There are real discussions going on among Jews in the diaspora about which of their non-Jewish friends would hide them, when it comes to it. Corrie Ten Boom and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are now household names, along with other “righteous Gentiles” who helped Jews during the Holocaust. There’s even a hashtag on Twitter (#Iwould) as the question goes out “Would you hide me?”1 But it’s a shocking thing, quite honestly, that Jewish people can’t tell which of their Christian friends would, or wouldn’t, help them in their time of need.
Would you hide me?
Are we being melodramatic? Regretfully, no. Antisemitic attacks have soared since Hamas committed the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust. There was sympathy for Israel for maybe one day, but even before Israel retaliated, there was jubilation about the genocidal attack, and cries of “gas the Jews” in the streets of Europe and America.
Before Israel did anything.
Antisemitic incidents have escalated by 500% in the US, according to WZO and the Jewish Agency. Far worse, police in the UK have reported a staggering rise of 1350%.2 Over a thousand percent increase. Way over. People are furiously pulling down posters of the 240 kidnap victims wherever they are put up. It would be considered mean-hearted to pull down a picture of a missing dog, never mind a missing child. In Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim region of Russia, a violent armed mob rushed into the airport ready to lynch any Jewish passengers arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv. Meanwhile in the UK crowds gathered outside the Prime Minister’s residence on October 31, and chanted in Arabic, “Oh beloved Abu Obaida, hit and bomb Tel Aviv.” Abu Obaida is the spokesman of the military wing of Hamas.
The Star of David has been spray painted marking Jewish homes in France. There are signs refusing to serve Jews in Turkey. In an environment that would be familiar to the Ten Boom family, horrible events are unfolding. People are protesting everywhere, all over the world, in support of Gaza, many cheering on the terrorists and justifying their despicable acts. Since the massacre, 87% of the Jewish people surveyed said they had “feelings of diminished safety, accompanied by prevailing emotions of anger, anxiety and shock.”3 We haven’t been given a moment to breathe.
The day after October 7th was a horrifying wake up call to the levels of hatred… and indifference… towards the Jewish people
“It’s hard to explain how it feels hearing the world cheer for your extermination.” ~ Daniel Ventresca
“I don’t know what’s scarier: 2000 terrorists breaking into your country and murdering your Jewish family, or the fact that half the world supports it”. ~ Orit Yishai
“Having conversations if it’s safe to wear my Star of David, if my family keeps our mezuzahs up… How Jewish does my last name sound? Do I need to change it in Uber and Amazon? Never felt so hated and scared before.” ~ Jeffrey, New York City
And it’s not just theoretical. Samantha Woll, president of a synagogue of Detroit, was stabbed to death outside her home in Michigan two weeks after the massacre in Israel. Police say they have no idea what the motive could possibly have been.4 Two weeks later, on Saturday November 4th, another young Jewish woman was murdered in her home in Lyon, France. A swastika was daubed on her door. On November 6 another Jewish man died after being assaulted by a pro-Palestinian protester in Los Angeles, and a muslim woman in Indianapolis rammed her car into a school hoping to harm Jewish children last Friday. Jewish communities in the diaspora are aware they are in grave danger.
Israel is now officially warning its citizens that they need to take care when going overseas not to have any visible signs of being Jewish like a Star of David or yarmulke, and to avoid speaking Hebrew in public. In the wake of the most deadly attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust, we’re seeing antisemitism on a scale not seen since the time of the Third Reich.
Anne Frank all over again
University campuses have been particular hotbeds of Jewish hatred, with scenes of students barricaded in the library in Cooper Union college in Manhattan, protestors battering on the door, and people offering to hide them in an upstairs room, out of sight. One of the students said it reminded her of Anne Frank —
“Like, ‘go hide in the attic’… Really, I have to hide, in the United States of America? I can’t sit in a place where there’s windows because I might be attacked. That’s basically what she said. She was trying to be helpful, but — you know? The fact that I needed to hide — that really, I just couldn’t understand.”5
But that’s where we are. Police were on the campus but made no arrests, and did nothing. Similarly in major cities in the UK, during the, furious anti-Israel protests calling for the bombing of Tel Aviv and baying for Jewish blood, the police didn’t stop it. What they have been doing, on the other hand, is tearing down posters of the kidnapped Israelis, and arresting people for Facebook posts objecting to Palestinian flags around their neighborhood. “There’s way more of them than there are of us”, one policeman candidly admitted when some were prevented from waving a Union Jack instead.
There are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, which constitutes 24% of the world’s population, whereas Jewish people are just 0.2% of the world’s population—16 million worldwide. So if it seems like the anti-Israel cause is way more popular, bear that in mind. Not that every Muslim is brimming with Jew hatred by any means, but antisemitism has unfortunately been part and parcel of Islam since the time of Mohammed, and is written into the Quran itself. The knee jerk support for Gaza is almost inevitable.
This reality is dawning on more and more Jewish people in the diaspora who are now seeing the importance of the Jewish state in a way they never have before. God has been steadily regathering His people, to the point that the majority of the world’s Jews now live in Israel. And He has promised to bring them back even through hardship and persecution:
“Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the Lord, and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.” (Jeremiah 16:16)
Israel exists so Jewish people won’t have to hide, or erase their identity. So they won’t have to depend on the mercy and courage of people like Corrie Ten Boom and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
But what about the millions of Jews still out in the nations?
The unexpected Ten Booms of 2023
As ISIS lays out ‘Practical ways to support Muslims in Palestine’ (suggestions include targeting Jewish neighborhoods, attacking Jewish and Crusader [Christian] embassies with burning and vandalism, targeting synagogues, as well as attacking Jewish economic interests globally)6 perhaps it’s time for believers to get serious and practical in their support of the people of Israel.
It’s important to remember while almost a quarter of the world is Muslim, a whopping 2.38 billion people, almost a third of the entire world’s population, are Christians. At least in theory. What would happen if Christians spoke up for their Jewish family?
It’s been said that if you’ve ever asked yourself what you would have done in the 1930s and 1940s, you’re doing it now.
Some have stood with the Jewish people to express comfort and support, others have attacked. Many have decided just to look the other way. The silence from the church has been deafening. Did your pastor talk about the massacre at church? Or were they fearful of “taking a side”? Do those you fellowship with understand the significance of Israel in Scripture, and what is playing out before our eyes? Can you imagine any of the biblical prophets or heroes preaching a sermon without mentioning what’s happening to Israel? Or are they trying not to rock the boat?
God is gradually removing the middle ground on many contentious issues in the Bible, and ultimately events in Israel will expose the hearts of believers worldwide.
However, while many Western churches have studiously sidestepped the subject, we’ve had some unlikely Bonhoeffers and Ten Booms stepping up to take the baton.
There are a few incidents in the raging rallies where a single individual bravely displays support for Israel in the midst of an angry mob… and it turns out those brave individuals were usually Iranian. Courageous believers from the most unlikely places are arising at this time. People who have come to faith from Muslim backgrounds have been very vocal and bold in their support for Israel.
There are dramatic scenes of Iranians, Yemenis, and Syrians who love Jesus speaking out on behalf of Israel on social media, since they know full well what Israel is up against right now.
They recognize the regime behind the onslaught, and they know the goals of Muslim extremism. They’ve also learned courage, after leaving Islam at risk of their lives. We’ve also had messages of love and support from Egyptian brothers and sisters in faith, and Lebanese singer, Carine Bassili, has made the sacrificial decision to love God’s chosen people at the cost of her citizenship. She joined to sing with Orthodox Jewish musician, Yair Levi, as a declaration of unity at Israel’s time of crisis.
Finding the courage to stand with God’s people
It takes a lot of courage to stand up for the people of Israel in the face of extreme hatred on the scale we’re currently witnessing. Those from the underground church are well practiced at taking a death defying stand. We need to look to the example of our Muslim background brothers and sisters, and to the righteous Gentiles of the Second World War. It will cost a lot, but the reward will be great. This is where Iranian and Yemini believers find their courage: they look to the same place Jesus looked before he gave His life for us all at Calvary. We need to look to the joy set before us, knowing what awaits us in eternity. Following Jesus can lead us even to this dark place of surrender and sacrifice. But as the Apostle Paul will gladly tell you, it will be worth it.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)
When the Nazis carted Corrie Ten Boom and her sister off to the Ravensbrück concentration camp for the crime of helping Jews, their elderly father, Casper, was given the choice to stay at home if he would just promise not to hide any more Jewish people. Here’s what he told them, with no shame at all: “If I go home today, tomorrow I will open my door to anyone who knocks for help… It would be an honor to give my life for God’s chosen people.” He and his family consistently helped Jewish people, and at one point he was even sternly warned about the dangers of protecting Jewish children by a clergyman. Casper Ten Boom explained, “You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family.” We read in The Hiding Place what happened next: “The pastor turned sharply on his heels and walked out of the room. In the end, Casper ten Boom died in a prison cell, knowing he had done what was just in God’s eyes.”
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
- The Guardian, Antisemitic hate crimes in London up 1,350%, Met police say, Vikram Dodd, 20 Oct 2023
- Jerusalem Post, Global antisemitic attacks rise by 500% since last year, WZO reveals, Zvika Klein, October 30, 2023
- Jewish News Syndicate (JNS), Jew-hatred ‘somehow’ only theory Detroit police rule out in murder probe, November 2, 2023
- Forward, Jewish students at Cooper Union told to hide as pro-Palestinian protesters banged on doors of locked library, Louis Keene, October 25, 2023
- Newsweek, “issue 413 of Al-Naba, a weekly magazine by ISIS contains an infographic titled, ‘Practical ways to support Muslims in Palestine,’ which encourages attacks on Jewish people and Israel, with the goal of ‘returning its land to the House of Islam again.’
Photo by Ronni Kurtz on Unsplash