A scene from the movie Woman in Gold offers a graphic illustration of the plight faced by Israel today.
As flowers are thrown at the invading Nazi soldiers in pre-war Vienna, no-one lifts a finger to help the real victims of the day – the Jewish people desperately trying to escape the brutality being meted out to them.
The film, starring Helen Mirren, is based on a true story which powerfully reflects the extent to which anti-Semitism spreads its poisonous tentacles. Maria Altmann, who fled Austria for the United States when it was clear that Jewish citizens were in grave danger, discovers six decades later that her family had not only suffered the indignities of Nazi persecution, but had also been victims of stolen art treasures, in particular a famous painting of her auntie – Adele Bloch-Bauer – which had effectively become Austria’s ‘Mona Lisa’.
Today, Israel, and Jewish people the world over, are at least as vulnerable as they were under the Nazis; probably more so. Although now having a home of their own at last where they had hoped to live in peace and safety, they are constantly threatened on all sides by enemies looking to wipe them off the face of the earth!
And with the help of America – supposedly Israel’s closest ally – Iran has effectively been freed to continue developing a nuclear weapon with which to carry out its stated aim of destroying Israel while at the same time arming terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas, committed to the same goal.
Tragically, history appears to be repeating itself.
Former U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz have compared the nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers to the Munich agreement which paved the way to World War II.The Obama agreement – providing a pathway for the world’s worst state-sponsor of terror to acquire nuclear weapons – is tragically reminiscent of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s Munich treaty in 1938, they said. Each was negotiated from a position of weakness by a leader willing to concede nearly everything to appease an ideological dictator.
Dr Mike Evans, a close associate of Israeli leaders and founder of the Friends of Zion Heritage Centre in Jerusalem, writes: “Though the Obama Administration originally insisted on ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections, they agreed to a deal that left Iran’s military facilities off limits to any inspections and required 24 days’ notice before inspections at other sites. Then we learned that no Americans could be part of any inspection team. Now comes word from Iran that the Iranian government will only allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors that they approve. If it were not so tragic, it would be humorous… but it is deadly serious, and the Jewish state and the Jewish people are at risk as never before.”
A Jewish follower of Jesus who also reaches out a helping hand to destitute Holocaust survivors, Dr Evans adds: “On October 6 1943, a delegation of American rabbis arrived at the White House for a personal audience with President Franklin Roosevelt. They planned to present irrefutable proof that the Nazis were conducting a wholesale annihilation of European Jews.”
But they were denied a meeting, no coordinated Allied rescue was launched and the flames consumed six million Jews. Now America is ignoring the appeals from Israel concerning Iran’s plans to wipe out the Jews with atomic bombs. But the Jewish people need to know that they are not alone; that their Christian friends around the world are standing with them.
“Iran’s threats should be taken seriously,” says James Woolsey, director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the Clinton Administration. “The people who have the mindset that they’re just rhetoric are the same types of people who in the late 1920s and early 1930s said that Hitler’s Mein Kampf was just rhetoric.”
But who today will lift a finger if Israel is invaded by her present enemies? Yet, if she should return fire in defence, the wrath of the world may well fall on her. What utter hypocrisy!
In short, what we are witnessing is age-old anti-Semitism, so often disguised as something noble, as with Western support for Palestinians portrayed as victims of bullying occupiers of their land – a land that rightfully belongs to Israel. Not only do they have a history there going back thousands of years, but it is God’s gift to them (Genesis 12.7). And if that isn’t good enough for our politicians, it is also theirs by international treaty signed in San Remo, Italy, in 1920. But Palestinians and their supporters are in the business of pulling the wool over our eyes and attempting to re-write history.
Another movie I watched while keeping an eye on my elderly mum this past week was the 1958 classic musical South Pacific. With a score written by legendary Jewish combo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, it wasn’t surprising that the race issue – raising its head in quite an ugly manner in America at the time – played a significant role in the context of romantic liaisons with Polynesian women. The script put it well, that people are “taught to hate” rather than born that way.
In the case of the so-called _Woman in Gold _painting, the Nazis had even stolen Adele Bloch-Bauer’s identity in view of not wishing to disclose her real name because she was Jewish. But with the help of a family member and struggling lawyer, her loyal niece successively took the Austrian government to court. The painting was eventually taken to America and sold to a gallery there for $100 million, thereby achieving a degree of justice and restitution.
But it was of little value compared with the heartache of parting from parents, and all she knew and loved, as Maria and her new husband were about to make their daring escape to freedom.
Followers of Jesus, the Jew, must not make the same mistake again, by effectively walking on the other side of the road as God’s Chosen People are beaten up to within an inch of their collective lives. Now is the time to stand up and be counted, as Dr Evans is doing with his compassionate outreach to Holocaust survivors and others still scarred by the effects of the recent past.