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Never Again?

January 16, 2024

by: Nathan Williams, Director of Marketing and Communications

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A deadly virus is on the loose in the world today. It is not a novel virus but an age-old disease that slyly simmers beneath the surface. Transmitted from one generation to the next, the symptoms and prognosis of this virus are well known. Yet from time to time, the virus is cultivated and replicated until inflamed to a full-blown pandemic. Nourished by hate and misinformation, the contagion culminates in a contamination of base, ugly violence. Anti-Semitism is the virus—and the world has once again caught the fever.

Never Say Never

“I’m crying,” Holocaust survivor Elisabeth Merides lamented to the French news channel BFM TV recently. “I’m crying because I’m going to again feel the hatred that was there when we were kids. I don’t understand it.”

The footage of the elderly Merides, her eyes filled with tears and terror, is hard to watch. In the background, a series of Stars of David can be seen spray-painted on the exterior of her home and other Jewish residential buildings in France. Survivors of the Holocaust like Elisabeth remember all too well the final solution that eventually results from these warning signs.

The signs are not limited to France. Similar and worse acts of vandalism directed at Jewish homes, institutions, cemeteries and synagogues have flared up across Europe. Even the public display and lighting of hanukkiot—the nine-branched candelabras lit during Hanukkah or the Festival of Light—were canceled or curtailed for fear of being targeted. Understandably so, as one incident in Poland left parliamentarians shocked when Polish Member of Parliament Grzegorz Braun, a promoter of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, took a fire extinguisher to quench the hanukkiah erected in the Polish parliament building.

Even in countries once thought to be safe havens for persecuted Jews, Jewish people now find their security increasingly uncertain. According to data published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the United States alone saw a 337% increase of anti-Semitic incidents in 2023, including 905 anti-Israel rallies.

The list of incidents is endless. A Jewish man died after a counter-protestor struck him in the head at a pro-Israel rally in Los Angeles. The home of the president of a Jewish organization in Brentwood, California, was attacked on the Thanksgiving holiday, with fake blood and body bags placed at his door and across his lawn. Passing motorists threatened Jewish guests leaving a Hanukkah event at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, yelling, “We will kill you all, occupiers!” In Montreal, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Jewish community center, alongside two incidents of gunshots being fired at a Jewish school. And in Calgary and British Columbia, Jewish institutions were branded with swastikas. Australia saw a 591% increase in anti-Semitic events, most notably an incident where countless pro-Palestinians protestors repeatedly chanted “Gas the Jews” on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

History Repeating

Brian Minkoff/shutterstock.comHistorians of anti-Semitism have long issued caution about virulent anti-Israel sentiment, warning that it will mutate over time into flagrant hatred of all Jewish people. Their warnings have now become a stark reality. Last October in Dagestan, a Muslim-majority region of Russia, an anti-Israel riot broke through airport security at the main airport. Forcing their way onto the tarmac, the mob searched out an airplane that had arrived from Israel. Baying for blood, they accosted passengers, demanding to know if they were Jewish. Ironically, the passengers arriving from Israel were Russian citizens, including Dagestani children returning home after receiving life-saving medical treatment in Israeli hospitals. Had the mob found any Jewish people, one can only imagine the horrors that would have ensued.

Anti-Semitism has skyrocketed globally to levels unseen since World War II, and pro-Palestinian rallies are a leading cause for the explosion of hate. These rallies have become cesspools of hostility, where actively promoting anti-Semitism is an acceptable form of free speech. Steeped in anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hatred, protesters rehash common anti-Semitic tropes, with some going as far as openly calling for the extermination of the Jews. Add to this the fact that many far right-wing extremists groups have been actively joining or hijacking anti-Israel rallies, and the result is an amalgamation of open Jew-hatred.

Spanish philosopher George Santayana warned, “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” There is clearly some alarming amnesia in the hallowed halls of academia when it comes to the history and outcome of flagrant anti-Semitism.

In December, the Economist published a shocking survey reporting that one in five Americans aged 18–29 thinks the Holocaust is a myth. Equally alarming, one in four of those interviewed in that age group believes the Holocaust has been exaggerated. This survey came on the heels of a United States congressional hearing where the presidents of the three top universities in the US—Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania—refused to admit that calling for the genocide of the Jewish people violates their campus rules on hate speech and discrimination. University campuses around the world are also the breeding ground for pro-Palestinian mobs, who have shut down train stations, airports and universities in major capitals around the world.

What many in the West choose to forget is that the hatred being espoused by these groups may start with targeting the Jews but it never stops there. The hatred will spread like a virus and destroy those it affects and infects.

What Can We Do?

Every year, we join millions in Israel and around the world on Holocaust Remembrance Day to say “Never Again.” Perhaps naively, we hope and wish that history would not repeat itself. Yet as we witness the surge of attacks and open hatred toward our Jewish brethren, we as Christians have a choice to make. Saying “Never Again” is not enough. We need to put action to our words and stand with the Jewish people wherever we are and wherever they are: in our communities and in our nations. The time has come for this generation’s Righteous Among the Gentiles to rise up and stand with and for the Jewish people. Never does mean never, and “Never Again” is now

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