Christian-Jewish cooperation pushed to counter renewed anti-Semitism: 'Evil cannot be overlooked'

Students from Germany visit the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The hall contains pages of testimony commemorating the millions of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.Reuters

Anti-Semitism is back, something that should compel Christians and Jews to work together because the problem affects them all.

This was one of the messages aired during a recent seminar held by the Yad VaShem memorial at the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.

Ephraim Kaye, Yad VaShem's director of international seminars, said the world is seeing a "clash of civilisations" that threatens Jews and Christians alike.

"Today we're in the same boat, Christians and Jews. More Christians are being murdered every day than Jews throughout the Middle East and in other places," Kaye told CBN News. "We need each other. There is a clash of civilisations."

Kaye told the Christian leaders who attended the seminar that "fundamentalist radical, extremist Islam" poses dangers to the entire world and that the Church should not ignore this problem.

"Evil cannot be overlooked. You cannot put your head in the sand today, especially after the Holocaust," he said.

For her part, Susanna Kokkonen, director of Christian Friends of Yad VaShem, noted that during the Holocaust, when Adolf Hitler launched his campaign of extermination against the Jews during World War II, the Church was silent.

"We think about the Holocaust, the Church was silent. We don't have to be silent today," Kokkonen, who led the Christian leaders' seminar, told CBN News.

As Jews and Christians alike face a new threat to their existence today, Kokkonen believes much of the Church is still silent.

"I see the silence of the Church. We are silent about anti-Semitism. Most of us don't feel that it touches us," Kokkonen said, adding that the "same kind of conspiracy of silence also exists with regard to the persecution of the Christians."

The Christian leaders said the seminar was an eye-opener, even a "life-changing experience," as Pastor Ed put it.

Pastor Josh Phillips said he is taking home a new passion, which is "a love for Israel and the Jewish people that I didn't know I had, I didn't know I needed, but a desire to be a partner and an advocate for Israel and for the Jewish people."

Kaye said the seminars are giving the Jewish people new hope.

"When we come in contact with these evangelical pastors, it gives up hope, Israelis, as Jews, living here in the Middle East," he said. "We're in a tough neighbourhood; it's not easy. But they give us a lot of support, a lot of optimism. We embrace them. They embrace us. Couldn't be better!"