On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed annually on January 27, we proclaim “Never Again!” Yet, the increase in anti-Semitism around the world has many people asking if history could repeat itself. Today, Jews are increasingly singled out and senselessly harassed, beaten, and even murdered because of their faith.
Just last week, a gunman demanding the release of a convicted terrorist took hostages during Shabbat services at a synagogue in the Dallas suburb of Colleyville, Texas. Thankfully, due to the expert work of law enforcement authorities, after a tense 10-hour standoff the gunman was killed, and what could have been a catastrophic tragedy was narrowly averted.
Meanwhile, vicious anti-Semitic sentiments, of the sort seen in Germany prior to the Holocaust, have come alive on the streets of London. Propaganda similar to what the Nazis spread has been seen in neighborhoods in California. Jews are being targeted physically with assault simply for being Jewish.
For the first time in my life, I see the possibility of darkness overcoming light. Not just in Israel, where I live surrounded by countries that are Israel’s sworn enemies, but in America, where Jews live surrounded by sworn friends. And the situation in Europe is even more dire.
Yet, despite these serious concerns, I believe there is hope for the Jewish people. This isn’t pre-war Germany in the 1930s. It’s not the 1800s, when pogroms and blood libels saw countless Jews massacred and Jewish communities destroyed across Europe. It’s not 1648 during the Chelminski Massacres when Cossacks murdered and tortured tens of thousands of Eastern European Jews. Nor is it 1492 during the Spanish Inquisition, when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain demanded that Jews convert, leave the country, or die.
Today is a different era. Two major differences exist today that have not existed at any other time in the history of Jewish persecution. They are the reasons why I believe that history will not repeat itself, and that a new destiny awaits the Jewish people, and indeed the entire world.
The first difference is that today, we have the state of Israel. In 2022, there is a Jewish state with one of the greatest armies in the world. For the first time in 2,000 years, the Jewish people live as an independent nation in our homeland. The establishment of Israel in 1948 was a game-changer for the Jewish people. We have a place of refuge and the ability to defend ourselves. Moreover, Israel has a strong economy and innovative technology, and we are making great contributions to the global community.
The second difference today is that, for the first time in history, the Jewish people have friends. There are millions of Christians around the world who not only stand with Israel in their hearts, but stand up for Israel, speak up for Israel, and work in so many ways to ensure Israel’s safety and survival.
For the first time, Jews do not stand alone. We have Christian friends who have proven again and again that they will not desert us in our time of need. From security needs, political support, humanitarian aid, and prayer on our behalf, our Christian friends have blessed Israel immeasurably. Thanks to their support, The Fellowship is able to work day and night to spread light by bringing both a message of hope – and physical sustenance such as food, medicine, and heat – to Holocaust survivors around the world.
This year on International Holocaust Memorial Day, as we proclaim, “Never Again,” let us remember that this phrase depends largely on us. With God’s help, light will overcome the darkness that threatens us all. But God depends on us to be His agents of light. It is our job to shine the light of His love and illuminate our world with justice. And let us pray for the day when we will turn our swords into ploughshares and all of mankind will live together in peace.
- Yael Eckstein is the president and CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. In this role, she also holds the rare distinction of being a woman leading one of the world’s largest religious not-for-profit organizations, having raised $1.8 billion — mostly from Christians — to assist Israel and the Jewish people.