Israel & Christians Today: Weekly Update (June 21)

editor - 21 June 2019

Anti-Semitism, it seems, is on the rise in Europe. In a groundbreaking EU survey of more than 16,000 European Jews published in 2018, about a third of the Jews polled in 12 countries said they avoid Jewish events or places out of fear for their safety. A similar number said they have considered emigrating in the past five years because they did not feel safe as Jews.

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are closely linked. “Anti-Zionism” refers to the rejection of the right of the Jewish people to return of the Jewish people to the land of their forefathers. Effectively it is a denial of the Jewish right to self-determination, and as such it is a new form of the age-old phenomenon of anti-Semitism.

As the famous Russian “refusnik” and human rights advocate Natan Sharansky argued, ‘the so-called “new anti-Semitism” poses a unique challenge. Whereas classical anti-Semitism is aimed at the Jewish people or the Jewish religion, “new anti-Semitism” is aimed at the Jewish state. Since this anti-Semitism can hide behind the veneer of legitimate criticism of Israel, it is more difficult to expose. Making the task even harder is that this hatred is advanced in the name of values most of us would consider unimpeachable, such as human rights. Nevertheless, we must be clear and outspoken in exposing the new anti-Semitism. I believe that we can apply a simple test – I call it the “3D” test – to help us distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism.’

‘The first “D” is the test of demonization. When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel’s actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz – this is anti- Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel.’

‘The second “D”’, according to Sharansky, ‘ is the test of double standards. When criticism of Israel is applied selectively; when Israel is singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers, such as China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, is ignored; when Israel’s Magen David Adom, alone among the world’s ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross – this is anti-Semitism.’

‘The third “D” is the test of delegitimization: when Israel’s fundamental right to exist is denied – alone among all peoples in the world – this too is anti-Semitism.’ 

Neo-Nazi’s in Ukraine

Haaretz newspaper reports that tomorrow (Saturday 22 June 2019) the Ukrainian capital city Kiev will be host to a large neo-Nazi concert. This will not be the first time that anti-Semitic musicians perform in the Ukraine. But what is remarkable about this event is that it is being organized in a very public way.

Six neo-Nazi bands from all around the world, including US neo-Nazi group Blue Eyed Devils, will perform songs with violent, racist and openly anti-Semitic lyrics. Up to 2000 neo-Nazi sympathizers are expected to attend. Similar events have been cancelled in other European cities under political and public pressure. Not so with this event. These musicians will perform in one of the most famous discotheques in the city. The concert is being openly advertised, and tickets can be purchased on-line.

The date of the concert is no coincidence. Saturday marks the anniversary of the day, on 22 June 1941, the Nazi’s invaded Ukraine, leading to the horrific mass murders of Jewish people – elderly people, families, parents, and children. In the following years 1.6 million Jews were murdered in Ukraine, most of them in mass executions carried out by the SS paramilitary death squads – the infamous Einzatsgruppen.

Anti-Semitism is no stranger in Ukraine. For example, in late 2018 the province of Lvov announced that 2019 would be the ‘Year of Stepan Bandera’. Bandera was a Ukrainian nationalist leader who initiated countless ‘pogroms’ (attacks) against the Jewish people.

Christians for Israel has a large team in Ukraine helping the Jewish community – distributing food parcels and meals to elderly Jews, helping those who want to make ‘aliyah’ (ie. emigrate) to Israel, and keeping alive the memory of the holocaust by placing monuments at mass graves (some of which are still being discovered). From 22-29 June an international group of Christians for Israel from Germany, Austria and Netherlands will visit Ukraine to learn about the history of the Jewish people in Ukraine, and distribute 2000 food parcels to poor Jewish families, elderly people, and holocaust survivors. Christians for Israel Ukraine leader Koen Carlier: “It is so important that Christians come to Ukraine to help and encourage the Jewish community here, and remind them that they are not alone, but that there are many Christians around the world who love the Jewish people”.

The storage where 2000 food parcels will be packed

With your support we can encourage and comfort the elderly Jews in Ukraine.












Anti-Semitism and the BDS movement in Germany

As has been widely published in the media, the German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner recently urged Jews in Germany to avoid wearing skullcaps in public. Felix Klein warned Jews against wearing the kippa in parts of the country following a rise in anti-Semitism. He said: “I cannot recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany”.

Mr. Klein suggested “the lifting of inhibitions and the uncouthness” of society could be behind the spike in anti-Semitic crimes. The internet, social media and “constant attacks against our culture of remembrance” may be contributing factors, he said. He also called for police officers, teachers, and lawyers to receive training to clarify “what is allowed and what is not” when “dealing with anti-Semitism”.

His comments came weeks after Germany’s top legal expert on anti-Semitism said the prejudice remained “deeply rooted” in German society.”Anti-Semitism has always been here. But I think that recently, it has again become louder, more aggressive and flagrant,” Claudia Vanoni told the AFP news agency. A sharp increase in the number of anti-Semitic offences was recorded by the German government last year.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said the recommendation amounted to “an admission that, again, Jews are not safe on German soil”. President Rivlin said he was “shocked” by Klein’s warning and considered it “a capitulation to anti-Semitism”.

“We will never submit, will never lower our gaze and will never react to anti-Semitism with defeatism, and expect and demand our allies act in the same way,” the Israeli President said.

The question of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is, understandably, very sensitive in Germany. In mid-May, the German Bundestagadopted a motion declaring that the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is anti-Semitic. It called on German governmental bodies not to finance or support any organizations that support BDS or question Israel’s right to exist. Germany is the first European Union member state to approve such a measure.

The motion said that calling for Israeli products to be labeled with “Don’t Buy” stickers was reminiscent of the Nazi-era boycott of Jewish businesses, known in German as “Judenboykott,” which used slogans such as: “Don’t buy from Jews.”

The resolution was submitted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing Christian Democratic Union together with the Social Democratic Party, the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party had submitted their own motion calling for a total ban of the BDS in Germany. That motion was defeated.


Trump’s Peace Plan and the Bahrain Summit

Bahrain, a tiny Persian Gulf state with close ties to the United States and one of the friendliest in the region to Israel, will host a conference June 25-26 to promote investment in the Palestinian areas.

The meeting has been initiated by the United States. It is the first step in the plan that the White House team led by Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has shaped to bring about Israeli-Palestinian peace.

As Times of Israel reports, the Palestinians have boycotted the event (and the whole Trump plan). According to the Palestinians, their claims to statehood need to be recognized before they are willing to be involved in initiatives aimed at their economic improvement.

Israel will also not be officially represented.

Several Arab states are said to be planning to attend, but it remains to be seen which states actually send representatives, and at what political level.


Scripture for the week: Jeremiah 16:14-15

14 “However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’15 but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.


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