Two of the widows of the Israeli athletes murdered in Munich in 1972 have given an emotional response to reports this weekend that Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, laid a wreath in the cemetery of “Palestinian Martyrs” in 2014.
Mr Corbyn was apparently paying his respects to the victims of a 1985 Israeli air strike on Palestinian Liberation Organisation offices in Tunis, but the newspaper reporting the story explained that the the pictures were taken in front of a plaque honouring the founder of Black September, which carried out the massacre, while the air strike memorial was 15 yards away.
Mrs Spitzer and Mrs Romano said, “We do not recall a visit of Mr Corbyn to the graves of our murdered fathers, sons and husbands.
“They only went to the Olympic Games in order to participate in this festival of love, peace and brotherhood; but they all returned home in coffins.
They continued, “For Mr Corbyn to honour these terrorists is the ultimate act of maliciousness, cruelty and stupidity. Do not forget, Mr Corbyn, that you will be judged by the company you keep.”
These two dear ladies made the strong point that Mr Corbyn has made a choice, preferring the company of those that support the perpetrators rather than the company of the victims.
It is worth remembering the the Bible warns about the company that we choose to keep:
David penned in Psalm 26,
“I have not sat with idolatrous mortals,
Nor will I go in with hypocrites.
I have hated the assembly of evildoers,
And will not sit with the wicked.”
1 Corinthians 15:33 states,
Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
Meanwhile, Psalm 1 promises,
“Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful.”
The verse in 1 Corinthians is a persuasive argument that our association with evildoers not only impacts our character, but also impedes our judgement and decision making. Psalm 26 reminds us that our testimony will be affected by the company we choose. It is clear from Psalm 1 that the company that we choose to keep can lead to blessing or disaster.
How we reconcile this with living daily in a fallen world is a challenge and ultimately comes down to our understanding of how God wants us to function in a world in which we are called to be salt and light, instruments of righteousness, vessels for His honour and ambassadors for the kingdom. This is opposite to committing ourselves to the “counsel of the ungodly”, the “path of sinners” and the “seat of the scornful” through which we contract ourselves to be subject to an assembly that is in conflict with God’s righteousness. We need a consciousness that as forgiven sinners, God has set us apart for the purpose of being His witness. Investing ourselves in the presence of “evil company” whilst refusing to be a testimony for truth is essentially becoming complicit in their actions and leads us down a dangerous path. “Sitting” in the seat of evildoers, as the Psalmist notes, is where we become powerless hypocrites having lost the authority to speak the truth.
The Bible says in Romans 12, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”
Our calling as Christians is “to cling to what is good” and to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (Heb 10:23). We do so whilst hating what is evil. We hate evil because God hates evil. And we hold onto what we know is truth because we know that God loves truth.
Over 6,000 of us have now signed the declaration against the evil of anti-Semitism. As Christians we should abhor all forms of anti-Semitism without exception. We cannot say we love God and not love the Jewish people. Standing against anti-Semitism is love without hypocrisy.
We have rightly chosen to separate ourselves from this assembly of evildoers by saying loud and clear, we stand with the Jewish community, we love you and we stand against the evil of anti-Semitsm.