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The Evil Pursuit of the Jewish People

Combating modern-day anti-Semitism

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Mon, 08/26/2019 (All day)
The Evil Pursuit of the Jewish People

The story of the Jewish people has no parallel in the history of mankind. It is a story of a small people, no more than 17 million at any time in history, with a biblical calling to represent a holy God in the midst of an evil and idolatrous world. They were required to reflect the holiness of their God by living a righteous lifestyle in observance of hundreds of moral and ritual laws. These practices made them visibly and spiritually different from those around them. It also made them an easy target.

The Jewish people were chosen to bless the world with God’s redemptive plan—and they would suffer greatly for it. The powers of evil would forever fight against God’s plan and would attempt to stop it by destroying the people called to bring it about. The God of Israel understood the difficult place this put His people in, and therefore guaranteed their survival. But the Jews would indeed suffer, and part of their unique story is the ongoing saga of an evil pursuit that defies all logic.

What Is Anti-Semitism?

The hatred of the Jewish people—anti-Semitism—is as unique in the human experience as the people it hates. It has been around almost as long as the Jewish people have existed. During ancient times when kingdoms and empires ruled the day, conformity and obedience was a requirement that often involved worship of the emperor or of his deities. The Jews were commanded by their God not to worship any other, so they were doomed to conflict.

Within this context, however, there were instances where the conflict grew into an animosity that could only be described as anti-Semitic. One such story is found in the book of Esther, where it is not the Persian king that requires obedience, but his close confidant, Haman, who was enraged by the fact that Mordecai the Jew would not bow down to him. His personal slight grew into a murderous hatred of all Jews and he hatched a plan to annihilate them.

Eventually, ancient empires gave way to the Christian era when so-called Christian kings, who were also heads of the state church, persecuted the Jews because of the church’s teachings against Judaism. Jews were accused of being “God killers” due to Jesus’ crucifixion and were considered enemies of the church. They were at times treated as outcasts, rounded up in ghettos, and even expelled from countries.

Along came the Enlightenment, and science trumped religion as the primary source of authority in the world. Scientific studies advanced racial theories that then became the backbone of Nazi ideology. Adolf Hitler believed the Jews to be an inferior race that needed to be eradicated.

These older forms of anti-Semitism are socially unacceptable in the twenty-first century. Religious bigotry and racism are frowned upon and are antithetical to the prevailing ideologies of globalism and secularism. However, so is Israel, a Jewish nation-state. Therefore, the modern form of anti-Semitism that has found a stronghold and large-scale acceptance today is political. It is against the Jewish state and is called anti-Zionism. Religious anti-Semitism does exist today, and it is Islamic; however, the West tends to view it through the political lens of the Arab-Israeli conflict and overlooks its inherently theological underpinnings.

This evil pursuit of the Jewish people has continued for millennia, which is why historian Robert Wistrich calls anti-Semitism “the longest hatred.” Every time it seems to be dying out it reinvents itself with a different look and a different name—like a mutating virus—but the goal is always the same: rid the world of the Jewish people.

British journalist Melanie Phillips said this about it: “It is a tremendous mistake to assume that anti-Semitism arises from any political activity or ideology. It is a pathology based on the wish to exterminate the Jewish people—a moral and spiritual sickness unique in human history, and which morphs and mutates across religious, secular, and political systems.”

Anti-Semitism Today

Anti-Semitism today has two faces: one is Islamic and the other political. Both demonize the Jewish people by perpetrating conspiracy theories and false accusations against Israel. The problem is that demonizing Israel is in fact a demonization of the Israeli people who become representative of all Jews. This is why a Jewish person walking the streets in France can be attacked because of Israeli military action against Hamas in Gaza.

To quote Melanie Phillips again, “Blaming Israel is a way of blaming the Jews for anti-Semitism. People do this not just out of their own bigotry, but because they cannot acknowledge the unique and uniquely evil nature of the phenomenon.”

Proof that anti-Semitism is alive and well is found in a 2013 study reporting the sad statistic that only 70 years after the Holocaust, one-third of Europe’s Jews were considering emigrating because of anti-Semitism. This year, forty percent of British Jews are considering leaving the UK because of a rise in anti-Semitism there.

A 2014 study found that 25 percent of the world’s population— 1.1 billion people—holds anti-Semitic views, even though 70 percent of them had never met a Jew. Thirty-five percent of them had never heard of the Holocaust, and of those who had, one-third of them thought it was either a myth or greatly exaggerated. The highest percentage of populations holding anti-Semitic views were found in the Middle East.

The anti-Semitism prevalent in the Middle East is spreading to forums in other parts of the world including American college campuses where Palestinian groups are mobilizing students to their cause using anti-Israel vitriol. Anti-Semitic incidences rose 57 percent in the United States last year, mainly in high schools and on college campuses where these groups are active.

Another frontier in the spread of anti-Semitism is the internet where hate-filled people spew a relentless stream of paranoia and lies inciting some to acts of violence. That is exactly what drove Robert Bowers to take a semi-automatic weapon into a synagogue in Pittsburgh to kill as many Jews as possible. The deadliest attack on the Jewish community in American history should serve as a wake-up call for all of us and cause us to ask, “What can I do?”

What Can Be Done

There is much that can and should be done. While this article cannot provide an exhaustive list, let’s concentrate on the most obvious things that most of us can do at the community level.

Reach out to your local Jewish community, or one that has suffered an anti-Semitic attack, and let them know how sorry you are and that you are praying for them. This can be done in a card to the Rabbi, or the Jewish Federation director in that city. Showing up at a local memorial service speaks louder than words. Do not come with an agenda or message other than “we are sorry.”

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once wrote: “What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander.” We are often silent because we do not know what to say, but your silence is deafening at times of attack. Please voice your condolence.

If you come across ugly comments on the internet, call them out for being anti-Semitic so others who come across this will be alerted. The first step in opposing this evil is identifying it for what it is. Educate yourself how to combat the lies permeating the internet so that it becomes a place of pushing back against the hatred. Visit the ICEJUSA.org and IsraelAnswers.com websites for teachings and answers to frequently asked questions.

Help your church to be informed and educated about the history and the current expressions of anti-Semitism. The ICEJ provides informative seminars that do this from a biblical perspective, not only enlightening but also inspiring churches to take a stance on behalf of the Jewish people.

If you are an alumnus of a college or university, contact the school president and let them know how concerned you are about this issue and ask what they are doing about it. Suggest they include courses against movements of hate including anti-Semitism, monitor anti-Israel groups calling for death to Israel and Zionists, and take seriously any complaints of anti-Semitism by their Jewish students.

These are simple steps that most of us can take. While the global epidemic of anti-Semitism may seem overwhelming, it is still small enough in the United States to be addressed. If we focus on the local level and within our own sphere of influence, we can each make a small difference—and that can add up to a whole lot of good.

- by Susan Michael, Director of ICEJ USA and ACLI

 

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