The protests against racism in the US have continued to reverberate with one of the demands being to remove statues and monuments to historical figures that some feel were racist. This includes monuments to Confederate soldiers as well as statues of Christopher Columbus. In some cases, this is being done by local authorities but in quite a few cases, statues are being torn down.
Last week in Portsmouth, Virginia a crowd gathered to tear down a statue of a confederate soldier. The 10-foot bronze statue fell on Chris Green, a 45-year-old father of two was injured in his head and went into a coma.
The trend is turning international. In London, a statue of Winston Churchill was defaced, the word ‘Racist’ spray-painted across it. Inspired by the protests in the US. A statue of slave trader Edward Colston was thrown into a river in Bristol. Many in Britain have called for the removal of over 100 statues of slave owners as well as those involved in the United Kingdom’s long history of imperialism.
A monument in the Scottish capital Edinburgh commemorating a politician who delayed the abolition of slavery has been spray-painted with the words “George Floyd” and “BLM” (for Black Lives Matters).
In Australia, a statue of Captain Cook was vandalized in Sydney’s Hyde Park and bronze busts of former prime minister Tony Abbott and John Howard were sprayed with red paint in the regional Victorian town of Ballarat.
People in Belgium are calling for statues of the country’s longest-reigning king, Leopold II, to be dismantled.
Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, noted that the smashing of historic monuments was a necessary precursor to the Final redemption, citing a poetic prayer recited in the Musaf service of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
ויזנחו את עצביהם, ויחפרו עם פסיליהם, ויטו שכם אחד לעבדך, וייראוך עם שמש מבקשי פניך, ויכירו כח מלכותך,
They shall cast away their idols, be ashamed of their graven images, incline to serve thee with one accord; they who seek thy presence will revere and worship thee at sun-rise; they will discern the power of thy kingdom,
“This is what we are seeing in front of our eyes,” Rabbi Berger said. “We are witnessing kingdoms falling one after the other and this tearing down of statues is part of this. We saw this not so long ago in the Arab countries during the Arab Spring.”
“The statue is a powerful symbol of the end of a dynasty. As long as a king is in power, he will never allow his statue to be removed.”
“But this is not just political. This aspect of kingship, the placing of statues, has its roots in idolatry,” Rabbi Berger said, noting that the Prophet Ezekiel predicted that the Messiah will be preceded by the destruction of religious idols along with the governments.
Thus said Hashem: I will destroy the fetishes and make an end of the idols in Noph; and no longer shall there be a prince in the land of Egypt; and I will strike the land of Egypt with fear. Ezekiel 30:13
By tearing down the statues and not replacing them, the people are saying that they do not want a leader and they do not want a God, even a false God. Today they are tearing down the statues of politicians and tomorrow they will demand that every house of worship, no matter what religion, must be torn down.”
“Until now, the world has been dominated by wars between religions,” Rabbi Berger said. “Each religion claims they are the true way to serve God. But we are now in the end-of-days and the war is now between those who say there is a God versus those who say that there is no God and religion has to be abolished.”
“But this is a good thing,” Rabbi Berger assured. “This is preparing the way, creating a vacuum into which a universal belief in Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’) can naturally flow. And this will be the World of Messiah.”