“Many of my Jewish friends are terrified about what’s happening. My daughter is nervous to speak Hebrew in public. I have been afraid to speak out for fear of censure from my own Left community. But after I learned about Corbyn’s Doha trip I could stay silent no longer.”
Adam Ma’anit gave voice to many in the Jewish community in the UK with anti-Semitism rising unabated, as it is elsewhere in the world. Ma’anit decided to post publicly on Twitter when it came to light that Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK’s Labour Party had gladly shared a platform with convicted terrorists, including one who had killed Ma’anit’s cousin.1 The prevalence of anti-Semitism in the left-wing party has been well documented, yet still the British electorate continue to cast votes for Labour, fully aware of the deep-seated problems. It was no small relief when the election results came in showing a majority had voted otherwise.
But the UK election has not been the only concern Jewish people are dealing with around the world at the moment.
In Paris recently, a student called his father and began speaking Hebrew, only to find himself beaten unconscious by a group of people on the train.2 In the Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Hagoel, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization and director of the Department for Israel & Countering Anti-Semitism, commented on the incident, saying,
“Unfortunately it is dangerous to identify as a Jew on the streets of the world, enough with the hatred towards Jews.”
Horrifying shooting at Kosher grocery store
Last week in Jersey City, New York, two men opened fire in a kosher grocery store, killing five people including a mother and son from the local Hassidic community. One witness expressed the impact of the event:
Pictures from #JerseyCity
shake me to my core. Reminiscent of the massacre at Yeshiva Mercaz Harav in Jerusalem. The enemy is the same. Blood & bullets, a tragic unbearable symbol of hatred & intolerance to Jews across the world. The hate is irrational. We cant & won’t accept it. pic.twitter.com/fpLZTp4ciJ
— Chaskel Bennett (@ChaskelBennett) December 11, 2019
Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote, “This tragically confirms that a growing pattern of violent anti-Semitism has now turned into a crisis for our nation. And now this threat has reached the doorstep of New York City… History teaches us how dangerous it is to ignore this kind of hateful pattern. We must stop anti-Semitism aggressively and decisively, and I call upon all New Yorkers to join in rooting out this threat.”
According to the Times of Israel, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said he believed that the two gunmen were actually planning to target a yeshiva next door with 50 children inside at the time of the assault.4 Thankfully they were stopped beforehand.
This is not much comfort though to the Jewish residents who feel continually unsafe, as one man explained: “When people go to shul they say ‘Lock the doors,’ because what stops any white supremacist from pulling up in front of your shul, entering and taking out a .50 caliber or a semi-automatic and taking out everybody? It really does not feel safe.” 5
Don’t say Jesus was Jewish!
Meanwhile, in Italy, a politician announced that he was “offended” to hear that Jesus was Jewish. Fabio Tuiach, a member of the municipal council of Trieste, abstained from the vote to grant 89 year-old Auschwitz survivor, Liliana Segre, honorary citizenship in the city.
“As a devout Catholic, I was confused and also a little offended by the fact that she said that Jesus was Jewish,” adding, “he was the son of God, he was God for me; therefore I will abstain.” 6
Liliana Segre had proposed a parliamentary committee to combat racism and online hate speech. Since the events, she has received hundreds of hate-filled messages of anti-Semitic abuse, and now has to have bodyguards protecting her.
What’s the answer to anti-Semitism?
President Trump has stated his intention to crush the monstrous evil of anti-Semitism. On Wednesday he signed an executive order stipulating that federal funds will only be supplied to colleges that refuse to tolerate anti-Semitism on their campuses. The order will take the definition of anti-Semitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as the basis for decisions as they are needed, which holds that anti-Semitism is “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” Understanding and defining the hatred in order to curtail it is certainly a step in the right direction.
Similarly, in the wake of mass desecration of Jewish graves, France’s National Assembly controversially determined that anti-Zionism is indeed a form of anti-Semitism. Many people will insist that they are anti-Zionist but not antisemitic, but again definitions are important. Many who claim to be anti-Zionist will discover they are nothing of the sort when faced with an actual definition of Zionism – the right of self-determination for Jewish people in the land of their forefathers. The National Assembly of France has rightly understood that anti-Zionism is rejecting the right to self determination for only one people group – the Jews.
Can anti-Semitism be limited by legislation?
Can any evil be completely stopped by human laws?
It’s important to understand that this struggle is not just earthly but also spiritual. We are seeing a rise in anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews in correlation with the sharp increase in hatred of God.
Our God is the God of Israel
The God of Israel and the people of Israel are inextricably linked, and even if the drive is subconscious, hatred of God and rejection of His sovereign right to choose a nation underlies much of the outpouring of hate we see directed against Jews today.
Psalm 2 begins by asking “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” The psalm describes the folly of humanity shaking their fists at God by rejecting Him and His ways. God’s response? He is not threatened or intimidated. He simply laughs. God knows that their time is coming. The Scriptures warn us that the nations will ultimately turn against Israel. The trouble is real and the threat is severe, but God’s promises to His people are true and eternal. The story does not end in dust. There is great hope for the people of Israel.
“For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you” (Isaiah 54:10)
We shouldn’t be surprised or even fearful about these events that will surely come, because we know that God has a plan. He has chosen His holy hill in Israel, and at the end of days He will sit there and judge the nations. When God lays down the law, you can be sure He will be able to enforce it.
“Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2:12)
- Ma’anit posted on Twitter: “I’ve been watching in quiet horror and with increasing anxiety as the Labour Party sinks deeper by the day into an antisemitic cesspit of its own making… Badran is… widely regarded as the man who orchestrated some of the most horrific suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians in the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict… As part of the release agreement [in exchange for captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit] Badran was exiled to Qatar where he now oversees funding and operations for Hamas. At the “remarkable” Doha conference, this supposed ‘man of peace’ Corbyn described contributions from recently released “brothers” like Badran as “fascinating and electrifying”. I felt sick to my stomach at these words. Badran’s targets included restaurants, discotheques and a Passover seder. The killings were as indiscriminate as they were cowardly. An Israeli-Arab restaurant was considered fair game. It was at this restaurant that my 16-year old cousin Orly Ofir was murdered.”
- HaAretz, Israeli Student Beaten on Paris Subway After He Was Heard Seaking Hebrew, December 12, 2019
- TheYeshivaWorld.com, Names of Jewish Murder Victims Released: Young Mother and Yeshiva Bochur Among Shooting Victims, December 11, 2019
- Times of Israel, Jersey City mayor: Gunmen wanted to target next door yeshiva with 50 kids inside, December 13, 2019
- HaAretz, Between White Supremacists and Black Hebrew Israelite Shooter, New Jersey Jews Feel ‘Like Sitting Ducks’, December 15, 2019
- HaAretz, “Jesus Was Not a Jew!” Clueless Remark by Far-right Politician Sparks Outrage in Italy, December 4, 2019
Photo by Laura Siegal on Unsplash