On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed annually on Jan. 27, we proclaim "Never again!" Yet the increase in anti-Semitism in the U.S. and 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 in broad daylight.
I truly never thought I would see this day: Vicious, anti-Semitic sentiments, of the sort seen in Germany prior to the Holocaust, coming alive on the streets of New Jersey. Propaganda similar to what the Nazis spread being distributed on college campuses in California. Jews being targeted physically with assault simply for being Jewish, and locals saying "it's their fault" while others indifferently stand by.
For the first time in my lifetime, I see the possibility of darkness overcoming the 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 as bad as things are for Jews in America, they are even worse in Europe.
The Light of Hope
Yet, in spite of this gloomy picture, there is hope for the Jewish people. This isn't 1939 in pre-war Germany. It's not the 1800s, when pogroms and blood libels saw countless Jews massacred and Jewish towns destroyed across Europe. It's not 1648 during the Khmelnytsky massacres when Cossacks murdered and tortured over hundreds of thousands of Eastern European Jews. Nor is it 1492, when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella initiated the Spanish Inquisition, demanding Jews to convert, leave or die at the stake.
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 2020, 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.
Our Christian Friends
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 time 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.
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 of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. As president, Eckstein oversees all ministry programs and serves as the organization's international spokesperson. She can be heard on The Fellowship's daily radio program airing on 1,500 stations worldwide. Before her present duties, Yael served as global executive vice president, senior vice president, and director of program development and ministry outreach. Based in Jerusalem, Yael is a published writer, leading international advocate for persecuted religious minorities and a respected social services professional. As president of The Fellowship, she also holds the rare distinction of being a woman leading one of America's largest religious not-for-profit organizations.
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