I once read an article that suggested that the Holocaust could only have happened in Germany; that there was something uniquely bad about the German people. That is untrue. There certainly is something uniquely bad about each individual German person – and each individual British, American, Japanese, Nigerian, Brazilian – in fact, every person in the whole world, tainted by original sin. In terms of crimes of civilization, the Holocaust was a monstrosity of evil, and was the culmination of centuries of anti-Semitism thoughout the Western world. But terrible anti-Semitic crimes have happened elsewhere too.
One of the worst of these occurred 825 years ago tomorrow – March 16th 1190. Look at this photo.
Isn't this a beautiful place? It occupies a picturesque position on a mound, with spectacular views over the beautiful and historic City of York. Yet in 1190, it played host to what is arguably the darkest chapter in English history. A mob of citizens chased the city's Jewish community into the Tower. There, the people were besieged people rightly feared for their lives. The crowd was insisting on forced “conversion” to their form of “Christianity”. But a small number of Jews who had agreed to this were, in fact, beaten to death by the angry crowd. Rather than submit to a more horrific death at the hands of the mob, the imprisoned Jews set fire to the inside of the Keep, thus committing mass suicide.
England actually bears a lot of responsibility for anti-Semitic feelings around the world. Anti-Semitism is on the rise throughout the world today, as was seen in the terrible recent events in Paris, France. Much anti-Semitism is orchestrated by Islamic terror groups, and one of their nastiest forms of propaganda is to repeat the ancient Blood Libel – an untrue legend that Jews bake their Passover bread with the blood of children. But this wicked lie did not originate with Islam. It originated in 1844 in Norwich, England, when Jewish people were unjustly and incorrectly blamed for the murder of a young boy.
So, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and the 825th anniversary of the York Pogrom. And yet anti-Semitism once more rears its ugly head, not only under Islam, but also, shamefully, among those who call themselves Christians. In Guildford, England, a Church of England Pastor – Stephen Sizer – has recently been gently tapped on the wrist for posting on Facebook sympathy for an article which claimed Jewish leaders were behind the 9/11 atrocity. Sizer's punishment? It has been suggested that he should refrain from Facebook! In my opinion, he should refrain from being the shepherd of a flock – permanently.
I count myself among an increasing number of Christian Zionists, who understand that God has never broken his eternal covenant with Abraham, and His historic people. As a Christian, I remember that, if God could break His promises to Israel, then He could just as easily break His promises to us. But God never, never breaks His promises. They are Yes and Amen. The re-emergence in the 20th Century of the modern nation of Israel is both the fulfillment of prophecy, and a message of commitment from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whom I worship.