This week we consider the events of the massacre in Paris that left 14 people dead, and how that it exposes the rise in anti-semitism.
On Wednesday the 7th of January at around 11:30 in the morning, two masked gunmen forced their way into the offices of a French Newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. The men killed 12 people in cold blood and wounded 11 others. It was reported that whilst they were shooting they cried “Allahu Akbar” - “God is Great” in Arabic. They then fled.
The paper had apparently been targeted because it printed controversial cartoons of the islamic prophet Muhammad. Witnesses reported that the gunmen identified themselves as belonging to Al’Qaeda.
Over the coming days a man hunt by the French police ensued and France raised it’s terror alert to the highest level. The two men were identified as two brothers - Saïd and Chérif Kouachi. The next day, the 9th of January, the police almost caught the pair after they were spotted but they managed to get away on foot. They ended up in a stand off in a printing factory. This ended when the two terrorists eventually ran out and attacked the police that were surrounding them, the police responded by shooting them.
At the same time as the Kouachi brothers attack and attempted getaway was happening, one of their close friends, a man called Amedy Coulibaly also conducted various attacks on French citizens. Coulibaly is said to be responsible for three shootings which he apparently had synchronised with the attacks of the Kouachi brothers. He had pledged his allegiance to IS.
How events unfolded (source: BBC)
His first attack was a shooting of a man out jogging on Wednesday the 7th of January. On the 8th of January he shot and killed a police officer and also attacked a street sweeper. Finally on the 9th of January Coulibaly entered a supermarket, killed four people and took several hostages. The police surrounded the supermarket. It is reported that he was in communication with the Kouachi brothers who were, at that time, also in their standoff with the police at the print factory. He apparently told police that he would kill hostages if his friends were harmed. Police eventually stormed the grocery store and gunned down Coulibaly.
What many people do not realise is that the market place where this terrorist attack occurred was Kosher and he had specifically targeted it because it was Jewish. The fact that this secondary issue was an anti-Semitic attack was hardly mentioned in the headlines in the Western media. The four Jews who were killed were purchasing food before the sabbath on the 10th of January. The media and politicians have shown very little sympathy to the Jewish community in this regard, exposing a deep-rooted antagonism against Jewish people in Europe.
On Sunday the 11th of January 2015 millions of people met in Paris for a rally of national unity to honour the 17 victims. Across France nearly 3.7 million people joined demonstrations in what has been reported to be the largest public rally in France since World War II. The phrase "Je suis Charlie" (French for "I am Charlie") has become a common slogan against the attacks and a statement of support for free speech.
Also on the 11th of January The Wall Street Journey had a article entitled "Islamic State Releases Video Calling Grocery Store Gunman Its ‘Soldier’". Apparently in this video the IS spokesman speaks with pride about executing Jews.
On the 12th of January many Jewish schools were closed as the authorities were concerned of further anti-Semitic attacks being possible.
Netenyahu supports march and is condemned by Erdogan
Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu flew in specially to France to join in the Paris rally. Later that day he attended a commemorative ceremony for the victims in a Paris synagogue along with a few other prominent French leaders. The French leaders decided not give any speeches but Netanyahu did. In an article entitled "Netanyahu speaking at Paris synagogue: Enough with terror”, The Jerusalem Post reported it as follows:
"When Netanyahu took the podium, the cavernous sanctuary resonated with shouts of his nickname, “Bibi, Bibi.”
The prime minister repeated that the world, not only Israel, is facing the threat of Islamist extremism and must battle it together. “The truth and righteousness are with us. Our common enemy is extreme Islam, not Islam, not regular extremists, but extreme Islam,” he stated.
Netanyahu said extreme Islam doesn’t hate the West because of Israel, but hates Israel because it is an organic part of the West.
Although much of his speech was punctuated with applause, the loudest cheering came when he said that Jews today have the privilege to live in Israel.
Netanyahu, careful not to overtly called for immediate immigration, said, “ I want to say to you what I say to all our Jewish brothers, that you have a full right to live secure and peaceful lives with equal rights wherever you desire, including here in France.”
Then he added, “these days we are blessed with another privilege, a privilege that didn’t exist for generations of Jews – the privilege to join their brothers and sisters in their historic homeland of Israel.”
The crowd erupted in cheers and chants of “Am Yisrael Chai” (the people of Israel lives)."
After the ceremony, the Jewish victims bodies were flown to Israel and on Tuesday 13th of January were buried in Jerusalem.
A day after the Paris march, a political storm erupted between Israel and Turkey. The Turkish president Erdogan blasted Netanyahu for daring to attend the anti-terror solidarity march in Paris. The Jerusalem post reported "The Turkish leader said that Netanyahu had no right to be at the rally due to the civilian casualties in Gaza during this past summer's Operation Protective Edge.
"I also hardly understand how he (Netanyahu) dared to go there. For once, you give an account for the children, women you massacred," Erdogan said in a joint press conference with Abbas in Ankara, AFP reported.
"How can you see this individual who carries out state terrorism by massacring 2,500 people in Gaza waving his hand," Erdogan said. "He is waving his hand as if people are very enthusiastically waiting for him..."
A few days later Netanyahu and Israel's, Foreign Minister Liberman responded by calling on the world to condemn the Turkish president for supporting terrorists. The Jerusalem Post reported his response:
"Netanyahu said Erdogan’s “shameful comments must be repudiated by the international community, because the war against terrorism will only succeed if it is guided by moral clarity. That means that the terrorists and their supporters must be condemned, and those fighting them, like Israel and the United States, must be supported.”… Liberman, meanwhile, said that Erdogan’s vitriolic attacks against Israel was one of the reasons for the surge of anti-Semitism in Europe. He told a gathering of Israel’s ambassadors to Euro-Asia meeting in the Foreign Ministry that there were severe ramifications to Europe’s ignoring the hate and incitement Erdogan cultivates toward Israel. “The silence of the lambs of cultured Europe, politically correct Europe, toward a neighborhood and anti-Semitic bully like Erdogan and his friends brings us back to the reality of the 1930s,” he said… Liberman, who was in Paris on Sunday during the massive anti-terrorism march, said that when he watched CNN’s coverage he was struck by its ignoring the “Jewish angle.” The network, when talking about the attack at the kosher grocery, did not mention it belonged to Jews, or that the hostages and victims were Jews who were killed because they were Jewish, he said. “We need to speak honestly, without shame, and put everything on the table, because the basis for the murderous anti-Semitism is Islamic extremism on the one side, and the irrational lashing out against Israel on the other,” he said. In the same vein of speaking honestly, Liberman said “it is forbidden” for Israel to “compromise on the values of Zionism.””
The bias in media reporting was picked up by an Israeli radio station called “The Voice of Israel” which held an interview with HonestReporting's Yarden Frankl. This analysis can be listed to at this link. It is well worth a listen as it highlights the media's distortion of events, for example a BBC correspondent who seemingly justified the attacks in Paris on Jews because he believed the Palestinians "suffer" at the hand of the state of Israel. This is just one of the many biased examples the 15 minute radio clip covers.
Concerns by the diaspora
The attacks in Paris have led to many reports this week about the rising tide of Anti-semitism across Europe and the real concern the Jewish communities are having.
The independent newspaper on Wednesday 14th of January 2015 ran an article entitled "The new anti-Semitism: Majority of British Jews feel they have no future in UK, says new study”. Here are a few excepts:
"More than half of British Jewish people fear Jews have no future in the UK, according to a new study which also reveals that antisemitic sentiments are more prevalent than widely believed… The Community Security Trust (CST), the organisation which monitors anti-Jewish hate crime as well as helping to secure buildings and places of worship, said it had increased activity in cooperation with police to guard Jewish sites and location in response to the Paris attack… The CST last year recorded a 36 per cent rise in antisemitic attacks in the first six months of 2014, prior to the Israeli assault on Gaza which caused more than 1,000 Palestinian civilian deaths. In July, the month when Operation Protective Edge was at its height, London saw the highest-ever level of hate crime, of which more than nine tenths was aimed at Jews."
On the 12th of January the Israeli embassy in Ireland posted a picture of the Mona Lisa, dressed in Islamic garb whilst holding a rocket. The tweet read "Don't say we didn't warn.”. The Jerusalem post commented on this: "The post seems to be a common sentiment among Israelis who are angry over what they perceive as the international community’s inability to empathize with its precarious security situation.”
On Friday the 16th the Jerusalem post reported "Representatives of European Jewry called for the establishment of a continental body to combat anti-Semitism in a meeting with a top EU policy maker on Wednesday. Speaking with the EU Foreign Affairs And Security Policy chief Federica Mogherini, a delegation from the European Jewish Congress stated that in the wake of last week’s attack by Islamists against Paris’s Hyper Cacher kosher market, it is incumbent that the EU ramp up it’s efforts to protect its Jewish citizens… “Now more than ever, the European Union needs to create a position and organization specifically geared toward finding long-lasting solutions for anti-Semitism and other forms of racism,” said EJC president Dr. Moshe Kantor, urging the formation of a task force dealing with the issue. According to Kantor, who has previously said that “normative Jewish life is unsustainable” without an amelioration in the fear and insecurity felt by Europe’s Jews, recent events have demonstrated that the Jews’ sense of security in parts of Europe is “at its lowest point since the end of the Holocaust and many are leaving their homes as a result.”
In December the European Parliament had declined to set up a task force to deal with anti-semitism. This further call for one exposes the deep rooted problems in Europe.
Many other videos and articles were posted across many news outlets about anti-Semitism in France and in Europe and how this is fuelling emigration to Israel. For example the Wall Street Journal posted a video on the 14th of January entitled "Why 10,000 French Jews Will Move to Israel This Year" (see http://www.wsj.com/video/why-10000-french-jews-will-move-to-israel-this-year/208E1289-24FF-4E3B-ADFF-DC89F4A1A367.html).
Make no mistake, the spirit of hostility to God's people, the Jews, is alive and well in 2015.
A sign of the coming gathering of the nations against Israel.
So what should we, as Bible students make of all of this? Well firstly we see coming out of all the biased news reporting, general unrest by the Jews of Europe and a lack of support for the Jews amongst world leaders, a sign that Armageddon cannot be far away. In the great prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and the invasion of Israel before Christ manifests himself on the earth to save the Jews, we are told that the nations come "upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.” v12 and "against my people of Israel’ verse 16. There is a specific sense then in which the people of Israel are targeted and this can only stem from a gradual hatred of the Jews by the populations and leaders of the nations involved - many of which are Arab and European (see verses 1-9).
Therefore living in the Biblical time period known as the latter days, when Israel have been restored to their homeland, we should expect to see a growing hatred of the Jews which will explode at some point in the future to allow world leaders to justify an invasion of the Holy Land.
A reminder of the ancient feud of Abrahams sons
Perhaps more than this though we can see that spirit of the ancient antagonism between the descendants of Abraham's sons, is still alive and well in the modern age. Abraham of course had two sons, Ishmael (the father of the mixed Arab peoples) and Isaac (the father of the Jewish people). We are reminded of the source of this problem which we find in Genesis 16:11-12 when an angel appears to Abraham's wife and tells her that she would give birth to Ishmael, the father of the Arabs:
"And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence (or East) of all his brethren.”
As we have seen this spirit of being a "wild man" or literally a "wild ass man", is alive and well in the form of anti-semitism which is bubbling up, not only in the Middle East between the Arabs and Jews but also now in parts of the west where Arab and Jewish immigration has taken place. The Bible teaches that Isaac was the promised seed but this is rejected by the Arabs who claim Ishmael was the chosen descendant of Abraham and so probably the largest family feud ever was born which is still continuing even to this day, thousands of years later.
The Bible has an answer to this though. In a wonderful prophecy of the future age when Jesus returns and God’s Kingdom will be established on the earth, we read of a huge change in Arab opinion to Israel. We read this in Isaiah 60:5-7
"Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory.”
These passages contain the names of the main Arab descendants of Abraham. Kedar for example was the prominent son of Ishmael (Gen 25:13) and his descendants are often noted of in scripture for their hatred against the Jews. For an example of this consider the inspired words of the Psalmist in Psalm 120:
" In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me. Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper. Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.”
The term the “tents of Kedar” then, is synonymous with the idea of "hatred of peace" with Israel which we are witnessing even today.
The return of the Messiah
What a change must take place then when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. What an astounding prophecy we have in Isaiah 60 which tells us that the Arab peoples will come with their sacrifices to the God of Israel and that those sacrifices will be acceptable. How the world needs the true seed of Abraham to come to heal the family feud between the ancestors of the two brothers of Isaac and Ishmael.
How we long for that time when "every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.” Zechariah 14:16. For the time when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Hab 2:14. When Christ will have returned to settle the issues of the world. For "In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.” Psalm 72:7
It is only with this divinely sponsored intervention that peace will be found on this earth. This is the only real solution for this wicked earth and for wretched man upon it.
This has been Matt Davies watching the news with you. Join us again for another Bible in the News next week God willing.