In four years, an unattractive anniversary will pass by—let us hope unnoticed—in Europe. It was in the year 1010 a.d. that a large number of French Jews were exiled or murdered. Many historians believe this event inaugurated hundreds of years of European anti-Semitism. Similarly, many observers thought the horror of Hitler's Holocaust of the Jews—the Shoah—would inoculate Europe for all time against one of Christendom's most malignant viruses: anti-Semitism. Sadly, they were wrong.

In the middle of the first decade of the third millennium, anti-Semitism in Europe has made a horrifying comeback. One of the most dramatic examples was the February murder in France of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Jewish cell-phone salesman. This young man was kidnapped, ostensibly because it was thought he would fetch a good ransom (his kidnappers said they thought all Jews were "rich").

The chief rabbi of Great Britain, Sir Jonathan Sacks, has described a "tsunami-like" wave of anti-Semitism spreading across Europe and around the world. Many of his European rabbi-colleagues, he says, have been attacked in the street while wearing the traditional Jewish skullcap, the yarmulke. Jews have been singled out for insults, if not for assault, on streets of cities across the old continent. A British organization, the Community Security Trust, recently claimed that anti-Semitic incidents in Britain are at the highest level since it started keeping records in the 1980s. The World Jewish Congress goes further: Anti-Semitism in Europe, it says, is now worse than at any time since 1945.

Part of the explanation is a rising tide of both anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment in mainstream European politics. Of course, it is entirely legitimate for anyone, expert or otherwise, to criticize Israel, or for that matter France, America, or China. But much European criticism of Israel since the second intifada (the Palestinian uprising against Israel that began in 2000) now takes the view that Israel's very existence is illegitimate.

A poll conducted in European Union nations a few years ago revealed that 60 percent of Europeans viewed Israel as the greatest threat to world peace. Not North Korea or Iran or even pre-2003 Iraq, but Israel. In effect, the basic premise of Zionism—Israel as the last point of refuge for the world's Jews—is now considered invalid in many European circles. Worse, there has been a conflation of different sources of anti-Semitism in European polity: the far Right's Nazi-style, racist anti-Semitism, the far Left's political and economic anti-Semitism, and the "theological" hatred of Jews among much of Europe's growing Muslim population.

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European anti-Semites often allege that the White House is "controlled" by Jews, or at least by Zionist evangelicals and "neocons" who are said to surround President Bush. What American Christians ought to be mindful of is that many of Europe's most virulent Israel haters and anti-Semites are no less fervently anti-Christian.

In the parliamentary debate leading up to the decision by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the harshest criticism that Labor Party mp George Galloway could level against President Bush was that he was a "right-wing fundamentalist." Galloway is an unabashed admirer of the former Soviet Union, had huge business deals with Iraq's Saddam Hussein, and despises Israel.

A prominent British intellectual who has decided that Israel has "no right to exist" is A. N. Wilson, who has written several books virulently opposed not just to evangelical Christianity, but to a theistic worldview in general. In almost every country where anti-Semitism has a major presence, there is a hatred of America and in particular American Christianity.

Christians in America, of course, have a wide variety of attitudes toward Israel. Dispensationalists tend to view the country as a significant landmark of eschatological topography. Members of mainline Protestant denominations, on the other hand, are often critical of Israel for its policies toward the Palestinians.

What should not be in doubt is the absolute Christian indebtedness to the Jewish people. They gave us the Scriptures and the prophets, and the Messiah himself. Christianity shorn of its Jewish origins simply would not be Christianity. It would be a collection of milquetoast ethics without a metaphysic, roots, or the semblance of any truth.

Christians may—indeed should—have a variety of attitudes toward the Israeli government. But to Jews as a whole—our "elder brothers," as Pope John Paul II called them—we owe far more than we can ever repay. In the face of Europe's rising tide of anti-Semitism, let us never forget it.

Related Elsewhere:

More about David Aikman is available from his website. He is author of Jesus in Beijing and A Man Of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush. His latest book Qi, a novel, is now available.

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The BBC ran a series on anti-Semitism in Europe.

Time Europe also investigated the issue in 2002.

Other Christianity Today articles on anti-Semitism include:

'The Longest Hatred' | Evangelicals must fight the resurgence of anti-Semitism.—A Christianity Today editorial (March 24, 2004)
The Latest Temptation of Christians | Troubling spite in the debate over The Passion shows that the church needs to take anti-Semitism more seriously. (Feb. 24, 2004)
CT Classic: Who Killed Jesus? | After centuries of censure, Jews have been relieved of general responsibility for the death of Jesus. Now who gets the blame? (Aug. 24, 2000)
The Latest Temptation of Christians | Troubling spite in the debate over The Passion shows that the church needs to take anti-Semitism more seriously. (Feb. 24, 2004)
The Passion and Prejudice | Why I asked the Anti-Defamation League to give Mel Gibson a break. (Feb. 24, 2004)
Why some Jews fear The Passion | Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ gives Christians the chance to disavow a shameful history of anti-Semitism. (Feb. 20, 2004)
Good News to the Jew First | Critics of The Passion of the Christ assume the story embodies an anti-Semitic message. But does it? (Nov. 21, 2003)
Jews Against Jesus? | Critics of Gibson's film The Passion distort the truth. (Oct. 30, 2003)
Poland's Catholic Bishops Ask Forgiveness for Wartime Massacre of Jews | Theologian says continued anti-Semitism overshadows gesture. (June 12, 2001)
Oberammergau Overhaul | Changes make the Passion play more sensitive to Jews and more faithful to Scripture. (Aug. 24, 2000)
At Jerusalem's Holocaust Memorial, Pope Regrets Persecution of Jews | Catholic Church 'deeply saddened by anti-Semitism directed against the Jews by Christians.' (March 20, 2000)
Is Holocaust Museum Anti Christian? | Six prominent Jews are accusing the U.S. Holocaust Museum of anti-Christian bias in showing a 14-minute film on the roots of anti-Semitism. (April 27, 1998)

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Global Prognosis
David Aikman is professor of history and writer-in-residence at Patrick Henry College and wrote for Time magazine from 1971 to 1994. Among his books are Jesus in Beijing and A Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush. His column, "Global Prognosis," ran from 2006 to 2007.
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