The ugly face of Anti-Semitism

We heard last week that a conference at Southampton University was cancelled, following pressure from thousands who petitioned against it.

Debates and conferences on various issues are, of course, a normal part of university life.  This particular one, however, made waves, because it questioned the legitimacy of Israel’s right to exist under international law.

More than 6000 people signed a petition on the website calling on the university to cancel the three-day event, organised by Oren Ben-Dor, an Israeli-born law and philosophy professor at Southampton.  It was due to take place in a few weeks’ time.  Whilst the conference was billed as ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘historic’, it was actually a platform for anti-Semitic views.

The petition stated:

Israel is presumed guilty of the crime of existing, while no other state is being put on trial in this way

In a climate of rising anti-Semitism in the UK, attacking the legitimacy under international law of Israel’s creation in 1948, in a conference that had no speakers appearing in support of Israel was a disgrace.  Feelings run high!  Some patrons threatened to withdraw funding, and one paediatrician returned his bachelor of medicine degree to the university in protest.  The Tory MP Mark Hoban attacked the conference, calling it ‘provocative’, and the Parkes Institute, a centre for the study of Jewish history based at Southampton University, also came out strongly against it.

The university, in contrast, refused to back down until considerable pressure was exerted, saying it had a duty to protect free speech.  The conference could at least have included speakers with alternative views on the subject – but there were none.  Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, commented:

There is a careful line between legitimate academic debate on international law and the actions of governments, and the far-left’s bashing of Israel, which often descends into naked anti-Semitism

While the proposed conference has been successfully curtailed, nevertheless the fact that it was planned and, until last week scheduled to go ahead, is a sign of our times.  Anti-Semitism is increasing in the West and increasing numbers of British Jews are questioning their safety within our shores.  It’s expected that a record number of French Jews will return to Israel this year; it’s likely that the number of British Jews will likewise reach record levels –and no wonder!

Nevertheless, while universities and others may debate the legitimacy of Israel on a political, geographical or religious level, they fail to take into account the unique role the Jewish people and their land have in the on-going purposes of God.  Eminent speakers may ignore her history and destiny, but God promised the Jews that he would bring them back from all over the world and plant them once again in the Promised Land. 

I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone.  I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.  I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 37:21)

It was after 2000 years with no homeland, that the promise was fulfilled on 14 May 1948.  It was God’s timing, and a sure sign that his promises never fail.  It is the God of Israel who grants the legitimacy of Israel’s creation in 1948 and no man can stand against it, try as they might.

That Israel is back in the land is a sign to us that God’s End-Time purposes are rapidly falling into place.  One day, the Jewish carpenter, rabbi and Son of God, Jesus Christ, will return to Jerusalem and rule the whole world from there as King of Kings.  On that day, every knee will bow and confess his Lordship.  Whilst the land of Israel today is a hotspot for international conflict, and hatred by the anti-Semites, on that day, shalom (peace) will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.  Of his government and peace, there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6). 


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