Mark Pickles

Rethinking the word Antisemitism

A prescient book titled Israelophobia – The newest version of the oldest hatred and what to do about it by Jake Wallis Simons appeared in print in early September 2023. Simons is editor of the British journal The Jewish Chronicle.

The book was published just a month before the worst, and most sadistically cruel, massacre of Jews in a single day since the Holocaust, and the immediate unleashing of an unprecedented level of international animus towards Israel.

The anti-Israel animus was on the streets of the world’s cities – not least here in the UK – even before Israel took on the necessary military task of destroying Hamas. Trustworthy military experts on the ground in Israel such as the journalist and British Colonel (retired) Richard Kemp informs us that the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in this urban war is unprecedentedly low. Kemp, who has fought genocidal Islamists in his distinguished career, tells us that the IDF’s diligence and precision in minimizing civilian deaths is superior to anything that even the British and Americans have achieved in destroying revolutionary jihadism in various conflicts around the world. And yet the so-called ‘international community’ has, perversely, decided that Israel, not Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is the perpetrator of ‘genocide’. Hamas’ stated aim, in its founding covenant, is the genocide of Jews. And Hamas officials have stated that they vow to do similar attacks (YouTube) to those on October 7 ‘until Israel is annihilated’. This is, of course, genocidal intent.

Israel is not a perpetrator of genocide, and Israel has never been a perpetrator of genocide. Israel has no genocidal intent. The reason she is accused of such is international antisemitism, which amounts to, I will argue, denial of God of Israel, or hatred of God of Israel, or Christian and Islamic theological misappropriation of God of Israel and the holiness of the Holy Land. There are over 100 Christian nations, 57 Muslim nations (of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), and just 1 Jewish nation. Israel is now the scapegoat for all nations, religious and secular. And Palestinianism is all the rage, as it was a few years ago in the British Labour Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, at whose Party conferences the Palestinian flag was ubiquitous. (I agree with the British-Israeli journalist Melanie Phillips that Palestinianism is the posthumous Nazi front against the Jews (

Jake Wallis Simons argues that that word he has coined – Israelophobia – is now preferable to antisemitism. While I think that Simons’ analysis of the obsessive demonization of Israel in our times is necessary, I will not start to use the word Israelophobia. I think the word antisemitism – on analysis, and with some Biblical exegesis I explore in this piece – is deeply meaningful for those of who believe in God of Israel.

As Simons correctly notes, the word antisemitism was probably coined (or at least certainly popularized) by the German journalist Willhem Marr in 1879 to describe what Marr saw as a necessary fight for ‘victory of the German spirit’ over ‘the Jewish spirit’.

The word ‘antisemitism’, then, had positive and ideological connotations for its advocates from the late 19th century until the defeat of Nazism in WWII.

Nevertheless, antisemitism, is, I believe, the correct word to describe the resurgence of ‘the oldest hatred’ even though today a significant number of Jews, including some with a high media profile, are vocally anti-Zionist if not Palestinianist. Jewish antisemitism exists.

Willhem Marr was right. Antisemitism is indeed the fight for ‘victory over the Jewish spirit’. And although I am a Christian, not a Jew, I fight for the victory of the Jewish spirit, and believe that more Christians should do so (for readers who live in London, I recommend the group Christian Action Against Antisemitism).

The true Jewish spirit (i.e. Biblically true) is what Judaism calls the Holy Spirit, or ruach kodshecha, transliterated from Hebrew. The Semitic language of Hebrew is the holy language – the lashon hakodesh – because it is the language through which God communicated much of the Torah – including the Ten Commandments – to Moses and the People Israel at Sinai. And the Holy Language is the language of the Holy Land, Zion.

God chose to pilot the destiny of all nations through the uniquely holy nation of the Jews, centered on the holy city of Jerusalem (or Zion) set in the midst of all nations (Ezekial 5:5), in the centre of which belongs the holiest of holy temples, in the centre of which belongs the holy place, in the centre of which belongs the holy of holies, in the centre of which belongs the ark of the covenant, the contents of which include the tablets of the Ten Commandments upon which Judeo-Christian morality, law, and spirit are founded. Five of the commandments relate to man’s obligations to God Himself. They can never be superseded by human-rights charters or any other such thing that ignores the holiness of human being and the responsibilities of human being to our Creator.

Of course, the Jerusalem Temple no longer exists, and the ark was taken by the Babylonians in the second exile of the Jews, but according to Christian prophecy (Revelation 11:19), it will exist again at the end of history, as God restores the harmony of heaven and earth. It was uniquely in the holy of holies of the Jerusalem Temple, just once a year, at the holiest time of the holiest day (Yom Kippur), the holiest priest of the holiest tribe (the Levi) could enter the holiest point on earth. Only this one man, at this one moment of the year, at this one place on Earth, could then utter the Name of God, and somehow ‘see’ (Isaiah 6:1-8), the manifestation of the Name of God: the One True God at the centre of the world at the annual centre of time.

Although the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by the Romans, synagogues throughout the world continued the annual ‘rehearsal’ at the Jewish new year. Every synagogue has an ark housing the Torah behind a veil, or curtains. The Yom Kippur unveiling of the ark points to the ‘end of time’ when all things are definitively brought back to one head:  the time for judgement and sealing, and the marriage of Heaven and Earth. The liturgical cycles of Judaism, like Christianity after it, are not endless cycles: there is a goal to our faiths: an apocalypse (which literally means ‘unveiling’ in the original Greek), and judgement of all nations and all peoples, all of whom are prayed for by the high priest on Yom Kippur.

In the Christian scripture, Jesus was anointed both high priest for the world (John 17:11) and king in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:13-17), and Jesus was given the Name, just as the Temple high priest is given the Name – or HaShem – on Yom Kippur. For further reading, on my Christian understanding of Yom Kippur, see this short essay on my blog.

In the prayer that Jesus taught, he opens with the injunction to hallow the Name (Luke 11:2) but, frankly, I have met very few fellow Christians who hallow the unutterable holiest of holy Names (Yod, Hei, Vav, Hei). Many attempt to utter it, as they see it transliterated in their Bible.

Christianity became a faith of all languages, as the Holy Spirit descended on the nascent ‘church’ at the first Jewish Pentecost (Shavuot) after the Ascension of the Christ, causing the peoples gathered for this festival to involuntary speak in 17 languages of the known world. But there remains one Holy Language. (For further reading, I wrote this piece for Blogs Times of Israel on the relationship between Hebrew, the holy language, and English, the world’s first truly universal language as history has unfolded under God’s providence.)


God of Israel set the Israelites, or the People Israel, to be to be a holy nation unto God, apart from all other nations (symbolically 72 in the Hebrew Bible).

As the history of the twelve tribes of the People Israel unfolded, the Tribe of Levi was designated as the priestly class, and the Tribe of Judah (or the Jews) was designated as the royal family. King David conquered Jerusalem and made it the capital of united Israel. The other 10 tribes are lost to history.

Following the death of King David, we read in 1 Kings 1:34, Solomon, the son of King David, was anointed King of Israel by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet. When G F Handel composed the British coronation anthem – ‘Zadok the Priest’ – for the coronation of George II in 1727 he used the King James Version of the Biblical text. This anthem has been sung at every British coronation since 1727, including here (YouTube) for the coronation of King Charles III.

Of course, for Jews and Christians, the Royal Family is the Jewish lineage of King David, not the ‘Windsors’ (of the lineage of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha). The prophets insisted that the Messiah for the world, the King of Kings, could come only from the lineage of King David. The British coronation, being a Christian coronation, anoints the monarch as our ‘servant’ monarch crowned below the ‘crown of glory’ of the eternal Christ (Messiah). The Christ, not the British monarch, is ‘the head of the Church of England’.

Despite, or rather seemingly because of, the chosen-ness of the Jews, the English monarchs and British monarchs, like all world’s monarchs, emperors, princes, archdukes, caliphs and ayatollahs, have historically held contempt for the Jews. Churches and Islamic leaders developed various ‘theologies of contempt’, also know as ‘replacement theologies’, as if they were now the new chosen, including chosen over the schisms within Christianity and Islam. Christians and Muslims developed theologies to redefine God’s eternal covenant with Israel and the Jews to their particular flavor of Christianity or Islam.

And many leaders of nations, not least the English monarchs, propagated hatred and demonization of the Jews throughout their lands. The myth of the ‘Wandering Jew’, the diabolical and malevolent Christ hater, originated in England. In 1218, the Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton persuaded Henry III to proclaim the Edict of the Badge, a yellow badge of shame to identify the Jew. In 1289, King Edward I issued the Edict of Expulsion, having been convinced of the ‘blood libel’ conspiracy, another Church-of-England export – originating in Norwich in 1144 – which claimed that the Jews crucified or otherwise tortured Christian children before then consuming their blood in religious ritual. The permanent royal edict of expulsion of Jews was not overturned until the monarchy was overturned by Oliver Cromwell, and Jews returned to England in the 1650s on Cromwell’s invitation, largely because he had been persuaded that the dispersal of the Jews into all nations was a prerequisite to the Millennial Reign of Christ.

The chosen-ness of the Jewish nation has never sat well with the other nations, from ancient times to this day. God of Israel, and the Prophets and the Psalmist, knew exactly what was to come, and that Israel would become the world’s scapegoat. And at the end of the unfolding of God’s Providence, Israel would have to stand alone. Read Psalm 2 for instance.

Neither the Muslim nations nor the main denominations of Church (Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Anglican) expected the Jews to ever restore Israel in history. But through a narrow and providential window of opportunity following the Battle of Jerusalem in 1917, when the British ended centuries of Ottoman rule in World War I, Jews did begin to restore the Holy Land, largely due to energy and political commitment of British Christian Zionists, such as former PM Arthur Balfour, and future PM Winston Churchill.

The mainstream churches, whose common Creed opens with emphasis on the omnipotence of God of Israel, were not, and are not, theologically equipped to understand the Jews’ restoration of Israel as the solution to what Christendom has called for over a millennium ‘the Jewish Problem’. Until Napoleon Bonaparte emancipated the Jews at the end of the 19th century, the Church’s solution to the Jewish Problem was ghettoisation (since the Papal Bull of Pope Paul IV of 1555, Cum nimis absurdum, enforcing Jewish ghettos on Catholic lands).

I cannot know what was in the hearts and minds of Church leaders before and after World War II, but we all know that the Church tacitly or even sometimes overtly supported Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ to the Jewish Problem. Pope Pius XII, who had formulated a ‘concordat’, the Reischskonkordat with Hitler in 1933, allowed bishops to join the Nazi Party before and during the War, including in Nazi-occupied nations. The French bishop Jean de Mayol Lupé was even recruited into the SS. Tellingly, the Vatican did not officially recognise the State of Israel until 1993, in the reign of Pope John Paul II, the first Pope to visit Israel (as I wrote here for Blogs Times of Israel in 2021).

Personally, I think that the Jewish restoration of Jerusalem was, and is, a providentially inscrutable inconvenience for Rome, to where, the Roman Catholics believe, the holy centre of the world – the axis mundi – shifted from Jerusalem through the travels of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Many centuries later, the Arabs began to claim that the holy centre had shifted to Mecca in Arabia, and that the holy language is Arabic.

For most of the past two millennia, neither the Church nor Muslim clerics took much interest in Jerusalem or ‘Palestine’ (as Emperor Hadrian branded the Holy Land after defeating the Jews in the final Jewish-Roman war). The first Western tourists to Jerusalem, including Mark Twain, and the first European tourists of the ‘Grand Tour’, where shocked to discover that Jerusalem was largely derelict, deserted and diseased, and that most of Ottoman ‘Palestine’ was barren and malarial.

During the centuries of Muslim rule of Jerusalem, the Roman Catholic Church had taken almost no interest in Jerusalem, but when in 1967 Jews regained the old city of Jerusalem from the Jordanians, the Vatican immediately called for the internationalisation of Jerusalem, something the Vatican had never done in the 19 years since the British left the city and Jordanians took it in 1948, destroying all but one of Jerusalem’s 58 synagogues.

Of course, the Jewish Problem has today become the Israel Problem. There are over 50 Islamic nations and over 100 Christian nations and over 50 secular or Communist nations in the United Nation. They all have reasons for undermining the Holy Nation because, for diverse reasons, the restoration of Israel is a humiliation of all man’s other religious or secular ambitions for the goal of history. It hurts the pride of Christians, Muslims, secularists, and Socialists.

Year in year out, the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Human Rights Council gather annually to condemn Israel more times ( than they condemn all the other nations of the world combined, almost as if they are purposely acting out Psalm 2!

I suggest that the nations are, deep down, in condemning Israel condemning God of Israel, be it for religious or atheistic reasons.

Obviously, atheists, such as Socialists/Communists and other forms of internationalists cannot tolerate the notion that there is a nation set apart by God of Israel for God’s purposes in history. The religious reasons are more complex and deep-rooted, with a very long history, that I cannot properly address in this short essay (for the interested reader, I did write a 50,000 word essay on my blog in 2019).

In our times, the Socialists/Communists of the West are invariably in cahoots with the Islamists because, despite their wholly different world-views, they are hellbent on the revolutionary destruction of Israel, hence the slogan we now see on Europe’s streets and American campuses: ‘Globalise the Intifada’.


The German journalist and antisemite Willhem Marr was absolutely right. Antisemitism is the pursuit of ‘victory over the Jewish spirit’. I hope that I have persuaded you that the Jewish spirit is the Holy Spirit. And as my fellow Christians will know (or should know), blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the unforgivable sin.

In choosing the word antisemitism for his ideology, Willhem Marr made a good choice, because at the root of the word Semite is Sem, or Shem, the Name of God. However, antisemitism is not primarily anti-Jew, it is primarily anti-HaShem, and there are many Jews who are anti-HaShem, including even in Israel, who want to detach Israel from God of Israel, as I wrote here for The Conservative Woman a year ago, and as I wrote here for Blogs Times of Israel in 2021.

Antisemitism, be it Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Socialist or Woke, is the wide gate to destruction. It ultimately destroys every society that it deeply infects.

Antisemitism is the herd instinct of all who deny, or seek to hide from, their Creator, and His omnipotent power over all nations. The victory goes to HaShem, through the all-consuming coronation of His Messiah. And HaShem, the most holy Name of God of Israel, is inextricably bound up with the Land of Israel, centered on Mount Zion.

Christians now erecting tents on American and British campuses, cheering on the anti-Israel eliminationist and apocalyptic goals of Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Iran, Yemen, Qatar, Turkey… would do well to refer to their ‘Old Testament’. Jerusalem is not ‘al-Quds’.

Following the revelations on Mount Sinai, we are told that the ‘Israelites camped near the mountain’ (Exodus 19:2). The Hebrew uses the verb vahichan, meaning ‘he camped’, rather than vayachanu, or ‘they camped’.

Israel is God’s Son (Exodus 4:22), hence we read in Hosea 11:1, ‘out of Egypt I called my Son’, echoed in Matthew 2:15.

Even Saint Paul (coincidentally a tentmaker by trade), who was of the Tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:4-5) not Judah, reluctantly admitted that God’s covenant with the Jewish Tribe is eternal and irrevocable (Romans 11:29).

Jesus – whom Christians such as me believe is the Incarnation of Israel – did not head to Rome (he surely had the means to do so through his rich disciple Joseph of Arimathea); he headed to Jerusalem, the Holy City, guardian of the Holy Name, in the Holy Language. And in his vows following his ‘Lord’s Prayer’ on the Sermon on the Mount, he uttered: ‘swear not… by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King’ (Matthew 5:35).

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

About the Author
Mark Pickles is a Scientific Technical Writer with a deep interest in understanding theology in the light of modern knowledge. He was an atheist from ages 10 to 30, and since then has been an active and practicing adherent in the Church of England. In recent years he has been actively engaged in the battle against antisemitism and anti-Israelism within and without the Church.
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