A Page on the World...Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism

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A Page on the World...Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism

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Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. The museum, in chilling detail, demonstrates both the incredible will of some people to endure the most extreme suffering, as well as the capacity for other people to behave in the most destructive and despicable ways imaginable. After touring the museum I had the opportunity to purchase and read Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin. Their purpose is to explain the origins, historical manifestations and implications of anti-Semitism. The authors identify four components of Judaism that have been under attack through history: The first is a set of beliefs that includes God, Torah, Israel and "chosenness." The second is ethical monotheism, which they define as the belief in the need of mankind to obey God and follow His law. The third is the longstanding Jewish mission to repair the world, challenge the superstitions and failings of the outside world and make moral demands on others. The fourth cause of anti-Semitism identified by the authors is the high quality of life that results from obedience to God's laws. After identifying these causes, the authors then comment on some commonly held explanations for anti-Semitism today. The book then details anti-Semitism in history as well as the modern world. Throughout history Jew hatred has been a consistent thread in ancient, polytheistic societies bothered by Jewish monotheism, in Christian and Muslim societies offended by Jewish commitment to their law and refusal to convert to the newer religions, as well as Enlightenment thought offended by Jewish commitment to their national identity and belief in God. The authors note that in modern society Jews are most disliked by those on the political left who dislike the Jewish commitment to their nation and by Muslim societies that deny the right of the Jewish people to a nation of their own that they call Israel. The implications of this are important. Virtually the only nation in the world to consider itself Judeo-Christian, and therefore sympathetic and protective to Israel, is the United States, so hatred of the Jews usually comes to mean hatred of the United States as well. Given these conditions, the authors echo a concern also voiced in the pages of this publication about the consequences of post-Christian Europe allying with Islamic countries with regards to anti-Israel and anti-America politics. The large Muslim minorities in many European nations (especially France and Germany) have combined with Europe's own insecurities about American power to make Europe as unsympathetic to Israel as it has been since the Second World War. The authors also comment on the very small size of Israel, compare the Palestinian refugees and their fate (largely the fault of Israel's neighbors) with that of European refugees after WWII, and give a few suggestions about how Jews can work to increase ethical monotheism in order to reduce anti-Semitism. Given this present geopolitical situation, it is not difficult to imagine a world where those who have a similar commitment to God and His laws, and who believe the world can survive only when it is subject to the same God, would run afoul of authorities who are offended by these beliefs. In such a world, those who take the entire Bible as the Word of God could be subject to the same persecution that has historically come to Jews: Restrictions on professional behavior, harassment, loss of legal rights, exile, vandalism and seizure of property, as well as martyrdom. Obviously, this is serious business. Even with the somber reflections upon the Holocaust and the implications of Jew hatred today, the authors manage to end their book with a ray of hope. The same is true for us even as we reflect upon the dangers of today's world and the promises of future tribulation. Knowing how this age of humankind ends—with the victory of God over a rebellious humanity and the establishment of His Kingdom of righteousness—gives hope instead of hopelessness. So we look forward to God establishing His Kingdom on earth, thus removing the threats and dangers to those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. WNP