On Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2015, there are warnings that 70 years after the horrors inflicted on Jews and others came to an end, the world really hasn’t learned its lesson – and the atrocities may be coming back.
“The one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history,” Mark Biltz, pastor of El Shaddai Ministries in Bonney Lake, Washington, told WND. “We are condemned to repeat history if we do not learn from it.”
Jan Markell, who co-wrote “Trapped in Hitler’s Hell” with Holocaust survivor Anita Dittman, is concerned that members of today’s younger generations don’t know or care enough about the Holocaust.
“I am concerned that particularly younger people – they don’t have an interest in history and they don’t have an interest in this era of history,” Markell said. “I think in their mind, it’s too long ago, and so they’re forgetting something, an era of history… that’s coming back.”
Anti-Semitism is on the rise, with increasing reports in the U.S. and in Europe, and Israel’s neighbors are threatening annihilation against the small Middle East democracy.
Markell said it’s reminiscent of Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s.
“My concern is that this is a generation that is being forgotten about – World War II,” Markell said. “It’s perceived as ancient history; it’s not, and we need to learn from it so that it doesn’t happen again, because it is happening again, and younger people – people of all ages need to be aware that it’s happening again.”
In America, a recent Anti-Defamation League report revealed there were 21 percent more anti-Jewish incidents in the U.S. in 2014 than in 2013. This included 36 assaults, 363 incidents of vandalism, and 513 incidents of threats and harassment.
Get the story of the Holocaust from an eyewitness, in “Trapped in Hitler’s Hell,” by Holocaust survivor Anita Dittman.
American Jews have faced even more attacks in 2015. In late March, two Jewish teenagers in Brooklyn were struck by paintballs as they walked home from synagogue with their grandfather. Police investigated the incident as a hate crime. This came only a week after another Jewish man reported that someone shot him with a paintball gun in the same section of Brooklyn.
In early April, on the Tuesday morning of Passover week, members of the Shaare Torah Congregation in Gaithersburg, Maryland, arrived at their synagogue to find it covered in offensive graffiti, including swastikas and hurtful words and phrases.
Only a day earlier, the Boulder Jewish Community Center in Boulder, Colorado, had to be evacuated after someone sent officials an envelope filled with white powder and a note reading “your [sic] have enemies.”
Biltz, the author of “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs,” blames the hostility on a climate of hate perpetuated by the media.
“One of the reasons anti-Semitism is so virulent today is because of libelous accusations that are made today through the media,” Biltz said. “The Jews are falsely accused for all the ills in the world today. Even when there are wars between Muslims, the Sunni vs. the Shias, the Jews are blamed.
“Most of the vocal people have never been to Israel or talked to Israeli Arabs. People tend to believe the big lie rather than taking time to really listen to the other side.”
American anti-Semitism, however, probably is overshadowed by that in Europe.
In a 2012 survey of around 6,000 Jews in eight European countries, about 75 percent said anti-Semitism had increased in their respective countries over the past five years.
The vitriol has continued beyond 2012. The Community Security Trust, a charity that protects British Jews, reported 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents in Britain in 2014, more than twice as many as in 2013 and the highest yearly total ever recorded by the CST. The 314 anti-Semitic incidents reported in July 2014 represented the highest monthly total ever.
But of course, the attacks didn’t stop when 2014 was over. Just last month, a drunken mob of about 20 people entered a London synagogue shouting, “Kill the Jews!” They attacked the worshipers and smashed windows.
Biltz said modern anti-Jewish violence is just a continuation of the long, hard slog that God’s chosen people have been traveling for all of their history.
“God separated the Jewish people from the nations,” Biltz explained. “They were to be different in how they dressed, how they ate, how they related to God and to one another. Many times the Jewish people wished God had chosen someone else because of the consequences of God’s choosing them. Society is jealous of how they are so few in number and yet so blessed. I can’t think of a people group who have been hated more and taken on more genocidal attempts than the Jewish people, yet they tend to thrive and be successful, winning even the greatest percentage of Nobel prizes.”
France has seen a huge jump in anti-Semitism as well. The CRIF, the French affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, reported 851 anti-Semitic incidents in 2014, more than double the 423 recorded the previous year. The group claimed anti-Jewish acts represented 51 percent of all racist acts in France that year, even though Jews represent only one percent of France’s population.
Perhaps the most notorious anti-Semitic attack in France so far in 2015 was the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris, which came on the heels of the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters.
In light of all the violence, many French Jews fear for their safety. A record 7,000 Jews moved from France to Israel in 2014, twice as many as the previous year.
Danish Jews fear for their safety, too, in light of recent attacks on Jews in Denmark. Just last week, vandals smashed a window and scrawled anti-Semitic words at Copenhagen’s lone kosher deli.
In Belgium, things have gotten to the point where an insurance company refused to renew a policy for a Jewish kindergarten in Brussels. The company claimed the risk of attack on the kindergarten was too high.
Earlier this month, vandals splattered red paint on several portraits in an open-air Holocaust exhibit in Budapest, Hungary. Only a day earlier, in the same city, vandals had spray-painted a swastika on a synagogue.
Sometimes anti-Semitic attackers don’t just go for property or random Jews, but for Jewish leaders. In March, Eli Tauber, who established a foundation to promote Jewish culture in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was attacked outside a Sarajevo café by a man wielding a weighted chain.
Biltz says there are two keys to combating anti-Semitism: education and relationship building.
“From the education standpoint, the church needs to understand the errors of replacement theology, thinking that they have replaced the nation of Israel in God’s eternal plans,” Biltz said. “From a secular standpoint, people need to realize what they hear in the media is totally biased. Hatred is a strong emotion that sometimes even education can’t overcome, which is why relationships have to also be built. Going to Israel and meeting the Jewish people will transform your life.”