There has been an unpleasant whiff hanging around the Labour Party this week called antisemitism. This is the hatred of, or phobia towards the Jewish people. We Christians find this particularly offensive, seeing as our Saviour and almost certainly all the biblical writers were Jewish or Hebrew. The term antisemitism comes from the word Semite. In the Bible, '-ite' as a suffix means son of, or descended from. Hence Semites are the descends of Shem, the son of Noah. The Jews aren't his only offspring, but the term now exclusively refers to them.
In truth, I don't believe Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, nor Ken Livingstone, the left wing loud-mouth and former London mayor who made comments about Hitler, are genuinely antisemitic. The Left has traditionally been suspicious of Israel, a key ally of capitalist America. Not all Israelis are Jews (Israel also includes Arab citizens) and many Jews are not Israeli. So what you might call anti-Zionism, ie Israel, is not traditional antisemitism, but the borders are indeed blurred. Unfortunately, certain Muslim Labour activists do appear to be antisemitic, and this is something Labour must expunge.
In the interests of political balance, it should be noted that the Tory party has not always been above reproach. A nasty 1960s by-election witnessed a certain leaflet put out with the catchy but incredibly unpleasant ditty 'If you want a N***** for a neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour'.
All racism is abhorrent regardless of its chosen victims. All people are made in God's image; to insult and ridicule them is to despise their Creator. Heaven will be populated, we're told, by people of all tongues and languages. The only division of people allowed by scripture is godless and godly, saved and unsaved.
We in the Church should not become smug or self righteous when political parties become mired in racial intolerance. Our own closets contain many an embarrassing skeleton. Here are some examples:
1) Many churches invested in the transatlantic slave trade, a slavery based on the assumption that blacks, the sons of Ham, were cursed by Noah to provide free labour for the sons of Shem and Japheth. I attended an Anglican school that was paid for by these slave trading profits.
2) Apartheid in South Africa was supported by the country's largest denomination, the Dutch Reformed Church. This segregated blacks from whites on the basis that God did not want the different colours to mix.
3) The Ku Klux Klan expected its members to be Christian. Membership depended on their being WASPs (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants) and their symbol included a red drop of Christ's blood on a white cross.
Of course we might console ourselves by saying that these folks weren't real Christians and that the world must not tar us with their brush. Perhaps.
Let me conclude by quoting Paul: "For their is neither Jew nor gentile, male nor female, slave nor free, for all are one in Christ Jesus". The gospel gives us a status that both affirms and exceeds our racial identity. So I hope Mr Corbyn sorts this problem out quickly. Our earthy leaders are agents of God to punish wickedness. Even Jeremy Corbyn. Even racial prejudice.