King's Evangelical Divinity School

22 February 2010

A Recurring European Story

Today's Telegraph has a very sad story concerning Jewish families leaving the Swedish city of Malmo, many having originally settled there having escaped the Nazi concentration camps, because of a sharp rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Reading the Telegraph story one is struck by the similarities with similar reports filed elsewhere in recent years. First, anti-Semitic incidents emanate disproportionately from among the Muslim population. Now it would be quite easy to focus on this aspect, as well as challenge the architects and champions of multiculturalism to justify one community's treatment of another. But I think there is another aspect to the story here. In quite a few of the reports I've read many of these hate crimes are by young Muslims, suggesting what we see against Malmo's and other cities' Jews owes something to the radicalisation of young Muslims in recent years. I do not recall such anti-Semitic (indeed anti-Israel) vitriol on European streets during previous stages of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Second, whenever Jewish communities are subject to harassment or attack it is often explained away as a direct consequence of events in the Middle East. Leaving aside the narrative of Israel as somehow worse than any other country, which I consider ideologically-driven and also plain wrong, how do events in the Middle East possibly justify racism towards Jews living several thousands of miles away, many of whom have never even been to Israel? It is often said racism is an irrational mindset, and on that basis such attacks in Malmo and elsewhere prove it. Meanwhile, it seems the Jews remain the only ethnic group for which racism is understandable and tacitly accepted. For more on this, read here.

Lest we focus solely on the young Muslims disproportionately involved in such attacks, a third recurring theme is that these incidents tend to be concentrated in Europe. Of course, anti-Semitism exists everywhere, but we hear far less of such hate crimes in, for example, the US or Latin America (where there are various Jewish communities and quite a large number of Arab immigrants). In short, this is a European problem across a continent that has a centuries-old history of anti-Semitism which climaxed just a few years ago with the murder of six million Jews. I think one of the reasons young Muslims feel it is acceptable to be anti-Semitic is because they live in a continent where such views find fertile ground.

A fourth recurring theme in this and similar stories is that the end result is many more European Jews emigrating to Israel. I've read about their views and indeed met some there. "If I'm going to be hated and attacked, it might as well be here - among my own people - than back in Manchester" is a sentiment I've come across several times in Israel.

Meanwhile, such attacks, together with Europe's failure to stop them even with the Holocaust so fresh in the continent's psyche, the subsequent return of Jews to Israel as a result of such attacks, the demonisation of Israel, and finally calls for Israel's destruction emanating from the Middle East all help to bolster the narrative believed by millions of Christians that God is continuing to restore His people to the land of their forefathers.


Anonymous said...

I too was greatly saddened when I read this piece in the Telegraph. It's also very sad that in our politically correct, so-called multicultural nation, even pointing out such awful racism can bring its own condemnation from the liberals and lefties among us.

Chris Lazenby

Calvin L. Smith said...

Yes, it's pretty bad when the bullies blame the person bullied for being bullied.

Congrats on your family's BAFTA success, Chris. My next post here will be about that.

Stuart said...

You allude to an important point in this article.

You mention the rise of anti-Semitism, the subsequent return of Jews to Israel as a result of such attacks and tie this in (as well as other factors) to bolstering the narrative believed by millions of Christians that God is continuing to restore His people to the land of their forefathers.

I wonder if folks on this blog would view this as the wrong / right Christian approach?

As for me I am a torn on this issue. AntiSemitism IS wicked, but is it possible for God to use a wicked situation to fulfil his own purpose?

Andrew Sibley said...

Those of us who question Christian Zionism and the action of the State of Israel do need to be careful how we argue our case because of the danger of inflaming hatred against one group or another, especially Jews - I hope I have done that in my book by aknowledging the very real suffering of Jews historically and seeking to address the security issues for Jews. But to what extent do we see Jewish suffering as worse than the suffering of others, (such as Russians in WW2 where millions died as well as acknowledging the Jewish holocaust victims) and create a sort of victim mentality which only perpetuates further suffering and persecution against Jews? When people are forced to do penance for the action of their forefathers, there is a danger that people rebel and commit the same crimes - thus perpetuating the cycle of hatred. Surely we need to be seeking to break the cycle of violence through forgivness and understanding and mutual respect for our common humanity.

I am also concerned about a 'social leftist gospel' mentality which tends to focus more on human activity and a belief in human progress than of working with prayer and within God's grace. Human effort has to be balanced with God's grace.

Chris said...

I am not convinced either way by the media and current events, the highest authority is the Word of God, of course how one interprets it will affect/inform their world outlook.
I have never needed the media to 'bolster' the 'narrative' that I already hold ( by my reading of scripture) ie, that the Jews will be regathered to their land.
I believe the Lord is not short of 'imaginative' ways of bringing that about, and maybe He uses christian zionists or maybe He doesn't.