As I watched the news, I felt emotions that I’ve never had before.
by Rebekah Bronn | October 17 2023
The words that were chanted by a crowd at the Sydney Opera House were chilling: “Kill the Jews,” and “Gas the Jews.” They sound like something belonging to Nazi Germany. But sadly, these words were heard this past week, only days after the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust.
As you’ve no doubt seen in the news, on the 7th of October, Hamas—condemned as a terrorist organization by the Australian government—invaded Israel by land, sea, and air in a coordinated and brutal attack. As I write this, the death count of Israeli citizens has reached at least 1,300.
In the wake of this massacre, Australia lit up the Sydney Opera House in blue to show solidarity with Israel and the Jewish community in Sydney.
On that very evening, a pro-Palestinian rally was planned, and a large group formed outside of the opera house. The Jewish community was warned to stay away for fears of escalating violence. At one point, people in the crowd started to shout hateful slurs against our people. According to the organizers, the people instigating this were asked to leave.
Following on from that incident, there have been other reports of antisemitic harassment in the community. Now more than ever, Gentile believers in Messiah Jesus need to speak up for the Jewish community.
Take a moment to imagine how the Jewish community in Australia felt as we watched the news, seeing a crowd of people in the center of our largest city shouting for our death. And this, just 48 hours after we were still reeling from a massacre, which for many of us involved people we knew.
This is not the first time in recent years that tensions have risen in the Middle East, but we have not seen such blatant and public displays of antisemitism here in Australia.
When watching the videos, I felt emotions that I’ve never had before. Stories of the Holocaust and Jewish hate were something that I grew up hearing about, but I had hoped it was something largely of the past. I love Sydney. I’ve lived here for four years after moving from New Zealand, where I grew up, but on Monday night, I felt sorrow and even fear to call this city my home.
Most Jewish people have a strong connection to Israel. They may have family who live there, or like me, they may have spent a lot of time there building friendships—friends who now are living in fear for their lives as Hamas is still firing rockets into Israel, or in fear for their loved ones who are fighting in the army.
My heart also breaks for the innocent people who are caught up on both sides of this conflict. I pray that the peace—the shalom—of God will be poured out on everyone in the midst of this conflict. In times like this, I think the most important thing that we can do is to put our trust in God, who knows all things and is still the King of the Universe.
My heart longs and I know many believers in Israel also long for this: that all people—both Jews and Palestinians—will come to know Jesus, the Prince of Peace. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become part of one global family, a diverse yet unified body of believers in the Jewish Messiah.
I have been so encouraged over the past week by the many believers in Jesus who have reached out to me to say they are praying for the peace of Israel and the Jewish people. I am so grateful to everyone who holds the Jewish people up in prayer and stands in solidarity with Israel.