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The deep roots of anti-semitism

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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14 January 2019 10:56
 

My nephew recently joined the staff of a synagogue in a large US city.  He learned that the congregation fears violence.  They have no obvious signage on the building designating it as a Jewish center.  They have a guard, and the police keep a car nearby every night.

It strikes me that one main reason anti-semitism is so persistent is that the New Testament places the blame for the execution of Jesus upon the Jews.  According to the Gospels, the Jewish crowd chose to have Pilate release Barabbas from execution, rather than Jesus.  The Gospel of Matthew has the crowd saying (of Jesus), “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children.”

In his writings, Paul tried to temper somewhat the condemnation of Jews.  Paul believed that Jesus was an outgrowth of God’s sacred relationship with the Jews.  However, Paul repeated the charge that the Jews killed Jesus.  Paul, claims that he himself was persecuted by Jews for his ministry.

All these centuries later, still the Jews face anti-semitism.  Evangelicals in my social circle are not anti-semitic because they are of a generation that has been taught the horrors of Nazi Germany.  They give primacy to the Jewish origins of Jesus and state that Jesus willingly died for everyone’s sins.  Nonetheless, enough other people obviously harbor antipathy toward Jews.

My point is that I don’t see how anti-semitism can disappear as long as people see Matthew’s verses as the “gospel truth.”  But my experiences with anti-semitism are limited.  I wonder if modern anti-semitism is more focused on notions of Jews being greedy and dishonest, a la Shylock?

[ Edited: 14 January 2019 11:02 by hannahtoo]
 
EN
 
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EN
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14 January 2019 11:07
 

I was never anti-Semitic.  My dad took me to see Judgment at Nuremburg when I was 9, so I always accepted the Holocaust and the unjust treatment of the Jews by the Nazis as historical fact. The characters in the New Testament are almost all Jewish, and for every negative thing Paul or Matthew say they also demonstrate the Jewish roots and God’s choosing of the Jews in their writings.  They had their own conflicts with the Jewish establishment in their day and it shows up in their writings. For us, it all comes down to how one was influenced at an early age. How will any type of discrimination cease unless parents teach their children to treat all people equally?  The blacks have had a much worse time of it in the US than the Jews, and I doubt they would have faired well under Hitler, given his reaction to Jesse Owens at the Olympics. Teach your children well.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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14 January 2019 11:49
 

It’s the biblical text but also the Jewish faith. Religious Jews reject both Christianity and Islam categorically while holding the metaphorical keys to the original scriptures.

Most persistent resisters of imperial religions have been exterminated. The Jews have survived numerous attempts throughout the common era. As with most racial bigotry they are hated simply for existing.

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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14 January 2019 16:13
 

I wonder if modern anti-semitism is more focused on notions of Jews being greedy and dishonest, a la Shylock?

If memory serves, Wilhelm Marr (a German, 1870s) first used the word “anti-Semitism” to describe his anti-Jewish movement, which was focused on exactly what you wonder.  His was a biological theory that said racial traits (they had no notion of “genes” then) explained Jewish behavior and character, things like being materialistic, greedy, and conniving.  I think without being certain that Marr’s The Victory of the Jews over the Germans was the main precedent for Nazi anti-Semitism.  In any case, Marr used the term specifically to differentiate his anti-Jewish views from the more religiously motivated Judenhass, or the general sense of “Jew-hatred.”  So your wondering is pretty spot in, at least as far as Germany is concerned.

 

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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14 January 2019 19:20
 

So sad that it has gone on and on and on…

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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15 January 2019 08:09
 

A couple of random thoughts:

- One pattern that comes up over and over again when debating religious folks is that they deny that their children are being indoctrinated. Ongoing anti-semitism would seem to be evidence of indoctrination.

- While I haven’t done any official research, it sure seems to be the case that Jews are consistently successful, generation after generation. Given how few Jews there are, they always seem to have a big impact on the world. So maybe there is some jealousy in the mix?

 
 
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15 January 2019 10:40
 
hannahtoo - 14 January 2019 07:20 PM

So sad that it has gone on and on and on…

Blacks probably feel the same way.  It’s a matter of how one is raised, more often than not.

 
hannahtoo
 
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15 January 2019 12:13
 
icehorse - 15 January 2019 08:09 AM

A couple of random thoughts:

- One pattern that comes up over and over again when debating religious folks is that they deny that their children are being indoctrinated. Ongoing anti-semitism would seem to be evidence of indoctrination.

- While I haven’t done any official research, it sure seems to be the case that Jews are consistently successful, generation after generation. Given how few Jews there are, they always seem to have a big impact on the world. So maybe there is some jealousy in the mix?

On point #2, education is often very valued in Jewish families, so that can help explain their success.  It seems that promoting education may actually be more important than having high intelligence for advancing a community.  (And IQ is largely a measure of the ability to think along in the mode promoted by our education system.)  In much of Medieval Europe, Jews were not permitted to own land, nor to enter trade guilds.  So they gravitated toward business and letters and medicine.  This was the impetus for the large number of Jews in banking, law, medicine, and entertainment industries today.  Prejudice kept them out of farming and trades, which were the largest parts of the economies of old.  Ironic that they would be begrudged their success in other fields.

And it’s really sad when people point to a scoundrel like Bernie Maddoff to prove that Jews live up to the negative stereotype.  Jews around the world cringe when they hear about such cases.  Yet, it is just as odd, really, to point to Einstein to prove that Jews are smart.  Jews are individuals.  Pride in “team” identification cuts both ways.  That is to say, even if a Jewish crowd actually did condemn Jesus in the 1st century, that doesn’t mean that descendants two millennia later are still responsible.  And likewise, taking personal pride from people like Einstein and Richard Feynman, or Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or Steven Spielberg and Bob Dylan, etc. is not authentic.

[ Edited: 15 January 2019 12:24 by hannahtoo]
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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16 January 2019 13:35
 

I’m curious about a tangent semantic issue. Anti Semitism is often equated with Anti Jewishness but Jews are are just one of several groups considered as ‘Semites’ by virtue of language (I think) including Arabs and Palestinians. Some of the most vitriolic Anti Jewish sentiment is harbored within these groups which would suggest that they are both Semites and Anti Semites.

Thanks to anyone who might shed some light on this.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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16 January 2019 14:56
 

This is what I found:

Though Semitic refers in a broader sense to all those who speak Semitic languages (including e.g. Arabs and Assyrians), the term anti-Semitism has historically referred to prejudice against Jews alone. To avoid the confusion of the misnomer, many scholars of the subject (such as Emil Fackenheim) now favor the unhyphenated antisemitism in order to emphasize that the word should be read as a single unified term, not as a meaningful root word-prefix combination.

From the German Antisemitismus, which was coined in 1879 by German political agitator Wilhelm Marr to replace Judenhaß (“Jew-hatred”) to make hatred of the Jews seem rational and sanctioned by scientific knowledge. The similar term antisemitisch (“anti-semitic”) was first used in 1860, by Jewish scholar Moritz Steinschneider.

 
proximacentauri
 
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proximacentauri
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16 January 2019 16:13
 
hannahtoo - 14 January 2019 10:56 AM

My point is that I don’t see how anti-semitism can disappear as long as people see Matthew’s verses as the “gospel truth.”  But my experiences with anti-semitism are limited.  I wonder if modern anti-semitism is more focused on notions of Jews being greedy and dishonest, a la Shylock?

I think Anti-semitism began with a Christian-centric hatred but over time a rank hatred of Jewish people took its place sustained by all the Anti-semetic memes developed over the years.

 

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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16 January 2019 16:56
 
proximacentauri - 16 January 2019 04:13 PM
hannahtoo - 14 January 2019 10:56 AM

My point is that I don’t see how anti-semitism can disappear as long as people see Matthew’s verses as the “gospel truth.”  But my experiences with anti-semitism are limited.  I wonder if modern anti-semitism is more focused on notions of Jews being greedy and dishonest, a la Shylock?

I think Anti-semitism began with a Christian-centric hatred but over time a rank hatred of Jewish people took its place sustained by all the Anti-semetic memes developed over the years.

Agreed. The general social progress of humanity is held back by the very concept of divine revelation and holy scripture. It empowers persons who desire to assert authority with no compromise or reflection. It’s a natural ally of entrenched hostility.

 

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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16 January 2019 17:20
 
proximacentauri - 16 January 2019 04:13 PM
hannahtoo - 14 January 2019 10:56 AM

My point is that I don’t see how anti-semitism can disappear as long as people see Matthew’s verses as the “gospel truth.”  But my experiences with anti-semitism are limited.  I wonder if modern anti-semitism is more focused on notions of Jews being greedy and dishonest, a la Shylock?

I think Anti-semitism began with a Christian-centric hatred but over time a rank hatred of Jewish people took its place sustained by all the Anti-semetic memes developed over the years.

Could you explain more about this.  Who hated the Christians?  I know the Romans considered them trouble-makers, but the Romans thought that about the Jews as well.  I heard a theory that parts of the NT shifted blame for Jesus’s death from the Romans to the Jews because the Christians knew they should appease their overlords.  And the Romans finally were Christianized.

 
proximacentauri
 
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16 January 2019 19:58
 
hannahtoo - 16 January 2019 05:20 PM
proximacentauri - 16 January 2019 04:13 PM
hannahtoo - 14 January 2019 10:56 AM

My point is that I don’t see how anti-semitism can disappear as long as people see Matthew’s verses as the “gospel truth.”  But my experiences with anti-semitism are limited.  I wonder if modern anti-semitism is more focused on notions of Jews being greedy and dishonest, a la Shylock?

I think Anti-semitism began with a Christian-centric hatred but over time a rank hatred of Jewish people took its place sustained by all the Anti-semetic memes developed over the years.

Could you explain more about this.  Who hated the Christians?  I know the Romans considered them trouble-makers, but the Romans thought that about the Jews as well.  I heard a theory that parts of the NT shifted blame for Jesus’s death from the Romans to the Jews because the Christians knew they should appease their overlords.  And the Romans finally were Christianized.

Oops, guess my post was unclear. Rephrased, I think that antisemitism originated with the Roman Catholic Church. It started basically as religious intolerance of Christianity for Judaism. I think the Jewish stereotype and myths were initially started by Christians in the middle ages but over the centuries it was forgotten that many of these slanders and myths began with Christianity. What we are left with present day are the racist attitudes of some people against the Jews, but these racist memes today -some of which have not changed in centuries - have lost their original connection with Christianity.

 
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19 January 2019 14:57
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 14 January 2019 04:13 PM

I wonder if modern anti-semitism is more focused on notions of Jews being greedy and dishonest, a la Shylock?

If memory serves, Wilhelm Marr (a German, 1870s) first used the word “anti-Semitism” to describe his anti-Jewish movement, which was focused on exactly what you wonder.  His was a biological theory that said racial traits (they had no notion of “genes” then) explained Jewish behavior and character, things like being materialistic, greedy, and conniving.  I think without being certain that Marr’s The Victory of the Jews over the Germans was the main precedent for Nazi anti-Semitism.  In any case, Marr used the term specifically to differentiate his anti-Jewish views from the more religiously motivated Judenhass, or the general sense of “Jew-hatred.”  So your wondering is pretty spot in, at least as far as Germany is concerned.

 

At the time, Jews were considered the same “race” as Arabs (and a different race than Aryans or other western Europeans).  So Arabs got labeled as at least the conniving and devious aspects; they were also targets of anti-Semitism, but since for the most part they didn’t live in Western Europe, were its victims more as victims of Western European colonialism (the colonists were full of racism against the peoples they colonized anyway).  Especially since WWII, the term is pretty much synonymous with anti-Jewish hatred.  Labeling Arabs as conniving and devious continues by Islamophobes, although of course not all Arabs are Muslims and most Muslims aren’t Arabs its just that Islamophobes mix up the two.

 
lynmc
 
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19 January 2019 16:13
 
hannahtoo - 14 January 2019 10:56 AM

My nephew recently joined the staff of a synagogue in a large US city.  He learned that the congregation fears violence.  They have no obvious signage on the building designating it as a Jewish center.  They have a guard, and the police keep a car nearby every night.

It strikes me that one main reason anti-semitism is so persistent is that the New Testament places the blame for the execution of Jesus upon the Jews.  According to the Gospels, the Jewish crowd chose to have Pilate release Barabbas from execution, rather than Jesus.  The Gospel of Matthew has the crowd saying (of Jesus), “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children.”

In his writings, Paul tried to temper somewhat the condemnation of Jews.  Paul believed that Jesus was an outgrowth of God’s sacred relationship with the Jews.  However, Paul repeated the charge that the Jews killed Jesus.  Paul, claims that he himself was persecuted by Jews for his ministry.

All these centuries later, still the Jews face anti-semitism.  Evangelicals in my social circle are not anti-semitic because they are of a generation that has been taught the horrors of Nazi Germany.  They give primacy to the Jewish origins of Jesus and state that Jesus willingly died for everyone’s sins.  Nonetheless, enough other people obviously harbor antipathy toward Jews.

My point is that I don’t see how anti-semitism can disappear as long as people see Matthew’s verses as the “gospel truth.”  But my experiences with anti-semitism are limited.  I wonder if modern anti-semitism is more focused on notions of Jews being greedy and dishonest, a la Shylock?

I don’t know why anyone cares about something that may or may not have happened 2000 years ago.  Even if the ancient Jews had a hand in Christ’s execution (on the dubious assumption that Christ existed and was executed as described), no one is alive today who had a hand in it.

Besides that, for the ancient Jews of that period and place, most of their descendants became Christians and/or Muslims.  You might as well blame Christians for the execution.  Besides that, the ancient Jews in question were almost certainly a different sect than any commonly practiced today.  If you’re worried because by some chance you should be punished for the crimes of your ancestors, if you’re a European Jew, the ancient Jews in question weren’t your ancestors anyway (that’s another religious myth).

If you want to accept responsibility, I’m sure the ancient Jews executed someone for conscientious non-conformance (other than the non-existent Christ).  Such executions were common by people of the ancient (and not so ancient) world.  Not just by Jews, of course.  Should modern Greeks take responsibility for the execution of Socrates, or Italians for the execution of all those Christian martyrs?  It would make just as much sense.

I wouldn’t take the accusation personally, even if some Christians mean it personally.  I’d kind of advise against trying to change someone’s belief in the literalness of any particular bible story (since I believe in freedom of religion).  It’s ancient trash talk, and humans will always find reasons to trash talk each other.

 
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