By Vexen Crabtree 2017
#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam
Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews1,2,3,4. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.
The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East5, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews6,7. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"8. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males9.
Although this essay is about hateful and racist anti-Semitism, we need to define other terms that are related. Anti-Zionism and Anti-Judaism are both different from racist anti-Semitism.
Anti-Zionism: The belief that Israel, as a country, should not exist and the land that it now exists should be returned to the original owners. It is also used to describe those who would reduce the power, strength or stability of Israel as a country - regardless of whether the inhabitants are Jews, Christians, Arabs, etc.
Anti-Judaism: Philosophy and secular rationality lead many to reject Judaism as a religion. It is also rejected by other faiths, just as Judaism itself rejects other religions. It is in the nature of religious dialogue that this be true - but anyone can convert to Judaism and be a Jew, according to their beliefs, so anti-Judaism is not race specific or necessarily prejudice. As a case example, take the biblical scholar Julius Wellhausen. In Prolegomena to the History of Israel he doubted some of the historical truth of some biblical stories and realized that some passages were actually written long after the times the events they described. His work was attacked "furiously" for being "anti-Jewish"11. The protestors were "playing the race card" - trying to stifle academic criticism of Judaism by intentionally confusing anti-Semitism (racism) and anti-Judaism.
Anti-Semitism: This is a racist dislike of the Jewish race, a form of xenophobia. This page is not about anti-zionism or anti-Judaism.
They are all easily linked. One must be careful not to accuse the victims of Israel as being anti-Semites, when in fact they're merely anti-Zionists, or to accuse a Hindu of being an anti-Semite because he sees the religion of Judaism as wrong or silly. Even if such a view is ignorant, uneducated or prejudice, it is held against the religion, not against a race of people. Likewise you must be doubly careful when criticizing Israel or Judaism, not to accidentally fall into anti-Semitic rhetoric. Be precise and be aware of the issues. For obvious historical reasons there is a lot of emotion around the sensitive issues of antisemitism, people are apt to find it where it isn't present as much as to miss it where it is!
“Semites include Hebrews, Assyrians, and Arabs. But hatred of, or prejudice against, the Jews specifically, which has waxed and waned since the foundation of Christianity - goes by the misnomer of anti-Semitism.”
"Ideas that Shaped Our World" by Robert Stewart (1997)12
“By tradition Semites are descendants of Shem, son of Noah, and include most of the peoples of the Middle East. Anti-Semitism refers specifically to prejudice against or hatred towards the Jews. In its earliest systematic form, anti-Semitism had a religious character, reflecting the hostility of Christians towards the Jews, based on their complicity in the murder of Jesus and their refusal to recognize him as the Son of God. Economic anti-Semitism developed from the Middle Ages onwards, expressing a distaste for the Jews as moneylenders and traders. The nineteenth century saw the birth of racial anti-Semitism in the works of Wagner and H. S. Chamberlain, who condemned the Jewish peoples as fundamentally evil and destructive. Such ideas provided the ideological basis for German Nazism and found their most grotesque expression in the Holocaust.”
Crazy beliefs are not harmless. Although many daft superstitions are obviously counterproductive, some of them pass into general culture and cause entire nations to behave irrationally on certain topics13. Take, for example, an incident in 2015 that saw a mob of 1,000 Hindus attack a small family of Muslims in India: A rumour had broken out that a cow had been slaughtered. Vigilantes from Save the Cow prompted a mob to appear on site, and proceeded to, amongst themselves, blame a nearby Muslim family (no slaughtered cow was found). They appeared at the house, where the family were sleeping, and beat the husband to death and left his boy in critical condition in hospital. The press got involved and Save the Cow explained their religious duty as Hindus to protect cows, which are sacred. A local politician from the Bharatiya Janata Party, Lakshmikant Bajpayee, defended the mob saying that there had a been a failure of local police to respond to the rumour adequately14. The issues are (1) that the slaughter of a cow - even if it had actually happened - is none of the business of local Hindus. It doesn't matter that they consider it sacred - other people do not. And (2), they should not be trying to force others to follow their own superstitions. Likewise, politicians should not be encouraging them - they should be representing all citizens including those with non-Hindu beliefs. Entire communities and cultures are being negatively affected by religious nonsense.
On a larger scale than mere mob violent, take a theory which started out as amateur science, and proceeded to win approval at a national level despite the protests of the scientific community: The theory of a 'hierarchy' of delineated human races, with Nordics at the top and Negros at the bottom (with a special place reserved for the Christ-rejecting Jews). It combined pseudoscientific anthropology with religious prejudice to create history's most horrific apparatus of prejudiced murder. The Nazi's ideology of race and euthanasia derived from erroneous beliefs based on faulty theory; and it blossomed into a wave of terror. It is no exaggeration to say that, in a world where nuclear weaponry is becoming more easily available, that beliefs need to be questioned and challenged continuously and vigorously.”
The Anti-Defamation League's major international study on anti-Semitism in 2014 revealed which countries are the most tolerant, and which hold to anti-Semitical views. The best countries are a mix of liberal and developed European democracies alongside several countries where Judaism is not very well known at all. The worst countries are all Islamic states of the Middle East. Analysis of Islam is in a following section of this page. The ADL produced a breakdown of antisemitism by religion and region:
And here are the country results:
|32||Trinidad & Tobago||24|
|52||Bosnia & Herzegovina||32|
The violent and irrational anti-Semitism in history has had its roots in one common cause: the teachings of early and middle ages Christianity. Anti-semitism has always been rife within Christianity from the original Church Fathers of the first century. Many of the most influential Christian theologians, for example Augustine, St Aquinas and later, Martin Luther, all indulged themselves by writing anti-Jewish volumes. Aquinas wrote that "since the Jews are the slaves of the Church, she can dispose of their possessions". The Christian anti-Semites took their cue from Biblical verses such as Mark 15:15, Luke 23:3, John 19:4-6, 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 that blames Jews as a whole for the death of Jesus, John 8:42-47 that says Jews are descended from the devil, and in Rom 10:3 that they are ignorant of God's will, and other verses are often cited by early Christians too although sometimes the logic of their exegesis confuses me.
No other religion has displayed such immovable hatred towards another religion as Christianity did towards the Jews. No holy war has ever lasted so long and been so bloody as the one the Christians waged against innocent Jews from the first century and through the Dark Ages. History provides us with only few occasions where Jews, or even Muslims or pagans, were as intolerant or morally corrupt as the West was under Christian rule. Thankfully modern Christianity, since it lost its power, is generally more humane. Christianity has slowly been forced to change its ways mostly due to pressure from increasingly powerful secular, poly-cultural governments and changing culture.”
“Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia have the most oppressive and violent attitude towards Jews of all countries6. Likewise in Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey the Muslim public have horribly negative opinions of Jews16. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"8. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males17. The report summarized country-by-country events, including large rallies against Jews by hundreds of Muslims chanting "kill the Jews", and no end of other incidents. Throughout the West, violent anti-Semitism is correlated with Muslim immigration. After a series of saddening attacks against Jews by Muslim terrorists throughout Europe in recent years, the chief Rabbi of Brussels stated "there is no future for Jews in Europe" (Huffington Post, 2016)18. Given the precarious position of the Jews that remain in Muslim countries and the violence they endure there, many observers see this problem only getting worse.7”
The Bible (NIV). The NIV is the best translation for accuracy whilst maintaining readability. Multiple authors, a compendium of multiple previously published books. I prefer to take quotes from the NIV but where I quote the Bible en masse I must quote from the KJV because it is not copyrighted, whilst the NIV is. Book Review.
Anti-Defamation League. (ADL)
(2014) ADL Global 100, Executive Summary. Accessed on global100.adl.org on 2017 Jan 02. The numbers given are of those who state that racist stereotyped statements about Jews are true; they have to agree to 6 or more of the 11 statements to be counted. An example statements is "Jews are hated because of the way they behave". The data was collected from 53,100 interviews across 101 countries plus the West Bank and Gaza. The global average is 26%.
(2006) While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. Paperback book. Published by Broadway Books.
(2006) The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason. Paperback book. 2006 edition. Published in UK by The Great Free Press, 2005.
(2003) Political Ideologies. Paperback book. 3rd edition. Originally published 1992. Current version published by Palgrave MacMillan.
Hinnells, John R.. Currently professor of theology at Liverpool Hope University.
(1997, Ed.) The Penguin Dictionary of Religions. Paperback book. Originally published 1984. Current version published by Penguin Books, London, UK. References to this book simply state the title of the entry used.
(1986) Semites and Anti-Semites. Hardback book.
(1979) The Medieval Underworld. Paperback book. 2004 edition. Published by Sutton Publishing.
(2009) The Invention of the Jewish People. Hardback book. English edition. Originally published 2008 as Matai ve'ekh humtza ha'am hayehudi?. Current version published by Verso, London, UK.
(1997, Ed.) Ideas that Shaped Our World. Hardback book. Marshall Editions edition.