Financial Crisis Sparks Anti-Semitism

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Blaming Jews for economic woes is far from a new phenomenon, so it's not surprising that the recent global financial crisis has unleashed a fresh round of anti-Semitism, no less lethal than it's been in the past.

Islamic terror groups - such as Hamas and Hezbollah - blamed Israel and the West for financial downturns worldwide.

"We see it as Allah's punishment for the criminals (U.S. and its Western allies)," Gaza-based Hamas terror chief Ismail Haniyeh said.

"Nothing is more unjust than occupying an Islamic state. Nothing is more unjust than keeping the Palestinian people under occupation for over 60 years," he said.

Haniyeh, who may soon reunite with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party, has never accepted Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. He has never envisioned two states living side-by-side in peace.

Even a cursory glance at the history of the modern State of Israel reveals the Jews' desire over the years to live in peace with their Arab neighbors.

But Islam wants no part of it.

Teheran-based Islamists said Zionist Jews intend to control the economy worldwide, pointing to Jews holding prominent positions in some of the world's largest financial institutions.

Many of these Jewish men have been targeted with hate mail by bloggers, Internet message boards and conspiracy theorists.

"The age-old canards about Jews and money are always just beneath the surface," Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman said in a report issued just after Wall Street's financial meltdown began.

"As we witnessed after 9/11, whenever there is trouble or uncertainty in the economy or world events, Jews become the scapegoats, and ugly anti-Semitic canards are given new life," he said.

Foxman said some Web sites "have gone so far as to resurrect Nazi-era propaganda, e.g., 'The Jewish Problem' or 'The Final Solution Two?'" - a reference to Adolph Hitler's rhetoric.

But what's really at the base of Jew hatred?

It's not just the financial crunch that looses the deep-seated, centuries-old animosity toward Jews.

What is it about Jews that fosters such hatred and why are evangelical Christians among the few genuine supporters of Israel and the Jewish people?

The answer is both simple and complex.

God chose the Jews as His covenant people - not because they had anything particular to recommend them. In fact, He Himself calls them "stubborn and stiff-necked." Nonetheless, He set them apart, called them to be a light to the nations.

And it is this very fact of being set apart - with different traditions, holidays, language and sometimes even clothing - that spawns the hatred.

The exponential growth of anti-Semitism in recent years should come as no surprise to those who believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

Everyday we hear of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in various places, pestilences, and famine.

And we're seeing Jerusalem becoming a "cup of trembling," with Muslims laying claim to the city that has been part of Jewish life for millennia.

We can take much comfort - and abide in the peace "that passes all understanding" - when we remember that God will do everything He has promised.

Israel and the Jewish people have a glorious future, beautifully foretold in Scripture.

At some point, maybe when the world least expects it, the God of Israel will arise to save His people. That's a fact that no economic crisis or hate-mongering can change.

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Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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