Four years ago I received a letter from a person in the Muskegon community that they would no longer attend the Holocaust Commemoration Services because “Israel was doing the same thing Hitler did to the Jews”, I have recognized that there was a burgeoning new kind of antisemitism being fomented in the “liberal” community. It is one of the three “D’s” of antisemitism which are:
- Demonizing: when Israeli leaders are seen as devils, evil-doers and the nation is depicted as being an instrument of Satan; when Israeli leaders are compared to Hitler and Israeli soldiers dressed as the “SS-Gestapo”. The re-surfacing of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, a document written in France for use in Czarist Russia, which brings together the fiction of a global conspiracy by a secret Jewish organization to control the worlds finances.
- Double Standards: when Israel is held accountable for its actions in a selective manner, being singled out as a human rights offender while other well known offenders are ignored.
- When Israel’s right to exist is denied or questioned.
Antisemitism, such as we are experiencing now in the United States since the 2016 presidential campaign began, is three-fold:
- Terrorism: threats of violence and physical attacks on Jews, destruction of property such as synagogues, community centers and cemeteries.
- Denial of the Holocaust: people such as David Duke, and organizations such as Breitbart News, Institute for Historical review, have sneaky ways of denying the Holocaust whether it is calling into question the numbers of Jews murdered in the 5 death camps and the Einsatzgrupen in the Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Estonia
- Christian antisemitism: the use of myths like blood libel, dark magic and witchcraft, Jews as Christ-killers, Jews as “unfulfilled Christians, Jews as victims of apocalyptic fantasies, claims that the Covenant God made with biblical Israel is no longer valid and Jews do not have a right to exist. All these and more are still being preached from pulpits in the United States.
- A fourth kind is very active in the world:
Genocidal antisemitism: calling for the destruction of Israel and the murder of all Jews in Israel and beyond. ISIS, terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
The first three are alive in the US and the present atmosphere has emboldened activity.
The only way such activity can be addressed is through personal intervention – whether it is cleaning graffiti in subway cars, on the doors and outside walls of synagogues, on posters and signs, or words spoken in your presence at church, on the street or community gatherings. To remain silent and stand by is to encourage the continuance of hate and ignorance. Remember: Silence gives consent.
Commit to learn about antisemitism. Resolve to attend a Holocaust Commemoration. Listen to a survivor speak. bring your children and grandchildren to hear and meet a survivor. In bible studies when texts are read from the Gospel accounts and the letters, talk about the references to Jews, especially in Holy Week when the passion accounts are read. Christian antisemitism is still alive and well and it is being used by Christian Identity Churches, and other white power groups.
As contentious as these days are, we cannot shrink from the obvious silence to antisemitic actions in Saint Louis Missouri, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, the 160 plus threats by phone to Jewish centers, synagogues and pres-schools – just as we cannot put up with the hateful actions towards Muslims and their centers and mosques. Hate is infectious among groups who espouse nationalism and nativism whether is it economic or partisan politics.
I was taught, where there is an “ism” idolatry is sure to follow. To learn more about antisemitism you can go to the ADL (Anti-Defamation League)
“Forward” an online Jewish publication;
website at http://forward.com/
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: www.ushmm.org/learn/holocaust-encyclopedia
Pr. Chris Anderson
Chair, CHGS – Muskegon Michigan
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“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on Dec. 10, 1986
The 11th Commandment – “Thou shalt not stand idylly by.”