Remember Every Day
Today’s Text: Psalm 82:3-4
ISRAEL ED: International Holocaust Remembrance Day
January 27, 1945 is acknowledged as the official beginning of the end of the Nazi Holocaust. International Holocaust Remembrance Day correlates with the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration-death camps.
More than seven decades after the horrific era known as the Holocaust, the debate is ongoing. How could such an atrocity occur in civilized modern society?
Fingers justly point at the Nazi regime perpetrating the horror. But another indictment is conveniently swept under the carpet. The vast majority in the faith community turned a blind eye to the Jewish people and chose to overlook the most basic of biblical principles:
“Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy;
Free them from the hand of the wicked.”
In March 1939, everything changed for Jewish people living in Czechoslovakia. The German army invaded and occupied their country. The threat had been brewing for a year following Germany’s annexation of Sudetenland, the southern part of Czechoslovakia inhabited by a largely ethnic German population.
There was an attempt to avoid another war when the leaders of Britain, France, Italy and Germany convened without inviting Czechoslovakia. After much negotiation, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, French Premier Edouard Daladier, Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini and German Chancellor Adolph Hitler signed the Munich Agreement.
In a move designed to appease, the agreement endorsed Germany’s occupation of Sudetenland in exchange for peace. Neville Chamberlain returned to cheering crowds in Great Britain claiming the Munich Agreement had created “peace for our time.”
Adolf Hitler reneged on the agreement. Recognizing the weakness of Western European leaders, Hitler pursued his expansionist policies. The following year, the Nazis invaded and occupied the remainder of Czechoslovakia before invading Poland. Hitler was responsible for lighting the fuse that ignited World War II.
Recently, I listened to a Jewish man describe his horrifying firsthand experience. Nazi soldiers were everywhere and continual streams of Nazi propaganda blared from loudspeakers. He described seemingly endless military convoys and troops marching through his village on their way to fulfill Hitler’s expansionist ambitions.
The development of these events alone was troubling. Even more disturbing, the Holocaust survivor told of the rapid and fundamental change toward the Jewish population of Czechoslovakia.
Until the Nazi occupation, this man’s family had many Christian friends. His childhood buddies and schoolmates were Christians. His father had Christian colleagues, clients and employees. His family interacted regularly with Christian neighbors. Overnight, the community including long-time Christian friends turned their backs on them.
Within months and with virtually no resistance from the faith community, deportations of the Jewish population began. Approximately 263,000 Czechoslovakian Jews died in the infamous Nazi concentration-extermination camps of Theresienstadt, Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
When reading historical accounts, the speed that latent anti-Semitism surfaced and pervaded the culture of Europe can easily be missed. In his soft-spoken manner, what this Holocaust survivor conveyed was like a lightning bolt that shocked me to the core. I got the message.
With understanding, came the realization that precursors to a similar state of affairs exist today. This time the threat is not confined to one geographic area. Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, warns that, “Anti-Semitism is a virus that survives by mutating . . . Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism.”(1) The threat is a global phenomenon.
Reframing anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism is alarmingly common. A spokesman for the Austria-Israel Society, Stefan Schaden remarks, “Everything passes as so-called criticism of Israel. Anti-Semitism seems to have been officially abolished.”(2)
A couple of years ago, a Turkish man in Berlin posted an image of Adolf Hitler on Facebook with the caption, “I could have annihilated all the Jews in the world, but I left some of them alive so you will know why I was killing them.”(3) That social media would permit such a post is reprehensible.
Unbelievably, Austrian authorities investigated the incident and ruled that the comment was not anti-Semitic, but rather a legitimate expression of displeasure toward Israel. Similarly, when a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany was firebombed in 2015, the court ruled that the incident was an acceptable way to express disagreement with Israeli policies. It was fallaciously reframed to be, “bringing attention to the Gaza conflict, not anti-Semitism. (4)
With the threat spiraling and confidence that it can be contained plummeting, many in the European Jewish community are weighing their options. As many as 48-percent have considered immigrating to Israel or the United States. (5)
Unfortunately, North America has also seen increased anti-Semitic activity with a dramatic spike of incidents. Observers identify the environment of college and university campuses aligned with the progressive left as hotbeds of raging anti-Semitism. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) promote the Palestinian-Arab cause while publically and vehemently denouncing Israel. These groups don’t just verbalize grievances about Israel. They have an anti-Semitic agenda demonstrated by routine demonization, delegitimization and double standards with regard to Israel. Jewish students are threatened, harassed and physically attacked on campus. Anti-Semitic acts are nearly double the average on campuses where these hate filled organizations are allowed to operate.
Even more disturbing is the shift in attitude toward Israel and the Jewish people among evangelicals. Jewish friends have remarked to me over the years, “If it wasn’t for evangelical Christians, the Jewish people would have no friends.” That statement was certainly true three decades ago when the vast majority of mainstream evangelical leaders publically affirmed support for the modern State of Israel.
Within the last ten years, however, there has been a collaborative effort to undermine support for Israel among evangelicals. Influential Christians produced movies such as With God on Our Side (2010), Little Town of Bethlehem (2010) and The Stones Cry Out (2013) for the express purpose of mainstreaming the skewed narrative often associated with Palestinian Liberation theology.
At the Catalyst Conference 2012, a gathering attended by thousands of young evangelical leaders, one journalist observed,
“In dozens of random conversations, I noted that ‘Millennials’ – the 20-somethings who are quickly dominating the evangelical scene – expressed solidarity with the Palestinians and annoyance with Israel. This is a seismic shift in the American church and a serious threat to Israel’s one traditional area of support.” (6)
A Pew poll taken in 2010 suggests that evangelicals who stand with Israel may actually be a shrinking minority. When asked about their sympathies in the Palestinian-Arab conflict with Israel, those responding answered as follows:
- 34% Sympathized with Israel
- 11% Sympathized with Palestinian-Arabs
- 39% Sympathized with Both Equally
- 30% Sympathized with Israel
- 13% Sympathized with Palestinian-Arabs
- 49% Sympathized with Both Equally (7)
According to the Pew survey, committed supporters of Israel comprise 34-percent or less of the evangelical community. And, with a decline in support for Israel, there is a corresponding deterioration of support for the Jewish community.
The tragic reality is that when Hitler targeted the Jewish people, the faith community covered its eyes. When Jewish families were herded into ghettos and ultimately deported to death camps, few Christians came to their aid. In the shadow of the death camps, the broader faith community functioned with no perceptible concern or widespread endeavor to rescue the afflicted Jewish people from the hand of the wicked Nazi Regime.
The environment of pre-World War II Czechoslovakia teaches that attitudes toward the Jewish people can change overnight. Christians would do well to heed the warning of Edmund Burke: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Our view of the Holocaust must be clear. Standing with Israel today requires more than hype and effusive words. The faith community must remember the past and then resolve to stand in solidarity with the Jewish people every day.
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken authentically communicates biblical truth making his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2018, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added).
1) Sacks, Jonathan, “Anti-Zionism is the new Anti-Semitism, says Britian’s ex chief rabbi,” Newsweek U.S. Edition, April 3, 2016.
2)Weinthal, Benjamin, “Austrian Prosecutor: Call to Kill Jews Is Legal Criticism of Israel,” The Jerusalem Post, February 11, 2015.
4) “Austrian Prosecutor: Posting Hitler’s Picture and Praising Death of Jews Is Legitimate Criticism of Israel!, Anti-Semitism Watch, Archives.
5) Sacks, Jonathan.
6) Markell, Jan, “When Social Justice Equals No Justice,” World News Daily on-line, Oct. 19, 2012.
7) Global Survey of Evangelical Protestant Leaders, Pew Research Center: Religion & Public Life, June 22, 2011.
Memorial Ceremony with Holocaust survivors at the Raoul Wallenberg Square in Stockholm, Sweden on 27 January 2013, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. By Frankie Fouganthin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons