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When troubled assistant bank manager Andy McNeary's baby daughter goes missing, he must follow the instructions of a mysterious voice on the other end of a baby monitor to save her before she disappears forever.
In the words of a former president of South Africa, “Listen carefully!” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (of blessed memory) recognised the new face of anti-Semitism years ago. In a speech to the EU parliament in 2016 he said: “Anti-Semitism means denying the right of Jews to exist collectively as Jews with the same rights as everyone else. It takes different forms in different ages. In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the 19th and early 20th century they were hated because of their race. “Today they are hated because of their nation state, the state of Israel. It takes different forms but it remains the same thing: the view that Jews have no right to exist as free and equal human beings.” He likened anti-Semitism to a mutating virus, and this was before the 2020 Covid pandemic that made us all armchair experts overnight. Sacks said: “Throughout history, when people have sought to justify anti-Semitism, they have done so by recourse to the highest source of authority available within the culture. In the Middle Ages, it was religion. So we had religious anti-Judaism. “In post-Enlightenment Europe it was science. So we had the twin foundations of Nazi ideology, Social Darwinism and the so-called Scientific Study of Race. “Today the highest source of authority worldwide is human rights. That is why Israel — the only fully functioning democracy in the Middle East with a free press and independent judiciary — is regularly accused of the five cardinal sins against human rights: racism, apartheid, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide.” The recent massacre of Jews by Hamas in Israel has revealed to us the face of this anti-Semitism in our government leaders and many church leaders, both in what they have said, justifying the actions of Hamas as a liberation struggle, and by what has been left unsaid, the silences. This was to be expected from a ruling government who themselves supported an armed liberation struggle that targeted not only security forces but also ended up killing civilians. According to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission report published in 2003, “the majority of casualties of MK operations were civilians”. But what about the response of church leaders? A central tenet of the Christian faith is that one new man (or one new humanity) has been achieved in Jesus Christ, that the old creation has gone, and all things have become new. That’s the claim, anyway. In the name of this new humanity, and in the name of human rights, the church has been outspoken and taken a vocal public stand against the rape of women, the murder of children and the abuse of the elderly. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa, in particular, calls its members to observe Thursdays in Black, arguing that (and I quote from the Thursdays in Black movement) “we all have a responsibility to speak out against violence, to ensure that women and men, boys and girls, are safe from rape and violence in homes, schools, work, streets — in all places in our societies”. Furthermore, the Anglican church has gone out of its way to set up safeguarding policies, protocols and commissions to ensure that its own members are safe and secure. Yet what was the response when Hamas raped Jewish women, murdered Jewish children and abused Jewish elders? Mostly silence, a few vigils for the Palestinian cause, some generalised prayers for peace and plenty of qualified fence-sitting statements that never mentioned Hamas, let alone condemned Hamas. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa was not alone. In effect, what many church leaders seem to be saying, by what they’re not saying, is: The rape of women is wrong, except if you’re a Jewish woman. The murder of children is wrong, except if you’re a Jewish child. The abuse of the elderly is wrong, except if you’re a Jewish elder. The blaming of the victims for the crimes perpetrated against them would not be tolerated by the #MeToo movement or by Thursdays in Black advocacy or by a Safe Church Commission. This is exceptionalism. This exceptionalism has a name. It is called anti-Semitism. Throughout history, prominent church leaders have been the incarnation of the anti-Semitism of that age, preaching it in the Middle Ages, theologising away Jesus’s Jewishness under Nazism and ignoring Hamas in their liberation struggle narratives while also remaining silent about the rise of blatant anti-Semitism around the world. Since the Sukkot massacre in Israel on 7 October, Jews have been subject to a marked and sudden rise in anti-semitic incidents on the streets of London, Manchester, Berlin, New York and elsewhere. The number of anti-Semitic posts online has surged by 1 200%. Jews are being subjected to horrendous verbal abuse, vandalism of property — and even physical attack. Each new epoch of anti-Semitism builds on the old. We hear echoes of 20th century anti-Semitism when a “race” narrative is advanced to explain the conflict in Israel as being a liberation struggle against white colonial oppressors, only this time Jews are not the antipathy of a particular form of whiteness (which Nazis believed) but have come to embody whiteness. But even older echoes are heard. The Blood Libel accusation is one of the most ancient and enduring forms of anti-Semitism. The accusation first arose in the 12th century, alleging that Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals. Despite these allegations being baseless, Jews were killed in retaliatory riots. When the Black Death swept Europe in the 14th century, killing an estimated 25 million to 50 million people, Jews were accused of poisoning wells to kill Christians. The reality was that the bubonic plague killed people irrespective of their religion, including Jews. Nevertheless, Jews were killed in retaliation. In the 19th century, Jews in Damascus were accused of murdering a Christian monk and his Muslim servant to use their blood for rituals. Both Christians and Muslims in Damascus responded with violence against Jews. Eventually, Sultan Abdülmecid I issued a firmān (edict) denouncing the blood libel. Fast forward, when Hamas fired rockets at Israel in 2021 and 2022, later studies indicated that between 15% and 20% of their rockets misfired and fell on the Gaza strip, adding to the civilian death toll. A similar trend is being observed with these 2023 attacks, with rockets killing civilians in Gaza. Israel is blamed and, by extension, Jews everywhere. The yet unfounded accusation becomes a modern form of blood libel as ordinary Jews become potential targets of violent retaliation, as has been the witness of history in every age. To end where I began with the words of Rabbi Sacks: “Anti-Semitism means denying the right of Jews to exist collectively as Jews with the same rights as everyone else. It takes different forms in different ages. In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the 19th and early 20th century they were hated because of their race. “Today they are hated because of their nation state, the state of Israel. It takes different forms but it remains the same thing: the view that Jews have no right to exist as free and equal human beings.” His words remain as pertinent as ever. Listen carefully. Reverend Canon Peter Houston is a senior Anglican priest and canon theologian in the Diocese of Natal. He has an academic interest in church history, especially as it pertains to Christian anti-Semitism. Tags: Anglican Church, Anti-Semitism, Christianity, HAMAS, Israel, Jewish, Judaism The PTI chairman made the remarks ahead of departing for Islamabad to appear before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a mutiny case and another pertaining to charges of attempted murder. His biting rejoinder comes a day after the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that “irresponsible and baseless allegations” by Imran against the said military officer without evidence were “extremely unfortunate, deplorable and unacceptable”. During a rally on Saturday, the PTI chairman had once again named a senior intelligence official for orchestrating plans to murder him. “I am on the roads despite verifiable threats to my life. I have already escaped an assassination attempt once. On the second occasion, I was able to sniff out murder planning,” he had said. This was not the first time the ex-premier has made these claims. After an assassination attempt last year, Imran had held Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and the senior intelligence official as being responsible for the bid to assassinate him and demanded they resign. In a video message shared on Tuesday, Imran replied to the ISPR and “attempts by PDM and their handlers” regarding his arrest. He said that he was departing for the federal capital as he was scheduled to appear before two courts. “Before I leave, I want to say two things. Firstly, the ISPR has issued a statement that the institution has been disrespected — the army has been disrespected [by] naming an intelligence officer that has tried to kill me twice. “ISPR sahib, listen to me carefully. Respect is not [confined] to a single institution; respect should be for every single citizen,” he said. Imran highlighted that he was the chief of the country’s “largest” political party, adding that he did not need to lie. “This man tried to kill me twice and whenever an investigation is carried out, I will prove that it was this man and there is a whole gang with him,” Imran said, adding that the nation was well aware of who was standing with the officer in question. “My question is: [Despite being] a country’s ex-prime minister — because this man’s name has come forward — [why was] I unable to register a first information report (FIR)?” He said that the truth would only surface once an investigation is carried out. “If he was innocent, it would have been revealed,” the PTI chief said, terming the officer in question to be such a “powerful personality” that he was unable to register a case despite being in power in Punjab. He said that two senior police officials had refused to become a part of the joint investigation team (JIT) formed by the Punjab government to investigate the attack on his life in Wazirabad. “Who was behind it? Who was this powerful?” He alleged that when the JIT determined that three shooters were involved in the incident, the team itself was “sabotaged” and that four Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officials changed their statements. “The prosecutor general investigated. He said action should be taken against the four because they tried to sabotage [the JIT]. Who was behind them? Who was this powerful?” The PTI chief further claimed that he would prove that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had taken over the Judicial Complex in Islamabad the night before he went to attend a hearing in the Toshakhana case in March. The PTI chairman has already claimed that he did not disembark from his vehicle because “unknown people” were positioned there with plans to kill him. “I will prove that ISI [officials] were present in CTD uniforms and lawyers’ garb. I will prove that a brigadier, who I will not name, was there to monitor everything. What was the ISI doing there?” Imran said that the mother of slain journalist Arshad Sharif had also taken the names of the intelligence officer and the gang that he was a part of yet no investigation was carried out as he was a “holy cow” and, therefore, above the law. “ISPR sahib, when an institution takes action against black sheep, it improves its own credibility. An institution which catches corrupt people strengthens itself.” He said that action is taken when a doctor or an employee does something wrong at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital (SKMH). “It is my army, my Pakistan not just yours. It is our army,” Imran asserted. He also lamented the crackdown against those who were vocal about their criticism of the military establishment, stating that it was in fact harming the institution. The PTI chief went on to say that there was also no need to call in a heavy contingent of police and other officials during his appearance before the courts in Islamabad today. “If someone has a warrant, come to me directly […] I am prepared to go to jail […] spending so much money as if a major criminal is coming to Islamabad. Do us a favour and don’t stage such a drama and directly provide a warrant,” he said, asserting that he was mentally prepared to go to jail. He also said that the plan hatched by “Dirty Harry” involved a gang of people, adding that if God willed, he was ready to die at their hands. He ended his video message by calling on the nation to “get ready”. Back and forth continues between PM, Imran Hours after the PTI chief issued the video statement, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took to Twitter to state that he had “no doubt” that Imran’s politics were defined by “blatant lies, untruths, U-turns, and vicious attacks on institutions”. On Sunday, the premier had stated that Imran’s act of “routinely maligning and threatening the Pakistan Army and the intelligence agency for the sake of petty political gains is highly condemnable.” In response to the premier’s tweets, Imran on Monday had asked if he did not have the right to nominate those he felt were responsible for the assassination attacks on him. “Why was I denied my legal and constitutional right to register a FIR?”