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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Modern French Anti-Semitism Didn’t Happen in a Vacuum! Part II

From Host Desecration to the Dreyfus Affair
by Olivier Melnick 
After the 1215 Catholic introduction of the doctrine of transubstantiation, it was believed that the chalice of wine contained the very blood of Messiah and that the wafer or “Host” would become the very body of Messiah. While not justifiable by Scripture, the doctrine still stands today.
Within a few decades, as early as 1243 in Germany and Poland followed by France, Jewish people became accused of “Host Desecration” which consisted of the piercing of Christian communion bread (Host) to “re-enact the Crucifixion” of which most Christians claimed they [the Jews] were guilty.
Then around 1320, came the legend of the Jews poisoning the wells of Europe. It was accepted as fact without any proofs of its veracity. Unfortunately for the Jews of Europe, came the “Black Death” or “Black Plague”, and that legend while still not connected to the plague was “vindicated”.
It was the most devastating pandemic in the history of mankind, responsible for the death of about 75 million people worldwide (25 million in Europe alone) in just a few years. To be sure, Jewish people also died during the “Black Death “, but generally in lesser numbers. The regulated kosher laws that religious Jews were bound to follow, forced them to maintain a stricter diet and hygiene, and thus resulted in less death in the Jewish communities. While the reduced number of Jewish casualties could partially be attributed to Jewish customs and kosher laws, it didn’t stop the masses from slaughtering and destroying over 200 Jewish communities, accusing them of poisoning the wells of Europe.
Anti-Semitism moved south for a while and decided to rear its ugly head in Spain during the Inquisition. Torture, forced conversions and deaths were running rampant. For the first time in Jewish history, JUDAISM WAS NO LONGER A THEOLOGICAL PROBLEM BUT NOW HAD ALSO BECOME AN ETHNIC ONE. Even though the Inquisition mostly affected the Jews of Spain, the atmosphere of terror and death crossed over to France and continued to affect Jewish communities all over.
Additionally, the Italian concept of the Ghetto started in 1516 in Venice and Luther’s German Reformation, even though not technically of French origins, would also affect Jewish people across France.
Even though it would be a while before French Jews would suffer another terrible anti-Semitic blow, Jewish history continued to be punctuated by hatred and persecution throughout the years.
At the close of the 18th century, the Jews found themselves at the dawn of a new era. The feudal system had crumbled to make room for a developing capitalist and industrial revolution. Financial knowledge and shrewdness was becoming more of an asset, especially for leaders of countries in development. As a result, Jewish people were somewhat less stigmatized by their involvement in the financial world, and they even became more appreciated by some.
Along with the advent of the “Age of Emancipation”, as a by-product of the French Revolution of 1789, the concept of citizenship was becoming more of a reality all throughout Europe. Inhabitants of a given country were starting to receive citizenship in that very country. Napoléon Bonaparte would take that concept to the next level.
The Jewish Age of Emancipation was known as The Haskalah, or “Age of Enlightment” and reached all segments of Judaism culturally, theologically and geographically.
It can also be understood as the “Age of Assimilation”, as many Jews benefiting from the emancipation also looked into the claims of Christianity. The split between the more traditional religious communities and the more liberal emancipated ones was widening.
The French Revolution of 1789 was instrumental in the birth of the concept of Freedom of Religion, provided it didn’t interfere with public order. This happened at a time when most European countries were restricting the rights of religious minority groups like the Jewish people. The assimilation of Jews was starting to happen.
Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821) became France’s Emperor in 1804. The same year, he introduced “Le Code Napoléon” which was the first modern legal code to be adopted across Europe. It was a major step in replacing the antiquated laws and codes of the now defunct feudal system of the Middle Ages.
From the beginning, Napoléon had one goal in mind: Make the Jews of France into French citizen. He had no intention of stopping them from practicing Judaism in the privacy of their homes, but he just expected them to give their allegiance to the Empire, as all French citizens should.
But in 1808, caving under the pressure of many very upset leaders and statesmen including Chateaubriand, Cardinal Fesh, Maréchal Kellermann and especially Russian Tzar Alexander[1], Napoléon felt obligated to introduce a "Restrictive Decree.” The Jewish community was in shock and lost much of its wealth and influence almost to the point of a total bankruptcy. Eventually, after much damage to the Jews, the Decree was eliminated and the status of “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” was re-established for the Jews, at least until the fateful defeat at Waterloo, Belgium (1815). Then, at the discretion of each European leader, the fate of the Jews became again one of hardship, restriction, stigmatization and ghettoization.
As the last quarter of the 19th century was approaching, Jews were about to experience another major shift in anti-Semitism. Racial anti-Semitism was about to emerge on the scene. From ancient theological anti-Semitism to modern ethnic and cultural anti-Semitism, the hatred of the Jews was soon to pick-up more momentum.   In 1894 France, at a time when Jewish people thought that their emancipation had prevailed, Captain Alfred Dreyfus (an Alsacian Jew) was accused of treason against the French Government. The French Revolution of 1789, and Napoléon, had brought a hope of equality and integration into French society for French Jews, but anti-Semitism, as a temporarily inactive volcano of hatred, had just spewed its lava again. As the Dreyfus trial went on, mobs of angry Frenchmen were shouting “Death to the Jews” on the streets of Paris.
The Vienna newspaper Neue Freie Press sent their Paris correspondent, Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), to follow the Dreyfus Affair and, by association, the Jews of France. It quickly prompted Theodor Herzl to compile his work of several years into the historic pamphlet Der Judenstaat or “The Jewish State”, published in Vienna in 1896, and leading to the official birth of Zionism.
But the French Jews had not seen the worst yet. Even though many Frenchmen of Jewish origins fought in the great war of 1914-1918, what awaited them around the corner was unprecedented and unfathomable. Emancipation had totally failed for the Jews of France.
(to be continued)

[1] The Holy Synod of Moscow proclaimed: "In order to destroy the foundations of the Churches of Christendom, the Emperor of the French has invited into his capital all the Judaic synagogues and he furthermore intends to found a new Hebrew Sanhedrin. Which is the same tribunal that dared long ago to condemn the Yeshua to be executed." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_and_the_Jews

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Modern French Anti-Semitism Didn’t Happen in a Vacuum! Part I

 From the Church Fathers to Talmud Burnings
 by Olivier Melnick
            France seems to have a love-hate relationship with the Jewish people going back at least 1,500 years. The first 5 centuries following the closing of the biblical canon saw the succession of a myriad of theologians who greatly helped to codify and structure Christianity. They were known as the Church Fathers, and were also instrumental in fighting heresy. Unfortunately, many of them such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen, Chrysostom and Augustine adopted a very allegorical view of the Bible. It led them to see passages about Israel and the Jewish people as pertaining to Christians and no longer to ethnic Israel. In a sense, they were the originators of replacement theology before it was know as such.
            St. Hilary of Poitiers (300-368) referred to Jews as “a perverse people whom God has cursed forever”.
            Their erroneous theological premise led them to teach that God was finished with Israel since the Jewish people had apparently rejected and crucified Yeshua (Jesus). Christianity having merged with the state under Constantine, many people joined its ranks and the result was a mix of less than ethical and very loosely biblical “Christians”. The uneducated masses bought the Fathers fallacies and were often very willing to hit on the Jews who were rapidly becoming the “scapegoats of humanity”.
Ideological and intellectual opposition had turned to pure hatred and stereotype. The Jews were no longer just wrong; they had become evil and cursed by God to remain a “witness-people” for all eternity. Later, an ethnic component would be added to anti-Judaism and help its morphing into anti-Semitism. Being Jewish in a Christian world went from bad to worse, but unfortunately for the Jewish people, anti-Semitism was still growing and hadn’t reached its apex yet. The world was entering into the “Dark Ages” and they would turn out to be quite a bit darker for the Jewish people in general and the French Jews in particular.
Much of the Christian/Jewish relations were based on both the Theodisian Code (312) and the Justinian Code (529-534). Laws and/or restrictions set the stage for centuries to come in Europe. After a relatively trouble-free period at the beginning of the Middle Ages, French Jews started to experience trouble such as forced baptisms and forced conversions. One of the worst cases of forced conversion took place under the leadership of French King, Dagobert (629-639), who ordered all Jews of the Frankish kingdom to be baptized or leave France.
Under the Carolingian dynasty (descendants of Charles Martel), Jewish people experienced some respite. Pepin le Bref (714-768), Charlemagne (742-814) and Louis the Pious (814-840), were all somewhat favorable to Jews and Judaism. Many leaders even chose Jewish doctors; yet, there was a certain risk for a Jewish person to be a doctor. When a patient would lose his life, the Jewish doctor would still be accused of sorcery and/or poisoning as was the case under Charles the Bald (823-877) or Hugh Capet (939-996).
It was not long before the First Crusade of 1096, led by French knight Godefroy de Bouillon (1060-1100) took place. Both Christian knights and peasants joined forces, under the Christian banner and with the new motto: “God wills it”. They departed from France and Germany, on their way to the Holy Land to fight the Muslims. Soon, the Crusaders realized that they could start by fighting the “infidels” in their own backyards. As the Crusaders marched through France and Germany on their way to Jerusalem, a motto was born: “Kill a Jew, save your soul!” Some Crusaders in Rouen, Normandy, were quoted saying:
“We desire to combat the enemies of God in the East; but we have under our eyes the Jews, a race more inimical to God than all the others. We are doing this all thing backwards.
In 1099, the Crusaders arrived in Jerusalem, packed the synagogue with about 1,000 Jews, set it on fire and marched around it on their horses singing Christian hymns. Seven additional Crusades would follow until the last one in 1270.
The First Crusade had opened many routes to the Orient, and money was quickly becoming the primary commodity for trading. By now the Jewish community has become deeply involved in money lending – a practice forbidden to Christians by the Church.
Christians were allowed to borrow money ONLY from Jews, who in turn would collect the money back with interest. Kings of France and other European kingdoms started taxing the Jewish moneylenders on their profit. Taxes kept increasing, so the Jewish moneylenders had no choice but to increase their interest rates. The process went on for a while and gave birth to the myth of the “greedy Jew”, still alive in modern anti-Semitic circles.
            As money lending increased, anti-Semitism amongst the masses became more of a reality. Poor peasants, being always in need of money and borrowing often from Jewish moneylenders, ended up building resentment that almost always led to physical abuse and killings.
            Then came the “Blood Libel” or “Ritual Murder Libel”. It originated in Norwich, England but quickly moved across the Channel to France and Germany. A broad definition of the Blood Libel is: The murder of a Christian child during Holy Week for the purpose of using their blood in making unleavened bread. More than 150 cases of blood libel were recorded throughout history, resulting in the death of Jewish people (mostly during the Middle Ages). But more was still coming!
The Fourth Lateran Council, convoked in 1215 by Pope Innocent III, introduced a new measure that would change the status and the safety of Jews for the next 700 years. Jewish people of Europe were now required to wear a badge on their garments (and later a pointed hat known as the jundenhut) to facilitate their identification on the by-ways of Europe. The badge known as “the badge of shame” was first introduced in France as la rouelle, a yellow sphere to be sown on the chest and the back of all garments worn by Jews. It was of course taken to a whole new level during  World War Two.
It was not long after that the first occurrence of Talmud burning took place, in France in 1240. A French Jewish convert to Christianity, Nicolas Donin, went to Rome to prove to the current pope (Gregory IX) that the Talmud was virulently anti-Christian and the main reason why Jews hated Christianity. The pope was convinced of the veracity of Donin’s statement and ordered all Talmud confiscated and then burned. In 1242, in Paris, fire was set accordingly to twenty-four carriage loads (ten to twelve thousand volumes) of written works.
(to be continued)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Will the Real Islam Please Stand-Up?

     I have been researching, studying, teaching and writing about anti-semitism, Islam, sharia, Israel and the Jewish people for about 15 years. What I am about to say could easily get me pegged as a right-wing-bigoted-racist but I certainly hope that my readers would not give-up until they have read my entire article.
     Lately, the planet has been plagued by numerous attacks by Muslims from different factions. The damages have gone from verbal abuse on the streets of London to broken storefront in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles to the crucifying of Middle Eastern Christians and the beheading of two American reporters and everything in between. Of course, the perpetrators come from different countries as well as ideological persuasions, yet the common denominator is that THEY WERE ALL MUSLIMS. This is a fact and would only qualify as Islamophobia (a phobia is an irrational fear) if the story were fabricated to ostracize and/or demonize the Muslims. If, like some choose to do, I would state that "all Arabs are Muslims and I hate Islam, thus I hate the Arabs", that would undoubtedly make me an Islamophobe, but that statement is erroneous, so perish the thought. It would be the same as saying that all Germans were Nazis and I hate the Nazis, thus I hate all Germans!" Absolutely ludicrous right? Or it would be the same as saying that all Jews all over the world are responsible for what happens in Israel and the territories...Oh, wait a minute...Somehow that is actually how the world is treating Israel and the Jews, but I digress!
     Back to trying to identify real Islam. I understand that many within Islam will disagree with me, strongly or not so strongly.  But I would like to posit that the only "Real Islam" is the Islam that the western world is faced with today, and has been quietly observing for the last several decades. It is currently represented by the likes of Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas and of course the now globally infamous Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS or ISIL). But what about 90% of the 1.5 billion Muslims who call themselves moderate, they couldn't possibly be categorized using the same criteria? That is absolutely correct, and that is because I don't believe for a minute that they are moderate. I would much rather describe them as "nominal" or "cultural" Muslims instead of moderate ones.
     Many people call themselves "Christians" but are not be followers of Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth who believe in His death and resurrection for their sins (Isaiah 52:13-53-12). They identify with a more cultural brand of Christianity that is quite removed from the first Century Jewish sect that it used to be. This does not make them to be bad people, but they simply are "Christian" in title or practice only, and certainly not by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
     By the same token, many people today would tell you that they are Muslims, yet they would be hard pressed to identify some of the key passages of the Qur'an or the Hadith (teachings of Mohammed not found in the Qur'an). Sure they might keep a Halal diet, pray five times a day and even fast for Ramadan, but they would be the first ones to admit that they do not adhere to the entire Qur'an, especially the verses and passages that advocate hatred, lying and killing of infidels.
     Those verses are real and they mean exactly what they say. Let us also consider the fact that most of the verses in question are normative and not historical. In other words, they are more open-ended than historically linked, and thus still very much apply to the "infidels" to this very day. Consider just a few of those verses below:
Sura 4.95 - "Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward,-"

Sura 8.12 - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" 

Sura 9.29 - "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

Sura 47.4 - "When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and, when you have latid then low, bind your captives firmly. Then grant them their freedom or take a ransom for them, until the war shall lay down her burdens."

     Of course, many will come to the rescue of the Qur'an and quote verses such as: "Let there be no compulsion in religion; truth stands out clear from error" (Sura 2.256), claiming that Islam is indeed a religion of peace. This is wishful thinking from a politically correct mind and it is also completely ignoring the basic Qur'anic law known as "the Law of Abrogation". The Qur'an contains many mansukh (abrogated or "cancelled out" verses) and nasikh (abrogating or "canceling" verses). The later render the former obsolete and yet they remain part of the Qur'an as a whole. Most if not all of the "peaceful verses" were penned during Mohammed's early years in Medina when he was struggling to gain exposure and be vindicated. The rest of the "not so peaceful verses" like the ones quoted above, came out of the Mecca years after Mohammed had established himself. So to put it plainly, even though it is thrown at us ignorant Westerners all the time, a verse like "Let there be no compulsion in religion; truth stands out clear from error" is no longer in effect by "True Qur'an believing Muslims". 
     This leaves us with a reality that almost no one is willing to face (including our own president); true-to-the-Qur'an Islam IS NOT A RELIGION OF PEACE and only true-to-the-Qur'an Muslims are real Muslims. So NO, I do not believe that radical Islam is the exception, I believe that radical Islam is the real Islam and that the rest of the world's Muslims are not moderate but either nominal or cultural. I know that many will want to call me an Islamophobe or a racist Zionist, but I am just stating the facts.
     I condemn violence, hatred, lies and killings and for that reason, I hate real Islam. This being said, I ache for the 1.5 billion Muslims who are prisoners of Islam. God loves all people and I love God and want to be in His will, thus I will strive to show His love to all, and as a result I CANNOT HATE MUSLIMS, as difficult as it might be, especially being Jewish!
     But you see, I am a Jew who has a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I believe that my Messiah has come in the person of Yeshua of Nazareth and that His death and resurrection was not just for me but for all who believe Him (Genesis 49:10, Psalm 22, Daniel 9:1-27), including all the Muslims, Qur'an following or not! I know that one day, all hatred, violence and death will all be gone when Mashiach returns and brings His Messianic kingdom on earth. Until then I will press on with God's truth, a truth that I cannot find in the Qur'an!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hamas, Israel and the Anatomy of a Cease Fire!

     The current Gaza conflict Tzuk Eitan meaning "strong cliff" also know as "Operation Protective Edge" was officially started on July 8, 2014 between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It is the deadliest conflict between Israel and its enemies in the region since the second Intifada "uprising" that took place between 2000 and 2005. The death toll is now over 2,200 and growing, and much of Gaza has been leveled leaving over 100,000 people without homes.
     During this almost two-month long conflict, many attempts have been made to bring it to an end. Various officials such as US Secretary of State John Kerry, the Egyptian government and others have entered the Middle East arena and tried to initiate several cease-fires between Hamas and Israel. Many would agree that the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap for Peace are dead and that a peace process in the Middle East isn't even on the table at the current time.
     There are different levels of international agreements between countries that have been at war with each other either temporary or permanent, unilateral or bilateral. The most fragile, yet most common temporary agreement between two entities at war is the "cease-fire".
     There has been eleven cease-fires since the start of the Gaza War, all broken by Hamas, and several within minutes of being brokered. This makes one wonder about the real motives behind Hamas' acceptance of these numerous truces? A simple yet sobering message about the cease-fires  has been traveling the endless byways of the social networks, and it states: "Israel: ceases, Hamas: fires!". Sadly, it would appear to be the case.
     So the question remains:"What makes this latest cease-fire any different and will it hold?". I am afraid that the current open-ended cease-fire might just be a short respite, not to rebuild the destroyed civilian infrastructures in Gaza, but simply to reorganize and rearm as Hamas prepares for the next round in their attempt at fulfilling their unaltered destructive agenda. Iran and Qatar have been the main financial backing to supply Hamas with their arsenal and will continue do so.
     Even if Hamas is found rebuilding civilian facilities, there is a very good chance that they are doing it to refurbish their missile launching areas with buildings that can be packed with civilians used as human shields. It has been said that "ignorance is bliss", but in the case of Hamas using their own people as human shields, the willful ignorance of pro-Palestinians and pro-Hamas people turns them into accomplices.
     Hamas agreed to this latest cease-fire with Israel, yet both sides have a very different set of expectations. That shouldn't really be a surprise since there is no moral equivalence between the two parties.
     From Hamas' perspective it appears to be a victory, at least from the public displays of celebration witnessed on the streets of Gaza and even beyond, in Ramallah. Even though Hamas has been severely crippled by the loss of several key leaders in the process, the message from Khaled Mashaal is still clear as he recently said:" this is not the end. This is just a milestone to reaching our objective, we know that Israel is strong and is aided by the international community. We will not restrict our dreams or make compromises to our demands."
     It is an unequivocal fact taken straight from their charter, that Hamas only desires the destruction of Israel. As a matter of fact, ideologically, Hamas lines up with Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIS. Their goals are identical even if some of their methods have various degrees of radicalism.
     From Israel's perspective, it has been a very costly war so far. The death toll is not nearly as high as the Palestinian death toll, but that doesn't make it right, as common sense and decency will dictate that even one lost life is too many. Prime Minister Netanyahu is receiving a fair amount of criticism from other parts of his government for what appears to be a war that was neither lost nor won, but nevertheless very costly. His ratings are down, yet most in Israel know deep down that this current cease-fire is unstable at best and that it is still under Netanyahu's leadership that they might soon have to finish the job that was started in July.
     Some have suggested that the Gaza War was becoming another war of attrition like the one involving Israel and Egypt between 1967 and 1970. The problem with that concept is that you don't really deal with terrorists the same way that you deal with a militarized and somewhat "civilized" power. You cannot really deter terrorists; you must defeat them by disarming them and destroying their infrastructure. Period!
     At this point, there is not a whole lot that Israel can do to garner support from those who have already pledged their allegiance to the other side. Additionally, the Palestinian authority is conveniently finding itself a few weeks away from their yearly UN visit in September where they plan to demand an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and a huge part of Jerusalem.
     As I see it, the current cease-fire might last until the end of September simply because it would serve its purpose into further painting the Palestinians as complying victims seeking a peaceful solution. In the meantime, of course, Hamas will regroup and rearm, making itself ready for the next round of their jihad.
     Rabbi Moses Maimonides said in the twelfth of his thirteen articles of Jewish faith: "I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry nonetheless, I wait everyday for his coming."
     I would have to join Maimonides in his yearning for the Messiah and the messianic age for the simple reason that only under the banner of Mashiach Sar Shalom will we all see real peace. It will be a peace that includes the absence of war but also goes way beyond that concept to incorporate peace between men and between mankind and Hashem. Isaiah spoke of that redeemer in several places but especially in chapters 52:13-53:12 where Mashiach is described in a powerful and graphic way as having to come for his people once to atone for their sins (Mashiach ben Yosef) and once again to establish His kingdom on earth (Mashiach ben David).
     So, in spite of all the cease-fires broken or respected, I declare that I wholeheartedly believe with perfect faith in the coming back of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry nonetheless, I wait everyday for his coming."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

From Zionism to Palestinianism: The Great Christian Betrayal!

by Olivier J. Melnick

     It was in 1894, when Hungarian Jewish reporter Theodor Herzl followed the Dreyfus Affair in Paris, it took him no time to realize that anti-Semitism was alive and well. Herzl was shocked to hear "Death to the Jews" on the streets of Paris. Napoleon might have been friendly to the Jews of his time, yet the "Jewish Enlightenment", also known as the Haskalah, was mostly a failure.      
     Convinced that the Jewish people needed a state of their own, Herzl published his booklet Der Judestaat (The Jewish State) in 1896. In that small but visionary piece of work, he envisioned Eretz Yisrael and though he received a lot of criticism for it, was convinced that even though hardships and obstacles populated the journey,  "Palestine" was the destination. Theodore Herzl, while not the originator or of the concept of Zionism, was definitely the visionary, catalyst, and leader of political Zionism. Ernst Pawel, in The Labyrinth of Exile: A life of Theodor Herzl, explained: "he brought to it leadership, organization and a unique blend of fantasy and practical realism, but his most important contribution by far was the messianic image of himself, his stature in the eyes of the Jews and in the eyes of the world 1".
     And so it was, in 1897 and not without struggle that Herzl organized the First Zionist Congress. As President, he convened six more until 1902. It was in Vienna, in 1897, that he said almost prophetically: At Basle I created the Jewish State. In five years, perhaps, and certainly in fifty, everyone will see it 2". Add 50 to 1897 and you get 1947...the rest is history!
     He also quickly realized that Zionism was a purely political movement in search of sustainability. A morphing into a more practical Zionism was becoming necessary. It eventually led to the birth of "Cultural Zionism", appealing to a wider spectrum within the Jewish community of that time. Two key players were Ahad Ha'am 3 (Hebrew for "one of the people") whose vision as the father of cultural Zionism was: "A Jewish state and not merely a State of Jews" and Eliezer Ben-Yehuda who had emigrated to Israel in 1881 and dedicated the rest of his life–not without hardship–to the rebirth of Hebrew as a modern tongue 4.
     But as political, practical or even cultural as it might have become, it could be argued that Zionism was, before anything else, a biblical concept. In a sense, we can also say that God was the first Zionist. He created the Jewish people to whom He gave the Torah (Exodus 20) and the Land "from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates" (Genesis 15). It was only a matter of time before Bible believing followers of the Messiah would support and pray for Eretz Yisrael, becoming a group within Christianity, known as "Christian Zionists".
    While the biblical concept of supporting the existence of Israel and the Jewish people goes back much further, It was again, Theodor Herzl who might have used the term "Christian Zionist" for the first time in 1896. It is also believed, according to Edward Flannery amongst others that the re-birth of Israel in 1948 as well as its growth, had quite a bit to do with Christian Zionists. He stated that "without Christian Zionism, it is highly unlikely that the present State of Israel would have come into being so rapidly as it did 5".
     Christian Zionists have always varied theologically, yet they all maintain a common ground when it comes to certain essentials about Israel and the Jewish people. They all have a vested interest in Eschatology (the biblical study of the last days). They see a clear biblical distinction between Israel and the Church, they believe in the physical return of the Jewish people to Israel, the rebuilding of the Temple and Israel coming to faith in Messiah, amongst other things.
     For at least the last 100 years, Christian Zionists have been the one arm of the Evangelical church that maintained a very friendly, positive attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people. Most Israeli Prime Ministers since 1948, have recognized the friends they had within Christian Zionist circles.
     Unfortunately, the tide is changing. Christian Zionism appears to be dying worldwide. To be sure, Israel hasn't lost all of its friends within the Evangelical ranks. Additionally, Messianic Jewish believers, regardless of their acceptance or lack of by the Jewish community at large, do support Israel unconditionally. I am one of them.
     This changing tide is known as "Christian Palestinianism" and will turn into a tsunami if nothing gets done. It has already swept a large number of Evangelicals into questioning, disliking AND rejecting any kind of Zionism. Christian Palestinianism is Christian anti-Zionism, and as such it must be confronted.
     In her book Eurabia: the Euro-Arab Axis released in 2006Jewish author and activist Bat Ye’or almost prophetically calls it “Palestinian Marcionism”:"The Christian policy that would eliminate the Jewish source of Christianity by suppressing the link between the Hebrew Bible and the Gospels represents an old and lingering trend, always opposed by the Church. It was first formulated by Marcion, a second-century Byzantine priest of pagan background who was strongly influenced by Gnoticism. Today, Palestinian Marcionism (Palestinianism) paves the way for the Islamization of the Church as it prepares mentalities for an Islamic replacement theology...and encompasses the whole paraphernalia of traditional antisemitism"6.
     While Bat Ye'or would claim that Christian Palestinianism is quite ancient –and to an extent she is correct–others such as British scholar Paul Wilkinson see the modern movement as being about 20 years old. He would posit that the modern founder of Christian Palestinianism is Naïm Ateek who started the movement in 1994 when he founded the Palestinian Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center known as SABEEL.
     Some of the major proponents of Christian Palestinianism today are leaders such as Naïm Ateek or Elias Chacour. But more importantly, the torch of anti-Zionism is being passed down to people who used to be Zionists or at the very least not anti-Israel. These include British vicar Stephen Sizer who describes Zionism as a "devious heresy", Professor Gary Burge of Wheaton College in Illinois, or even Liz Hybels (wife of Chicago area Willow Creek mega church senior pastor Bill Hybels). There are many more names I could add to this list.
     A tragic example of this destructive ideology is the movie Little Town of Bethlehem (2010) painting the portrait of three men who wanted peace and reconciliation in the region: an Arab Muslim, an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Christian. They promoted their views of reconciliation against all odds. Really, who would disagree with that?
     The issue does not lie in the validity of such an aspiration but in how the different sides were being portrayed. Palestinians were being compared to African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement following the leadership of Martin Luther King and fighting the National Guard for their freedom, while Israelis were being painted as the oppressors and invaders of "Palestine". It is a shame to see that many Evangelical are buying into the lies of Christian Palestinianism.
     The same can be said for a more vocally Christian project known as With God on Our Sidedirected by Porter Speakman Jr. and endorsed by Tony Campolo and Vice President of World Vision, Steve Haas. It has also received rave reviews from Christianity Today 
     Christian Palestinianism is Replacement Theology on steroids! With any vestige of the Jewish roots of Christianity eradicated, Israel and the Jewish people will become irrelevant and this is a risk we cannot afford to take! Evangelicals who moved from Christian Zionism to Christian Palestinianism are putting Israel and the Jewish people at risk. Are they no longer reading their Bibles to believe in such lies as Yeshua being the first Palestinian? How can they biblically validate Palestine? 
     Christian Palestinianism is Christian anti-Zionism which is Christian anti-Semitism in disguise. This shift from Israel to Palestine in the Christian psyche really is a slap in the God's face and a grave altering of His Word. This is indeed the "Great Christian Betrayal" and I tremble at the idea that these people will one day answer to God and have absolutely no logical explanation for how they treated the "Apple of His Eye".
     What we can AND must do, is support Israel's right to exist and right to the land. Israel is the only ray of hope in the Middle East as the only true democracy. The number of Israel's true friends within Evangelical circles is dwindling down. We are becoming a minority, yet one of our members is God Himself, and that, I can live with!
     Being pro-Israel doesn't mean that one is anti-Palestinian, sadly, the opposite is seldom true!    

1. Pawel, Ernst: The Labyrinth of Exile: A Life of Theodor Herzl (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, New York, NY, 1989) Page 3.
2. Eban, Abba: My People: The Story of the Jews (Random House, New York, New York, 1968) Pages 335-337.
3. Ahad Ha'am, The Jewish State and Jewish Problem, trans. from the Hebrew by Leon Simon 1912, Jewish Publication Society of America, Essential Texts of Zionism.
4. St. John, Robert: Tongue of the Prophets (Wilshire Book Company, N. Hollywood, California,1952) page 266.
5. Wilkinson, Paul: For Zion's Sake (Paternoster UK, 2007) page 14
6. Bat Ye’or, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis (Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2006), p. 213.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Was the Gaza War a Media Campaign?

     After nearly a month of fighting between the IDF and Hamas and several failed cease fire attempts, a truce was reached. As Israel continues to withdraw its troops over the next few days, the high cost of the Gaza War will be assessed. Palestinian officials released a death toll of 1,830 while Israeli officials announced the death of 64 people. From any perspective, that is 1,894 lives too many!
     Netanyahu is willing to meet under the Egyptian leadership but he has made it clear that for the time being,  IDF troops will remain stationed by the Gaza border, ready for immediate action if Hamas breaks the truce. Unfortunately, based on Hamas' track record of nine broken ceasefires in three weeks, this newly reached respite is fragile at best.
     The destruction by the IDF of the many tunnels built in the Gaza strip, as well as the many sites used for rocket launching from civilian areas was at least a short-term success. But I fear that its longevity might be more of a dream than a reality as we know that countries like Iran and Qatar are eager to rearm Hamas.
     While over 3,000 rockets were fired by Hamas, the 2014 Gaza War was NEVER much of a military campaign but rather a media one. To be sure, Hamas' desire remains the complete annihilation of Israel through jihad as clearly delineated in their 1988 Charter. They have figured out that they can enroll the help of a biased media that has become so efficient at indoctrinating the clueless masses and corrupt governments against Israel and the Jews. So the result becomes a smorgasbord of unfounded statements that serve only one purpose: the demonization of Israel. Truth is no longer sought!
     While the current truce might be short lived, there is little doubt as to the military success of Israel in Gaza. The media war on the other hand– while not the massive success expected by Hamas and its cohorts – ended up being very damaging to Israelis and diaspora Jews. The bias is so obvious that it is nauseating.
     Western Media outlets have now become co-conspirators in the criminal campaign led by Hamas. A myriad of photographs are being published all over the press, depicting children's agony, blood and death all over Gaza. All of it putting the United Nations in an uproar and sending a message of Israel's crimes against humanity. Yet the vast majority of the photos are either staged or recycled from the Syrian civil war and even Iraq.
     The strategic placing of rocket launchers in schools, hospitals, mosques and other areas of Gaza densely populated by innocent civilians has been exposed. It is now clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that like Netanyahu stated so well:" We are using missile defense to protect our civilians and they [Hamas] are using their civilians to protect their missiles." The premise often used by the rest of the world (mostly liberals) is that Gaza is such a small densely populated area that a high number of civilian casualties is to be expected. Not only does Hamas use civilian areas, but they force civilians to remain in those areas instead of helping them to take shelter.  A recently ceased Hamas combat manual revealed that human shields were encouraged if not forced upon people.
     The funding received by Hamas could have been used in the building of hospitals, schools and other facilities to serve the Palestinian people. Instead, much of it was re-directed towards the building of a network of tunnels, most of them destroyed by the IDF. In the meantime, the US empowers Secretary of State John Kerry to pledge $47 million to Hamas to help rebuild Gaza. What makes them think for a minute that this time Hamas would actually use the funds ethically? All the while former president Jimmy Carter claimed that Hamas must be recognized as a legitimate political partner in the Middle East. Had he lived in the 1930s and 40s, he would have probably tried to promote the Nazi agenda as a humanitarian effort!
     So here we go again on the merry-go-round of disinformation. Postmodernism has rendered truth irrelevant or maybe just relevant in the eye of the beholder.
• If truth still mattered, Israel would receive a Nobel Peace Prize for its handling of the Palestinian civilians in the Gaza War. Instead they are getting scolded for defending themselves.
• If truth still mattered, Hamas would be guilty of double war crimes: against Israel AND their own people. Instead they are being lauded as victims.
• If truth still mattered, a lot of people from the media would loose their job for their nauseating bias.
     There is no doubt in my mind that as the "scapegoat of humanity",  from a human standpoint, Israel cannot win. But there is also no doubt in my mind that as "the apple of God's eye" (Zechariah 2:8),  Israel will prevail. The truth must be told and if our voices remain all that we have, let us use them as much as we can!
     In closing, consider the reputation of the evil man I am quoting as well as the ramifications of his statement followed by the history we know today.

     "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
     Joseph Goebbels - Hitler's Propaganda Minister

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Can Kristallnacht 2.0 Be Averted?

   On November 7, 1938, teenage Jewish boy Herschel Grynszpan, while in Paris heard of his family's expulsion. He decided to assassinate the German Ambassador to France, but not able to locate him, settled for another official by the name of Ernst Vom Rath who died two days later on the 9th of November. While I never am one to condone revenge of any kind, I empathize with Gryszpan sense of desperation.
     Grynszpan provided Joseph Goebbels with the perfect excuse to launch a series of pogroms that became known as Kristallnacht or "the Night of Broken Glass".
     These pogroms (organized riots) took place during the night of November 9-10, 1938 throughout parts of Germany and Austria. They were solely against Jewish property and Jewish people. 91 Jewish people were killed, 30,000 were arrested and sent to camps, 1,000 synagogues set on fire and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed. Kristallnacht was a combination of pogrom and boycott.
     In her superb work on the Holocaust titled "The War Against the Jews: 1933-1935"  Lucy Dawidowicz writes:
     On Kristallnacht, the Jewish community of Germany went up in flames.... All Jewish institutions were burned down or banned by order of the Gestapo. The Jewish press was suppressed... Tasks of emigration, welfare and education assigned by the Gestapo. Its real function  was to preside over the final liquidation of German Jewry1.
     Lucy Dawidowicz and the vast majority of Holocaust scholars see Kristallnacht as the starting point of the implementation of the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question". The question that we need to ask ourselves now is: "Is another Kristallnacht on the way and can it be averted?"
     In the last few days I posited that the Third Intifada could be global and happening now in from of our very eyes. I still believe it,  but we might be seeing something bigger on the horizon, like another Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht 2.0 so to speak!
     The main difference between and intifada (uprising) and another Kristallnacht, is the fact that the first one is mostly reactive and somewhat disorganized, while the later is pro-active AND very organized. These are some of the signs that indicate that things are heating-up towards Kristallnacht 2.0 in Europe. Events like these all took place in the last few weeks and they are just a few out of many and the escalation of violence is unprecedented, at least since the Holocaust:

Saint-Nicolas, Belgium: A café owner displayed a sign in his window saying: " Dogs are welcome inside but Zionists are not!"

• Antwerp, Belgium: About 500 people demonstrated on the streets, screaming: "slaughter the Jews"

• London, England: During a street protest, people were brandishing signs saying :" Hitler you were right" or even "f*** the Zionists". A Jewish boy on his bicycle was hit by a rock thrown at him by a woman wearing a niqab.

Spain: A letter signed by 100 Spanish celebrities such as Penelope Cruz called Israel to "stop the Genocide".

The Hague, Holland: an ISIS ( the new self proclaimed Caliphate of the Islamic State) street gathering has been calling for the killing of "dirty Jews from the sewers".

• Berlin, Germany: Street protesters are calling for Jews to be gassed.

• Paris, France: 4,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators defy a ban on the streets of Paris as they burn the Israeli flag, many of them shouting "Allah Akbar"

• French Facebook site: For a short time, the French Facebook site hosted a page from Young French Revolutionaries that displayed photos and names of 32 Jewish people for the sole purpose of finding them and physically assaulting them. They found one of them at his home and descended on him violently. The site has since been closed by Facebook under pressure. Incidentally, a new site came up that Facebook titled "Death to Israel and Zionists" and according to Facebook it also doesn't violate their community standards! They must be reported.

Paris, France: A synagogue and several Jewish stores were firebombed in Paris and suburb.

• Nice, France: In the south of France, people on the streets were shouting "we are all Mohammed Merahs", comparing themselves to the 2012 Toulouse Muslim murder of a rabbi, three Jewish school children and three soldiers.

     For some reason–and it might be related to the fact that the largest community of European Muslim lives in France– the temperature is the hottest there. This only helps us to measure the gravity of the situation and plan ahead for other areas to be hit.
     Some call it urban guerrilla warfare, some call it street protest and some –like I did last week– even call it an French Intifada. I think we are well beyond that and that at the very least, we are witnessing the birth of a new Kristallnacht, no longer localized but soon to be global. With the help of the social networks and the media, the "global Jews" is responsible for everything in Israel, Gaza and anywhere else they look for a scapegoat. People are not attacked because they are vocal Zionists showing bold support for Israel. All Jews are at risk even as they go about their day saying nothing, simply for being Jewish, and this my friends is anti-Semitism at its worst!
     I think that the very fact that many of the perpetrators show some signs of being better organized is very ominous. Jews are scared to go outside now. Forget going outside wearing a star of David necklace or a yarmulke, they are just afraid to go out. Applications for Aliyah are multiplying. The attacks are coming from all fronts: Schools, streets, social networks, publications, radio, Internet and to an extent also some levels of government.
     So really, Can Kristallnacht 2.0 Be Averted? I am not certain that it can, especially if the current French government continues to watch as if their hands were tied–maybe they are tied by fear of reprisals and terrorism on their own soil, or worse...by choice! But anytime in history that abuse, destruction of property and killings were minimized if not stopped, was when people who cared for people did something.
     Albert Einstein already knew that in the 1940s when he said: The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don't do anything about it."
     The sad part about France that might also be a reflection on the vast majority of the Western world, is that many are thinking that they are not anti-Semites, yet they are happy to see the "Jews" leave. "Good riddance" they probably think, "let them move to Israel". They are missing an important aspect of this crisis, and that is the fact that those going after my people have a much larger agenda. For the most part, the animosity is between Muslims and the Jewish community for now, and the Muslim perpetrators (yet it is important to note that not all perpetrators are Muslim) are not fearful of the authorities. They are defiant, appearing as if they were in a judeophobic trance. But their jihad is anti-West not just anti-Jew.
     Kristallnacht was the spark that started the Holocaust. Excuses were made, momentum was picked-up and blood... a lot of blood, was shed. So is there no hope for the Jews of France and the rest of Europe? What will happen if we allow Kristallnacht 2.0 to take place in Europe?
     Call me naive or mistaken but I think that I might have the solution to this mess. I found my answer 31 years ago in the person of Sar Shalom (Isaiah 9:6-7), Maschiah ben David (2 Samuel 7:12-13). Some will agree with me and some will fight me for my beliefs in a Mashiach who came to die as a kippur for His people (Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 22). I also believe that this Mashiach who first cams as Maschiah ben Yoseph is about to return on the Mount of Olives soon as Maschiah ben David.
     If you disagree with me, and before you accuse me of "not being Jewish anymore" I would ask you to consider that even if I am wrong–and I don't believe I am– in siding with those that follow Yeshua the Messiah, I am making every effort to let them know that THEY have NO CHOICE BUT TO LOVE ISRAEL AND THE JEWSIH PEOPLE (Psalm 83:5).
     Israel and the Diaspora Jews have the assurance that true disciples of Yeshua have their back. It doesn't matter if you embrace me or reject me, Israel. I have your back as well. Kristallnacht 2.0 might not be fully averted but you will not fight alone!

1. Dawidowicz, Lucy S. : The War Against the Jews: 1933-1935" (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, NY, 1975) page 196.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Will the Third Intifada be Global?

By Olivier J. Melnick

     We are now entering the third week of the Gaza War. Israel's IDF death toll is 25 40 and Gaza is over 1000. The vast majority of the Gaza casualties are men between 18 and 35, due to the precise and intelligent targeting by IDF. War is always tragic and devastating because one human life lost is always one too many, regardless of the side. The ground incursion–please don't allow anyone to call it an "invasion"– started on July17 after Prime minister Netanyahu made a statement explaining the reason for such a move. Israel is officially at war and it could last weeks if not months.
     Hamas has rejected several offers for cease-fire and continues to fire rockets on Israel. One is to wonder why Hamas hasn't built bomb shelters like Israel? The answer is simple: the bomb shelters are created by their own people whom Hamas sees simply as a valuable yet disposable commodity in their war against Israel. They protect their weapons with human lives while Israel protects human lives with their weapons. But by now we understand that Hamas isn't interested in a military victory but rather in a media victory, proclaimed by a global media that has lost its moral compass years ago. The result, even though Hamas isn't garnering the support they expected, is that the whole world is up in arms in support of "demon Israel" against "angel victimized Palestine". And this is exactly what is becoming a great danger globally, well beyond the current tragedy of the Gaza War.
      We are seeing a recrudescence of destructive gatherings all over the world with Europe leading the pack in acts of anti-Semitism. To be sure, anti-Israel demonstrations are not a new thing and are part of people's right to exercise their freedom of speech–within reason of course–and I believe that reason is long gone! The result is what we have seen around the world in the last 10 days so far.
     This convergence of anti-Semitic riots all over the world could very well be the "Third Intifada"! But wait, I thought that Intifada was a word meaning "uprising" in the Middle East and mostly by Palestinians against the Israeli "oppressor"? Well, it certainly was, but under the new anti-Semitism, the global Jew has become guilty by proxy. When a group of pro-Hamas protesters in Paris two Sundays ago decided to converge onto the Don Isaac Abravanel Synagogue, rue de la Roquette and attack it in "Pogrom" style putting close to 200 Jewish worshippers at risk, they showed us something very clear. The Paris protesters were NOT PALESTINIANS and the synagogue worshippers were NOT ISRAELIS. The riots were purely anti-Semitic and the Gaza War was only used as an alibi for unspeakable hatred. Chants of "Death to the Jews" or "Hitler was right" are being heard across Europe and other countries worldwide. As a result, various Jewish communities are terrified for their own and are starting to make serious plan for Aliyah to Israel. Consider the current global temperature as we look at a few areas where Jews are targeted.
• France: One of the hotbed of anti-Semitism has seen an unprecedented rise in violence in the Greater Paris region, Lyon, Marseilles and of course the Jewish suburb of Sarcelles also known as "Little Jerusalem" where cars were lit on fire and public furniture was ripped and thrown at Jewish stores, very much in a "Kristallnacht" style of aggression.
• United Kingdom: A very active and usually extremely abrasive Muslim community is present in the United Kingdom. They are of course helped by the liberal left in their anti-Semitic endeavors. The last few weeks have seen a surge of anti-Semitism in Greater Manchester, Glasgow and London. We have seen people march on the streets shouting "Heil Hitler" or "F#@*g kill the Jews".
  Germany: If there is one place where anti-Semitism shouldn't resurface, it is Germany. Nevertheless, last Thursday you could see protesters on the streets of Berlin screaming "Jews, Jews, cowardly pigs, come out and fight!" This was followed by an unauthorized march of about 1,000 on Saturday that turned violent.
• Belgium: A few days ago in Antwerp, a street rally of pro-Palestinian activists had people shouting "slaughter the Jews".
• Austria: 1000s of people marched in Vienna (organized by a Turkish delegation) chanting "Israel Terror".
• United-States: In Boston, an anti-Israel "die-in" demonstration took place where the protesters fell to the ground in support for the Gaza victims and then read the names of the Palestinians who had died in that war (no reading of the names of the Israeli victims of course!). Slogans such as "Jews back to Birkenau" were heard. In Los Angeles a federal officer fired shots at a pro-Palestinian protester last Sunday.
     Similar protests, marches and riots took place around the world in India, Turkey, Indonesia, China, Tunisia, Greece, Korea, South Africa to only name a few countries. What must not be missed is the fact that many of those countries ARE NOT MUSLIM COUNTRIES, so what is their real motive for all the venom they spew? Additionally the reprimands given by most authorities had little or no effect and much of the "cancelled by the authorities" protests went on anyway, and continue to go on. These uprisings are only going to intensify in the coming weeks. This is a very good time for Christians around the world to show their support of Israel and their love for Jewish people.
     If this is indeed the onset of the "Third Intifada", I am afraid that we haven't seen the worst of it yet. There seems to be a concerted effort to go after the Jews, especially in Europe. While there is no sign yet of any clear organized campaign by the protesters against global Jewry, we can agree that the media is helping to promote anti-Semitism. They are way beyond drinking the Koolaid. As a matter of fact, they are themselves mixing a new batch to serve to a bigoted world.
     This global protest HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE GAZA WAR AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH GLOBAL ANTI-SEMITISM. Jew haters are using the Gaza War as an excuse, and for now it seems to be working. This is one more proof that we are now experiencing what I call eschatological anti-Semitism or the final battle against the Jews. For those of us who read our bibles and believe it to be the inspired, unchanging and living Word of God, we know that this battle is real and comes directly from Satan. We also know that God will not allow the enemy to win. While God cares for all human beings and doesn't wish for any to perish, GOD WAS THE FIRST ZIONIST and I am on His side! (Zechariah 12, Jeremiah 31:35-37)
     Some Jews will leave, some will stay and some will even fight back. But all Christians should know better, speak up and get involved because the one thing Christians cannot afford to do is to become the new by-standers of this generation. Wake-up, the rubber has met the road!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Keep Calm and Carry On, It's Just a French Pogrom!

     Last Sunday afternoon, if you were in Paris France, you most likely were watching the 2014 World Cup Finals, the Tour de France or simply relaxing during your three-day Week-end for France's Independence Day. Unless of course you were marching towards the "Place de la Bastille" with the rest of the 10 to 20,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators. But to be fair, this was not the first time that pro-Palestinian and Hamas supporters took the streets of the capital, and as scary as it always is, it happens regularly. This time it was to protest the on-going Gaza War, and of course, by proxy, all French Jews are responsible.
     This last Sunday though was very different. For starters, it was the first time that such a huge crowd was gathered. 10,000-20,000 people will not go unnoticed on the streets of Paris, especially when they are heard shouting "Death to the Jews", "F*# the Jews", "Hitler was right", "We will burn you" or "Jihad, Jihad, Jihad". When some of the demonstrators called for prayer, several thousand started to shout Allahu Akbar, removing all doubt as to the ethnic/religious fabric of the angry mob. Freedom of speech and Freedom of religion are still in effect in France, but when such events take place, I question it all. The pro-Palestinian cause was really a cause worth fighting for, in the heart of some at least. Today it has simply morphed into an alibi for anti-Semitism.
     Shop and restaurant owners stood still. Were they in shock or simply re-enacting the cowardliness displayed by the French during the 30s and 40s? It is probably a little bit of both, but I fear that the "virus of the by-stander" has once again infected France. What can one or two do against a crowd, right? This is exactly what went through the minds of the many watching behind their shutters when the Gestapo came to take my maternal grandfather in his home in Paris and shoved him into a cattle car to Auschwitz!
     During these heinous demonstrations, Jewish people usually stay away from the area and/or stay inside their homes. So far it has proven to be the safest move from a very concerned Jewish community. But last Sunday was not the norm, and when a group of demonstrators started to walk towards the Rue de la Roquette Synagogue, everything took a turn for the worst.
     There were between 150 and 200 people inside the synagogue for a special service to remember the three Israeli victims of the recent kidnappings/murders. All of a sudden the angry mob decided to throw café chairs (some of them lit on fire) at the building and continue to scream "Death to the Jews". The police was there but appeared overwhelmed. If it was not for the self-organized Jewish community security brigades, this could have quickly turned into a blood bath. Only three Jewish people were wounded as well as four members of the French police.
     Last time the Jews were chased down and brought to their death was during the Nazi era, and the French Vichy government was very instrumental. The French police was pathetically unresponsive last Sunday, making me think of the days of the Russian pogroms.
     My great-grandmother Rachel Schimkowitz escaped the pogroms and moved to France. Pogroms were government sponsored riots against the Jews mostly in Russia from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. They were responsible for the death of thousands of Jews as well as the departure of many more to America or Eretz Yisrael.
     Last Sunday could very well be the first of the new pogroms in France. Be it by commission or by omission, the French police was implicated and responded very poorly. Not to mention the almost complete lack of coverage from the French media. Ah, the convenience of a World Cup Final! French president François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls both denounced the acts of violence, but to the French Jews who have been living in fear for quite a while, these were just words.
     Today, Bastille Day is behind us, the Soccer frenzy has died off and the Tour de France is nowhere near Paris. So we need to ask ourselves the question:"What would have happened if the crowd had succeeded in entering the synagogue and reached the Jewish people inside?" Frankly, we all know the answer to that – there would have been a blood bath!
     By God's grace, a pogrom was averted last Sunday. It is no longer sufficient for anti-Semites to denigrate the Jews with thoughts, words and even destructive acts against their property, now they want the people too. My people are caught in a tightening vise of Jew hatred, between the growing extreme right of Le Pen and the virulent Muslim community.
     The sad part to me is that the two sides of the vise are being tightened by the apathetic French by-standers. A by-stander who does nothing only facilitates the work of a perpetrator. Sometimes your boldest move is made by your lack of action.
     This was the first thwarted French pogrom and it was mostly a reaction from the angry mob. Can you imagine if they get more organized? Of course you can and so can I. So I say get out and make aliyah to Yisrael. At least there you will be protected!

The road to Auschwitz was built by hate but paved with indifference 
Ian Kershaw, Historian