On June 3, Catholic New York reported that the play Jesus Was His Name had been postponed because "some have termed the production anti-Semitic." As part of a 31-city American tour, this production has already been shown in about one-fourth of these cities. Why is it that only in New York City the supposedly anti-Semitic character of the play was discovered? And who has made this "spectacular" discovery? Who else but an organization calling itself the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Christians should not be intimidated by these hollow accusations and should from now on take suspiciously everything this organization does, says or writes. This organization has been illegally spying for the last 40 years on as many as 12,000 individuals, among them Yigal Arens, the son of former Israeli defense minister, and 950 groups, among them NAACP, Greenpeace, Peace Now, which are neither anti-Semitic nor violent. On the West coast, where this spying campaign was discovered last February, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Examiner talked about it fairly regularly, while on the East coast this major scandal remained largely ignored in the press. The paper that publishes "All the News That's Fit to Print" didn't see fit to assign a reporter to the case and managed to bury the story with misleading headlines twice on page 38 and 24 on a Sunday when the paper has more than ten sections.
If ADL can have its way it would have probably labeled the whole New Testament as being anti-Semitic. It must be understood that Jesus was a Jew, his disciples were Jews and they evolved in a Jewish milieu. Therefore, the constant reference to Jews in the Gospels and in Christian antiquity is unavoidable. To interpret this as anti-Semitism is to display a total ignorance of the Christian message. Jesus said: "I came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets," but He also said: "I give you a new commandment." His disciples who didn't fully understand His message until much later were torn between their Jewish heritage and the Good News. It took someone like Paul, a Jew and a citizen of Rome, to show Peter that Judaism cannot be the bridge that Gentiles have to cross to be Christians. The word "Jews" is not mentioned even once in the Profession of Faith adopted by the Council of Nicea in 325. This doesn't mean that the Jewish origins of Christianity are to be disparaged. On the contrary, the Messiah finally came to allow every human being who believed in Him to become a member of the Chosen People. Biology is no more the criterion, but faith in Jesus Christ. Only a mind obsessed with contemporary Middle East politics, like that of ADL's people, can see anti-Semitism where there is none. For the ADL to be cured of this disease it has to stop politicizing religion.
June 10, 1993]