‘This is 1938’: How Antisemitic College Campuses Are Treading A Dangerous Path

Apr 29, 2024

'God will not hold us guiltless'

For years, Holocaust survivors have warned the days we’re living in resemble the antisemitism of pre-World War II Europe.

Eric Metaxas echoed this fear in his book “Letter to the American Church,” which he wrote out of concern that “the American Church is at an impossibly — and almost unbearably — important inflection point. The parallels to where the German Church was in the 1930s are unavoidable and grim.”

Less than a century removed from the atrocities of the Holocaust, antisemitism is rearing its ugly head in America as Jewish hatred has intensified since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and Iran’s recent drone attack. This is especially true on college campuses like Columbia University where the university’s authorities moved classes online last Monday for the safety of Jewish students after virulent anti-Israel protests broke out.

Shai Davidai, a Jewish assistant professor at Columbia Business School, was even prohibited from entering campus this week after his access card was deactivated, an incident he compared to when the University of Berlin refused to let Jewish professors in during the years leading up to the Holocaust.

“[Columbia] University refused to let me onto campus. Why? Because they cannot protect my safety as a Jewish professor. This is 1938,” he said on X.

There certainly are eerie parallels between pre-Holocaust Europe and the 2024 West as hatred toward Jewish people and sympathy toward terrorist groups becomes more pervasive, especially among Ivy League institutions.

Students were essentially forced off Columbia’s campus this week, and a campus rabbi urged Jewish students to leave for their safety as anti-Israel protesters praised Hamas terrorists and shouted for the murder of Jews. One Jewish student was kicked in the stomach repeatedly as she was told by a protester to kill herself. All the while, hundreds of Columbia University faculty members walked out to stand in solidarity with the anti-Israel protesters. Some anti-Israel protesters were arrested, but then hundreds of anti-Israel protesters set up a sprawling tent encampment on campus and continue to call for intifada.

The double standard is glaring.

If Palestinians, LGBTQ advocates, or virtually any other group were threatened with violence in this way, the protests would be shut down and condemned immediately, and the perpetrators held accountable — but not when it’s against Israel and the Jewish people. How do they justify widespread hatred and calling for the eradication of Jews based solely on the fact that they’re Jewish? This twisted victim mentality displayed by the pro-Hamas protesters who are calling for genocide while claiming they’re oppressed is blatantly hypocritical.

How is it that the terrorist organization is painted as the victim when Israeli families commemorated Passover this Monday with tears and empty seats reserved for the hostages still held captive by Hamas terrorists?

As I wrote in December responding to the rise of antisemitism at Ivy League institutions in the wake of October 7, “One would think that others would see the stark parallels between Hamas’ terrorism and the Nazis’ savagery and pledge to be on the ‘right side of history.’ But sadly, I fear we’re reading different history books. From the woke ‘social justice warrior’ perspective and through the lens of ‘intersectionality,’ Hamas terrorists apparently rank higher than innocent Israeli civilians and Jewish people.”

As Israel is at war and antisemitism pervades certain American institutions and parts of the West, the American church cannot remain silent and passive as most German pastors and congregations did during the rise of Adolf Hitler.

When German pastors didn’t speak up, it empowered this monster of antisemitism to grow to a point of no return. In Holocaust-era Germany, Metaxas estimates that only about one-sixth (3,000 out of 18,000) of German pastors sided with the Confessing Church and the Barmen Declaration that defied the government and insisted the church remain separate from Nazi interference leading up to the human rights atrocities of the Holocaust.

One small church in Nazi Germany would “sing a little louder” to drown out the screams and cries of Jews being transported on trains to death camps instead of doing anything to stop it.

Regardless of your theology regarding Israel, if you are silent at a time like this, you would have been silent in Nazi Germany and on the shameful side of the 12,000 pastors who were complicit. Those of us who don’t speak out today are just as shameful as those who didn’t speak out during Nazi Germany, and the result is going to be the exact same history repeating itself.

We would do well to remember this quote often attributed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who was killed for being outspoken against the rise of the Nazis: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. God will not hold us guiltless.”

Remember the adage that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it? We are at a critical conjecture in our nation and treading a dangerous path plagued by unchecked evils like antisemitism. The choice is ours as to how we respond — or if we have the courage to respond at all.

As Metaxas wrote, “We pretend we would have spoken out for the Jews in Bonhoeffer’s day, or that we would have spoken against the slave trade in Wilberforce’s day, but are we speaking out today on the issues that are no less important to God in our time? If not, we are deceiving ourselves.”

If you ever wondered what you would have done during the Nazi regime, you don’t have to wonder anymore. What you are doing today, or not doing, answers that question.

Antisemitism, the deep-seated hatred toward individuals based solely on their Jewish faith or ethnicity, is a pernicious cancer that festers and grows if not confronted. If Christians don’t condemn the dark spiritual monster of antisemitism, then should they be surprised when the same hatred levied against Jews is eventually turned against them?

Martin Niemöller, a German pastor who was imprisoned in a concentration camp for opposing Hitler exemplified this well in his famous quote: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Let it not be said of us that we were silent in the face of evil.

Originally published in Higher Ground Times.


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