Much ado has been made over Dennis Prager’s prediction of sorts that allowing a Muslim politician to swear on the Koran is going to bring civilization down about our collective heads. In a defense of Prager, Kathleen Parker writes:
Hoisting the red flag, as Prager has done, isn’t an act of bigotry Ã¢â‚¬â€ or even schmuckery. It is the understandable reflex of a man, who, as Prager himself puts it, knows that a Bible-swearing nation has been, and will be, a better place for Jews to live than one that swears on the Quran.
I’m often mystified by Ms. Parker, but this just really takes the cake. Ms. Parker is either genuinely ignorant of the history of Christian persecution of Jews or believes the rest of us rarely read anything deeper than the comics. A simple overview of the persecution of Jews by Christians via their states clearly shows why Jews not only want the state of Israel, but need it.
Christians went on the warpath from the beginning. The Christian texts, written before the rise of Christianity in Rome, bluntly states the following about Jews:
“You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your fatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44
This verse in addition to others and combined with the common belief that Jews were/are responsible for the execution of Jesus is the historical basis for Christian persecution of Jews stretching back in time to the fourth century. And wherever the Christians have ruled, the Jews have suffered and suffered greatly [PDF]
That said, it cannot be denied that there were times and areas under Christian rule where Jews were not persecuted. However, it was the secularization of those Christian nations that led to the greatest collective jump forward in the rights of Jews. The Christian leaders lost their ability to dictate the laws and the public began to choose secular rules that applied to all people, not just the Chosen.
Thus, contrary to Prager and Parker, it is not the nation that demands people swear on a book that is the basis for centuries of Jewish persecution that is a “better place” for the Jews. If anything, a major swing towards Christian Nationalism (which is what the “War on Christianity” is about reestablishing) is a severe threat when it comes to Jews. We need look no further than the subject of Parker’s defense to realize this:
But for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament, and the many secular elected officials have not believed in the Old Testament either.”
This might be so, but who here can someone like Rabbi Cohen swearing on the Bible instead of the Talmud? Can anyone wrap their head around an Orthodox Jew doing such a thing? I’ll wager that not many can. So, why did the Jews in Prager’s version of American history swear on the Bible, instead of the Talmud? We need to look no further than American history.
While American Anti-Semitism has rarely become extremely violent, it did (and does) exist. The earliest known act of anti-Jewish behaviour on the part of America dates to the Civil War. Both sides in that conflict accused the Jews of abetting the other side. General Grant even issued an order that Jews be expelled from parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi.
Some states refused to let Jews vote. American Jews were subject to defacto social and economic discrimination. They were restricted in their choice of employment, their choice of residence and even their choice of recreation. There were various movements to restrict them from immigrating to the United States or destroying whatever influence (real or imagined) they obtained. Stringent quotas kept the number of Jews enrolled and employed in colleges and universities to a bare minimum.
The Anti-Semitism hit its peak in the 1920s and 30s with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the publishing of anti-Jewish works by Henry Ford and the radio speeches by Father Coughlin.
These strains of Anti-Jewish thought continue to this day though they are no longer privileged with access to the minds of every American. And nearly all are based in Christian mythology concerning Jews and Judaism. Jews are not safe in a country that is ran by Christian Nationalists which is exactly what every right wing Christian group is at heart.
Jews are only safe when the countries they live in refuse to bow to Christian Nationalists and explicitly acknowledge and reject the historical (and current lest we forget) persecution of Jews.
A secular nation devoid of mandatory religious speech is quite frankly the safest place for us all.