by Christine Ege
More than 75 years after the end of World War II, and nearly 65 years after the founding of the State of Israel, antisemitism is far from extinct. In the final chapter of her book, Journey to the Holocaust, Dr. Susanna Kokkonen identifies some of the symptoms of modern-day antisemitism, some of which are obscured behind anti-Israel attitudes. She comments that, “Very often, it is claimed that anti-Israel attitudes or excessive criticism of (real or perceived) Israeli actions are not anti-Jewish, but just anti-Israel. This is difficult to believe when the accusations used against the only Jewish State in the world are the very same accusations that have always been made against the Jews” (p.308).
As an example, Dr. Kokkonen references a 2013 cartoon in a notable British publication that portrayed Benjamin Netanyahu constructing a wall using Palestinian bodies and blood as building materials. Oddly, this cartoon was published on January 27, the day designated by the United Nations as International Holocaust Memorial Day. The image used, albeit with the then-current Prime Minister of Israel as the “builder” of the wall, would have been very familiar even to illiterate people centuries ago, as it invoked an age-old false accusation against Jewish people – the accusation of kidnapping Christians, particularly Christian children, in order to use their blood in evil religious rituals. Clearly, judgments against Israel can function in tandem with judgments against Jewish people.
In addition, the EU issued a report in 2013 that summarized results of an inquiry made by its Agency for Fundamental Rights into antisemitic incidents and attitudes in EU member states. Incidents of antisemitic arson, murder, and terrorism were listed as contributing to the desire of many Jews to re-locate to Israel. Also noted were discussions in some member states of possibly banning ritual circumcision and/or kosher slaughtering practices for meat. This same research inquiry demonstrated that roughly 40% of Europeans believed Israelis murdered Palestinians. This inquiry should give us pause, as most of Europe’s remaining Jews are either Holocaust survivors or their descendants.
In December 2018, the same agency issued a report on antisemitism based on responses from 16,500 people in twelve EU member states. Three key trends were identified in those member states:
- Reduced sense of security and safety for Jewish people due to attacks and harassment;
- Normalization of harassment of Jews;
- Invisible but real discrimination in fundamental aspects of life;
- Increasingly normalized antisemitism;
Dr. Kokkonen affirms that hatred invoked against the Jewish State of Israel only thinly disguises hatred of Jewish people. Unfortunately, these attitudes are increasingly prevalent in Christian congregations, largely due to a breakdown of Judeo-Christian values and a drifting away from the truths laid out in the Bible. “Just as in the Medieval world, where anti-Jewish theology became a social law, anti-Israel theology is now becoming a political practice. … The very same groups that campaign against Israel are also campaigning against Bible-believing Christians,” … (p.112), against those who recognize that the Biblical worldview advocates FOR Israel, not against it. The Bible does not differentiate between God’s people based on whether they live inside or outside the Jewish State.
What ultimately matters is what the Bible says about Jerusalem. As the Lord declares in Ezekiel 43:7a, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever.” Perhaps we should examine our own opinions in light of God’s Word.