Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Pall Magnusson: I’ve contemplated the issue, so what if we say “The Jews are Christ killers? It’s just 16th century poetry”

Every year just before Easter, Iceland’s state radio service fills the airwaves, evening after evening, with anti-Semitic hate hymns from the seventeenth century that’s read by prominent Icelander personalities. The Tundra Tabloids has learned (exclusively) that the Simon Wiesenthal Center has sent Mr.Pall Magnusson, director of the National Icelandic Broadcasting Service (NIBS), a letter concerning it, in which the director proceeded to belittle that concern in his letter of response. The Tundra Tabloids has obtained all three letters pertaining to the issue, one from a pastor with a doctorate in philosophical theology, The Rev. Dr. Jill Schaeffer, who voiced her concerns to the NIBS head concerning the radio broadcasts, as well as the letter from the Associate Dean of the SWC, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, and the flippant response he received from the NIBS director, Pall Magnusson.

One would think that in this day and age of genuine mutual respect between the two faiths, such broadcasts, regardless of the antiquity, would be thoughtfully scrutinized and conducted without the second party being demonized, and with such popular luminaries involved with it. The response of the director is telling, if it was due to complete ignorance, Mr.Pall Magnusson would not have been so flippant and condescending in his reply. Which leaves me with a darker assumption.

NOTE: Yes, there are the same, or even worse instances of anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, which the TT regularly reports on. However, anytime something like this comes up on the Christian side, it has to be addressed. Seeing that the OIC rejects the notion of Islamic anti-Semitism, the SWC, and the rest of us, have our work cut out for us.

Dear Mr. Magnusson

As a very religious Roman Catholic child, I’d often hear the priest during Mass tell us children how the Jews killed Christ, and then I’d leave the sanctuary and wait for the blows to fall upon my family. And fall they did. Now, in my sixties, an ordained Presbyterian minister for more than 25 years, I read in your beautiful passion poem what I had heard from the pulpit as a child: the same condemnation, the same blind rage, the same overwhelming hatred of the Jews. And I wonder why you hate my mother and grandmother so much.

Not that such hate was ever warranted, but contemporary scholarship points out that the Romans crucified Jesus of Nazareth for the crime of treason against Rome. Early Jewish Christians were terrified of Roman boots and swords, those same Romans who beheaded Paul and crucified Peter upside down. I think such terror muzzled the fledgling church that murmured not a word against Rome, not a word, but uttered many words against the Jews.

The way Jews are blamed for Jesus’ death reminds me of the way Israelis are blamed for the plight, admittedly dire, of Palestinian Christians: Just as the early Christians exonerated Rome for their suffering by blaming Jews, so some of today’s Christians in the Middle East point to Israel as the culprit rather than Muslims who are killing Christians whenever the mood strikes them. They have been killing Christians for centuries.

As with many Christians, “I love to hear the story, the same old, wonderful story. I love to hear the story, of Jesus and his love.” But I’m always vigilant and always afraid that, in the telling of that wonderful story, I will also hear that horrific hatred of the Jews poisoning the tale. And so the story is poisoned for me, again and again, as it has been for half a century. Do you think, Mr. Magnusson, that you can be a Christian and tell the story without saying something bad about the Jews? I can. I always could. I shall do so again this Easter Sunday. You could, too, if you just try.

In Christ’s name,

Rev. Jill Schaeffer, Ph.D.

The Rev. Dr. Jill Schaeffer currently preaches and teaches in New York. She received her doctorate in philosophical theology from the Graduate Theological Seminary. She served as as the Executive Secretary for the Department of Cooperation and Witness of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Geneva Switzerland, served as an interfaith director in New York, and taught at the New York Theological Seminary.

Letter from Rabbi Abraham Cooper:

The response by NIBS Director, Pall Magnusson:

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