“Jews to the gas.” “Jews to the oven.” “Kill the Jews.”
These are standard sentiments in the streets of Tehran and Gaza City. But earlier this year, those chilling slogans, chanted by tens of thousands, echoed up and down the streets of London, Paris and Amsterdam.
Yes, you read that correctly.
These slogans, of course, filled Germany during World War ii. By that time, Hitler’s unchecked anti-Semitism had matured beyond boycotting Jewish stores, banning Jews from schools, firebombing synagogues and flogging Jews in dark alleys. By the early 1940s, the ultimate expression of hatred toward Jews had emerged: The führer was rounding up Jews like sheep, and cramming them—shocked and naked, men, women and children—into steel chambers, then gassing them.
Consider: Tens of thousands of Europeans today seek the reconstruction of Nazi Germany’s gas chambers and ovens. Granted, the recent Continent-wide choir was largely composed of European Muslims protesting Israel’s incursion into Gaza and showing support for Hamas. Native Europeans, for the most part, were by no means condoning 1940s-style Nazi anti-Semitism.
That said, the overwhelmingly passive reaction of Europeans to the chilling calls for the mass murder of Jews—by a minority group, on the streets of European cities, suggests the presence of a latent and foreboding anti-Semitism. More worrying is the fact that while European governments, state and city authorities, academics, much of the media and European populace did virtually nothing to tamp down the hate, many—both leaders and citizens—energetically lauded the anti-Semitic chorus. The reality is, anti-Israel sentiment—the slick cousin of anti-Semitism—was and is embraced, encouraged and facilitated in the European mainstream by European politicians, intellectuals and media.
Call this 1930s-style anti-Semitism, if you will. And history shows that unless it is checked, it leads directly to Jews being gassed and tossed like worthless fodder into ovens, or what in hindsight might be called 1940s-style anti-Semitism.
Much like it is today, hatred toward Jews was politically fashionable and socially acceptable in Britain and the rest of Europe during the 1930s. Historian William Manchester noted this trend in his book The Last Lion.
“The martyrdom of Jews in the 1940s would strip anti-Semitism [in Britain] of its respectability,” wrote Manchester, “but in the 1930s it was quite an ordinary thing to see restaurants, hotels, clubs, beaches, and residential neighborhoods barred to people with what were delicately called ‘dietary requirements.’ … Contempt for [Jews] was not considered bad form. They were widely regarded as unlovable, alien, loud-mouthed, ‘flashy’ people who enriched themselves at the expense of Gentiles” (emphasis mine throughout).
During this time, the British government, high society, the intellectual class and the media—with the exception of a handful of individuals including Winston Churchill—were infected with animosity for Jews and infatuation with Nazism. Among London’s upper crust, Nazism and all it represented had a strange appeal: “Ladies wore bracelets with swastika charms; young men combed their hair slant across their foreheads” (ibid.). Even Britain’s king, Edward viii, visited Hitler’s Germany, admired the führer, and didn’t lift a finger to curb the growing and blatant acts of anti-Semitism surging in the government and across the country.
Similar sentiment prevailed in Europe. “Poland’s national character, like Germany’s,” wrote Manchester, “was marred by a livid streak of anti-Semitism ….” In Hungary, anti-Semitic laws similar to those in Nazi Germany made the persecution of Jews routine. In France in the late ’30s, rowdy crowds, alarmed by the prospect of war with Germany and convinced that Jewish warmongers were at the root of the problem, protested in towns and suburbs, crying “Death to the Jews, raid the Jews.”
As in Britain, a wide and surging river of anti-Semitism, flowing since early medieval times—whose primary source was Europe’s Catholic forbears—ran unchecked through the peoples, classes and governments of Europe.
In Germany, the persecution of Jews had been adopted as state policy nearly a decade before the war began. By the mid-’30s, bullying Jews was virtually a national sport. Across the country, wrote Manchester, “motion picture theaters, shops and restaurants were displaying prominent signs reading ‘Juden unerwünscht’ (‘Jews not welcome’). Day-to-day existence was becoming increasingly difficult for non-Aryans. ‘Fur Juden kein zutritt’ (‘Jews not admitted’) placards hung outside grocery and butchers’ shops; they could not enter dairies to buy milk for their infants, or pharmacies to fill prescriptions, or hotels to find lodging. At every turn they were taunted ….”
Hatred of Jews was as much in vogue in America as it was in Europe. “The worst period of American anti-Semitism,” wrote history Prof. Leonard Dinnerstein, “was sandwiched between the ends of World War i and World War ii” (Anti-Semitism in Times of Crisis). By the mid-1940s, recalls Dinnerstein, animosity toward Jews had swelled to the point where many American Jews actually feared that the anti-Semitic pogroms occurring in Nazi Germany were about to spread to America.
This global anti-Semitism came with significant consequences. Because hatred of Jews was in style and enormously pervasive, Western leaders during the 1930s were largely blind to the apocalyptic destination of the raging anti-Semitic river. In this sense, the subliminal support given by British, European and American governments and society to Hitler’s anti-Jewish ideology and policies actually made the gas-chamber-style anti-Semitism of the 1940s inevitable!
History’s warning is thunderous and undeniable: Pre-World War ii trends in Britain, America and Europe show that anti-Semitism is a barometer of crisis!
History Is Repeating
In January, the Brussels Journal reported: “Far from simply being a spate of isolated incidents, as many Europeans claim, anti-Semitic violence is becoming more commonplace in every country in Europe. At the same time, anti-Israel demonstrations, which have strong anti-Semitic overtones, are being held with alarming frequency in cities across Europe” (January 17).
With the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 came a new strain of this age-old hatred: anti-Zionism, or opposition to the Jewish state. Today, anti-Semitism, often manifested as anti-Israel sentiment, is as fashionable in Britain and Europe as it was in the 1930s!
Writing in the New Statesman in March, Rhoda Koenig, a former New Yorker now living in London, lamented the prevalence of what she termed low-level “dinner party” anti-Semitism. Anti-Israel, anti-Jewish discussions are not only common among Britain’s elite, she said, but there’s rarely much debate or disagreement on the subject. This suggests a collective intolerance.
“The Palestinian people in Gaza are the new Warsaw ghetto,” declared British mp George Galloway earlier this year, “and those who are murdering them are the equivalent of those who murdered the Jews in Warsaw in 1943.”
“Jew-baiting is especially intense in the UK,” wrote Isi Leibler in the Jerusalem Post. “Prominent Jews encounter death threats. Students at Oxford University have gleefully proclaimed that in five years, their campus ‘would be a Jew-free zone.’ A high-ranking British diplomat was arrested after publicly launching a foul-mouthed anti-Semitic tirade. The London-based Royal Court Theater is staging a viciously anti-Israeli play by Caryl Churchill that Melanie Phillips described in the Spectator as reminiscent of anti-Semitic plays performed in the Middle Ages portraying Jews as demonic Christ-killers” (February 15).
Anti-Semitism is once again fashionable in Britain. No wonder anti-Semitic incidents are skyrocketing. The Community Security Trust reported that the number of attacks against Jews was more than six times higher in the four weeks after Operation Cast Lead began than in the same period last year. Jew-beatings are increasingly common, and prominent Jews have been encouraged by authorities to step up personal security as many are on hit lists. These days, in many cases, Jewish functions require a team of bodyguards to protect participants. During one demonstration in London earlier this year, participants—many of whom were native Britons—as well as police and onlookers, didn’t object to a man dressed as a Jewish caricature, replete with a mask of a long, crooked nose, pretending to eat babies.
During the 1930s, many in Britain lauded Hitler’s anti-Semitism. Today, many in Britain condone, even embrace, Islam’s hatred for Jews and the Jewish state. Britain is more infatuated with the forces seeking its destruction than it is loyal to friends needing its assistance! As during the 1930s, certain influences within Britain are empowering its enemy and facilitating the eventual destruction of an ally.
In Europe, the river of anti-Semitism that carved through the Continent, swelling Nazi Germany’s pre-war anti-Jew ambitions, has reappeared today, and flows as briskly as ever. Though their hatred is cloaked in anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian rhetoric and gestures, many European leaders are sanctioning, even promoting, the persecution of Jews.
Take Harry van Bommel, for example, the native Dutch mp who earlier this year called for a new intifada against Israel. In France, young thugs were recently caught on camera marching through a supermarket shouting anti-Jew epithets and smashing food products imported from Israel. Increasingly, even business leaders and politicians are demanding boycotts against products made in Israel. This often means the boycotting of Jewish-owned stores. In Italy, Giancarlo Desiderati, spokesman for the Flaica-cub trade union, demanded a boycott of all Jewish shops in Rome, and warned Romans, in a leaflet distributed by his outfit, that goods they purchase from Jewish-owned stores are “tainted by blood.”
These are flagrant attempts—in Europe no less, the so-called modern bastion of multiculturalism and tolerance—to put Jews out of business. Exactly the same measures were occurring in Europe prior to the Holocaust.
Serge Benhaim, president of a Jewish community in Paris, described daily life for many Jews in France: “Almost every day we witness severe racially motivated incidents, and tension has only intensified after the operation in Gaza. We don’t take the train after 7 p.m., we wear a skullcap only under a hat, and our youths don’t wander the streets late at night anymore.”
That’s 1930s-style anti-Semitism!
The National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism in France reported that within about three weeks of the war in Gaza starting, it had received more than 100 reports of violence against Jews. Synagogues, Jewish centers and Jewish memorials are regularly firebombed and ransacked. Jews are persecuted, verbally abused and beaten. Earlier this year in Denmark, two Israelis were shot and wounded in a shopping mall. In Belgium, Jewish schools are being desecrated; Jewish community leaders are receiving death threats; and a plot to burn a Jewish family alive was foiled. During many of the anti-Israel demonstrations throughout Europe, Nazi imagery was resurrected; signs and chants likened Israeli soldiers to Nazi troops, the Gaza Strip was compared to Auschwitz, and the Star of David was replaced with Nazi swastikas.
It’s sadly ironic. By condoning, even joining, the movement to liken Jews to Nazis, native Britons and Europeans are making Nazi-style destruction inevitable!
In some parts of Denmark, school authorities are refusing to accept Jewish students—some out of fear it might upset the Muslim students, others because they despise Israel. In Britain, Jewish schoolchildren are bullied for belonging to a people supposedly “with blood on their hands.”
Let’s not misunderstand: While there was a surge in anti-Jewish incidents in the wake of Israel’s incursion into Gaza in January, the war was more of an excuse or outlet for venting latent, abiding prejudice and hatred than a root cause of the current surge in anti-Semitism!
The global financial crisis has been exploited in much the same manner. In February, the Anti-Defamation League reported on a survey it had commissioned that found nearly a third of Europeans blame Jews for the global economic meltdown and that a large number of Europeans believe Jews have too much power in the business world. In Spain, 74 percent of those polled said they felt it was “probably true” that Jews hold too much sway over the global financial markets. Nearly two thirds lamented that the Jews were more loyal to Israel than their home countries.
This is not new: For centuries anti-Semitism has been a valve through which mounting tensions are released! When the plague decimated Europe in the late Middle Ages, for example, blame was pinned by many on the Jews.
Where Will It End?
The Second World War broke up the 1930s love affair with Nazism. Although Hitler’s unspeakable acts finally prodded Britain and Western Europe into doing something to stop the atrocities, 60 million lives were sacrificed before World War ii finally ended!
The lesson is poignant: When nations coddle radical regimes and embrace their genocidal ambitions, they make catastrophic destruction inevitable!
Today, the briskly flowing, unchecked river of anti-Semitism that cut across the planet during the 1930s has been resurrected. If we understand history, we can know that this torrent of hate and violence, when it reaches its high-water mark and finally overflows its banks, will not only engulf the Jews and the Jewish state, but will also spill over and swamp entire nations and regions.
In fact, biblical prophecy shows that it will engulf the planet!
Two prophecies in particular, one in Hosea 5, the other in Zechariah 14, indicate anti-Semitism—manifested in an intense hatred for the Jewish state and a burning desire to purge Jews from Jerusalem—will play a central role in end-time events. Thankfully, these events are prophesied to immediately precede the return of Jesus Christ to this Earth! His government will finally put a stop to all racial prejudice (Acts 10:34).