What is Antisemitism?
Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.
Let’s unpack this definition. Antisemitism is prejudice against, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as a national, ethnic, religious or racial group. It is really a form of racism. Today, antisemitism may be rhetorical, physical, cyber-based, social action or political maneuvering. It may be directed toward Jewish individuals, Jewish communities, Jewish religious facilities, Jewish property or even the whole nation of Israel.
The existence of the Jewish State of Israel permits antisemitism to assume a ‘safe’ political form. In other words, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country is not regarded as antisemitic. So we hear “I have nothing against Jews, but I don’t like Israel”.
Given the long history of antisemitism we might ask; “Why have the Jews suffered so much over the centuries?” The answer is found in the Jewish scriptures themselves. In the book of Deuteronomy, God warned the ancient people of Israel what would happen to them of they rejected His laws and went after other gods:
The Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone …. Among those nations you shall find no rest … but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul. So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life. (Deut 28.64-66, emphasis added)
As detailed below, this uncertainty continues today, particularly in Europe. Jew hatred is on the rise in the UK, France, Italy and the Netherlands, and is encouraging many Jews to immigrate (aliyah) to Israel.
Antisemitism through the Ages
Antisemitism in the Early Church: The concept of antisemitism goes back several thousand years and has existed to some degree wherever Jews have settled outside Palestine. But in the ancient Greco-Roman world, religious differences were the primary basis for antisemitism, link. Following the final and complete devastation of the Jews and their temple in 70 AD, history shows that mainstream Christianity, namely the Catholic Church, argued that God had rejected the Jews and that the church was the new Israel. As early as the second century, Christians were accusing the Jews of being “Christ killers”. This doctrinal error is now called “Replacement Theology”, link, link. Sadly, this antisemitic view is common in the institutionalized church today.
Antisemitism in Europe: During the Middle Ages there was full-scale persecution of Jews in central Europe, especially in Germany, with blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and killings. Jews were persecuted on both religious and economic (anti-Jewish trader) grounds. For example, in the 12th century, there were Christians who believed that some of the Jews possessed magical powers and had gained these powers from making a pact with the devil. And Czar Ivan IV (1530–1584) forced religious conversion on the Jews in the newly conquered territories and severely restricted Jewish trade, link.
Other examples of persecution were attacks on the Prague Ghetto (1389) and on Polish cities (1648). And in the 16th century, Martin Luther’s harsh comments about the Jews are seen by many as a continuation of medieval Christian Antisemitism, link.
Pogroms in Russia: Pogroms (Russian:’to wreak havoc’) were violent riots launched against Jews and frequently encouraged by government authorities. There were waves of pogroms in the Russian Empire between 1871 and 1917, link, link. The main campaign of Russian pogroms was initiated by Czar Alexander III in 1881.
The Holocaust: The worst example of Antisemitism in recent years is denoted by the this yellow badge. It was a cloth patch that Jews were ordered by Nazis to sew onto their outer garments in order to mark them as Jews in public, during the Holocaust. Much of the ideological basis for Hitler’s crimes was laid down as early as 1879 when a German Antisemitic League called for discriminatory laws against the Jews, link.
World Hot Spots of Antisemitism Today
According to a comprehensive 2013/14 global survey, about 26% of the world’s adult population hold antisemitic views. Not surprisingly, it is worst in the Middle East with some 74% of the adult population expressing Antisemitic views, growing to 93% in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, link.
Over 89% of the citizens of Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan have a ‘very unfavorable’ opinion of Jews. [‘The Devil That Never Dies’, by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen]
By contrast, AntiSemitism is relatively low in Australia (14%), the USA (9%), the UK (8%) and Sweden (4%). That said, in 2015, the Swedish city of Malmo had a declining Jewish community of just 1,000 (compared to 50,000 Muslim immigrants) and Malmo’s rabbi, Shneur Kesselman has suffered some 150 anti-Semitic attacks in his 10 years in the city [Prophetic Witness, 2015].
Increasing Problems in Europe
The difference between the UK at just 8% and most of Europe is striking (Spain 29%, France 37%, Poland 45%, Greece 69%), due, in part, to extreme left and right political activists and to the relative size of the Muslim populations. Jews across Europe are detecting increasing Antisemitism, with shouts like “death to the Jews” from pro-Palestinian rallies in Belgium France (Paris suburbs) and Germany, link. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Berlin shout anti-Semitic slogans.
Antisemitism in France
Here there is now open hatred of Jews: synagogues have been vandalized and Jewish businesses have had their windows broken in acts reminiscent of Kristallnacht (Nazi attacks in 1938). Over the past decade France has suffered at least 400 anti-Semitic acts each year, link, and this has encouraged an annual migration of thousands of French Jews. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, Benjamin Netanyahu called for French Jews to come to Israel:
To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that … the state of Israel is your home. [Benjamin Netanyahu, Jan 2015]
Antisemitism in the UK
According to a Guardian report:
By pretty much every measure, the situation in Britain is better for Jews than anywhere else in western Europe
But even here it is claimed that things are getting steadily worse in terms of antisemitic daubings and abuse in the street. The Paris attacks increased this fear; “People were not just disturbed … they were alarmed” [Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz, Borehamwood and Elstree synagogue]. Not surprisingly, a recent survey from the Campaign Against Antisemitism revealed that
45% of British Jews believe Jews may no longer have a long-term future in Britain
So, as in France, British Jews are more and more considering immigration to Israel. What we observe is fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Antisemitism in Italy
Here vandals defaced a Jewish memorial plaque that read: “The 16th of October 1943: whole families of Roman Jews dragged from their homes by the Nazis were concentrated in this building and deported to the extermination camps. Of 1,000 persons, only 16 survived”. They had scrawled “Dirty Jews”.
Antisemitism in the UN and the US
As of 2012, the UN had passed 79 resolutions directly critical of Israel, and 40% of UN Human Rights Council Resolutions have been against Israel. This is surprising since it is argued that Israel is the only vestige of democracy left in the Middle East. In 2015 Benjamin Netanyahu won a record fourth term as Israel’s Prime Minister, despite an international effort to topple him. Part of that effort came from the US administration which apparently went as far as to dispatch one of Obama’s campaign operatives to Israel in order to try and prevent Netanyahu from being re-elected. Such political bias against Israel can be seen as anti-Semitism. More …
Antisemitism in the Church – Chrislam
Exposing Christian Palestinianism: A Biblical Perspective On The Relationship Between Israel, The Church and The Arab World
Controversy about the existence of the nation of Israel has been intensifying within Christianity. A political-religious campaign is gaining worldwide acceptance as church leaders, denominations, charities, missions, and humanitarian groups are uniting with Muslims and other world religions against Israel. This infectious Antisemitism is called Christian Palestinianism, and it is far more than a concern over the plight of the so-called Palestinian people. In particular, it is anti-Israel and anti-Christian Zionism (the Christian movement that supports the State of Israel):
We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as a false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation … With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonization, apartheid and empire-building.
[The Jewish Declaration on Christian Zionism, 2006]
Christian Palestinianism questions the claim that the covenant God made with Abraham is still valid. It argues that since the Jews rejected their Messiah then they also deny themselves the promises of the covenant. Echoing the tenants of Replacement Theology, Christian Palestinianism claims that Christian believers are now the true ‘children of Abraham’ and therefore the inheritors of any unrealized benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant. But what does the Bible say?
I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants … for an everlasting covenant … also I give to you and your descendants … all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God
The simple fact that the covenant is everlasting and unconditional itself destroys Christian Palestinianism. But for those who reject such scriptures, they only have to look at the Jewish aliyah to Israel over the last 100 years, and the modern State of Israel as proof that God’s promises are being realized today! More …
Antisemitism on the University Campus
Student groups seeking to isolate and delegitimize Israel, to stifle dialogue and control the message about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have organized activities on college and university campuses for several years. In the 2014-2015 academic year, there have been more than 90 anti-Israel events scheduled to take place on U.S. campuses, double the 45 events scheduled during the same period last year, link.
Antisemitism in Cyber Space – Online Hate
Recent conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians have caused an explosion of anti-Semitic hate speech on social media (facebook, twitter) and online videos (YouTube), link. In response to this, social networks monitor and sometimes close the accounts bearing hateful material, link.
Online Antisemitism is rampant in France, with website moderators being forced to censor 95% of comments made by French users. France boasts the largest Jewish community in Western Europe, and such activity is encouraging Jews to emigrate to Israel, link.
A great song – play it!
The good news is that there are organisations working against Antisemitism. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is at the forefront, fighting Antisemitism and all forms of bigotry worldwide through information, education, legislation and advocacy. ADL challenges world leaders and the UN to take action against anti-Jewish bigotry and violence. A recent ADL survey found that there are over 1 billion people in the world that harbour Antisemitic views:
“The stunning rise in Antisemitism and other forms of bigotry is a threat to the vitality of pluralism and democracy, and to fundamental freedoms across the region” [ Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director ]
Combating Online Antisemitism:
The Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) aims to combat cyber hate crime, whatever the form. Its vision is to change online culture so hate in all its forms becomes as socially unacceptable online as it is “in real life”.