By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
October 19, 2023
A series of antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents in North Carolina has Christian leaders urging believers to pray for the situation in the Middle East and to stand up for Israel in its fight against the terrorist organization Hamas.
More than 1,400 Israelis were killed and 200-plus taken hostage during Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of the Holy Land.
Days after the attack, Jeffrey Scott Hobgood of Troy, N.C., was arrested by the FBI for an alleged series of antisemitic messages sent to a Jewish organization. Around Oct. 11, he allegedly sent an email to the organization saying, “I am going to take out every one of you,” according to law enforcement. After being contacted by law enforcement, he allegedly sent a second email to the organization stating, in part, “Guess what happens to traitors? . . . Public execution. . . . We are at war . . . . If you think you semite pieces of [expletive] are going to win, then you are delusional.” He was charged with communicating threats.
“No one should be threatened with violence or acts of hate because of who they are or how they worship,” said Robert M. DeWitt, special agent in charge of the FBI in North Carolina. “The FBI partners with communities of faith across North Carolina. Crimes driven by hate have no place in our state.”
On Oct. 11, law enforcement in Asheville, N.C., arrested Michael Patrick Toone and charged him with cyberstalking after he allegedly sent antisemitic threats to a local synagogue, according to Fox 57.
North Carolina state Rep. Kathy Manning, who is Jewish and co-chair of the bipartisan task force for combating antisemitism, told Fox 57 that “there’s been about a 400 percent rise in antisemitic hate crimes” since the Israel-Gaza war began.
“Antisemitism has always been a shapeshifting conspiracy theory that has blamed on the Jews whatever ills a society experiences,” Manning said.
In April, antisemitic fliers were found throughout the Carolina Arbors community in Durham, N.C.
A 2023 report from the Anti-Defamation League found that antisemitic incidents in North Carolina increased 30 percent from 2021 to 2022.
Meanwhile, 12 members of the North Carolina House were criticized for walking out and not voting when a pro-Israel resolution was passed last week. The resolution, which passed 104-0, urged Congress to “offer full and unequivocal support of Israel financially and otherwise for as long as it takes for Israel to bring justice in light of the unprovoked attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.” The 12 members who walked out were Reps. John Autry, Amber Baker, Gloristine Brown, Kanika Brown, Maria Cervania, Terence Everitt, Pricey Harrison, Nasif Majeed, Marcia Morey, Renee Price, Diamond Staton-Williams and Julie von Haefen.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said the series of incidents should trouble North Carolinians.
“Conservative evangelicals, who believe in the authority of God’s Word, the Bible, should be deeply concerned about the rise in antisemitism in North Carolina. Antisemitism is unequivocally contrary to Christian values. We firmly believe in the importance of respecting the human dignity of every race, regardless of their faith.
“From a biblical perspective,” Creech added, “we recognize the significant role of Israel and the Jewish people in God’s plan of redemption. Our theology teaches us to uphold the significance of Israel and the importance of fostering positive relationships with the Jewish community.”
Creech listed six key aspects of Israel’s significance:
— “Israel plays a central role in God’s plan of redemption as outlined in the Bible. Israel is the chosen people of God in the Old Testament and God’s covenant promises to Israel remain valid.
— “Many Old Testament prophecies have both historical and future significance, and the restoration of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. The reestablishment of the nation of Israel should be seen as a sign of the End Times.
— “Jerusalem, in particular, holds immense importance. It is the city where Christ will return to establish His millennial kingdom, as prophesied in the Bible.
— “Because the nation is a fulfillment of biblical promises, it is incumbent upon the followers of Christ to advocate and work for the protection of Israel’s sovereignty and security.
— “Bible prophecy anticipates a future period of Tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, and the eventual return of Christ to set up a millennial kingdom in Jerusalem. This belief is tethered to passages in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation, among others.
— “Christians who hold to the significance of Israel are quite willing to engage in interfaith dialogue and outreach with Jewish communities. However, theological beliefs regarding the eventual conversion of the Jewish people to Christianity can create unique dynamics in such interactions.”
“Christians who trust in the Bible’s message condemn any act of antisemitism, whether it manifests as hateful rhetoric, discrimination or violence,” Creech said. “Such actions not only go against the teachings of our Savior but also undermine the principles of religious freedom, tolerance and the respect upon which our nation was founded.
“The Christian Action League urges fellow believers, leaders and communities to stand firmly against antisemitism,” he added. “We pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). As we pray for the victims of antisemitism and their families, we also pray for a renewed spirit of love, unity and respect to prevail in the great state of North Carolina.”