It has been said that the history of almost all of the Jewish holidays can be summed up succinctly: "They wanted to kill us; we won. Let's eat." Why has anti-Semitism been so pervasive in so many countries, in so many time periods and for so many reasons? (One begins to wonder. Perhaps there is something wrong with the Jews and Judaism? After all, there is an old Yiddish saying -- "If one person calls you a donkey, ignore him; if two people call you a donkey, buy a saddle.") Between the years 250 CE and 1948 CE - a period of 1,700 years - Jews have experienced more than eighty expulsions from various countries in Europe - an average of nearly one expulsion every twenty-one years. Jews were expelled from England, France, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, Moravia and seventy-one other countries.
Historians have classified six explanations as to why people hate the Jews:
* Economic - "We hate Jews because they possess too much wealth and power."
* Chosen People -- "We hate Jews because they arrogantly claim that they are the chosen people."
* Scapegoat -- "Jews are a convenient group to single out and blame for our troubles."
* Deicide -- "We hate Jews because they killed Jesus."
* Outsiders, -- "We hate Jews because they are different than us." (The dislike of the unlike.)
* Racial Theory -- "We hate Jews because they are an inferior race."
As we examine the explanations, we must ask -- Are they the causes for anti-Semitism or excuses for Anti-Semitism? The * * difference? If one takes away the cause, then anti-Semitism should no longer exist. If one can show a contradiction to the explanation, it demonstrates that the "cause" is not a reason, it is just an excuse. Let's look at some contradictions:
The Jews of 17th- 20th century Poland and Russia were dirt poor, had no influence and yet they were hated.
a) In the late 19th century, the Jews of Germany denied "Choseness." And then they worked on assimilation. Yet, the holocaust started there.
b) Christians and Muslims profess to being the "Chosen people," yet, the world and the anti-Semites tolerate them.
Any group must already be hated to be an effective scapegoat. The Scapegoat Theory does not then cause anti-Semitism. Rather, anti-Semitism is what makes the Jews a convenient scapegoat target. Hitler's ranting and ravings would not be taken seriously if he said, "It's the bicycle riders and the midgets who are destroying our society."
a) the Christian Bible says the Romans killed Jesus, though Jews are mentioned as accomplices (claims that Jews killed Jesus came several hundred years later). How come the accomplices are persecuted and there isn't an anti-Roman movement through history?
b) Jesus himself said, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." The Second Vatican Council in 1963 officially exonerated the Jews as the killers of Jesus. Neither statement of Christian belief lessened anti-Semitism.
With the Enlightenment in the late 18th century, many Jews rushed to assimilate. Anti-Semitism should have stopped. Instead, for example, with the Nazis came the cry, in essence: "We hate you, not because you're different, but because you're trying to become like us! We cannot allow you to infect the Aryan race with your inferior genes."
The overriding problem with this theory is that it is self-contradictory: Jews are not a race. Anyone can become a Jew - and members of every race, creed and color in the world have done so at one time or another.
Every other hated group is hated for a relatively defined reason.
We Jews, however, are hated in paradoxes: Jews are hated for being a lazy and inferior race - but also for dominating the economy and taking over the world. We are hated for stubbornly maintaining our separateness - and, when we do assimilate - for posing a threat to racial purity through intermarriages. We are seen as pacifists and as warmongers; as capitalist exploiters and as revolutionary communists; possessed of a Chosen-People mentality, as well as of an inferiority complex. It seems that we just can't win.
Now we know what are NOT the reasons for anti-Semitism.
Simple to Remember
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