The above picture may seem like it is from a different and more barbarous age; from a time when evil covered Europe under the umbrella of the Nazi regime. Why would one guess that? Because how could such cruelty and hate still exist in today’s world?
One thing I’ve observed being a history teacher is that people forget. The main ingredient in the recipe for repeated disaster is for future generations to lose touch. You may have heard the motto ‘those who fail to learn from the past are destined to repeat it.’ It’s not necessarily a matter of knowing facts about past events but the idea of learning is that it becomes real to us. We need to get it. We need to understand why it happened and the tragic effects it had on people’s lives, maybe even our own. We need to get it to the point where we don’t ever want it to happen again.
As the sting of the 1930s and 1940s wears off with each new generation, room is given for expressions of antisemitism to reemerge on an increasing scale. Each new year in the 21st century is outdoing the previous one. How about in the United States? You bet. There was a 21% increase of reported acts of hate towards Jews in 2014 compared to 2013. There were 912 recorded incidents including 513 harassments, 363 acts of vandalism, and 36 physical assaults across 38 states in the U.S. The worst states are New York, California, New Jersey, Florida, and Pennsylvania. This year, 2015, hasn’t been off to any better of a start. There were marches held protesting Israel in places like Milwaukee and rallies held outside of synagogues. Jewish communities and synagogues have been attacked through cyber hacking. Hate messages have been spray painted on Jewish shops and synagogues with messages like ‘Hitler was right’ and ‘Jews=killers’ as well as swastikas. Then there was the shooting in Overland Park, Kansas in the Jewish community. I’ll bet a lot of people don’t even remember that. Ever heard of Louis Farrakhan? He’s a minister of the Nation of Islam and he’s probably done more to rally people against Jews than anyone since Adolph Hitler. Some of his messages at organized million man marches are chillingly similar to those heard in Germany in the 1930s. Farrakhan has even spoken out in support of Hitler on occasion. He’s most recently been taking his anti-Semitic message to the music industry, rallying support of young and experienced rappers.
If all of this is happening here in the United States, what could the rest of the world look like? After all, aren’t we the land of tolerance? I’ll address that in a future post but it’s obvious that we are not. Here’s a snapshot at a few select nations from Europe and the Americas:
-In Argentina messages like ‘death to Jews’ and swastikas have been plastered on Jewish community centers and a Jewish cemetery was vandalized.
-In Austria a man wearing a Star of David necklace was beaten as well as two other Jewish boys.
-In Copenhagen, Denmark a synagogue was shot up and shops were vandalized.
-France has seen probably the most violence towards Jews in Europe. There , a Jewish woman and her child were beaten while the thugs yelled, “Hitler didn’t finish the job.” Two 16 year old Jewish boys were beaten and 250 graves were overturned and swastikas painted on gravestones. Let’s not forget the attacks in Paris where a Jewish shop was shot up.
-In Brussels a Jewish museum was attacked.
-In Brazil posters were hung up in the capital city calling Jews killers, thugs, and criminals.
-How about our northern neighbors? In Montreal, Canada cars were painted with swastikas.
-More incidents have occurred in the nations of Germany, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Venezuela. To learn more check out adl.org.
Sidebar…am I the only one thinking of the insane level of irony here. These misanthropists who: vandalize, spew hate speech, beat women and children, rally millions in support of hating a people group, and hang posters are calling Jews criminals an thugs…? Who do they think they are? When is the last time you saw protests against the terrorist group Hamas who use children as weapons in their attempt to murder Jews? How about Palestinians who have been murdering Jews for decades? How about radical Islam that aims to murder Christian and Jewish (really non-Islamic and sometimes Islamic as well) people? I can’t think of ever seeing it. Ok sidebar over…
When most think of people who hate Jews they think of the Arab nations that surround them, like Iran and Egypt. And while some figures have shown that upwards of 3/4 of the populations in those nations harbor antisemitic feelings, and while Iran has expressed its desire to wipe Israel and all Jewish people off the map, antisemitism is very much a serious problem around the world, and a growing one here. The European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency released a study showing that 64% of European Jews don’t report incidents. I seriously doubt that number varies much in others places in the world. So that tells us that the problem is much worse than statistics show. Consider the thousands of antisemitic people who don’t act on their twisted view. All the world needs is for good people to sit back and ignore the problem while they build the courage to act.
We need to pass this on…to voice support for the Jewish people and speak out against injustice. One thing we can know for sure is those who bless the people of Israel will be blessed those who curse them will be cursed (Genesis 12:3). Not only should we take God at His word but it’s also the right thing to do. No people group should be demeaned like this. God will not abandon the Jewish people and neither should we. We know who wins in the end and it sure won’t be those who promoted and acted on hate.