“Don’t wear a menorah in France”: anti-Semitism rising globally

By December 23, 2019

International (MNN) — American Jewish Committee experts just met with FBI officials to discuss rising anti-Semitism in the U.S. The meeting comes on the heels of an executive order targeting anti-Semitism on college campuses and a December 10 attack on a Jewish community in New Jersey.

It was the third deadly assault targeting Jews on U.S. soil in just over a year. As noted here by the Wall Street Journal, it’s part of a larger trend; anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 29% between 2015 and 2018.

“It creates a vulnerability that our community has not felt in several generations,” Rabbi Stewart Vogel told WSJ.

Uncharted Ministries founder Tom Doyle says this issue goes beyond U.S. borders: “There is… a lot of anti-Semitism in Europe; we’re seeing it on the college campuses in America… it’s growing around the world.”

Anti-Semitism in Europe

At the end of November, filmmakers debuted the documentary “Hate Among Us” in New York and California. The documentary cites events from both Europe and the U.S. as modern-day examples of growing anti-Semitism.


This 2005 photo depicts anti-Semitic graffiti in Klaipėda, Lithuania.
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

David McKenzie, one of the film’s four executive producers, told Forbes:

“All these years after the Holocaust and the anger and the hostility that prevails against the Jewish community is still visible at alarming rates. We must educate the public about what is happening, and we must, both as a community and as a society, take a stance. We need to necessitate change. And we need to do it now.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, one in four Europeans hold anti-Semitic beliefs. It’s most prevalent in Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary, but these views aren’t isolated. Hate crimes targeting Jewish people rose 18 percent last year in Germany, New Statesman America reports, and anti-Semitic incidents rose by 74 percent in France during the same time period.

“A guy that I met in the desert of Israel, he was from France, he had on a real nice necklace that had a menorah on it,” Doyle recalls from a recent Uncharted trip. “I said, ‘Oh, that’s pretty neat!’ and we’re talking…he says, ‘I’m just so glad that I can wear [the necklace] here’.”

When Doyle asked why, the man’s response surprised him.

“‘I would never wear a menorah in France, I would be beat up in certain areas.  It’s just too dangerous there’.”

Current trends in the U.S. follow a similar path.

Anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, or both?

Memorials for the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
(Photo, caption courtesy of Dmitry Brant via Wikimedia Commons)

On October 27, 2018, a gunman opened fire in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing 11 people. Reports like this followed the attack, citing a steady rise of hate crimes targeting Jews since 2016.

Two weeks ago, U.S. President Trump signed an executive order denying federal funding to any universities deemed “supportive” of anti-Semitic rhetoric. Jewish groups like AJC and ADL praised the move. Others claim the order limits free speech by punishing criticism of Israel, or “anti-Israel” statements.

However, Doyle notes, one often leads to the other.

“Because of the political situation on the ground in Israel that is unsolvable between Jews and Palestinians, college campuses that lean way ‘left’ [politically] have adopted the thought that ‘everything is Israel’s fault’, and then that translates into anti-Semitism,” Doyle explains.

“People can agree or disagree on politics, but when it becomes racism, it’s no longer politics. That’s what’s happened because of the issues in Israel and the constant tension there – people have assumed it’s all Israel’s fault and that justifies anti-Semitism.”

How Christians can respond

Uncharted Ministries helps believers love the Jewish people in Jesus’ name. Learn more here.

“Israel’s a democracy. They’re a country like anyone else, and they make mistakes. They do good things, they do bad things, but God calls us in Scripture to bless them. So, we need to do that as believers,” Doyle says.

Additionally, as Christ’s followers, “we’re supposed to go to the hurting, we’re supposed to go to those that are being attacked,” he continues.

“Jesus always went to the least of these; He went to the marginalized, He went to the hated. I think we’re supposed to do that today.”

Specifically, “we need to tell Jewish people that we love them and we’re praying for them,” Doyle says. “We see the anti-Semitism and it’s wrong, and we’re against it.”



Header image courtesy of frankieleon via Flickr.

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