Yom Kippur 2019: Will antisemitism never end?

Shooting outside the synagogue in Halle, Germany. Inside, up to 80 worshippers praying on Judaism's holiest day, Yom Kippur. Will the suffering of the Jewish people ever end?

Sister Anastasia Kennedy

OpEds Sister Anastasia Kennedy
Sister Anastasia Kennedy

Written for Arutz Sheva at the initiative of Sister Anastasia herself..

Antisemitic rhetoric appears to play a big part in the repeated attacks against Jews in the West. The suspect in Halle, Germany, broadcast the attack on a popular live-streaming platform  before being arrested. The video, which has now been removed, showed him making antisemitic comments to camera before driving to the synagogue in Halle and shooting at its door.

Words can have a devastating effect, as I and another Sister experienced first-hand in Israel after our arrival on 9/11 2001, the day of the Twin Tower tragedy. While Jewish friends were saying, "Now the West will understand what we are facing," another narrative was spreading. The very next day a Christian Arab staff member at the hotel asked us, "Don't you think it is strange that so few Jews were killed?" Reasoning with her proved futile. She had been listening to the Arabic news and was convinced that Israel had masterminded the whole event. Such lies persist to this day, despite evidence to the contrary.

Today old lies like the blood libel are resurrected. They have even been adopted in the Muslim world...
Bizarre. But no less bizarre than Christians blaming the Black Death on Jews in medieval Europe - "They poisoned the wells." Segregated in ghettos and practising Jewish hygiene laws (a form of preventive medicine), the Jewish community was less affected. But hysteria won the day and thousands of Jews were murdered. In one particularly horrific example several hundred members of the Jewish population were burnt alive publicly in Strasbourg on St. Valentine's Day in 1349.

Today old lies like the blood libel are resurrected. They have even been adopted in the Muslim world, which in earlier centuries seemed more tolerant than Christians of Jews in their midst. As long as Islam was predominant in a society, Jews were tolerated - as second-class citizens. 

With conspiracy theories playing on people's fears and public indignation roused by irresponsible reporting, antisemitism keeps rising like a hydra. The latest variant is BDS - the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, which is particularly insidious, as it operates under a mantra of human rights while seeking the destruction of Israel.

Why such irrational hatred? I have heard it said that if there were no chosen people there would be no fighting in the Middle East. But in rejecting Israel as God's chosen people, we reject the God of Israel. And there are consequences, as Germany literally experienced towards the end of WWII and afterwards. "All those nations that destroyed you will now be destroyed. All your enemies will become captives in other lands. Those who stole from you will have their own things stolen. Those who took things from you in war will have their own things taken".(Jeremiah 31:16 NCV)

It is the outworking of God's promise to Abraham to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel (Genesis 12:3).

The same principle is evident today. An Iranian church leader in the West sees a direct link between Iran's massive 2018 earthquake and the country's antisemitism. Addressing his Farsi television audience, which reaches 14 million Muslims, he challenged the ayatollahs of Iran. "For 40 years since the Islamic Revolution every child in Iran, before going to school or entering the classroom, has to stamp on the Israeli flag and proclaim, 'Death to Israel, death to Israel!' What are you doing with this cursing? Neither Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia do that, although they are Muslim. I am not threatening you, I am simply informing you that whoever curses Israel is under a curse."

While the Iranian regime continues to spew threats to destroy the state of Israel, a remarkable trend is evident. Thousands of Iranians are turning from Islam to Christianity despite the severe penalties. They are fascinated to read of the Persian king Cyrus as a friend of the Jews. They speak with conviction that God is establishing His throne in Elam (read Persia) in fulfilment of Jeremiah 49:38. Untrammelled by now rejected Replacement Theology, which teaches that God is through with Israel, they are like a breath of fresh air on the scene.

Today, in Germany, my thoughts turn to the Eve of Yom Kippur that I spent in Jerusalem following 9/11. The streets were empty as I and my fellow Sister approached David's Citadel. Quietly we watched as two unmounted horses disappeared into the horizon under the full moon. Darkness was falling swiftly, shrouding the city in silence. Then as now, I am reminded of something our late founder Mother Basilea Schlink wrote in 1958 ~

"Blessed ... are those who wish Israel well today, for the scriptures say of such 'They shall prosper that love thee' (Psalm 122:6 KJV). 

"Blessed is he who respects this people as the special possession of God, of the living, eternal God, the Most High, and acknowledges that Israel is His first-born son, His darling child, the very apple of His eye. Blessed is he who meets this people with reverence, because they are the chosen people of God; blessed is he who fears to do them harm or to injure them in any way. Blessed is the nation and the man that do good to Israel. Such acts bring joy to the heart of God, which overflows with love for His people" (Israel, My Chosen People: A German Confession Before God and the Jews).

Sister Anastasia Kennedy is of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, an interdenominational, Lutheran-based religious order. She sent this article to Arutz Sheva through a Jewish friend.