Charlottesville blues

Real Christians must stand up and speak up the very moment the demon of racism rears its ugly head.

August 19, 2017 22:29
4 minute read.
Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monument

Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNST)

Much of the world heard the name “Charlottesville” for the first time on Saturday, August 12, when hundreds of white nationalists, alt-righters, neo-Nazis and members of the KKK traveled to that town in Virginia to participate in the “Unite the Right” rally. Rally-goer James Alex Fields is accused of employing his vehicle to mow down counter-demonstrators, killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year old paralegal.

The question now arises: are Christians standing up and speaking up against such evil? For decades, I have devoted my life to combating antisemitism. I was asked by a prominent American leader: why? I responded simply: “I was ashamed because I could not defend one Jew – my mother – against an antisemite. God, in His mercy, gave me a nation of Jews to defend.”

My mother came from an Orthodox Jewish background and named me after her grandfather, Rabbi Mikel Katznelson who, along with 2,000 other Jews, were burned to death in their synagogue. She had been abused by a white supremacist Jew-hater – my own father. He strangled me and left me for dead when I was 11 years old because I had tried to defend my mother for the first time. He believed I was not his son, but the product of an affair my mother had with a Jewish man.

Our ability to confront such evil comes only when we draw inspiration from history and heroes who have themselves confronted such malevolence. That is why, in 1988, I purchased and restored the Corrie ten Boom house in Haarlem, Holland, and turned it into a Holocaust memorial. It is also why I built the Friends of Zion Heritage Center in Jerusalem – to combat antisemitism.

It is also why I have written 74 books and hundreds of articles and have traveled the world to stand up and speak up at the United Nations and various peace conferences. In 1984, I worked with prime minister Menachem Begin to build support for Israel and to combat antisemitism.

At that time, I wrote Israel: America’s Key to Survival, and produced a television special by the same name. I predicted that Israel was the last firewall to keep radical Islam from the West, and if that nation was weakened, America and her tallest building would be targeted.

On June 30, a man named Richard Snell decided that he would give me a birthday present. Snell was an alt-right neo-Nazi and part of an organization called Covenant Sword and Arm of the Lord, whose members were complicit in the bombing the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. His gift would be my death. I was informed by the ATF that Snell was heading toward my home and that he had subsequently murdered two people, including a black state trooper.

The only thing found in his car besides weapons was a slip of paper on which was written my name, home address and unlisted phone number.

At the age of four, I was watching cartoons. At the end of the program, a Billy Graham crusade was aired. My mother dashed over, snapped off the set, pointed a finger in my face and said, “Never watch that again! Christians kill Jews; Christians hate Jews! Jesus died, don’t dig him up. The pope, Billy Graham and Adolf Hitler are all Christians. You are named after my grandfather who was burned to death by Christian Nazis.” That is what my mother believed.

How heartbreaking! As I grew older, I pushed my mother’s cart to the market and back home on Friday evenings. As we walked down the street, eggs and tomatoes were thrown at us by people screaming, “Jew witch!” The first time I was attacked, it was because they said I was a kike.

How is it possible that from the Great Reformation the Evangelical Church of Germany became powerless, and even had swastikas on its altar? Newspaper columnist Oswald J. Smith wrote, “They love him. Yes, from the highest to the lowest, children and parents, old and young alike – they love their new leader. Their confidence in him cannot be shaken.”

The history of Christianity is blood-stained with pogroms, crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust. The truth is the evil did not begin with gas chambers.

It began in the hearts and minds of ordinary human beings who refused to speak out against evil such as that in Charlottesville.

During a private meeting with Pope Francis and Shimon Peres, the pope asked me, “Tell me how you, a Jew, can believe in Jesus Christ.”

I shared my testimony with him as we both wept. Mother Teresa and I prayed together in Rome shortly before her death. As we prayed for the Jewish People, she said, “You can’t love Jesus without loving the Jewish People. Jesus was a Jew. Love is not something you say, it is something you do.”

Real Christians must stand up and speak up the very moment the demon of racism rears its ugly head.

Otherwise, it is pure hypocrisy to say they love Jesus.

The author is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author, award-winning journalist, commentator, minister, and head of several prominent international non-profit organizations in the US, Netherlands and Israel, including the Friends of Zion Heritage Center and Museum.

He is considered one of the world’s leading experts on Israel and the Middle East, and is one of the most sought after speakers on the subject. His book The Visionaries is available at

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