It seems every generation of the human race will be given the opportunity to address anti-Semitism. Odd, isn’t it, that the Jews are still identifiable after so many attempts to wipe them from the face of the earth? Makes one think that maybe they hold a favored position with a higher power. What a thought. Every nation that has sought to eliminate them ultimately failed and have never regained their previous position in the world
It was just 70 years ago (January 20, 1942) when the German National Socialist (Nazi) Party held the Wannsee Conference to discuss and resolve the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” legalizing and formalizing their de-facto hell-born campaign to erase all Jews from Germany and its vassal states. As many as 85% of European Jews were murdered. This well-known part of history (commonly referred to as “the Holocaust”) is probably the single most horrific example. Today, active anti-Semitism is again on the rise, with the most recent trend fueled by the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
In the past most anti-Jewish campaigns were geographically limited. Vitriolic outbursts and violence against Jews were local in nature, and not always considered newsworthy on the international stage. However, in this new millennium, a close look at the facts, globally, would cause any ‘reasonable’ person to tremble. The problem, of course, is that “reasonableness” is not at work in today’s ‘Internet-email-Facebook-Twitter-texting’ generation. Uninformed people, eager to be published in some form on electronic media, will say anything and (apparently) believe anything. The dissemination of ideas and opinions and lies regarding the nation of Israel and Jewish people is more widespread than ever in history.
Why is it, only three generations from the Holocaust, there is a growing ignorance regarding that episode? Perhaps it is that many schools in the nations that made up the WWII allies have begun to downplay the historical facts, partly as a result of the growing issue of multiculturalism. Children come to adulthood with virtually no knowledge of it. Oddly, in Germany, where one could see them wanting to sweep this subject under the carpet, the schools cover it thoroughly.
Then, of course, there is the radical Islamic campaign to disavow existence of the Holocaust, claiming it was created by the ‘infidels’ to amass sympathy for the creation of a Jewish homeland. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the current most vocal and persistent in leading this assault. Again, due to the ignorance of the truth by young people in the West, that mantra has become somewhat a cause-celebre. While, to many espousing such a position it is a point of intellectual debate, the reality is that it aids in fueling violence against Jews in many regions of the world.
The Christian Church has not exactly been the paragon of openness and truth on the issue. The Christians in 1930’s Germany, for the most part, heralded Adolph Hitler as their national savior. They were demoralized and hungry. The religious leaders allowed him (actually encouraged him) to take control of the national Christian church and make it a propaganda tool, as the Christians turned their heads and went about business as usual. However, long before that Christians have allowed and/or actively engaged in anti Jew bias. In the period of the Crusades, a particularly black patch of Christian history from 1095 – 1292 AD, a loose coalition of the Catholic Pope, European monarchs, and many knights sought to free the city of Jerusalem and surrounding areas where Jesus originally walked, controlled at the time by the Mohammedans. However, the crusaders massacred all “infidels” in their path who refused to be baptized on the spot to Christianity. There were large populations of Jews living in relative peace and prosperity in Europe by this time. As a result thousands of Jews were massacred, and many more driven from their homes and businesses, in Germany and France, in the ‘name of The Lord.’ It is interesting how both Muslim and Christian use the term “infidel’ to classify those who reject their position.
In the 21st century nations are beginning to line up against Israel in support of the Palestinians. Is it any wonder the nation of Israel today feels they cannot trust any nation to stand with them in defense of their borders for the sanctity of their cities and the safety of their citizenry? Let me be quick to define anti-Semitism as acts against the Jew, and not necessarily concerning the actions toward the sovereign nation of Israel. However, the two are not mutually exclusive
I will be writing more on the subject of historical anti-Semitism , as well as pointing out how and where it is playing out around the world today and the media blitz of propaganda against Israel. I will do that in later posts. However, for now I want to point out that Followers of The Way, disciples of our Master, Jesus Christ, must not only stand, but lead out against any form of discrimination against the Jew.
Jesus was a Jew, and although His death was perpetrated by the Jewish Sanhedrin (the first century religious rulers headed by the Pharisees) he was actually executed by the Roman (gentile) government. All of this, as anyone who believes in God’s sovereignty knows, was part of God’s plan set in stone before the foundation of the world. Jesus clearly forgave all those involved in His trial and execution, including His disciples who forsook Him. Paul, the Apostle of Jesus to the Gentiles, began most of his missionary work in Jewish synagogues, appealing to the Jews of that city.
A careful reading of Scripture reveals that God hates injustice of any kind. And while He allowed pagan civilizations to execute His wrath against an apostate Jewish nation, He also made it clear those same nations would pay the ultimate price for rising against and enslaving His chosen people.
“But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the LORD, “and will make it desolate forever. I will bring upon that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations. They themselves will be enslaved by many nations and great kings; I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands. This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.” (Jeremiah 25:12-16)
In other words, vengeance is in God’s holy realm alone.
Jesus’ earthly life was an example of love for the downtrodden and social outcasts. Christians, those totally surrendered to Jesus as their Master, should be the most vocal opponents of all forms of injustice throughout the world. In the US, Christians led the way in the battles for women’s rights in the early 20th century, and later for civil rights for the black American.
Unfortunately, many campaigns against injustice are actually spearheaded by liberal-minded non Christians. I say ‘unfortunately’ only because it is a travesty that the people who know Jesus, who have the genuine answer to mankind’s ills, are far too often tongue-tied and hamstrung in the face of injustice. While we send and support missionaries to foreign lands we are blind to actions in our own countries that support or encourage injustice.
Through non-violent persuasion, living as light and salt in our communities, followers of The Way should be openly opposing any elements of anti-Jewish sentiment, speech or actions, including usage of slang terms and debasing depictions, as well as proliferation of jokes making fun of Jews. The reality is that when we allow any race, tribe or people group to be marginalized, for whatever reason, we set the stage for discrimination. To think that all people of any particular genetic heritage are sub-human or irrelevant is absurd. THEY do this . . . or THEY do that, we ignorantly say. Jesus paid the price of a cruel death on the cross, and shed His innocent blood to redeem all mankind. It is our mission to live out that example and lead people to knowledge of how to achieve peace with God (redemption).
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all , baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20 –emphases mine)
Christian, you may not be able, as an individual, to change the forces of your government or society, or even your church group. But you can change the actions of those in your circle of influence. And if everyone did just that to eliminate anti-Semitism, we would see a tidal wave of change for the good, worldwide, in this generation.