Nearly 80 Jewish graves were desecrated in Eastern France this week in a horrible anti-Semitic attack. France has seen a significant rise in attacks on Jews over the years, with anti-Semitic incidents increasing from 311 in 2017 to 541 in 2018. Unfortunately, France’s anti-Semitic woes shouldn’t be viewed in isolation, but as a growing trend of Jew hatred worldwide.
American Christians must play a pro-active role in combatting the rise of anti-Semitism within the United States. These initiatives should include: Holocaust education, expanding immersive Israel-based programming, and pushing back on the normalization of anti-Semitism in our politics.
Make no mistake: animosity toward Jews is on the rise across the globe. Countries in the Middle East like Iran frequently call for the total destruction of the Jewish state. Jews are fleeing France and other European nations due to fear of violence against their families and communities. And in a stunning display, seven members of the United Kingdom’s left-wing split from the Labor Party partially due to Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-Semitic past.
Even within America, disturbing trends of anti-Semitism are more frequent. Sadly, anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased 57 percent in 2017. Notable recent examples include young men marching in Charlottesville with tiki torches chanting“Jews will not replace us!” and a sitting member of Congress suggesting that American politicians only support Israel because they are bought off by Jewish “Benjamin’s.”
Such grotesque hate must be confronted before it spirals out of control.
Considering the close ties between Christians and Jews, the church is in a unique position to lead on this problem. Not to mention that combating anti-Semitism is a social justice issue, and one that can easily unite Christians from both conservative and progressive backgrounds.
To start, Christians need to become better educated themselves, so that we can educate the public about the horrible events of the past. Shockingly, 41 percent of Americans don’t know what happened at Auschwitz according to a survey by Shoen Consulting. Worse, that number rose sharply to 66 percent when the same question was asked of millennials.
Ignorance is cured through education and clearly public schools aren’t doing the trick. The church should make this a priority by setting up centers for Jewish-Christian understanding across the country. Furthermore, more congregations should invite Jewish leaders to lecture on select Sundays to educate Christians on pressing issues in the Jewish community.
Creating strong bonds with the Jewish people and state through personal interactions is also a necessity. Physically being in the Holy Land is a more powerful experience than anyone can get from just reading a textbook.
I’ve been to Israel twice and you can truly feel the Bible come to life when you step into Jerusalem. Seeing historical locations from the Old Testament helps any Christian better understand their Judeo-Christian roots. For example, worshipping at the Western Wall with thousands of Jews standing next to me is an experience I’ll never forget.
Thankfully, churches won’t have to reinvent the wheel. Programs that shuttle young Christians to Israel already exist. The Passages program for example, has taken nearly 6,000 Christian college students from across the United States to the Holy Land. Passages alumni then go back to their campuses and share powerful personal stories with peers from across a variety of religious and political spectrums.
Programming of this sort should also be extended to take young people to Poland. Visiting Auschwitz brought to life the atrocities that Europe’s Jews faced from Hitler’s barbaric regime. Jewish organizations already have trips in this mold and Christian groups could model theirs in a similar fashion.
Finally, Christians need to speak up and condemn politicians who spew anti-Semitic hate. Normalizing statements like “Israel has hypnotized the world” or pictures of high school students giving the Nazi salute should never be acceptable. People from around the world look to America for moral clarity, and we should never allow our values to be comprised.
To be sure, anti-Semitism in coming years is likely to get worse. Continuing down this road could very well lead to the same political movements that decimated Jewish communities. Remember, the Holocaust was carried out by able and ‘”educated” men and women. Christians need to take a leading role in ensuring an outcome like this never happens again and must stand with the Jewish people in these trying times.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.