By Yaffah Batya daCosta
You see, Christian anti-Semitism (an unfortunate misnomer) is not at all Christian. Anti-Semitism existed long before Christianity. The earliest people called Christians (at Antioch, in Asia Minor) were philo-Semitic, former pagans. They were also Bnei Noach – those who were following the teachings of Paul (i.e., Saul of Tarsus, in modern day Turkey). They only worshiped the Creator, alone. And would not worship ANY other entity. This is what got them fed to the lions in the times of the Roman Imperil Cult – because they would refuse to worship the emperor, or offer incense to images of the emperor.
What I’m about to write will shock some people – for others it is well known (but they typically keep silent about it).
I will return to all of the above and explain the root cause. But for now, let me explain how I ended up on this “search for truth” that I’ve been on for about 50 years.
I started my high-tech career at the John Hancock in Boston as business programmer, and adult educator in COBOL, in the early 70’s. I had a supervisor who was showing me the ropes. We were in the Payroll and Benefits group of Information Technology. He insisted that all of his team be very honest with him about any delays, or problems we were having that might cause delays.
Then one day he decided it was time for me to have a first encounter with our internal clients (whom he called “users”). I was instructed to just listen, and ask him any questions later. During his discussions with the clients. He would never answer a direct question with a direct answer. If they asked him WHEN (an update or enhancement would be finished) he would talk about WHAT (was included in that particular update). If they asked him WHY (a particular function would not be included) he would talk about WHEN the remainder of that update would be in production.
As we walked back to our department, I asked him why he was not more direct with them. His answer was that he needed to always keep them off guard, so he would hardly ever answer any direct question. And then he said “sometimes you have to ‘dance’ so fast, they can’t see ya movin” – as he made a motion with his hand next to his mouth like he was moving a cigar back and forth (cref. Groucho Marx films).
The hypocrisy he displayed in his behavior was revolting to me. I kept silent – but then and there I decided I would not ever treat others in such a demeaning manner. I also realized I had an anti-hypocrisy bone in my body (or call it a “trigger”) that would flare up at the sight of this kind of conduct.
I understand now when that trigger was most likely created. That day was when I was sitting in a Catholic Church pew (I was 7 or 8 years old) and I heard the priest at the pulpit call the Jews “Christ killers”. My reaction was visceral as well as intellectual. Everyone knows that the Romans killed him! What kind of a lie and distortion of the facts (nonsense) was this?
In that moment I realized that priests could not be trusted, the Church could not be trusted (if they were going to tell such lies) and I wanted nothing to do with Churches, or even religion, after that. When I was 18, I abandoned just about everything in that sphere and became a devoted agnostic, for 20 years. But I also was drawn to read the Hebrew Bible (in response to that lie) and began a search for truth. This was also because of the countless Jews who were killed, or harmed, over the years, due to the charge of “deicide” (of killing God).
So began my 50- year business career, and in parallel my 50 years of studying (researching) what would cause the Roman Catholic Church to tell such a horrific lie. I ended up going all the way back to Greco-Roman culture of the late centuries of BCE, and the 1st century CE.
It turns out that during the Roman occupation of Judea, Judaism was a legal religion of an occupied country. However, pagan ideology had a difficult time with the worship of only one entity who was not visible to the human eye. They thought of it as a superstition!
So, while Judaism was tolerated, to some extent, the Jews (because they were different) were also hated. In the Roman Imperial Cult there was a magistrate called a censor. His job was to count the people, and also count their property/possessions to assess the tax they would owe (the original bean counters). But his other job was to prevent information from being disseminated within the Roman Empire that was considered a threat (and he did that via censorship).
These magistrates would also distribute what we call today propaganda – information that would present the Roman Imperial Cult’s view in a very favorable light. Some of the textual scholars today have pointed out that Pontius Pilate (the Roman governor of Judea) was a ruthless and violent ruler in his day. They say that the story of his washing his hands (due to his decision to execute an innocent man at the demand of the crowd of Jews) was very inconsistent with Pontius Pilate’s very own violent reputation. To Josephus, Pilate was removed from office, and sent back to Rome, due to his super violent tendencies in Judea.
Now, we have an outrageous contrast. ALL the Israelites were at Mt Sinai to say together “we will do, and we will listen”! Only a handful of loud voices were among the people there in Jerusalem who were clamoring for the death of the Galilean. That made it seem like ALL the Jews were against him. But those few Jews could not have represented all Jews of all times. Most Jews in the first century lived in the diaspora – all over the Roman Empire.
So, the statement that the people replied to Pontius Pilate “his blood be upon us and upon our children” is a literary device (propaganda). Because only a few Jews in Jerusalem could not have ever represented all the Jews of that day. However, that statement definitely would have satisfied the Roman censors … to have all Jews be blamed for his execution by the Romans. And this propaganda (scapegoating the Jews) was promoted, even though the Romans (as occupiers) were the only ones capable (under Roman Law) to execute any person in Judea at that time.
So, what’s the ultimate (human) cause of anti-Semitism, racism and cancel culture? It’s the development of a type of arrogance (hubris) in a human being that means if someone else believes/feels differently from myself, that I’m entitled to squash them like a bug, or treat them as sub-human, or lie, slander and libel them, and do all kinds of cancellation of them (even the type of cancellation that leads to their execution, like during the Inquisitions).
The Roman Imperial Cult had to respect and allow Judaism to exist because it was an ancient religion. But the earliest Christians could be tortured and killed by the Romans because they were former pagans, and they had rebelled against the Roman Imperial Cult, and were therefore a threat to it. Those first century writings were from the followers of a man that they thought to be the Jewish Messiah (who in Jewish thought would only be a human, and would never be an object of worship). But their words were subsequently in the very late 1st century, and in the early 2nd century, re-interpreted to mean that he was understood to actually be a god, after he died, just like the Roman Emperors were deified after they died. They called a dog’s tail a leg!
Christians was also responsible for the kidnapping of Africans and sending them to the British colonies as slaves. They believed that the African people were cursed because Noach had cursed the son of Ham. And yes, there were historically Jewish slave traders as well who bought into that lie, in those days.
Cancel culture of today is driven by human arrogance (hubris) that has caused it, and the view of some people that they have an entitlement to harm others. There have been many issues that were used to promote cancel culture within the USA. Whether it is about abortion, Russian collusion, CRT being taught in the schools, parental rights, LBGTQ, same sex marriage, Church doctrine that the Jews are Christ Killers (which still exists in some of Christianity), natural gas exploration Vs high cost of gasoline, US border security, US justices’ security, young children given sex education in public schools, parents looked at by the FBI as potential domestic terrorists due to their appearance at school boards in order to peacefully protest, the causes of inflation and how to diminish it, etc.
I mentioned the Christian doctrine of blaming ALL Jews as Christ Killers (deicide) because the Roman Catholic Church did away with that doctrine officially at the Church Council called Vatican II in 1965. AMAZING!
Truth is that many of the Catholics (and also many other parts of Christendom) either didn’t get the memo, or they refused to believe it. But at least, in 1968, the civil government of Spain finally and officially revoked the Alhambra decree (also known as the edict of expulsion of the Jews from 1492). Ever since the 1970’s and the US T.V. series called “Roots” – many people decided to research their ancestral roots, and the descendants of the Crypto-Jews started at that time to do so as well.
Unfortunately, the Bnei Anousim return movement is just not supported, due to fear of a backlash from Christians in terms of cancel culture rearing its ugly head, and/or potential false accusations. For example: that Jews are stealing Christians from their Churches when the Crypto Jews were never really a part of Christianity at all, and had to hide (as Jews) in Christian countries for many generations.
Back to the USA, where deciding that it’s OK to cancel someone else because they are “different” is growing every single day. Some might say that Christians are getting back “measure for measure” for the Roman people hijacking of 1st century letters and documents that were pro-Jewish in their origins. Others would say the entire world is headed in this direction, due to the suffering of the Jews, and of all the people of color who have also suffered greatly from discrimination. And very few people are willing to acknowledge that ALL of this has been wrong from the get go.
Again, sheer arrogance is the root cause… And similar to the tale of the emperor who had no clothes, only the innocence and humility of the very young, and unspoiled, can see this! Ever since G-D was removed from the US schools in the mid 60s (the salute to the flag of “one nation under G-D” – as well as the ability to have a silent prayer) the USA has been on a slippery slope. And the solution?
Everyone needs to get back to and promote Micah 6:8 “And what does G-D require of you, oh man. But to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your G-D”.
Excerpts from a new book (to be published later this year) by Yaffah Batya daCosta called “The Riddle of Calling a Dog’s Tail a Leg: Cancel Culture from Ancient to Modern Times”. She is a descendant of Portuguese Crypto Jews (Bnei Anousim). She returned to the faith & traditions of her Sephardic Jewish ancestors (by halakha) in 2000. She is also the founder and CEO of an Israel International non-profit (Ezra L’Anousim in their 18th year) who helps the returning Crypto-Jews, worldwide. Their website is bneianousim.org