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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stop Insulting Our Intelligence!

     On Sunday January 27, the whole world (or at least the ever dwindling remnant of the civilized world) commemorated "International Holocaust Remembrance Day". This yearly remembrance is based on January 27, 1945 when Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated. It is an international event introduced by the UN in 2005 and is additional to the Jewish Commemoration of the Holocaust known as Yom HaShoah or "The Day of the Catastrophe". Yom HaShoah typically falls on the 27th of Nissan (April 8, 2013) and coincides with the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

     Many communities worldwide, Jewish and non-Jewish, remembered the 6,000,000 victims as well as the survivors and their descendants. Statements of support abounded as the heroic struggles against Nazism and the unnecessary death of millions were recalled. Even President Obama issued its own statement in which we can read: The United States, along with the international community, resolves to stand in the way of any tyrant or dictator who commits crimes against humanity, and stay true to the principle of "Never Again." Sounds good, right? But these are just words and words are cheap and rather hollow if not backed-up by actions. But rather than find fault in the current US administration's handling of the Middle East crisis –and God knows that it can easily be done– I would like us to consider the newest installment in the most popular reality TV show on the planet known as: "Let's Insult Their Intelligence".

     This is a show (if it indeed existed) that would focus on demonizing Israel and the Jewish people and then insult their intelligence by claiming that none of the words or deeds perpetrated were even close to being anti-Semitic. I believe that it would be very popular. This week's episode could have been entitled: "A cartoon for Peace".

     Famous British Sunday Times cartoonist Gerald Scarfe spewed another venomous creation on Sunday, depicting Benyamin Netanyahu building the security fence with bricks interspersed with Palestinian bodies and using Palestinian blood as mortar.

     It immediately drew the attention of the Jewish community worldwide, who demanded an immediate apology for the anti-Semitic cartoon. By the way, it is noteworthy to mention that no death threats were made to any British subjects; no British embassy was ransacked because Netanyahu was insulted,  and the Sunday Times wasn't firebombed by "Jewish extremists" either! Was the Jewish community offended? Absolutely YES! Did it react in a barbaric fashion? Absolutely NO!

     Yet, was the Jewish reaction another case of oversensitivity or even worse, another example of playing the "victim's card" and manipulating the media? For this, we need to take a look at Mr. Scarfe's cartoon and compare it to others published before his time.

     In Mr. Scarfe's cartoon, we see a mean-faced Benyamin Netanyahu with long and sharp trowel in hand, dripping with blood. He is getting ready to apply another brick in the "security wall". Every other layer of bricks shows the head of a squeezed dead Palestinian with an emphasis on the elderly, women and children to symbolize some sort of "innocent victimhood". Palestinian blood is used as mortar for the wall. The bottom caption reads: "Israeli Elections: Will Cementing Peace Continue?"

     The almost instant response from the Daily Times was one of support for the cartoonist and was a clear statement that in no way was the drawing anti-Semitic, but it was simply a political cartoon connected to the recent Israeli elections.

     So, a cartoon is published that is clearly depicting a murderous Netanyahu. Never mind that the wall he is building is in reality for the most part a barbed-wire fence and never mind that it is built to defend Israel from terrorists and bombings. Never mind that Hamas uses their own children, women and elderly as human shields, the message is clear: Israel continues to have blood on their hands as they build an apartheid state.

Nazi propaganda cartoon: Rich Jews drink blood.
     Of course, the fact that the cartoon was published on "International Holocaust Remembrance Day" was a pure coincidence or maybe a busy newsroom oversight, right? Well, I wish I could say that it is true but I am afraid that the day was purposely picked to hurt the Jewish people even more. I think that to deny that "International Holocaust Remembrance Day"was selected as the publish date is simply to insult our intelligence.

Nazi cartoon: Jews draw blood from Christian children to
make matzah for Passover.
     Some Nazi propaganda from the 30s and 40s repeatedly depicted Jewish people drawing blood from people. The "world controlling rich Jew" was pictured feasting on the blood of his victims. Of course, many times the victims also represented poor Christian children whose blood was drawn to make "matzah" (unleavened bread) for the celebration of Passover.

     This is known as the "Blood Ritual" and originates in the middle Ages. The twelfth century introduced a new charge against the Jews that would be added to the list of reasons why they should be converted, ostracized, abused and even killed. This new charge was fabricated from beginning to end for the sole purpose of stigmatizing Jewish people further into a demonized state. It is still being used today against the Jewish people by anti-Semitic groups and/or people across the globe.

It is also known as the “Blood Accusation” and actually originated centuries before the middle ages.

Medieval etching of Jews emptying a Christian Boy
of his blood for use in Passover Matzah
     So, in looking at last Sunday's cartoon, I don't think that it is an overreaction to draw some similarities with both the Nazi propaganda and the Medieval etchings. On the contrary, I think that the intent was to perpetuate a medieval lie about the Jewish people, to continue to ostracize them, making them into the bloody perpetrators of crimes against humanity (mainly "Palestinian humanity"). All this of course, in the name of world peace. 

     I also find it very interesting that Newspaper mogul Ruppert Murdoch who owns News International (publisher of the Sunday Times), was quick to issue an apology for what he called a "grotesque offensive cartoon". In light of his reputation for controversial stories, I do not know if Mr. Murdoch's apology was forced or sincere, but I do agree with the description he used.

     I am so sick of this ongoing denigration of my people by anti-Semites. It might come from a reborn neo-Nazi remnant, a Middle East indoctrinated Muslim community or a global liberal intelligenstia, but it is eventually coming from the same satanic source.

     By the way if any of these libelous gossipers would do their homework, they would quickly find out that the first step in the process of kashrut (kosher laws) when it comes to meat, is to get rid of all the blood before consumption. Quite the opposite of the blood libel if you ask me, but that sure doesn't make for a good show, does it!

UPDATE: As of Wednesday January 30th, 2013, Martin Ivens, the acting editor for the Times had issued an apology for the cartoon. The apology, according to him is for the poor choice of a release date but NOT for the contents

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Is There Another Holocaust Coming?

     I am always extremely hesitant to use the term "Holocaust" to describe anything other than the events that took place in Nazi occupied Europe in the 40s. The gruesome horror of the Shoah (Hebrew word for the Holocaust meaning "the Catastrophe"), places it in a league of its own in the annals of human depravity and ethnic cleansing. This is of course not meant in any way to minimize any other genocide, but simply to recognize the unique place held by the Holocaust.
     This catastrophe could be summarized as "the systematic attempt at the complete destruction of European Jewry" and even though the words "Shoah" and "Holocaust" have become somewhat taboo within most civilized circles, various components from the events that these two words describe remain a threat to my people worldwide.
     The current Iranian regime has repeatedly stated that Israel deserves complete annihilation and that they would be "honored" to take part in such an event.
     Hamas continually and indiscriminately shoots rockets from Gaza onto Israeli targets. Even though they result in very little damage to Israel in terms of actual death toll, they do cause a tremendous psychological strain on the population. Commentary columnist Alana Goodman said it best when she wrote:" The truth is, Hamas's rockets don't cause as many casualties as they otherwise would because Israel goes to great lengths to protect its people. It spends fortunes on bomb shelters and missile defense systems. In contrast, Israel's military responses cause more Palestinian casualties than they otherwise would because Hamas goes to great lengths to endanger its people. It shoots missiles out of hospitals and schools, uses children as human shields, and tell Gaza civilians to ignore Israeli warning pamphlets that advise them to leave targeted neighborhoods".
     I could continue (like I regularly do) to expose the Jew haters of the world like Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, various dictators and world leaders as well as many liberals, but as I have also done in the past, I cannot help but remember that God has promised to never, EVER completely destroy Israel! (Jeremiah 31:35-37). And that, if you ask me is the glorious future that I am hanging on to, when it comes to my people.
     But today, I am drawn to a passage of the Bible that is very disturbing and that very few, including myself, care to comment on. This is a passage found in Zechariah 13:8-9 and that has yet to be fulfilled:“And it will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. “And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’” 
     This most troubling passage describes the land of Israel during the last days (a time of history that is drawing near). Anyone holding to a pre-tribulational and pre-millennial view of the end days (I would put myself in that category) would understand these two verses to contextually describe Israel towards the end of the 7 year Great Tribulation. At that time, two-thirds of all Jews–by then in the Land–will be decimated, leaving only one-third to be refined like silver and gold or in other words "saved".
     Christians have often been accused of anti-Semitism simply because of the fact that they voiced their desire for Messiah's Second Coming to take place "now", which seems to imply that they are pushing for the destruction of two-thirds of all living Jews (about 10,000,000 by today's numbers). In reality, those accusing Christians need only to take it up with God.
     So, what are we to do in light of such a burdensome passage of Scripture? We certainly cannot ignore it (too many have done exactly that). We could, through a series of theological gymnastics, change its meaning, but then we would have to live with the consequences. Maybe you can, but I am certainly not willing to do that.
     Instead, we must accept that by the end of God's program, before the return of Yeshua, two-thirds of the Jewish people will perish. Yet, and that is a detail of extreme importance, God said two-thirds but never gave us an exact number. So, instead of dwelling on the fact that if it happened today it would decimate 10,000,000 Jews, let us work together on reducing that unknown total number of Jewish people that will populate the land of Israel during the Tribulation. Oh, and by the way, if you are unsure about the timing of the Rapture, the Great Tribulation and/or the Millennium, you are still faced with the same dilemma, except that you might live through it with the two-thirds of Israel instead of being caught up in the air prior.
     Let us work together at reducing the number of Jewish people who do not know Yeshua thus reducing the final two-thirds of Zechariah 13:8-9.
     Fighting anti-Semitism is crucial but it must be paired with sharing the hope we have in Yeshua. Additionally, if there is indeed another Holocaust on the horizon, it looks like we can all play a part in reducing its death toll, and that to me, put us smack in the middle of God's will (Genesis 12:3).

In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them; And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. 
Isaiah 63:9

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Two Sides of Philo-Semitism!

      The world has survived the demise of the Mayan Calendar and the holiday season, yet I am still unclear on which was actually more dangerous to humanity. As we enter a new year as well as a second term for President Obama, I believe that the United States is about be faced with some decisions that could affect us and the rest of our world community for years to come.
     The global financial crisis continues to take us down what appears to be an economic drain with no end in sight but the total collapse of western civilization. But lest I am ONLY accused of being somewhat negative, allow me to also continue with the dispensing of my usual leitmotif about the blessing and cursing of Israel and the Jewish people and its consequences (Genesis 12:3).
     In France, where I was for the last three weeks, there is a period of time between Christmas and the new year known as la trêve des confiseurs or "the sweets shops truce"when it is considered highly uncouth to approach any serious or difficult subject of any kind in the public arena. So, by virtue of this yearly truce started in 1875, the subject of antisemitism was not on anybody's list. The reality of course, is that antisemitism never takes a break.
     I believe that 2013 will see a continued increase in antisemitic acts both verbally AND physically all around the world. I also believe that now more than ever is the perfect time to STAND WITH ISRAEL when most of the world will stand and speak against her. The liberal bias against my people will not stop, rather, it will increase. Islamists will renew their common goal to eradicate Israel and for the most part, the rest of the planet will switch their TV sets to the newest reality show because let's face it, "real" news about the middle- east (if even available) is too depressing!
     Fortunately for Israel, there are still some decent people, albeit in decreasing numbers, who care enough to take a stand and speak up in her defense. These people display the opposite of antisemitism, known as "philo-semitism". The word philo is Greek for "having an affinity or preference for". To be philo-semitic thus refers to a person or organization that will display love and care for Israel and /or the Jewish people. So, it's all good right? Philo-semitic people are the friends of the Jews after all, so what could be wrong?
     Technically, the word describes a very positive attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people, but is it possible that there are two sides to philo-semitism? This requires us to take a closer look at philo-semitic people's motives.

The good side of philo-semitism
     While in Paris, I recently lectured about the French village of Le Chambon sur Lignon in central France where about 5,000 villagers (most of them descendants of French Huguenots) saved about 5,000 jewish kids from the Nazi death machine. I even had the privilege of meeting Armand Laferrère, the grandson of a Parisian Huguenot who sent many of these kids down to Le Chambon.
     When asked why they did what they did, the villagers of Le Chambon all gave a similar answer, something like "it was the most natural thing to do". They also understood from the Bible that the Jews were the chosen people of God and that as such they had to be treated with the utmost respect and much love, WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED! To the villagers, they were human beings first and Jews second.
     When expressed properly, philo-semitism should be an unconditional love of the Jewish people as human beings AND because they have a special place in God's eyes (Zechariah 2:8). Additionally, if displayed ethically, philo-semitism should never cause one to turn a blind eye on any injustice caused by Israel or the Jewish people. That is pretty much black and white when you think about it! Yet there is another side to philo-semitism that I find hypocritical at best and potentially lethal at worse.

 The bad side of philo-semitism
     It is one thing to have a special place in our hearts for Israel and the Jewish people, it is another thing to be interested in Israel simply from an eschatological perspective (eschatology is the study of the end times). Unfortunately, many Christians' understanding of Israel and the Jewish people, even though it is a biblical one, is also an eschatological one, and that can possibly create a very unhealthy agenda.
     Too many Christians visit Israel or the "Holy Land" with biblical lenses that are slightly out of focus. Their farsightedness forces them only look at Israel and the Jewish people from a biblical/historical perspective and in the process, they can miss the fact that modern Israel (as different as it might be from their expectations) is a real country, with real people facing some real issues daily.      
     These believers need corrective lenses to help them see Israel today and support the Jewish people for who they are!
     Additionally, way too many Christians only see Israel eschatologically. In other words, modern Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy and one of the key components in the Second Coming of Yeshua after two thirds of Israel is destroyed during the bloody carnage known as the Great Tribulation (Zechariah 12:10, 13:9, Romans 11:26, Jeremiah 31:31-34).
     While all this is true biblically and gives us and Israel a glorious future to look forward to, Israel absolutely cannot be used as the catalyst for the Second Coming of Yeshua.  

     Instead, all those who have put their trust in Yeshua for their present life and their awesome future should look at Israel and the Jewish people with compassion and a genuine desire to see them all join us into eternity with the God of Abraham. Isaac and Jacob. Our philo-semitism should never be motivated by Israel's role in God's program for the last days–as true and biblically validating as it is–but by our burden to see the lost sheep of the tribe of Israel find their Messiah before time runs out.
     Yes, we should support Israel!
     Yes, we should fight antisemitism!
     Yes, we should anticipate a great future for those who trust Yeshua as their Savior!
     and Yes we should boldly share His message of salvation with the Jewish people, but we must also remember that: