Anti-Semitism in Germany and how German Believers Respond to it
By Ellen Suess, Evangeliumsdienst für Israel

This year was the first time in the Federal Republic of Germany that anti-Semitism was openly discussed.

Fortunately open anti-Semitismcan only be found in very small groups of the radical right wing in Germany, but those few people take the offensive via the internet. The government is trying to outlaw one party for its anti-Semitic tendencies. This has been delayed as the role of secret agents from the German secret service isn´t clear yet.

Unfortunately the public mood in Germany turned more and more against politics in Israel and its government due to unbalanced reports on the intifada and Israel's response to terrorism.

The German politician Jürgen Möllemann, deputy chairman of the Free Democrat-Liberal Party (FDP), played a sad role when it came to anti-Semitism: On several occasions he publicly attacked the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and also Michael Friedmann, Vice President of the Jewish Council. The climax of his campaign was a pamphlet that he distributed in his election campaign before the election to the parliament (German Bundestag). In his pamphlet he attacked the politics of Sharon and said of Friedmann that he supported this. Baruch HaShem, Möllemann didn´t succeed in gaining more votes. In the meantime he withdrew from his official duties due to pressure from within his own party. As he probably financed his pamphlet with illegal funds his party is about to institute a court proceeding against him. Möllemann also is the president of the German-Arab Society.

Believers in Germany are relieved that the new outpouring of anti-Semitismhas not been able to find much ground here. Thankfully, it was exposed fairly soon and swiftly dealt with by the German government and parties as far as it was within their power to do so.

"Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it" (Numb. 35,33).

We praise God for Y`shua: His atoning sacrifice of blood shed on Calvary is even able to forgive and atone for the sins Germany committed against His dearly beloved people and now a new beginning is possible.

Repentance - the key to a change of attitude

I believe that a very significant step against the newly rising anti-Semitism was a service of repentance at the very place where Hitler began to take power in Germany.

On October 17th 1931, when Germany was at a very low point, Hitler marched with 104,000 of his followers through the city of Braunschweig. At a later date, the his party looked back on this event as "the most important milestone in the history of Germany." On this occasion Germany was dedicated to Hitler. On a field just outside Braunschweig the new standards of the various cities and parts of the German empire were dedicated to the "blood flags" that remembered Hitler's unsuccessful revolt in 1923. Also in Braunschweig, Hitler, who was a stateless person at that time, got German citizenship through the Nazi government there, so he could take over power. At important times during his regime he came back to Braunschweig.
In 2001, 70 years after this event, German and Polish believers, together with Messianic Jewish friends, met at this very place and asked forgiveness for the sins of their forefathers at the rostrum which had been built for Hitler and where the people had cheered a false, evil messiah.

At this very same spot, these believers now called out to the God who brings life: to God of Israel. They sensed that God in His love and mercy was calling Germany back to Himself. They asked for forgiveness and cleansing for Germany through the blood of Y´shua. They renounced the so-called "German Christians" of that era -the religious Nazis who had confessed: "We believe only in A.H. on this earth … that God in Heaven has sent us Hitler." Where the swastika once flew, in October 2001 there were flags of Israel and Germany flying together and a scarlet banner on which the name "Jesus" was written in gold letters.
They blew the Shofar, proclaiming to the unseen world that they would stand with Israel and the Jewish people asking God to turn the curse into a blessing. Jews would find Life in Y´shua in the very country where so many had found death. Thus, we German believers feel that the present time is a time of grace:

“Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Rom 5,20).

In the 1930s, Hitler was able to gain power because the German church did not stand up against his evil teaching and like in centuries before failed to protect the Jews and participated and in former times even initiated persecution. Today things are different: In 2002, rallies have taken place in various cities in Germany, demonstrating Christians´ solidarity with God´s people, our elder brother Israel. Declarations of solidarity were made with believers from all over Germany meeting in Berlin to take a stand on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people in Germany. At the exact place where the swastika once flew, on August 24th this year Christians waved Israeli flags or banners with God´s Word concerning Israel. There in Berlin between the Reichstag (Parliament) and the Brandenburg Gate they also asked God for his intervention against anti-Semitism. The organisers also showed solidarity with messianic Jews as they invited a Jewish pastor to speak on the platform.

Christians also openly identified with Israel by distributing pamphlets containing facts about the Middle east conflict. Christian leaders showed their allegiance by placing a full page statement in the most important German newspapers as well as in the Jewish newspaper. Before the German election in September, Christians were asked to question their politicians about their attitude towards Israel.

In particular, the Bible-believing Christian Party "Partei bibeltreuer Christen" demonstrated their solidarity with Israel at their booths on the streets of Germany.

God in His mercy is also increasingly opening the hearts of youth workers. They are coming to realize the importance of blessing Israel. This is especially important since it was the youth leaders and teachers who incited the German youth to curse the Jews during the Nazi era. Last November a charismatic teachers´ association met for a day of prayer and asked God for forgiveness for their colleagues during the Nazi era. More and more teachers and youth leaders are sensing the burden of responsibility to teach the young people of Germany the kind of lifestyle which is pleasing to God concerning His chosen people.

Two years ago a young people´s prayer day for Israel was held for the first time and was successfully repeated this year. On both occasions the guest speakers were young believers from Israel.

At Christian Youth Conferences, young people are given the opportunity to learn about and pray for Israel. A church in the Black Forest took their young people to Israel, where they had several opportunities to meet with their Jewish brothers and sisters. This seems to be the start of what our German President, Johannes Rau, said when he was invited to speak in the Knesset in January 2000 and expressed his hope that one day young people from Germany would be standing side by side with young people from Israel. Some young people from an Israeli congregation recently took part in a youth conference in Freiburg. For the first time during those annual conferences these young people heard something about Israel and actually prayed for her. During the last two years there has been a great prayer movement evolving mainly within charismatic churches in Germany, and prayer for God´s chosen people has become a natural part of this.

When Christian journalists from Israel give reports in churches, most of the times they are very well attended and people show a lot of interest.

In October this year the German Cardinal Kasper of the Roman Catholic church reconfirmed at the anniversary of the constitution "Nostra Aetate" in Rome that "in the Catholic church there is no room for anti_Semitism".
Unfortunately I also have to mention that there are still many Christians who have no special concern about Israel. The opinion arises that Jews don´t need the gospel -this could be considered a new form of anti-Semitismas through this attitude Jews don´t hear about salvation in Y'shua. This thinking seems to occur less within charismatic and conservative Bible_believing churches.

Jewish responses to rising Anti-Semitism

Different organisations in different cities report different things:

Hans Stresow from Chosen People Ministries reports that they have never experienced any anti-Semitic attack on the streets and can do their labour in the Lord without hindrances.

Tanja Ludzuweit and others involved in evangelism among Jewish people finds newly immigrated Russian Jews very open at present because of the general insecurity and fear of terrorism. When they speak of such fears she is able to offer them prayer which is usually gratefully accepted. She also finds that gentile Christians now have more questions about Israel and are more open for witnessing among Jewish people.

Anatoli Ushomirski from the "Evangeliumsdienst für Israel" (Gospel Ministry for Israel) and his Jewish friends have not been confronted by anti-Semitismand are still finding many open doors for spreading the gospel. He complained that many protestant churches still hold to the doctrine of a dual covenant, which says that Jews do not need the Messiah and therefore fail to promote evangelism among Jews.

Yulia Sokol of Jews for Jesus, who serves Y´shua in the large industrial Ruhrgebiet, has experienced some "hidden antisemitism": The window of their office was spit at and several other strange things happened without anyone discovering the culprit. Jewish immigrants in the Ruhrgebiet are fearful and suspicious, so they avoid being out in public. This means it is more difficult to make contact with them on the streets. They are now more afraid to stop and talk to her on the streets as this would show they are fellow Jews. On the other hand, some of them show more openness and respect towards her for the very act of openly displaying her Jewishness. When her group visits Jews in their temporary residencies they are usually more open and friendly. As a result, contacts made are closer. Yulia sees this as an opportunity to share about the rock and hope of Israel.
I myself experienced an unexpected openness among Israeli people at the rally in Frankfurt, where quite a number of Jews passed by and took notice of our decision to stand with their people. I had several good conversations with these passers_by and was even able to show them Romans 11,1-2 in Hebrew. They were later surprised to find that what they read was in Ha Brit Chadasha. One doctor thought he should start reading the New Testament for himself now! Since they regarded us as friends, they were also very open for evangelistic literature.

We recently watched the Jews for Jesus "Survivor´s Story" video with a group of elderly Russian Jews. This video seemed to touch them very deeply, as they had all been confronted with anti-Semitismin their own lives. The video shows clearly that it is only Y´shua alone who can heal even the deepest wounds, fill hearts with love and peace and overcome hatred and bitterness. We pray that many Jews in Germany might experience the same thing - and that God may make particular use of us German believers in order to do this. And may God help us to identify with Israel and the Jewish people like the goy Ruth who said,
"Your people shall be my people" (Ruth 1,16).

BeShem Y´shua HaMashiach,

Ellen Suess