Are we inching our way towards the fulfillment of Zechariah 12?

Jerusalem has been at the very center of religious, historical and geopolitical tensions for a long time. With the recent move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it seems that fuel has once again been added to the fire already consuming the Palestinians with humiliation, or so would the media like us to believe.  Some countries have welcomed the US embassy move and some have even announced their subsequent moves in the next few weeks. Honduras, Paraguay, Guatemala, the Czech Republic and Romania have all announced their plans to move forward with a relocation. While much of the world sees this as a defiant move, Israel welcomes the decisions of the few international friends she has. There will be more.

The move of the US embassy, had it been in any other country on the planet would have garnered no interest from anybody. Generally speaking, people don't care where an embassy is located and they agree that it should be in the capital of each respective country. When the capital is Jerusalem, and its legitimacy is questioned, a move becomes a thorn in the flesh of political correctness. The locating or relocating of an embassy really shouldn't be newsworthy, but it seems that lately, anytime Israel or Jerusalem is mentioned, the world gets on edge.

If nothing else, moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem shows that this current administration supports Israel AND recognizes Jerusalem as its capital, something that previous US administrations had alluded to at best.  The United Nations General Assembly voted 128-9 (35 abstentions) in favor of condemning the upcoming move, even though US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Hailey vowed that the United States would remember those who voted against the move. This was done in the form of an attempt at rendering the "Trump decision" null and void. The 9 countries that voted against it were: Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Togo and the US.

Then came the move to Jerusalem. President Trump chose the symbolic date of May 14, 2018, since Israel was declared a modern nation on May 14, 1948. Palestinian Authority and its close supporters declared that the move was counterproductive to any peace efforts. Simultaneously, Hamas tried to breach the Gaza/Israel border. These people flew kites with explosives over the border and sent terrorists mixed with civilians to cross to Israel. As it turned out, over 75% of the people killed at the border were terrorists. The days leading to the move to Jerusalem were supposed to be the "Palestinian March of Return" coinciding with the date of May 14th, considered by Palestinians as the Nakba or "catastrophe." The results of the border breach attempt were far from what Hamas expected. There seems to be a "Palestinian narrative fatigue" going around, but don't worry, the contempt for Israel will return before we know it. How is THIS helping with the peace effort?

As always, the media was extremely helpful in painting a picture promoting and vindicating a false narrative. The National Catholic Reporter boldly wrote that "Emboldened by embassy move, Israel unleashes on Palestinians." making Israel sound like a murderous state killing harmless peaceful protesters. CNN reported, "The US  opens new embassy in Jerusalem as dozens are killed in Gaza." The article goes on to demonize Israel AND doesn't show one picture of Palestinian terrorism. It only shows people looking desperate and trying to defend themselves, which is a far cry from reality. A few websites have the integrity to properly report the facts. One such outfit is honestreporting.com and they produced several short videos clearly exposing the lies of Hamas, and the denial of the media.

The 128 countries that drafted a resolution to render the decision to move the embassy "null and void," are enemies of Israel and are not looking for peace in the Middle East. They have become co-conspirators of Hamas. While the resolution from the UN does not carry very much weight on the international scene an will likely not lead to a reversal of the embassy move, it is a symptom of something much deeper; it shows the world's opinion on Israel. Over 75% of the countries of the world are ready to render the move null and void. They have spoken loud and clear, and the 35 that abstained, have spoken by their silence.

There is an interesting prophecy in the Jewish Scriptures found in the prophet Zechariah 12:1-9. In it, we are told that at some point in future history, the whole world will turn against Israel. “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah....“It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.

Bible students know that to be true. The day is coming when the whole world will turn against Jerusalem. 128 countries out of 193 is definitely a move in that direction. Somehow, even America will turn against Israel. We understand that even if a country corporately declares its hatred of Israel and the Jewish people, people of good faith do not have to follow suit. During the 30s and 40s, there were people who helped, protected and hid many Jews such as my mother. They were not Jewish, they risked their own lives and took no money to do so. Today, they are known as "Yad Vashem Righteous Gentiles" or "Gentiles Among the Nations." All seems to indicate that the world is in need of a second generation of "Righteous Gentiles," and they exist, I have met some of them.

We are indeed a lot closer to a fulfillment of Zechariah 12, but we must be humbly reminded of the end of that story in verse 9 “And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem."

God will indeed have the final word!

Christ at the Checkpoint: Is the Virus Spreading?

Every two years since 2010, a conference takes place at Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) in the Middle East. That conference is known as Christ at the Checkpoint (CaTC) and focuses on Middle East issues between Israelis and Palestinians, seen from a Christian perspective. It is a conference centered around biblical reconciliation and justice...or so it claims! The organizers of CaTC write that they are " a community of evangelical Christians who believe that following Jesus with integrity means that our lives are formed by our love for God, the teaching of the Bible and a fearless life of discipleship in the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We believe that one of the first hallmarks of discipleship is love for both our own community and for our enemies. We wish to find Jesus at the center of everything we do and to make his life our life. Which means finding courageous love for Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews alike." Even the CaTC Manifesto claims that the Conference and its speakers hold to biblical principles that are critical to the solving of the Arab/Israel conflict. This year, it will take place again in Bethlehem May 28- June 1.

The very first article of their manifesto says " The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel." While I would agree on various aspects of the Manifesto, I also have some serious concerns about other parts. "The Kingdom of God has come" assumes that we all agree about a theology known as "Kingdom Now Theology." Kingdom Now Theology claims, among other things, that Yeshua’s Kingdom was inaugurated at His First Coming, while Scripture states that He will reign as Messianic King on the throne of David from Jerusalem in the yet-to-come Millennial Messianic Kingdom (Psalm 72:8, 11, 17; Isaiah 9:7, 11:6-11; Jeremiah 23:6, Zechariah 3:10.)

Furthermore, in article 5, we read "Any exclusive claim to the land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture." I would have to disagree with that statement as well,  since the Land of Israel belongs to God Himself (Leviticus 25:23), but He chose to make a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:12-18, 17:7-8, 24:7), reconfirmed through Isaac (Genesis 26:1-3) and then Jacob (Genesis 35:9-12), that would include that piece of land as an eternal AND unconditional part of that covenant. Additionally, God’s gifts are irrevocable (Romans 11:29) AND while many other promises were made by God to Ishmael, the land promise was never one of them (Genesis 17:18-21).

For the honest person who respects the Word of God, the veneer of reconciliation and fight against injustice isn’t very hard to peel. Once that is done, it is easy to see that Christ at the Checkpoint is indeed interested in reconciliation, as long as by it they mean Israel’s unilateral apology for its “crimes” against Palestinians along with Israel relinquishing the “occupied” land of Palestine and further submitting to the regional demands by its Arab neighbors. As a one-way street, this has nothing to do with true reconciliation. A definition for reconciliation goes as follows:" The act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement." or "The process of finding a way to make two different ideas, facts, etc., exist or be true at the same time." Reconciliation should be the act of getting two people or people groups–the Jewish people and the Palestinians–to agree through dialogue and compromise, as they find spiritual common ground in Yeshua and His salvific message. It must include mutual forgiveness, a mutual acceptance, and a shared desire to press on towards a common goal.

When one reviews the list of speakers for CaTC 2018 in Bethlehem, it doesn't take long to find people who have for a while now, promoted a one-sided solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict. I am never interested in character assassination, so I would instead encourage my readers to visit the speaker's page for CaTC 2018 and check out what these people have to say by cross-referencing previous messages that can be found on the Internet.

In the name of dialogue, CaTC had occasionally invited speakers that are from the Messianic Jewish perspective. This year, Dr. Michael Brown is such a guest. Dr. Brown is a biblical scholar with much integrity. There is no doubt that he can speak up and defend a biblical view of Israel and the Middle East. My doubts lie elsewhere though. I fear that Dr. Brown might have been invited to falsely validate a sense of fairness and authentic dialogue at CaTC. By his very participation, as needed and fruitful as it might be, he brings instant cred. Is it possible that the main reason why he was allowed as a speaker was to give the false impression of true dialogue towards reconciliation? When I see the rest of the speakers, I wonder! Dr. Brown needs our prayers as he will be like a gladiator singlehandedly fighting in a very antagonistic arena.

There should be another concern for genuine Evangelicals in search of real reconciliation in the Middle East. CaTC has expanded their tentacles outside of Bethlehem to have their first International Conference in Oklahoma City. Christ at the Checkpoint USA will be on October 15-18, 2018. Several of the Bethlehem speakers will attend, as well as many others. They claim that "The theme of CATCUSA is "Holy Land Realities and Our Response," and it is the hope of the organizers to hear from our Palestinian and Messianic brothers and sisters about their daily experiences, and how the church worldwide can engage with them in a way that is helpful and productive."

It has been very difficult to change the minds of CaTC speakers and organizers over the years. Is it worth attending such a conference and try to dissuade people from being so one-sided? I suppose there could be value in that, but I think that sticking to God's view of Israel, Jewish people, the Nations, sin and atonement is more valuable. We are better off equipping those who are on the fence with a properly balanced biblical truth. Christ at the Checkpoint might possibly hope to find a solution to the crisis, but they keep inviting speakers, several of which I would consider being antisemitic. The CaTC virus seems to be spreading. Are American Evangelicals properly inoculated to resist it? I am not convinced!

Holocaust Remembrance Day: More Relevant than Ever!

Yom HaShoah was voted by the Israeli Knesset as an official national memorial day in Israel in 1953. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion established that day as a yearly memorial for the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Every year since that day, Jewish people remember the Shoah or “Catastrophe” as they perpetuate the memory of the loved ones they lost in the Holocaust. In Israel, on that day, two minutes of silent reflection is observed at 10:00 AM as a siren is heard all over the country. It isn’t unusual to even see motorists stop in the middle of the road and get out of their cars to observe that solemn moment. This year, it takes place on the 27th of Nisan which happens to start at sundown on April 11.

The importance of perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust cannot be underestimated. It is not about dwelling on the past for the sake of dwelling on the darkest days of Jewish history, but rather for the sake of never allowing future generations to forget these events and possibly preventing another “Catastrophe” in the future.

Historically speaking, the Shoah is a unique genocide for at least one reason. It is the only attempt at annihilating a people group–The Jews–by even going outside of the area where they resided to gather them and bring them back to a certain death in the myriad of Death Camps. It was an orchestrated, organized attempt at the total destruction of European Jewry. With all other genocides, as brutal as they might have been, there was always a way for potential victims to escape and/or immigrate. This was rarely the case for the Jews during the Holocaust years. My maternal father Maurice Weinzveig was one of the six million. He died in Auschwitz on July 24, 1942. Here are four reasons why Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), is more relevant than ever:

• Holocaust denial continues to grow
How could we possibly go from NEVER AGAIN to NEVER HAPPENED in 75 years? Holocaust denial is gaining a lot of momentum globally. Holocaust denial officially got organized by Willis Carto (Liberty Lobby) in 1978 with the founding of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR). Even Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas wrote his dissertation in which he doubted the existence of the gas chambers and the high number of Jewish victims. Even though in 2014, he backpedaled to admit that the Holocaust was a heinous crime, his statements made in English and Arabic vary greatly. Some claim that the Holocaust never happened, some claim that it was greatly exaggerated, some claim that it was used as Jewish propaganda and some think that we talk too much about it. The frightening truth is that according to a recent survey by the ADL, 1/3 of the world population believes that the Holocaust was a myth... One third!

• Holocaust survivors are dwindling down to a very small number
As the years go by, Holocaust survivors are getting older and many of them are rapidly passing away. If a baby was born in the camps in 1945 and survived the horrors of the Holocaust, they would be 73 years old today. In reality, the vast majority of Holocaust survivors are in their mid-eighties at best, and even older. Within the next 20 years, the surviving witnesses of the Holocaust will have ALL DISAPPEARED, facilitating the propagating of lies by historical revisionists. Thanks to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the Spielberg Shoah Foundation, names, stories, artifacts and testimonies are added every day.

• The Holocaust might have been worse than we even thought
It was about 18 years ago when a team of their researchers started to gather data from about 400 different sources about the Holocaust, Camps and Ghettos of the 30s and 40s. Based on their preliminary studies and available records, they had estimated the number of ghettos, labor camps, concentration camps and extermination camps at about 7,000. In 2013, They published their findings and realized that the numbers were not 7,000 but over 42,500. It is hard to fathom that the horrors of the Holocaust could have been a lot worse if not in intensity, most definitely in numbers. This renders the excuse of those who claimed that "they didn't know it was happening", completely unrealistic. Considering these findings about the 42,500 camps and ghettos, not only more people had to be well aware of the events but possibly more bystanders might have been more than just watching. A bystander who does nothing only facilitate the work of a perpetrator. Bystanders became co-perpetrators by default!

• End-Times Antisemitism is on the rise
By downplaying the Holocaust, we run the risk of minimizing recent acts of antisemitism. The last decade has seen an exponential increase in acts of antisemitism all over the world. These acts are getting more frequent, more spread out and much more violent...to the point of death.  Until recently, antisemitism–as evil as it is– seldom claimed the lives of Jewish people. Since the Spring of 2012 and the "Toulouse Massacres", Jews are now fearing for their lives and for good reasons, they are leaving Europe. The recent death of French Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll is a tragic example of the growth of End-Times antisemitism. She was an 85-year old Holocaust survivor who lived alone in her Paris apartment. She was stabbed 11 times and then burned inside her home. The poor woman who barely survived the flames of the Auschwitz factory of death, ended-up losing her life in flames, as if in a personal Holocaust.

As we remember the victims, the survivors and their families, I would like to encourage you to visit the site Shadows of Shoah that presents the truth about the Holocaust. It is neither dramatized nor romanticized. The stories come from first-person interviews with survivors of the Shoah across the world. Considering the fact that fewer and fewer survivors are still alive today, there is a sense of urgency in this kind of work. As first-hand witnesses continue to disappear, the “Catastrophe” runs a greater risk of falling into oblivion.The simplicity of the presentation brings out the profound reality of the Shoah. Each survivor has his/her own ordeal to recall and relive in front of the camera and they do it with difficulty but with dignity. It gives the audience a sense of hope based on mankind’s resilience. Some of these people who came out of the Shoah as survivors are still with us, telling their story and letting us know that after they survived the horrors of the camps, they chose to live and to share. Shadows of Shoah brings truth, light and hope into a world that too often lacks all three.

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.  For not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead,  we are also responsible for what we are doing with those memories”  Elie Wiesel

Is the Muslim Brotherhood losing its grip on America?

Many people use the name "Muslim Brotherhood" (MB) around without really knowing what it means, who is behind it AND how many people it affects and controls. The MB was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. After a while, it ended up being a powerful organization aiming at integrating Muslims all over the world. It sends two different messages to its adherents and to the West. Its motto continues to be“Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

Its 8th Supreme Guide and current leader is Mohammed Badie. In a sermon, he recently declared that the only way to deal with Israel is "Holy Jihad" This doesn't turn every member of the Muslim Brotherhood into a bloody murderer, but it makes one wonder what kind of ideology is promoted within the organization, and especially from its senior leadership? Some in the Middle East AND in the West see the MB as an organization responsible for Islamic terrorism.

It is important to understand the broad reach that the Muslim Brotherhood has around the world and particularly in America. It has 70 branches all over the globe and uses many platforms to broadcast their message. Many other Muslim related organizations are tied to the Muslim Brotherhood one way or another.

One organization that many people are familiar with is the self-described "moderate" CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations.) It presents itself as a mainstream Muslim organization aimed at fighting for civil rights for Muslim and all other people regardless of their religious upbringing. Interestingly enough, article 7 of their core values states " CAIR believes the active practice of Islam strengthens the social and religious fabric of our nation." This is a statement that seems to indicate that even though CAIR is open to all faiths getting along, it believes that Islam is the best way to improve the United States. It would be interesting to find out what CAIR mean by "the active practice of Islam."

In 2014, in a somewhat unexpected statement, the United Arab Emirates listed CAIR as a terrorist organization. This might be a bit strong of a statement, but the UAE also believe that CAIR is one of the many arms of the Muslim Brotherhood. CAIR has been known to support Hamas at times, and Hamas is clearly a terrorist organization. These blurred lines need to be defined, especially in America where so many are supportive of CAIR without asking any questions.

Then, we must consider the Muslim Student Associations (MSA) all over US campuses. While diversity is always a good concept to teach to the next generation, especially in America– the epitome of "racial and cultural melting pot"–it must be taught ethically. In the case of US university MSA chapters, it is seldom if ever the case. The pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist agenda is unashamedly pushed forward on a regular basis. The MSA national organization was started in 1963 in America by the Egypt based Muslim Brotherhood, and again, while not all of its adherents are flagrantly antisemitic, the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood permeates more often than not.

US campuses also suffer from the vitriolic propaganda of yet another organization known as "Students for Justice in Palestine" (SJP). That organization openly promotes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) started in 2005 by Mahmoud Abbas and continually growing all over the globe. SJP is tightly connected to the group "American Muslims for Palestine" (AMP) that has strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. This "alphabet soup" of Muslim organizations seeking to present an image of grassroots movements to promote justice and diversity is far from being straightforward. In almost all cases, many of its members support or have supported the terrorist organization Hamas.

So it is very hopeful to see the current US administration cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood. With the recent appointments of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, we might see the beginning of a shift in US support for Muslim organizations. Before I am accused of Islamophobia, let's be clear that not all Muslims are a threat to the West and to Israel. Those who are a threat, are connected to the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and they must be exposed. Of course, not everybody agrees with Mr. Trump's push and some even think that it could be vastly counter-productive to list the MB as a terrorist organization. The question remains "if you support terrorist organizations like Hamas, are you guilty by association?" I believe the answer is an unequivocal yes!

With the recent passing of the "Taylor Force Act" by the US, Palestinians are now forced to make a choice. If they continue to reward families of terrorists against Israel with financial benefits, the Palestinian Authority will no longer receive financial aid from the US government. What took us so long to come up with this obvious move?

This is the first US administration to actually follow words with actions when it comes to the Palestinian double-talk. The Passing of the Taylor Force Act might be the beginning of the tightening of the US grip on Islamic terrorism. Defining and fighting Islamic radicalism is necessary for the survival of Western civilization and is crucial to help us define who are the many Muslims who are not supporting violence and terrorism. Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood might be beginning to lose its grip on America!

We will not survive in this irrational world of political correctness!

I was never a fan of French Alt-Right "Front National Party" leader, Jean Marie Le Pen and I am not a fan of his daughter who currently heads that party. Marine Le Pen might be more polished and diplomatic than her father, but she still represents an ideology that is toxic to a balanced political approach to France or even Western civilization for that matter. Even though her party is thinking of re-branding and changing its name to appeal to a broader audience, they continue to promote a highly xenophobic agenda. Although she received the most votes her party ever received in its history since the mid-1970s, Marine Le Pen lost the French presidential elections in the Spring of 2017 to "Centrist" Emmanuel Macron.

These elections were upsetting on many levels. Primarily, it was horrifying to France and much of the civilized world that an Alt-Right candidate would be in the running in the second and final round of the elections. Even though she lost, she managed to garner 35% of the votes. If I were Mr. macron, I would make sure that I remember the promises made to the voters, and I try to fulfill as many as possible. Much of Europe is very unhappy with the current migrant situation and the open borders, and that includes France. Many French people–even including some from the Jewish community– voted for Marine in 2017, that would have never entertained the idea even five years ago. If Mr. Macron under-performs, it wouldn't take much for Miss Le Pen or a successor to garner a few more points if and when they run in 2022 and tilt the scale towards a "Front National" led France, and that is terrifying! Pretty much all blacks, Arabs and Jews would end-up in a precarious situation.

The challenge with the politics of Marine Le Pen is that in the mix of her anti-immigration and somewhat racist program, she is also promoting some good ideas. But unfortunately, the voters cannot pick and choose. As would be expected, she is pretty vocal when it comes to speaking against the Islamic State and its assault on Western civilization and liberties. Who in their right mind wouldn't want to be vocal and expose the barbaric techniques used by the Islamic State or "Daesh" (Arabic Acronym for ISIS) as the French call them? From that perspective alone, I am in full agreement with Marine Le Pen, and I support her desire to expose ISIS.

Back in 2015, she posted a few graphics pictures of ISIS at their worst on Twitter. She was making an attempt at defending her political agenda after having been accused by some of being as bad as ISIS. Nobody is as bad as ISIS! So she posted some photos with the caption "THIS is Daesh!" Again, most people would disagree with much of her ideology, but in that case, we should applaud her boldness. What happened next was the epitome of political correctness.

Miss Le Pen is now being charged for those tweets and could face up to three years in prison. Is she being charged for denouncing the gruesome cruelty of ISIS? How is that a crime unless we live in an upside-down world where the new normal is the submission to cruel Islamist ideology, putting all of us in the West at the mercy of radical Islam and its worship of death? The France of Emmanuel Macron is supposed to be on its way to defeat terrorism.

Indeed, Mr. Macron has put new laws in place to fight terrorism, giving the army and the police more power to go after potential enemies of the state. I say good for him if this is true, but when I see the drastic move made against Miss Le Pen and her tweets, I doubt that France is going in the right direction. It looks more like a generalized "witch hunt" against Miss Le Pen, rather than a genuine concern for any potential damage that here tweets would have caused.

Again, I would never vote for Miss Le Pen or anybody from Front National, but I must voice my support for her attempt at exposing ISIS for who they are while much of the Western World has its proverbial "head in the sand." This is a slippery slope leading to slavery to an ideology opposed to Western, Judeo/Christian values, and I am convinced that we will not survive in this irrational world of political correctness!

Should Poland's Recent Holocaust Law be Considered Historical Revisionism?

Poland is not exactly remembered for being friendly to the Jewish people during World War II. A country that was once the home of over three million Jews, now only has about 10,000, and even they, don't feel very safe in Poland. The once vibrant Jewish community of pre-World War II has been drastically reduced by the Nazi war machine and the Death Camps–many of them erected in Poland. The most destructive being Auschwitz-Birkenau. There is no possible way to deny that millions of innocent Jewish victims were murdered in those places, not to mention other minorities.

It is also very difficult to completely separate the Death Camps destructive agenda from Polish involvement, and yet this is exactly what a new law passed in February 2018 is attempting to do. President Andrzej Duda of Poland signed a bill that became law, making it a crime (up to three years in prison, plus a fine) to call the German death Camps built on Polish soil, "Polish Death Camps." He has made several public speeches stating that signing the bill into law was not meant to erase or diminish the fate of the victims of the Holocaust, but that is exactly what it could achieve!

Poland comprised all players found on the "Holocaust spectrum." Many Poles were victims (most of them Jewish, but some of them not.) Some were even perpetrators and co-perpetrators with the Nazis. Another large group was made of the bystanders who looked the other way even when human ashes flew across Polish skies and landed in their front yards, sometimes up to a 10 miles radius. This makes it impossible to claim ignorance of the facts. Willful bystanders always facilitate driven perpetrators.

The new law states that anyone who “publicly and untruthfully assigns responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish Nation or the Polish State for Nazi crimes” could be imprisoned. So now, it is illegal to assign any guilt to Poland for the "German Camps." I understand that Poland was invaded by Germany and didn't always have a choice, but by completely erasing Polish responsibility, or to a certain extent, blame shifting, we insult the last few Holocaust survivors, not to mention the memory of the six million.

Sure, the Polish government is "tired" of being remembered as the country were the Holocaust took place, and they are hoping to change that stigma. Do we change a stigma by re-writing history? It would be better to recognize and accept the truth that Poland was one of many pieces on the chess board of the Holocaust. It would also be helpful to recognize that Holocaust guilt, while partially shared with non-Jewish Poles, was not uniform across the board. Many Poles helped the Nazis but many also helped the Jews and were recognized as Righteous Gentiles by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Poles constitute the highest number of Righteous Gentiles over any other nations in the world, and that is something they could refocus their energy on, instead of trying to erase the negative aspect of their unavoidable history.

Some people have the gall to claim that the Holocaust never happened. This law doesn't claim that, but it whitewashes Polish involvement and it is historical revisionism all the same. It is a shame that history has now become a slave of the legal system. Passing laws to force people into believing or at least accepting a flawed political decision regarding a period of history is simply wrong.

The Holocaust was and remained the epitome of human depravity and evil. Nobody wants to take ownership of that huge blood stain in human history, but it happened! Nazi Germany might have been the key player, but France had its hands in it through the Vichy Government, Italy was involved with Mussolini and his fascist cohorts, Pope Pius XII did very little in denouncing Hitler's destructive and violent program, and even the United States had a role in the outcome as President Roosevelt missed several opportunities to save Jews out of Europe.

So come on Poland, Fess up! You are not alone in sharing some of the guilt for the Holocaust. Stop shifting the blame!

Can We Prevent Another Holocaust?

Jewish history is punctuated with important milestones –both negative and positive– such as the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70, The Crusades started in 1096, or even the re-birth of the modern State of Israel in 1948. One of these unavoidable milestone is the Holocaust. One cannot speak of or understand Jewish history outside of the events of this Jewish catastrophe. Historians even go as far as speaking of pre and post Holocaust Jewish history. Once we realize that the 6,000,000 Jewish victims represented about 2/3 of European Jewry, it becomes obvious. In light of all the acts of anti-Semitism that have occurred globally in the last decade and the many threats against Israel as a whole, one can ask "Is another Holocaust on the horizon, and if yes, can it be prevented?"

While the Bible promises us that God will never forsake Israel (Jeremiah 31:35-37) it also tells us that God is just and disobedience will be met with discipline. From a human perspective, despots from many authoritarian countries would love to see Israel completely eradicated from the face of the earth, but from a biblical standpoint, not only will they fail, but they will also pay a hefty price (Zechariah 12:9). This doesn't mean that they will not try, and try they have and they continue to. So, even though there might never be another Holocaust, Jewish casualties can escalate in the near future, and yet, we can all do our part to alleviate some of it by learning from the past and adjusting for the future.

We need compassion:
Not everybody bought the lies of the Nazi Regime that painted the Jewish people as vermin or a sub-race to be eradicated. Those who did, simply felt like they were doing Europe a great service by killing the unwanted, and they justified it by looking at the Jews as not being human beings. But many had compassion as they simply looked at the misfortunes of the Jewish people and felt compelled to reach out, and in many cases provide safe haven and/or safe passage to other countries. Pastor Henri Trocmé and the villagers of Le Chambon in central France had compassion for their fellow human beings. To them, humanity came first and Jewishness second. They simply cared for their fellow men. When asked why she did it, one of the villagers–a key player in this conspiracy of goodness– answered "It was the most natural thing to do!" It is estimated that 5,000 Jews were saved from the nazi claws in that little French village alone.

We need creativity:
Beyond compassion, we also need creativity such as was displayed by the people of Chambon who when they received new jewish refugees, simply heard their pastor saying that a "new shipment of Old Testaments had arrived." Then people would decide who would take them in.
Creativity was key to fool the Nazi war machine and it came in many different ways. How about the story of Vittorio Sacerdoti, the Jewish medical doctor who worked in a small hospital near Rome during World War Two? He is credited for having invented the false disease known then as Syndrome K. The hospital received Jewish people (sick or not) and he told the "patients" to start coughing uncontrollably when Nazi officials showed up. Dr. Sacerdoti presented the coughing as the highly contagious AND lethal "Syndrome K." His creativity allowed for 45 Jewish people to be saved. Before you ask me if it is biblically OK to lie to save a life, consider the story of Rahab the Canaanite prostitute who lied to the King of Jericho to save the Jewish spies (Joshua 2:1-8.) She received faith in the God of Israel in the process. You draw your own conclusions!

We need courage:
Compassion and creativity will not avail to much if they are not strengthened with courage. Fighting for the truth is never easy. It was not easy in the days when people fought for different truths, even though common sense has always dictated that there cannot be multiple truth co-existing. But today, truth isn't even in the picture anymore. People don't seek truth anywhere, anymore, they just want social justice. Whatever brand of "social justice" THEY declare is the right one, is worth fighting for. People who seek truth today about the Middle East narrative will discover an Israel that the media, Hollywood and academia refuse to accept. Insults and abuse will abound against those who dare support Israel.

We need commitment:
Modern Christian Zionists have a long road ahead as they strive to support Israel and help the Jewish people. They have compassion given to them by God and can be creative to various degrees. They also have the courage that only they can get from God reassuring them from His Word that if He promised to never forsake Israel, whatever else He promised them is a sure thing. But even when we know that God is on our side, it can remain difficult to commit to the cause. Intimidation runs rampant against those who try to fight BDS, anti-Semitism or any of the anti-Israel agendas. If God is committed to the preservation of and provision for Israel, who are we not to be committed the same?

I often wonder what would the outcome of World War Two have been in regards to Jewish casualties if more people had had compassion, creativity, courage and commitment?  Not everyone could have been instrumental in saving 5,000 Jews or even 45 Jews. But what if more citizens of Europe had chosen to do something for the Jews as opposed to remain by-standers at best? I know from God's Word that the future includes Israel, even though there will be casualties (Zechariah 13:9.) I also believe that we can all do more for the Jewish people this time around. The current hatred against my people will not stop anytime soon. In a sense, much of the world's agenda is like an on-going Holocaust of the 21st century. But this time around, nobody can claim that they were unaware of what was being perpetrated against the Jews. All of us can do something when our heart is in the right place!

Don't ban the kippah, but let's think twice before wearing it!

It was an outrage but not much of a surprise when French extreme right Front National leader Marine Le Pen announced this week that France should pass a law to ban the wearing of the kippah (Jewish skullcap.) In her defense, her position on the wearing of religious symbols doesn't only include the kippah. She is also in favor of banning the hijab and veils. France did pass a law in 2011 to ban the burqua and hijab in public. It is also unlawful to wear a kippah or burqua on public school property. Additionally, the recent attempt by some French mayors at banning the wearing "burkinis" on French beaches was also very controversial.

Miss Le Pen says that she speaks in the name of equality. She claims that to be fair, if the Muslim covering is banned, the Jewish covering must be banned as well. She also says that she has no issue with kippot but that we must be "fair" by banning both. One can appreciate Miss Le Pen's apparent  desire to be balanced, but I don't think that her comparison between Muslim and Jewish religious symbol is a fair assessment of the problem at hand. Marine Le Pen still carries with her some of her father's racist and antisemitic baggage. It has been rebranded in a postmodern, social justice infused package, but it is still racism.  Additionally, there are valid reasons to ban some of the most extreme Muslim garb.

Needless to say that the reaction from the French government was quite negative, across the whole political spectrum. The Jewish community also reacted very strongly. Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt (head of the Conference of European Rabbis) said that Le Pen's proposal, “takes us straight back to the times of state-sponsored anti-Semitism under the Vichy regime.” I couldn't agree more!

Yet, Le Pen is experiencing a bittersweet relationship with some of the French Jewish community. Some Jewish people are actually considering voting for her in the next presidential elections. The wave of migrants into France and much of Europe as well as France's Muslim community–the largest in Europe with between 6 and 7 million–are making French Jews feeling increasingly insecure. Charlie Hebdo, the Kosher Market and the Bataclan Club are just a few examples of the frailty of France when it comes to protect her citizens, let alone her Jewish community. But Le Pen is a political time bomb that could detonate onto the Jewish community in ways that nobody would have expected prior to the elections. French Jews have no business even considering Le Pen in the next presidential elections.

Her desire to pas a law to ban the kippah is in line with her party's xenophobic tendencies and should be denounced. This being said, and the kippah remaining a choice for each and every Jew to wear in public, we should exercise caution. The French government has recently advised religious Jews not to wear a kippah in public or to cover it with another hat, and that is very wise. It is sad to have to hide religious symbols, but there are areas of Paris and other large French cities like Marseille where wearing a kippah is simply dangerous.

In the current France of 2016, the reality is that the Jewish community is shrinking. Aliyah to Israel was the highest in 30 years in 2014 and 2015. French Jews are scared to go out in some areas, or even to walk to synagogue or Jewish schools. Their fears are very justified. France lost about 50,000 Jews to Israel in the last 16 years. That is about 10% of the total 500,000 Jews of France (still the third largest Jewish community after Israel and the USA.) At this rate, France will lose its Jewish community and its third place in world Jewry within less than 20 years.

The banning of the Muslim head garb never was as result of Islamophobia. While there might be some people who hate Muslims and/or Arabs (and I am not one of them), the honest reason behind the banning of Muslim religious symbols was and continues to be security. Proper identification cannot be performed if one's head is entirely covered. If the Muslim community feels unjustifiably targeted, maybe they should bring their grievances to the imams and radical Islamic leaders who support and promote radical apocalyptic Islam. Islam's reputation has definitely been stained by Islamic terrorism and the Islamic State. But please do not put the veils and the kippot on equal footing!

If Miss Le Pen was truly a proponent of the French "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" motto, she would leave the kippah alone and allow Jews to use common sense in wearing it in public. I am afraid that the France she seeks is a France without Arabs, without blacks and without Jews. This would indeed look like "Vichy Regime 2.0" Even if the current government strongly rebuked Miss Le Pen, it remains to be seen if the rest of more liberal and humanistic France will brush her off as a xenophobic fringe politician or if they will carry her further in a position of power. French Jews have enough on their plate as it stands!

When fighting antisemitism, it is never too little or too late!

While they have the same source, roots and much of the same history, Christianity and Judaism have been at odds for as long as man can remember. To say that the two religions are at odds really is an understatement. The early Christian Church comprised mostly Jewish men and women who had found in Yeshua (Jesus) the long awaited Messiah of Israel. For over three centuries until the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, the Jewish roots of the Christian faith were very much a part of early Christianity. To run the risk of oversimplification, it is around that time that life became difficult for Jewish people. Over a long period of time, being Jewish progressively went from challenging to complicated to dangerous to lethal.

What started as simple theological anti-Judaism, slowly morphed into antisemitism. From early Christianity, the Jews were told "You have no right to leave among us as Jews", forcing conversions on us. This went further when we were eventually told "You have no right to live among us", forcing expulsion on us. Eventually, it became "You have no right to live", culminating in annihilation.

Many of the Church Fathers such as Justin Martyr, Chrysostom, Augustine and others set the stage for Christianity to alienate Judaism by reinterpreting the Bible. Slowly, laws were passed and enforced. Jewish life became hard and often near impossible, but against all odds and because of God's grace, the Jewish people are still here today. In spite of the Middle Ages Blood Libel, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Pogroms and the Holocaust, we are still standing.

Christianity–in any of its denominations– has had a difficult relationship with the Jewish people, so much so that the default mechanism for most Jewish people today is to believe that all Christians are antisemitic. That is why, whenever a Christian figure makes a repentant statement in favor of the Jewish people, it should be noted.

It just so happened that the105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby made such a statement. He recently stated "The fact that antisemitism has infected the body of the Church is something of which we as Christians must be deeply repentant." This would appear to be a simple statement, but it isn't. Welby contributed to a series of essays on what we can learn from the Holocaust. He wrote a powerful piece titled "Vigilance and resolution: Living antidotes to an ancient virus." in which he says "It is a shameful truth that, through its theological teachings, the church, which should have offered an antidote, compounded the spread of this virus." Welby appears to be trying to bridge the gap between Christians and Jews. This gap really is more like a great divide, a chasm , a canyon of hatred. Welby also wrote "All humans are made in the image of God. Antisemitism undermines and distorts this truth: it is the negation of God’s plan for his creation and is therefore a denial of God himself. There is no justification for the debasing and scapegoating of other people. Antisemitism is the antithesis of all that our scriptures call us to be and do, to work together for the common good and to seek the flourishing of all.

It wasn't until 1965 that the Catholic Church officially announced that the Jewish people were exonerated of deicide (killing God.) This doesn't prevent many people today from calling Jewish people "Christ Killers." The Church of England–as a part of Christendom– also has an antisemitic reputation. Welby's contribution to the new booklet for the Holocaust Educational Trust comes at the right time simply because when it comes to educate about and fight against the Holocaust and antisemitism, it is never too little and never too late. Let's hope that his words of wisdom in favor of the Jewish people would truly lead many Christians around the world to repentance over their views of and actions against them and Israel.

The simplest antidote to antisemitism can be found on the pages of the entire Bible. Many of its readers have re-interpreted it to exclude and even damn the Jews and Israel. Many more chose to not even read it and buy into fabricated stories with no foundation on factual and/or biblical truth. Justin Welby's statement was bold, necessary and hopefully will lead to more of the sort by other Christian figures around the world. The baggage that the Christian Church has carried for over 2,000 years is impossible to ignore. Like Justin Welby recently did, it must be acknowledged. Maybe I am hopelessly optimistic, but this could help in preventing further damage in Judeo/Christian relations. We certainly could use a little respite, and this is a good way to start the New Year... Shanah Tovah to everyone!