MTG Cites Antisemitic Fable Jews ‘Handed Over’ Jesus To Be Killed

The example of “classic antisemitism” was her reason for opposing a bill aimed at preventing antisemitism.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 22: U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks during a court hearing on April 22, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. U.S. Rep. Greene is appearing at the hearing in a challenge filed by voters who say ... ATLANTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 22: U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks during a court hearing on April 22, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. U.S. Rep. Greene is appearing at the hearing in a challenge filed by voters who say she shouldn't be allowed to seek reelection because she helped facilitate the attack on the Capitol that disrupted the certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory. (Photo by John Bazemore-Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) cited one of the most prominent historical antisemitic narratives as her reason for not approving legislation aimed at combating antisemitism on Wednesday. Greene posted on the site formerly known as Twitter to explain her thinking

“Antisemitism is wrong, but I will not be voting for the Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023 (H.R. 6090) today that could convict Christians of antisemitism for believing the Gospel that says Jesus was handed over to Herod to be crucified by the Jews,” Greene wrote.

Greene’s comment was accompanied by a photo of the bill text, which said it would use the “definition of antisemitism” adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2016. The text noted this includes “claims of Jews killing Jesus,” which it described as “classic antisemitism.”

The belief apparently espoused by Greene is indeed one of the most well known forms of antisemitism. Various experts have described efforts to collectively blame the Jewish people for killing Jesus Christ as one of the major drivers of antisemitism for centuries. It is also — particularly in the way it was described by Greene — a false narrative

Christ, who Christians revere as the son of God, was a Jewish religious figure who lived in the ancient Roman province of Judaea, which was largely located in what is currently Israel and the Palestinian territories. His teachings and growing following caused tensions with the established Roman and Jewish religious leaders in the province. Christ was ultimately crucified in the first century by the province’s Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. 

While some Jewish religious leaders and people in the province urged on the crucifixion, it was ordered by the Roman leader. The Christian Bible also describes many Jews who were distressed by Christ’s execution. 

Nevertheless, claims like Greene’s collectively blaming all “Jews,” rather than focusing on individuals or including the Roman role, have persisted. 

The role the narrative Greene cited as inspiring her opposition to the legislation has played in driving antisemitism — including violence — has led some Christian leaders to specifically clarify the matter. For example, in 2011, the late Pope Benedict XVI declared that there was no scriptural basis for the claim and wrote that “Jews are not responsible for killing Jesus.”

None of that stopped Greene, whose version of the classically antisemitic narrative was inaccurate on another level as well. Greene suggested Christ was “handed over” to be “crucified by the Jews” by Herod Antipas, who was the leader of a northern province that Christ was from. In fact, the Christian Bible’s Gospel of Luke specifies that Herod “sent him back” to Pilate, who ordered the crucifixion, which was carried out by Roman soldiers. 

The Antisemitism Awareness Act was led by Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY) as a response to the protests against Israel’s war in Gaza, which have rocked college campuses in recent weeks. The legislation was mostly driven by Republicans, but it had 15 Democratic co-sponsors. 

According to the Washington Post, backers described the bill as designed to help the federal government crack down on the protests, which they see as having antisemitic elements. Some Democrats objected and argued it was an effort to restrict political protest. 

The measure passed by a vote of 320-91 on Wednesday. 

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story referred to King Herod the Great rather than Herod Antipas, who was his son.

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