Between the years 1939-1945, when Europe was embroiled in World War II, European Jews were systematically murdered in Nazi death camps during what is now commonly referred to as the Holocaust.
In 1933, the American Jewish Yearbook estimated there were 9.5 million Jews living in Europe. By the end of World War II, two-thirds of them had been extinguished.
Why American Jews did not rise up and demand more action to help their brethren during the Holocaust has remained a sensitive question for decades especially among Jewish baby boomers.
In 2002, Susan D. Glazer, writing for My Jewish Learning suggested the following reasons:
“Recently, American Jewry has been criticized for not continually or strongly pushing for rescue efforts. During the war, however, organized American Jewry did press for rescue in a variety of ways but, in general, rescue was not a high priority for major American Jewish organizations. American Jewry feared that agitation for rescue would exacerbate domestic anti-Semitism or compromise the strong connection that they held with the Roosevelt administration. Moreover, Jewish organizations often placed the creation of a Jewish state above rescue efforts on their list of priorities.”
Obviously, group self-preservation, access to political power and future goals were deemed more important by Jewish leaders in the U.S. at the time.
Then, in April of 1945, a month before Germany surrendered, Allied forces liberated the death camps. When the full extent of Holocaust horrors were revealed the world was shocked, and American Jews collectively vowed, “Never again.”
In an act that combined evidence gathering with uncanny prophetic wisdom, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the Army Signal Corps to thoroughly document Nazi atrocities with film footage and still photography.
After visiting an “internment camp” on April 15, 1945, Eisenhower, in a letter to Gen. George C. Marshall wrote:
“The things I saw beggar description. … The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering. … I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give firsthand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations to propaganda.”
For example a recent New York Times headline asked: “Is this the end of Christianity in the Middle East?” Its subhead read: “ISIS and other extremist movements across the region are enslaving, killing and uprooting Christians, with no aid in sight.”
In a brutal flashback reminiscent of how Nazis marked Jewish homes and businesses for destruction, ISIS in Mosul, Iraq marked Christian homes and businesses for a similar fate with a symbol that stood for Nasara or Nazarenes, meant to mock Nazareth, the biblical hometown of Jesus.
However, unlike Americans on the home front during World War II who were largely unaware of Nazi atrocities – we do not have to wait for “liberation” footage to see that Middle Eastern Christians are being killed, raped, maimed and tortured by radical Islamists.
All we need to do is click YouTube and search for “Christian persecution in the Middle East” to watch disturbing videos that conjure up memories of Nazi savagery.
One would like to think that if Internet video had been available during the war, real-time death camp footage would have led to such universal outrage that the Holocaust would have been cut short. But now horrific video is having the opposite effect! Where the Nazis made efforts to hide the death camps – even from their own people – ISIS uses the Internet to openly flaunt their brutal actions and recruit more foreign fighters.
With a Middle East Christian Holocaust unfolding right before our eyes, albeit on a smaller scale than the European version, American Christians have a responsibility to assist our brothers and sisters in Christ.
To make it easier for you to take some personal action, and educate yourself on this genocide, here are four established and reputable organizations that are offering assistance to persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
Thus, if you are Jewish and concerned that ISIS will also target Jews, or an American Christian who feels guilty that you have not helped mitigate a crisis that is killing Christians, destroying their culture and wiping centuries-old Christian communities off the map – you can take some action.
Additionally, keeping these organizations (and many others not mentioned) in your prayers is encouraged because Christians praying for persecuted Christians will achieve very powerful results. In fact, the New Testament offers testimony to that power, and ironically, persecution of early Christians was integral to the growth and spread of Christianity.
Meanwhile, hold this famous and familiar poem close to your hearts. It was written by Martin Niemöller, a prominent German Protestant pastor and social activist who survived seven years in a Nazi concentration camp and then lived until 1984 when he passed away at age 92.
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
Just imagine the results if millions of Americans put that message into action and begin actively speaking out – pressuring our government to take stronger measures to defeat ISIS and other Islamic terror groups whose missions are to destroy Christianity and Judaism.
In 2015, the Holocaust lesson of “never again” means “act now.”
That is precisely why Americans should be compelled to offer prayers and provide resources to the aforementioned organizations. With a larger megaphone they will, in the words of Niemöller, “speak out for me.”