by: Rev. Cheryl Hauer, Associate Editor
A recent article in a well-known internet news magazine challenged the idea that anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, giving a clear glimpse into growing attempts to discredit the Jewish people. Quoting statistics from a variety of sources, the article erroneously claimed that anti-Semitic incidents are actually decreasing globally.
In fact, the article asserted, the Jews of Europe face less prejudice than Muslims or Roma. The author even attempted to discredit an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) survey from earlier this year that indicated 25% of the world’s population harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.
To the author’s credit, the article ended with this statement: “So while the overall trends are harder to discern, the current nature and level of anti-Semitic incidents are enough to make some Jewish people feel afraid.”
What the article completely missed, however, is even more insidious than the overt, violent acts of anti-Semitism that most Western governments are quick to condemn. The issue is what the Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs calls, “an attitude of anti-Semitism.” European Jewry is concerned about a “softer” anti-Jewish bias, a new societal paradigm wherein anti-Jewish remarks and actions are actually acceptable.
Australian-based academic and anti-Semitism analyst Professor Danny Ben-Moshe recognizes a similar shift in his country. “While explicit anti-Semitism remains taboo and widely condemned,” Ben-Moshe said in a recent interview, “something qualitative has changed.” And the chairman of the Australian Anti-Defamation Commission recently wrote, “There are…chilling signs that are making the Jewish community…very worried that the flames of anti-Semitism are burning more furiously at home.”
Some are quick to blame any discernable rise in anti-Semitism on the 50-day Operation Protective Edge, an Israeli military action necessitated by a constant rocket barrage from Gaza against innocent Israeli civilians. Commentators rightfully claim that anti-Semitic sentiment always rises when such conflicts occur and then settles down again in a short time.
However, European Jewry sees it very differently this time. The president of France’s Central Jewish Council recently said the current situation far transcends political or humanitarian opposition to the war with Gaza. “They are not screaming ‘Death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris,” he said. “They are screaming ‘Death to Jews.’” Rejecting any attempt to link such actions to the Gaza war, he further commented, “They have laid bare something far more profound.”
From the Netherlands to Italy, Spain to Germany, Belgium to North America, an ominously familiar sense of dread is settling upon Jewish communities. Jewish organizations that track anti-Semitic activity are pointing to an undeniable trend. In France alone, such acts increased by seven times from the 1990s to the 2000s, and the predictable result has been an increase in aliyah (immigration to Israel). Over 3,000 French Jews moved to Israel in 2013, for instance, an increase of 72% over the year before. In the first five months of 2014, over 2,000 made aliyah from France, while the same period the year before saw only 580.
Says Dieter Graumann of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, “On the streets, you hear things like ‘the Jews should be burned’—we haven’t had that in Germany for decades. Anyone saying those things isn’t criticizing Israeli politics; it’s just pure hatred against Jews. It’s an outbreak of hatred so intense that it is very clear indeed. These are the worst times since the Nazi era.”
What we are seeing across Europe and the world goes far beyond a reaction to current events. The physical and verbal onslaught against Jews is the expression of a deep hatred that has lain largely dormant since WWII. It is perhaps best summed up by Psalm 83:4—“They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’” Such a posture is justifiably alarming to world Jewry. But to those that embrace it, it will spell certain death at the hands of the God of Israel who will one day judge the nations.
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