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Israel & Christians Today

Biblical understanding about Israel

October 26, 2016

Editorial: “I will send for many hunters” (Jeremiah 16)

By Andrew Tucker.. On 27th September, together with my colleagues at the European Coalition for Israel (ECI), I attended a conference in the European Parliament entitled ”The future of the Jewish communities in Europe”, to which ECI was invited alongside Members of the European Parliament and European Jewish community organizations. Hundreds of Jewish community leaders from across Europe expressed their deep concerns about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. Many Jews are questioning whether there is a future for them and their children. The Jewish population in the EU declined from about 2 million in 1991 to 1.4 million in 2010. Statistics show that the exodus from Europe is growing, with about 10,000 Jews leaving Europe for Israel last year, among them 8,000 from France. The frequency and intensity of anti-Semitic acts is rising dramatically, as witnessed by the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels.

“If Jews do not feel safe in Europe, they leave,” explained former Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks in his keynote speech. “Would you stay in a country where you need armed police to guard you while you prayed? Where your children need armed guards to protect them at school? Where, if you wear a sign of your faith in public, you risk being abused or attacked?” he asked the audience.

Sacks warned that “the hate that starts with Jews never ends with Jews. It is not only Jews who suffer from anti-Semitism. We make a great mistake if we think anti-Semitism is a threat only to Jews. Anti-Semites are people who cannot accept responsibility for own failures and attack others. They blame the Jews. But they will not stop with attacking Jews.”

Sacks went on to explain how anti-Semitism mutates over time and takes different forms in different ages. “Today the Jews are hated because of their nation state, the state of Israel. The new justification for anti-Semitism is human rights. That is why Israel—the only fully-functioning democracy in the Middle East with a free press and independent judiciary—is regularly accused of the five cardinal sins against human rights: racism, apartheid, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide.”

In a similar vein, Rabbi Menachim Margolin of the European Jewish Association pulled no punches. “Today I spoke with the Chief Rabbi of Israel and we are in complete agreement. The situation of the Jews in Europe today is a crisis of the same proportions as the financial crisis and the refugee crisis. Just as Europe is putting massive resources to solve these crises, so too a real action plan is needed to address the growing anti-Semitism in Europe. Too little is being done”.

French philosopher Bernard-Henri LÚvy agreed with Lord Sacks that anti-Zionism is a new form of anti-Semitism. Israel is far from perfect, but it is a beacon of light in the Middle East. He called the BDS (boycotts, sanctions and divestments) movement of today ”recycled fascism”, which is using old methods from the 1930s to demonize Jews.

But LÚvy was more optimistic in assessing the overall threat to the Jewish communities. ”The anti-Semites of today are skinheads and illiterates, not the intellectual class. The political institutions of our countries are clearly on the side of the Jewish people,” he argued.

His point was well illustrated in the opening and closing speeches by the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and the Vice-President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, who both affirmed their support for the Jewish people.”

Europe is not Europe without its Jews. Europe is your home,” said President Schulz, who during his presidency has made the Holocaust Remembrance Day an official annual EU event. ”As long as I am the President of the European Parliament, the European Parliament will be your friend,” he assured the Jewish communities of Europe.

Despite the many nice words, and the attempts of many of the participants to see the positive side, I came away from the meeting with an uneasy feeling. Something very deep seems to be happening in Europe, something that goes beyond our capacity to comprehend. Anti-Semitism – or “Jew-hatred” as it can be termed – is like a cancer that can be described, analyzed and fought, but will kill the body in the end.

Christians for Israel has been working in the Ukraine for many years. Since 2014 our colleagues there have been helping the Jewish refugees fleeing from Russian-occupied East Ukraine. For the last few years they have been warning us of the dark clouds looming over their nation. And they challenge us to understand that the spirit of anti-Semitism that has raised its ugly head in Eastern Europe will not stop there, but threatens to envelope the whole of Europe and the Western world.

How should we respond to these phenomena? The Scriptures tell us that God himself will use anti-Semitism in the world to bring his people home to Israel. Parallel to this, we are warned by Scripture to expect the collapse of faith, and the rise of the Spirit of lawlessness in the West, and the shaking of the nations. Many different processes seem to be converging towards a climax.

We need to take the fears expressed by the Jewish communities in Europe very seriously. The growing anti-Semitism in Europe suggests that the time of the fishermen is at an end, and the time of the “hunters” is approaching (Jeremiah 16:16). As Christians we need to be alert to these trends. We need to pray into these issues. We must have “eyes to see” and discern the times in which we are living (Revelation 3:18). Let us intercede to the Lord on behalf of the Jewish people, that he will have his hand over them, bring them home, and protect them from those who hate them.

Andrew Tucker
Executive Director of Christians for Israel International
Legal Counsel for the European Coalition for Israel

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