Anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head once again markedly in Europe. It's an environment of intolerance some Jews fear is reminiscent of rising levels of harassment, discrimination, and violence the preceded the Holocaust in the 1930s.
"The story I'm afraid is fairly bleak," Gary Bauer tells CBN News. He's one of nine commissioners who sit on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which monitors and promotes religious liberty abroad and makes recommendations to the Trump administration.
In 2019, anti-Semitic incidents rose sharply across Europe. Germany saw a 12 percent increase. France, which is home to the largest Jewish population in Europe, saw a 27 percent surge, and the Netherlands, former home of Holocaust diary author Anne Frank, saw a 35 percent hike.
"Anti-Semitism is like a coronavirus of the heart and soul. It seems to be able to mutate. It pops up everywhere, in every century, and seems to go in waves, and unfortunately, we're experiencing one of those waves now," Bauer explains.
The progressive Left in places like Great Britain has come under fire for anti-Semitic rhetoric along with some on the far right.
And this year the global pandemic has made things worse for Jews.
"What we're seeing right now in the Islamic world in the Middle East is disgusting. In some bizarre way, Jews are being blamed for the coronavirus," Bauer says.
"We see not only radical groups in the Middle East blaming Jews, but even journalists in countries like Jordan suggesting that the virus was made in an Israeli lab or made by Jewish scientists and that they've unleashed it to kill Muslims," he explains.
The US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr calls Iran the "world's chief trafficker in anti-Semitism." Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's school curriculum demonizes Jews as infidels and calls for their extermination as a requirement for the end of days.
It's a dangerous trend for the Jewish community, but Bauer says other people of faith should be concerned as well, noting that when a country goes down the road to anti-Semitism it always spreads to other minority groups.
"Right now in the Middle East there's an effort underway to prove by anti-Semites that Jews never lived in the Holy Land, that the whole thing is a fable, it's a lie, it's been made up so that Jews could colonize the land that we call Israel. Well, look, if Jews never lived in the Holy Land, then Christians never existed in the Holy Land. If Jews weren't there our entire Gospel is wrong, so you can see how attacks on Jews in the Holy Land very quickly morph into attacks on Christians too," Bauer explains.
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After a hearing on Capitol Hill in January, USCIRF came up with three recommendations for the US to address global anti-Semitism.
- Ensure combating anti-Semitism is a key priority of the International Freedom Alliance.
- Encourage foreign governments and the United Nations to create positions similar to the US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism.
- And provide technical support to foreign law enforcement officials to update and standardize hate crime reporting to ensure the accurate collection and dissemination of data on anti-Semitic crimes.
"We find in some countries Jews will often suffer anti-Semitic attacks but because they're frustrated the authorities don't actually take them seriously - they don't actually report them. So it's important that law enforcement in these countries do more to make sure victims are willing to speak up," Bauer says.