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Combatting Anti-Semitism

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Last year, Jewish community leaders condemned 2019 as the third consecutive year when antisemitic incidents in the UK continued to rise; there were more than 100 each month. Included in these was an increase in those that used political or extremist imagery; more than 450 incidents involved language or imagery relating to the Far Right or the Nazis.

This trend in the UK is mirrored in Europe. France reported a 74% increase in the number of offences against Jews last year, and Germany said the number of violent antisemitic attacks had surged by more than 60%. The figures confirm the results of three Europe-wide surveys showing Jewish people feel at greater risk, and are experiencing markedly more aggression.

Antisemitism today involves a concerted effort by some to infect our young people with lies and misinformation in order to bring about greater isolation of Israel. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, known as the BDS Movement is a global effort with three main aims: to weaken the Israeli economy by boycotting goods from Israel, call for companies to withdraw from investments in Israel and lastly characterise all financial dealings with Israel as participating in the oppression of the Arab Palestinian people.

Islamic elements are uniting with academic ones to accuse Israel of being responsible for the world’s ills and some tactics are not new. Even now when the world is in the midst of a global pandemic, antisemites are spreading lies that Israel started the virus in order to profit from its cure; echoes of accusations from the time of the plagues.

Much of today’s anti-semitism manifests itself as anti-Zionism and while it can be argued that they are not exactly the same, they are so similar that some of the emotions behind each are likely to have a common base. Unfortunately, much antisemitism / anti-Zionism has at its root the faulty doctrine of Replacement Theology, which says that God has set Israel aside and that He now works with the Church to bring about His purposes. This unfortunately has led to much persecution of Jews down through the centuries. In Germany, through the antisemitic writings of Martin Luther, it unfortunately gave the Nazis the theological backing they needed to encourage ‘Judenhass’ or hatred of Jews in the German population. Whilst Christianity did not cause the Holocaust, many scholars agree that it would have been exceedingly difficult for it to have come about without the theological base of Replacement Theology.  The sad thing is, that whilst today’s ‘Replacement Theologians’ would not encourage persecution of Jews, they are seemingly unaware of its ramifications. The Church has an important key to preventing antisemitism from gaining ground because antisemitism has spiritual roots.

ICEJ’s remit is threefold: to comfort Israel, to confront hatred and to teach truth. They are all linked. Confronting hatred and teaching truth brings Israel comfort because she has few real friends. Our program of lending out Holocaust exhibitions to schools, colleges, libraries and churches is an important part of ICEJ’s ministry. If our young people are infected with lies about the Jewish people and become tomorrow’s politicians what could be the result? If today’s Church is not educated with truth, to what will they turn a blind eye tomorrow?

ICEJ has two travelling exhibitions that have been produced by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the world’s foremost centre for research and commemoration of the Holocaust. One is called ‘No Child’s Play and is about children in the Holocaust. The other is called ‘Besa – A Code of Honour’ and tells how Muslims in Albania risked their lives to hide Jews during the Nazi occupation of their country. 

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