By: Akos Balogh
Last week on an American university campus, several Jewish students were chased into a library by pro-Hamas student protestors.
The Jewish students stood in the library terrified while the protestors banged on the library doors. The librarians kindly offered to help the students…by saying they could hide in the attic.
While we might shake our heads in bewilderment at this event, it’s not isolated.
Since the October 7 massacre of Israelis by Hamas, the attacks on Jewish people outside of Israel have increased.
There has been an off-the-charts uptick in antisemitic incidents in Germany (240 percent), the United States (nearly 400 percent), and London (1,353 percent).
Jewish people all over the world are noticing and growing increasingly afraid. As Rabbi James Kennard wrote recently:
What has been so frightening for Jews and all right-minded people has been the reaction to the worst pogrom in modern Jewish history. Demonstrators on city streets, professors and students in elite universities and imams in mosques have cheered on Hamas…And so today, in a manner unprecedented since 1945, Jews feel under attack.
And you need only jump on social media to hear stories of Jewish people outside of Israel – including here in Australia – feeling afraid like never before:
Here’s what Christians should understand:
1) Antisemitism is not just found among Muslim supporters of Palestine, but also increasing numbers of people on the secular Left
While it’s shocking to hear Muslims in Western countries chanting ‘gas the Jews’, or the eliminationist ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ (a reference to the state of Israel being wiped off the map and replaced by a Palestinian state between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea), it’s equally concerning to hear non-Muslim westerners writing off the atrocities of Hamas as ‘acts of resistance’, or ignoring them altogether.
Standford Jewish student Julia Steinberg wrote recently about how many in her generation (Gen Z) view Hamas as the good guys:
I am 21 years old and Jewish. As of October 23, 64 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds think what happened on October 7 was a terrorist attack. Seventy-seven percent of us think “it’s true that Hamas terrorists killed 1,200 Israeli civilians by shooting them, raping and beheading people including whole families, kids and babies.”
But when asked, “in this conflict do you side more with Israel or Hamas?” Forty-eight percent said Hamas.
Half of Gen Z in the US are siding with people who deliberately behead babies.
How could that be?
‘Gen Z worships these identity categories and the distinction of oppressor/oppressed. I know that’s true—I am submerged in it every day. The oppressor is always wrong, and the oppressed are always right. Since high school, we’ve been trained to identify and slot people based on their identities alone.’
Secular Left-wing ideology is coming home to roost, to the point where half a generation in the US can’t discern genuine evil.
Furthermore, many Left-wing Jewish people are realising that many of their own political side has disowned them, by seeing Israel as the evil oppressor, and Hamas as freedom fighters. It’s a confronting light bulb moment for many Jews.
No wonder Jewish people are worried.
2) The reporting of the war is biased against Israel
One of the most disturbing acts of reporting that’s taken place was the report of the alleged bombing of a Gaza hospital by the Israeli military. Hamas put out a statement that 500 people had been killed by Israeli forces at al-Ahli Arab Hospital. But instead of doing the work of, you know, fact-checking, many Western journalists immediately believed Hamas.
And when it turned out that the hospital was highly unlikely to have been bombed by Israelis, but was more consistent with a misfired rocket from a Palestinian Jihadi group, media outlets like the New York Times were very slow to change their story (and to this point, haven’t offered an official correction).
In the meantime this news inflamed the Arab world (and the Muslims living in the West) with even more Antisemitic sentiment, making the lives of Jews across the world that much more dangerous.
But if Hamas have it in their founding charter to wipe Jews off the face of the earth – and are trying their level best to do that, including beheading Jewish babies – why would anyone trust their reporting about Israel? Shouldn’t that fact alone cause many to be suspicious – extremely suspicious – of Hamas’ reporting?
Israeli historian Michael Oran gives this reason for biased reporting on the Israeli campaign against Hamas:
[Much of the mainstream press] call mass murderers “militants” and [cite] Hamas and its “Health Ministry” as a reliable source. For close to fifty years—as a student activist, a diplomat, a soldier, a government and military spokesman, and above all, as a historian—I’ve grappled with the media’s bias against Israel. I’ve long known that the terrorists are “militants” solely because their victims are Jews, and only in a conflict with Israel are terrorists considered credible.
Watching the coverage of the war – a war in which Hamas use their people as human shields, a war in which the IDF warns Gaza civilians ahead of time to leave areas they’re going to bomb, by leafletting the area, by telephoning the respective Gazans, by text messaging people (doing something no other military on the planet does, for the sake of minimising civilian casualties), I can’t avoid the conclusion that Israel is held to a standard no other military on the planet is.
Sure, Israel isn’t perfect and will make mistakes as it prosecutes a war against Hamas.
But there’s a difference between covering those mistakes fairly, versus being inherently biased against Israel – like much of the Western media seems to be right now.
3) The conditions for a Holocaust in the Western world are not yet here: but the necessary ingredients are beginning to fall into place
Many Jewish people have found it difficult to believe that a Holocaust could have taken place in the middle of the 20th century, in the most cultured and educated nation on the earth at the time – Germany. But with the blaming of Israel and the underlying antisemitism that accompanies it, intelligent Jewish voices are starting to understand how it could have happened. Here’s Rabbi James Kennard again:
And so today, in a manner unprecedented since 1945, Jews feel under attack. Not just from the murderers but also from the murderer’s supporters, their justifiers and those who insist on staying neutral in a battle between good and evil. For the first time since WW 2 these groups are all visibly in place. And the holocaust no longer generates a sense of bewilderment. Now I can understand how Jews were murdered in their millions and the world cheered, explained or just turned the other way.
4) Christians must stand up for Jews: because it’s the right thing to do. But also, because Church history has played its fair share in antisemitism
One of the most disturbing heresies of Church history is the idea that Jews as a race are uniquely to blame for the murder of Jesus, and so are therefore worthy of hatred and disdain.
This belief has led to many antisemitic acts against Jews throughout history in Christian-influenced Europe, culminating in the Holocaust. Sadly, even some of the great Reformers of Christianity weren’t exempt from such heretical views.
Martin Luther began as someone who was against the antisemitism around at the time. In his 1523 essay That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew, Luther condemned the inhuman treatment of Jews and urged Christians to treat them kindly. Luther’s fervent desire was that Jews would hear the gospel proclaimed clearly and be moved to convert to Christianity.
But in 1543, Luther published an anti-Judaic tract known as ‘On Jews and their Lies’, where he argues that if Jews don’t convert to Christianity, they should be punished.
Jewish synagogues and schools were to be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes burned, and property and money confiscated. Luther claimed they should be shown no mercy or kindness, afforded no legal protection, and ‘these poisonous envenomed worms’ should be drafted into forced labour or expelled for all time. He also advocates their murder, writing ‘[W]e are at fault in not slaying them’. (Unsurprisingly, the Nazis quite liked this book).
Antisemitism in its various forms is one of the dark blind spots of Church history. And we Christians need to be aware of this blind spot and actively work against it.
Especially in this time of increasing antisemitism.
5) ‘Never again’ must, for Christians, also mean ‘not on our watch’
Because of the increasing persecution of Jewish people around the world (not to mention Hamas’ murderous intent against the Jews of Israel), Christians should be at the forefront of caring for their Jewish neighbours.
I saw this firsthand during my visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. recently. Alongside the exhibitions that showed the rise of the Nazis, and the Western world’s antisemitism against the Jews leading up to and during World War 2, there was a wall full of names: names of gentiles throughout Europe who risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbours. Names of people who went against the culture of antisemitism. Names of people who often got killed in the process of loving their Jewish neighbours.
Many of those names belonged to Christians.
We don’t yet know where the rising antisemitism will lead to. Perhaps after Israel (hopefully) dismantles Hamas, things will die down. Or maybe antisemitism will only increase as Hamas blasts more stories about dead Palestinians.
Either way, may Christians be the ones who stand with their Jewish neighbours, and say ‘Never again’.