When the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was celebrated last year, few could have imagined that anti-Semitism would get even worse. But it has.  The past year has seen two shocking terrorist attacks on Paris, with Jews specifically targeted on both occasions, along with the wave of stabbings and shootings in Israel itself. One incident occurred on Christmas Eve at Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, just yards from Christ Church, where they were celebrating the birth of the Messiah who came to bring peace to a troubled world and where, ironically, they steadfastly work towards reconciling Arab and Jew through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. But the UK too is witnessing an ongoing rise in anti-Semitic incidents necessitating armed guards having to be deployed to schools in London’s Jewish community.  

British publishing magnate Lord Weidenfeld benefited from caring Christians who took him in after he was rescued from Czechoslovakia through the Kindertransport project of 1938, and has launched a campaign to rescue Christians from Syria out of gratitude for the compassion he was shown. He believes that the Islamic State terrorists are worse even than Hitler’s henchmen. The latter were cold and calculated as they killed on an industrial scale, but the Muslim fanatics seem to enjoy what they are doing. Here is the stark reality of what is facing the Jewish people at the dawn of 2016: Iran is fast developing nuclear weapons with which to “wipe out” Israel (in the words of the Ayatollahs and Iranian presidents). And the current spat between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia only adds to the tension in the region.  

Meanwhile Lebanon-based Hezbollah has again started firing rockets into Israel. ISIS are stalking the Golan Heights near Galilee, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority continue to incite their people to murder and some Westerners are engaged in a boycott of Israeli goods on the pretext they are oppressive occupiers of land not their own. But the truth is that most Jewish victims of persecution are attacked simply because they are Jews, not for political or economic reasons. With all this in mind, UK Christians are trying to draw the attention of the pubic to the plight of Jews everywhere.  Under the banner of Christians United for Israel, a petition is being sent to the UK Government expressing condemnation of anti-Semitism and acknowledging the huge contribution of its Judeo-Christian heritage in shaping British values.  

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s account of his own family history, shared in a United Nations speech, illustrates the necessity for such action. After being beaten by a group of anti-Semitic hoodlums at a railway station in Europe, his grandfather Nathan promised himself that, if he lived, he would take his family to the Jewish homeland and help build a future for the Jewish people. Six million Jews perished in the gas chambers, but the nightmares of the survivors live on while new generations face fresh threats. We have so much for which to thank them. They gave us the Bible, on the foundations of which we have built a great civilization. And they gave us Jesus, Saviour of both Jews and Gentiles who put their trust in Him.

Source: Israel Today

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The Israeli government approved the creation of a mixed-gender plaza at Jerusalem’s Western Wall to accommodate Jews who contest Orthodox curbs on worship by women there. The wall is revered as a vestige of Judaism’s two ancient temples and access to it is segregated by gender. Most religious rites take place in the men’s section in accordance with centuries-old Orthodox standards that exist in Israel. The new area will be located at a separate part of the wall that, when seen from the plaza looking toward the wall, stands to the right of the current Orthodox-administered compound where men and women will still worship separately. More liberal streams of Judaism chafe at the restriction. It is regularly challenged by the activist group “Women of the Wall”, sometimes setting off scuffles and police intervention.

Under the plan approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet over objections from Orthodox members, an old archaeological site will be turned into a plaza where men and women can mix and pray freely. In remarks broadcast before the 15-to-5 vote, Netanyahu said the plan sought a “solution to the question of the Women of the Wall” and “a compromise on this sensitive issue of a place that is meant to unite the Jewish people”. Welcoming the blueprint, Women of the Wall activist Rabbi Susan Silverman told Reuters: “This is an extremely joyful day.” Natan Sharansky, the head of the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency chosen by Netanyahu in 2013 to resolve the dispute, has said the new plaza would not entail structural damage to the nearby al Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site.

Israel has seen a four-month-old surge of Palestinian street violence fuelled in part by Muslim agitation at perceived Jewish encroachment on al Aqsa compound. Israel denies Palestinian allegations it plans to open the compound to non-Muslim prayer. The mosque compound, wall and several Christian shrines are in Jerusalem’s Old City, which Israel captured in the 1967 war and annexed as its capital in a move not recognised abroad. An Israeli official said the new plaza will take at least a year to complete. Unlike the Western Wall, it will not have a state-employed rabbi, but will be run by a committee under Sharansky. Plaza regulations will permit bar-mitzvah and bat-mitzvahs – Jewish coming-of-age ceremonies for boys and girls, respectively – to be held there.

Source: Religion News Service

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A record number of Jews made Aliyah to Israel from Western Europe in 2015 due to a rise in anti-Semitic attacks. Most of the Jewish immigrants from Western Europe—about 8,000 among 9,880—have moved to Israel from France, where the head of the Jewish community in the city of Marseille urged local Jews to avoid wearing a kippah in public following an attack on a Jewish teacher by an Islamic State-inspired Muslim. The teacher was wearing a kippah when he was attacked. France has the largest Jewish community in Europe—about 500,000 people. Due to increasing anti-Semitic attacks, most often by radical Muslims, Jewish institutions in France are heavily guarded. French officials say more than 50% of all reported racist attacks in the country in 2014 were directed against the Jewish community.

Elsewhere in Western Europe, nearly 800 Jews have immigrated to Israel from the United Kingdom, with significant Aliyah also coming from the Jewish communities of Italy and Belgium. “That a record number of European Jews feel that Europe is no longer their home should alarm European leaders and serve as a wake-up call for all who are concerned about the future of Europe,” said Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who added, “At the same time, the fact that Israel has become the number one destination for European Jews seeking to build a better future elsewhere is a tribute to the appeal of life in Israel and the values the Jewish state represents.”

Source: JNS News

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