By Joe Samuels. Edited and brought to print by Nurit Greenger
The Jewish people can attest to their long and ongoing history of deep seated dislike for them and also persecution. This has given them, long before the radar was invented, sensitive antennas.
For Jews, wherever they lived, at whatever time in history, the ability to identify and recognize antiSemitism trends and those who hate Jews, the anti-Semites, has been an important survival skill.
Anti-Semitism can be recognized as humanity’s genetic disease. It mutates when left ignored and brushed aside. Human beings’ nature is fallacious and often various ethnic groups find themselves disapproving of each other.
However, anti-Semitism can be categorized differently: it calls for the annihilation of the Jewish people. Each year, on the Jewish festival of Passover, the Jews remind themselves by saying, “Bechol Dor Vador Omdim Aleinu Lechlotainu,” meaning, ‘In every generation someone stands up to annihilate us.’
Nowadays, it is Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and their cohorts’ objective to annihilate the state of the Jews, Israel.
But what about the ability to identify the philo-Semites, those who tend to respect, possibly even love Jews? Do Jews have such allies in their corner, watching their back as well?
In February 2006, the grassroots movement Christians United For Israel (CUFI), set out to unite Christians in collectively support Israel.
CUFI’s unique support for the Jewish people story began with 400 Pastors and Ministry leaders coming together to define a mission: to educate, empower and effectively combat Anti-Semitism. Their message connected well with their parishioners. Within six years they reached one million followers. In 2019, thirteen years after they first seeded their support for Israel teaching, “the Bar Mitzvah year,” which is a Jewish boy’s 13th birthday and it is when he enters maturity, CUFI counts some five million followers and they claim they have just begun.
I, Joe Samuels, was born in 1930 in the old Jewish quarter of the city of Baghdad, Iraq. My Arabic name is Yusuf and my mother tongue is Arabic, the spoken language of Iraq. I grew up with the belief that Baghdad was my hometown and Iraq was my homeland. My life, though, turned upside down when, in June 1941, an anti-Semitic eruption shook me to my core.
For two days Muslim mobs ransacked Jewish homes and businesses in Baghdad; they raped Jewish women and girls, murdered over 170 Jews, and left hundreds injured. I was then only ten-year-old the events of those two days terrified me and etched in my mind.
During this tragic event, known today by the name ‘The Farhud,’ some Muslims appeared to be philo-Semites. They protected their Jewish neighbors and friends, by standing in front of their homes with daggers, knives and guns. Others gave shelter, hid in their homes, or took care of the injured Jews. While we knew we had friends out there, it was not until those crucial moments that we truly recognized whom we could trust.
Presently, 75 years after 6-million European Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, the largest anti-Semitic attack on Jews in humanity’s history, the remaining Jews who live in Europe are facing a renewed wave of anti-Semitism. In the United States, anti-Israel sentiments are strongly expressed on campuses and are rampant. Being anti-Israel means being anti-Semite.
I claim that Jews must, again, put emphasis on identifying and recognizing their friends. Anti-Semitism is no longer the extreme – it is fast becoming societies’ norm.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former chief Rabbi of Britain, once said in the House of Lords: “One of the enduring facts of history is that most anti-Semites do not think of themselves as anti-Semites. ‘We don’t hate Jews,’ they said in the Middle Ages, ‘just their religion.’ ‘We don’t hate Jews,’ they said in the twentieth century, ‘just their race.’ ‘We don’t hate Jews, they say now, just their nation state.'”
Martin Luther King, in response to an anti-Israel student question, said, “When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.
As the anti-Semitic level rises in the US and abroad, CUFI remains committed to fight the lies and prejudice against Israel; lying about Israel is lying about Jews and that is anti-Semitism. By definition CUFI has proved to be a true philo-Semite.
One of CUFI’s initiatives is designed to educate and influence the millennial generation on university campuses and bring some of them for a visit to Israel. This year, CUFI will be leading a trip to Israel, hosting the Atlanta Braves and in 2010 it will be the New York Giants to take this trip with CUFI.
On January 28th-29th, 2019, I was honored to be invited to attend this year’s CUFI Leadership Conference, in San Antonio, Texas. There I told the story of my Mizrahi Jew, a Jew born in Arab land or Iran. The conference’s audience reaction and empathetic attitude to my story left deep impression on me.
CUFI remains the largest non-Jewish organization actively bringing to the public’s forefront the rarely told story of the forced expulsion, of over 850,000 Mizrahi Jews from Arab-Muslim lands, and later on from The Islamic Republic of Iran.
Thankfully, the Mizrahi Jews did not suffer the huge loss of lives, the like their brethren in Europe, However, the Mizrahi Jews suffered the loss of everything else: all their assets were confiscated and their culture and history, of over 26 centuries, was abruptly cut from its roots. Some 650,000 Jews, forced to leave home and country, landed in the newly reborn Israel and became instant refugees in the nascent state that did not exactly have the necessary means to properly receive them. Other 200,000 Mizrahi Jews refugees spread all over Europe and North America. Only some 4,000 Jews remain living in Arab lands, and their count is diminishing.
We, the Mizrahi Jews, are grateful and indebted to CUFI for helping to tell our story to many who, otherwise would have never heard of this horrific human rights abuse.
Among its many activities, CUFI, an Evangelical Christians Organization, has produced a series of short docufilms telling stories of individual Jewish refugees from several Arab countries.
CUFI’s dedication to tell the history of Christianity and its Jewish roots is undeniable. The organization has become an incredibly effective force of goodness, uniting people to achieve one crucial goal: to stand for the Jewish people, their homeland, Israel, and tell the true history of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland, the land of their Forefather Abraham.
Why would Christians stand up to anti-Semitism and support Israel?
Many ask this question. Pastor John Hagee, the Founder of CUFI, explains, “The root structure of a tree (Judaism) is the below-ground system that serves as its primary foundation, anchoring it in the soil and supplying water and nutrients throughout its branches (Christianity). The deeper the root – the stronger the tree; but if the root is destroyed, the tree and its branches cannot exist. If there had been no Israel there would have been no patriarchs, no prophets, no apostles, no Bible and no Savior [Jesus].” CUFI preaches the love of one true God among brethren, regardless of the way they celebrate Him.
I hold in my heart a dream that one day I will attend MUFI (Muslims United for Israel) conference. Although such event does not yet exist, it is an idea to mull. All true Muslims should be able to recognize their roots, as they too are the descendants of the Jewish Forefather, Abraham. Many Muslims also believe that the return of the Jews to Israel is written in their holy book, the Quran.
Sheikh Ahmad Adwan, who lives in Jordan, said on his Facebook, “Allah has assigned the Holy Land to the Children of Israel until the Day of Judgment,” and “We made the Children of Israel the inheritors [of the land]” (Quran, Sura 5 -Verse 21).” Muslims are part of the Trifecta of Abrahamic Monotheism, and it is a shame that we fight like strangers instead of being brothers.
As a Jew, CUFI has earned my admiration and trust for standing firmly against anti-Semitism and in support of the State of Israel. I use this platform to urge every freedom-loving person to delve into and explore CUFI’s messages, actions and achievements. I personally invite you to recognize that by standing together, we can fight bigotry and lies in order to eradicate the anti-Semitism disease and bring more peace to a world that needs it so very badly.