News of shootings at synagogues, mosques, churches, schools, etc. has unbelievably become all too commonplace. Each new hearing of another shooting or hate act undeniably makes us more immune to these tragic global events. However, recent statistics of increasing anti-Semitic attacks globally should move us to play our part to stop this and any other hate attacks.
Rise of Anti-Semitism in the US
Remember back to last October. Do you remember what tragedy happened in the US? According to The Guardian, October 2018 marked the deadliest assault on Jews in all of US history. What a completely tragic first for the US.
Any hate crime to any group of people is heinous. However, hate crimes towards Jews, anti-Semitism, holds some of the most diabolical acts towards humans that has gone on for two millennia.
At a memorial in France in February 2019, people gathered to denounce the rise of anti-Semitism. People are rising up to take a stance that this rise in anti-Semitism is not tolerated.
Other parts of the world have unfortunately been associated with anti-Semitism throughout history, but the US has long been associated as a tolerant, peaceful haven for Jews.
While the reason for any attack on a group of people is pure evil, what contributed to the lead up to this attack at the synagogue was a 57% increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the US in 2017. Did we even notice this shift as a country? Feel this in our own circles?
Rise of Anti-Semitism Globally
February 15, 2019 NPR aired a story with similar ominous tones that maybe you, like me, were unaware of: France (which has Europe’s largest Jewish community) has seen a 74% increase in anti-Semitic acts since 2017. Other European countries, like Germany, have also seen a steep rise in anti-Semitic acts of violence.
This steady increase in anti-Semitism should be a grim but strong wake-up call for us. An increase in anti-Semitism was seen before World War II and the Holocaust. Many at that time would say the increase was drastic and all of a sudden. Surely such a blatant, inhuman crisis could not occur in our day, could it?
Why Does Anti-Semitism Persist?
While scholars and experts can debate the reason for the rise in anti-Semitism, some suggest this rise stems from polarizing political environments, popular reactions against a strong state and the idea of scapegoat theory. This theory suggests Jews, who are a minority group dispersed among many countries, serve as targets for the majority’s problems.
However, this theory fails to explain why other minorities are and were not targeted in the past like the Jews for widespread problems.
Could it be anti-Semitism also stems from hell itself and is one of many results of this broken, sinful world?
- 1 Kings 10:9 states God loves Israel forever.
- Psalm 135:4 states the Lord has chosen Israel for His own possession.
What Can We Do About Anti-Semitism?
John Piper in a November 2018 article suggests the Bible clearly supports Christians should love Jews and not support anti-Semitism. Beyond this, Romans 13:10 states, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” This love we show is of course to all people of all backgrounds- Jewish or not.
Roll call at Buchenwald concentration camp, ca.1938-1941. Two prisoners in the foreground are supporting a comrade, as fainting was frequently an excuse for the guards to 'liquidate' useless inmates. Image courtesy of Shutterstock, Inc., Used By Permission.
Inmates of Wobbelin concentration camp awaiting transport to the hospital. One breaks into tears when he learns he is not leaving with the first group. May 4, 1945, Germany, World War 2. Image courtesy of Shutterstock, Inc., Used By Permission.
There is some good news in all of this. At a memorial in France in February 2019, people gathered to denounce the rise of anti-Semitism. People are rising up to take a stance that this rise in anti-Semitism is not tolerated.
As hate grows, we must all do our part to take a stand against it. We can’t just sit back and think anti-Semitism and other hate acts will go away. They won’t if nothing happens. Will you say something or help someone you see being verbally or physically attacked because of their race or religion? Will you speak up if you hear hateful words being spoken?
Beware of subtle shifts in our culture of blame or generalized anger towards Jews or other groups of people. Will we be willing to stand for and with others that are attacked like so many courageous ones did in World War II when the persecution was extreme? Let’s remember what others did before us in the face of hate, both praiseworthy and not.