When Martin Luther broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, little did he know that he would be the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. Nobody can deny that Luther was powerfully utilized by God to start a movement that would forever alter the course of Christianity. In his effort to break away from the human control of the Roman Catholic Church, Luther also reached out to the Jewish people hoping that they too, would see the benefits of a personal relationship with the God of the universe through the death and resurrection of His Son Yeshua of Nazareth. At first, Luther wrote some very powerful and biblically accurate sermons to explain the importance of the Jewish people in God’s plan, but it all changed.
In 1543, when the Jewish community didn’t meet his expectations, Luther published the book On the Jews and Their Lies, where his description of the Jewish people is so venomous that Hitler and his regime felt they were just finishing up what Luther started. In that book, Luther used language that, at the very least equaled the past and future diatribes against the Jewish people: “What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. … I shall give you my sincere advice:
First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians.
Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them the fact that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.
Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.
Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb.
Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let them stay at home.
Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us….
Seventh, I recommend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen. 3:19). ….For, as we have heard, God’s anger with them is so intense that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!”
While Luther never acted on his own words, he encouraged the destruction of property, expulsion, censorship, ghettoization, financial constraints and forced labor. In her book, The War Against the Jews, Lucy Dawidowicz wrote “The line of anti-Semitic descent from Luther to Hitler is easy to draw.”
Author Daphne Olsen wrote, ” Hitler refers to Martin Luther as one of the great reformers of history, and as such, one of the ‘great warriors of this World.’ It cannot be mere coincidence that Hitler’s anti-Jewish sentiment of the 1930s and 1940s mirrors that of Luther’s anti-Semitism of the 1500s. In fact, the Nazis themselves acknowledged Martin Luther as their spiritual leader. “
At the Nuremberg Trials, the antisemitic editor of Der Stürmer, Julius Streicher claimed that “he had invented nothing not previously asserted by the German founder of the Protestant Reformation.”
It is obvious from history that writings that might appear as harmless words can do a lot of damage. Luther never acted on his antisemitic words, but Hitler and the Nazis sure did, and it ended tragically for 6,000.000 Jews (out of the 12,000.000 people they murdered.)
In the Bible, James 3:5-7 tells us, “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” Words can be extremely lethal. Words matter! Sadly, people still don’t seem to have learned that lesson!
The Rap singer and influencer billionaire Kanye West recently went on a rant against Jewish people on social networks. In their defense, he was immediately blocked/restricted by Twitter and Instagram. His tweet said, “I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up, I’m going Death Con 3 on Jewish people. The funny thing is I actually cannot be anti semitic because black people are actually Jew also. You guys have toyed with me and try to blackball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.” He also went on an interview with Tucker Carlson where he made some serious allegations against the Jews not being Jews, insisting that blacks were the real Jews (known as black Israelites).
Kanye West used the age-old tropes about Jewish people, claiming they control the world and love money. This was bad enough in and of itself, but when people start coming to his defense, it gets so much worse. Conservative commentator Candace Owens–whom I respected and appreciated very much until now–defended West when she stated, “If you are an honest person, you did not think this tweet was antisemitic, you didn’t think that he wrote this tweet because he hates or wants to genocide the Jewish people. This does not represent the beginning of a Holocaust.”
Somebody needs to remind Miss Owens that Luther was not planning a Holocaust when he made his discourse against the Jews. He let someone else take care of that from 1939-1945. His words became actions and those actions took the lives of 6,000.000 Jews.
The words of Mr. West were abrasive and cannot be taken as not antisemitic no matter what context. What about his recent comment about his “unshakable” relationship with Adidas when he said he can say “antisemitic s*** and they cannot drop me.” This has been drawing attention to Adidas’ old Nazi history, but they did the right thing and on October 25, 2022, they severed their business partnership with Mr. West. Adidas has dropped Kanye’s brand even though it will cost them about $250 MM for the rest of 2022. The company made a statement affirming that Adidas “does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech” and said that his recent comments were “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous.” Bravo Adidas, you have integrity! Additionally, West’s talent agency CAA also dropped him, and so did Balenciaga.
I am not in a position to judge him, but West claims that he is now a Christian. This is not helping to rebuild the bridge between Christians and Jews that has been burned over the centuries. There is nothing Christian in Kanye West’s words as there was nothing Christian in Luther’s diatribe against the Jews.
His [Kanye] words have already been picked up and promoted by the antisemitic organization Goyim Defense League which also prints and distributes antisemitic flyers throughout the United States. It is a matter of time before these words become actions, and American Jews fear for their safety again. What world do we live in when respectable people come to the defense of antisemites? Luther didn’t look forward to Hitler, but Hitler looked back at Luther. Kanye West is probably not looking forward to the next Hitler, but whoever that person turns out to be, they will justify their actions by looking back at people who made comments like Kanye West!
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