thugs are Jew-haters, but a billion people?
I thought we were over that. Most modern Seder services allude not just to the oppression in Egypt but also to the Shoah. (Since 1953 there is a specific day of commemoration, Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day; April 16 this year.) And I thought the murder of 6,000,000 would have put a stop to anti-Semitism, because what people on this earth would want to ally themselves with Nazis?
What’s especially upsetting to me personally is the degree to which non-Christians have seized the high ground in the battle against anti-Semitism. I think especially of the Anglo-Irish commentator Pat Condell, whose utterly secular commentaries are fearless in the face of the backlash he has received. Condell may sometimes overstate his case, but he’s closer to the truth than most in the mainstream media.
I don’t know how many times the quaking kiddie-kops at Facebook and YouTube have banned the guy [a link previously embedded above now leads to such a warning]. These children have been so mercilessly hectored about not only the rights of minorities but also the categorical rightness of them that they’re all but incapable of naming evil until the knife is already slicing open the jugulars, the carotids, whatever. Right now it’s Islam and not Judaism that has victim status among the so-called cognoscenti, and that’s ridiculous.
By no means do I wish to condemn Muslims as a whole, but it is the Islamofascists (ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah – more than forty such groups are listed by the State Department) who have their knives at the throats of Christians, Jews, other Muslims, and secularists. When was the last time mass murder was perpetrated in the name of Christianity or Judaism? Indeed, some Jews these days are making an eloquent case for why they should care particularly about what is happening to Christians.
Pope Francis said last year that one specific aspect of the new anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, is “madness.” That’s a simple statement of fact about people for whom facts simply don’t matter, proving, as the great Jonathan Swift put it, that it’s “useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”
This would seem to apply to Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X, recently excommunicated for a second time. Mr. Williamson calls Jews the “enemies of Christ,” believes Jews have been actively undermining the Church and has said: “I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them in gas chambers.” He is convinced The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – the purported nineteenth-century Jewish plan for world domination – is genuine. How can a man be so stupid? How can the many (I’m sure) well-intentioned members of SSPX allow themselves to be allied with such idiocy and evil? To be led by such a vile liar?
But I guess if you believe the See of Peter became vacant after 1914, you’ll believe anything.
But apparently you won’t believe the words of Nostra Aetate (1965), that “in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.”
Passover continues until Saturday. Chag Sameach!