Religious antisemitism is a form of antisemitism, which is the prejudice against, or hostility toward, the Jewish people based on hostility to Judaism and to Jews as a religious group. It is sometimes called theological antisemitism, and distinguished from anti-Judaism, which is usually described as a critical rejection of Jewish principles and beliefs. Reuven Firestone notes that "negative assessments and even condemnation of prior religions and their adherents occur in all three scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.".
According to William Nichols, religious antisemitism may be distinguished from modern antisemitism based on racial or ethnic grounds. "The dividing line was the possibility of effective conversion ... a Jew ceased to be a Jew upon baptism." However, with racial antisemitism, "Now the assimilated Jew was still a Jew, even after baptism ... . From the Enlightenment onward, it is no longer possible to draw clear lines of distinction between religious and racial forms of hostility towards Jews... Once Jews have been emancipated and secular thinking makes its appearance, without leaving behind the old Christian hostility towards Jews, the new term antisemitism becomes almost unavoidable, even before explicitly racist doctrines appear."
- 1 Origins of religious antisemitism
- 2 Christian antisemitism
- 3 Islamic antisemitism
- 4 Blood libel
- 5 Anti-Judaism and antisemitism
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Origins of religious antisemitism
Father Edward Flannery in his The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism, traces the first clear examples of specific anti-Jewish sentiment back to Alexandria in the third century BCE. Flannery writes that it was the Jews' refusal to accept Greek religious and social standards that marked them out. Hecataetus of Abdera, a Greek historian of the early third century BCE, wrote that Moses "in remembrance of the exile of his people, instituted for them a misanthropic and inhospitable way of life." Manetho, an Egyptian historian, wrote that the Jews were expelled Egyptian lepers who had been taught by Moses "not to adore the gods." The same themes appeared in the works of Chaeremon, Lysimachus, Poseidonius, Apollonius Molon, and in Apion and Tacitus. Agatharchides of Cnidus wrote about the "ridiculous practices" of the Jews and of the "absurdity of their Law," and how Ptolemy Lagus was able to invade Jerusalem in 320 BCE because its inhabitants were observing the Sabbath.
Religious antisemitism is also known as anti-Judaism. As the name implies, it was the practice of Judaism itself that was the defining characteristic of the antisemitic attacks. Under this version of antisemitism, attacks would often stop if Jews stopped practicing or changed their public faith, especially by conversion to the official or right religion, and sometimes, liturgical exclusion of Jewish converts (the case of Christianized Marranosor Iberian Jews in the late 15th century and 16th century convicted of secretly practising Judaism or Jewish customs).
New Testament and antisemitism
Frederick Schweitzer and Marvin Perry write that the authors of the gospel accounts sought to place responsibility for the Crucifixion of Jesus and his death on Jews, rather than the Roman emperor or Pontius Pilate. As a result, Christians for centuries viewed Jews as "the Christ Killers". The destruction of the Second Temple was seen as judgment from God to the Jews for that death, and Jews were seen as "a people condemned forever to suffer exile and degradation". According to historian Edward H. Flannery, the Gospel of John in particular contains many verses that refer to Jews in a pejorative manner.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:14–16, Paul states that the Churches in Judea had been persecuted by the Jews who killed Jesus and that such people displease God, oppose all men, and had prevented Paul from speaking to the gentile nations concerning the New Testament message. Described by Hyam Maccoby as "the most explicit outburst against Jews in Paul's Epistles", these verses have repeatedly been employed for antisemitic purposes. Maccoby views it as one of Paul's innovations responsible for creating Christian antisemitism, though he notes that some have argued these particular verses are later interpolations not written by Paul. Craig Blomberg argues that viewing them as antisemitic is a mistake, but "understandable in light of [Paul's] harsh words". In his view, Paul is not condemning all Jews forever, but merely those he believed had specifically persecuted the prophets, Jesus, or the 1st-century church. Blomberg sees Paul's words here as no different in kind than the harsh words the prophets of the Old Testament have for the Jews.
The Codex Sinaiticus contains two extra books in the New Testament – the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas. The latter emphasizes the claim that it was the Jews, not the Romans, who killed Jesus, and is full of antisemitism. The Epistle of Barnabas was not accepted as part of the canon; Professor Bart Ehrman has stated "the suffering of Jews in the subsequent centuries would, if possible, have been even worse had the Epistle of Barnabas remained".
...it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. (...) Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.
Prejudice against Jews in the Roman Empire was formalized in 438, when the Code of Theodosius II established Christianity as the only legal religion in the Roman Empire. The Justinian Code a century later stripped Jews of many of their rights, and Church councils throughout the 6th and 7th century, including the Council of Orleans, further enforced anti-Jewish provisions. These restrictions began as early as 305, when, in Elvira, (now Granada), a Spanish town in Andalucia, the first known laws of any church council against Jews appeared. Christian women were forbidden to marry Jews unless the Jew first converted to Catholicism. Jews were forbidden to extend hospitality to Catholics. Jews could not keep Catholic Christian concubines and were forbidden to bless the fields of Catholics. In 589, in Catholic Iberia, the Third Council of Toledo ordered that children born of marriage between Jews and Catholic be baptized by force. By the Twelfth Council of Toledo (681) a policy of forced conversion of all Jews was initiated (Liber Judicum, II.2 as given in Roth). Thousands fled, and thousands of others converted to Roman Catholicism.
Medieval and Renaissance Europe
Antisemitism was widespread in Europe during the Middle Ages. In those times, a main cause of prejudice against Jews in Europe was the religious one. Although not part of Roman Catholic dogma, many Christians, including members of the clergy, held the Jewish people collectively responsible for the death of Jesus, a practice originated by Melito of Sardis.
Among socio-economic factors were restrictions by the authorities. Local rulers and church officials closed the doors for many professions to the Jews, pushing them into occupations considered socially inferior such as accounting, rent-collecting and moneylending, which was tolerated then as a "necessary evil". During the Black Death, Jews were accused as being the cause, and were often killed. There were expulsions of Jews from England, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain during the Middle Ages as a result of antisemitism.
German for "Jews' sow", Judensau was the derogatory and dehumanizing imagery of Jews that appeared around the 13th century. Its popularity lasted for over 600 years and was revived by the Nazis. The Jews, typically portrayed in obscene contact with unclean animals such as pigs or owls or representing a devil, appeared on cathedral or church ceilings, pillars, utensils, etchings, etc. Often, the images combined several antisemitic motifs and included derisive prose or poetry.
"Dozens of Judensaus... intersect with the portrayal of the Jew as a Christ killer. Various illustrations of the murder of Simon of Trent blended images of Judensau, the devil, the murder of little Simon himself, and the Crucifixion. In the 17th-century engraving from Frankfurt... a well-dressed, very contemporary-looking Jew has mounted the sow backward and holds her tail, while a second Jew sucks at her milk and a third eats her feces. The horned devil, himself wearing a Jewish badge, looks on and the butchered Simon, splayed as if on a cross, appears on a panel above."
In Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice", considered to be one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, the villain Shylock was a Jewish moneylender. By the end of the play he is mocked on the streets after his daughter elopes with a Christian. Shylock, then, compulsorily converts to Christianity as a part of a deal gone wrong. This has raised profound implications regarding Shakespeare and antisemitism.
During the Middle Ages, the story of Jephonias, the Jew who tried to overturn Mary's funeral bier, changed from his converting to Christianity into his simply having his hands cut off by an angel.
On many occasions, Jews were subjected to blood libels, false accusations of drinking the blood of Christian children in mockery of the Christian Eucharist. Jews were subject to a wide range of legal restrictions throughout the Middle Ages, some of which lasted until the end of the 19th century. Jews were excluded from many trades, the occupations varying with place and time, and determined by the influence of various non-Jewish competing interests. Often Jews were barred from all occupations but money-lending and peddling, with even these at times forbidden.
Throughout the 19th century and into the 20th, the Roman Catholic Church still incorporated strong antisemitic elements, despite increasing attempts to separate anti-Judaism, the opposition to the Jewish religion on religious grounds, and racial antisemitism. Pope Pius VII (1800–1823) had the walls of the Jewish Ghetto in Rome rebuilt after the Jews were released by Napoleon, and Jews were restricted to the Ghetto through the end of the Papal States in 1870.
Additionally, official organizations such as the Jesuits banned candidates "who are descended from the Jewish race unless it is clear that their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather have belonged to the Catholic Church" until 1946. Brown University historian David Kertzer, working from the Vatican archive, has further argued in his book The Popes Against the Jews that in the 19th century and early 20th century the Church adhered to a distinction between "good antisemitism" and "bad antisemitism".
The "bad" kind promoted hatred of Jews because of their descent. This was considered un-Christian because the Christian message was intended for all of humanity regardless of ethnicity; anyone could become a Christian. The "good" kind criticized alleged Jewish conspiracies to control newspapers, banks, and other institutions, to care only about accumulation of wealth, etc. Many Catholic bishops wrote articles criticizing Jews on such grounds, and, when accused of promoting hatred of Jews, would remind people that they condemned the "bad" kind of antisemitism. Kertzer's work is not, therefore, without critics; scholar of Jewish-Christian relations Rabbi David G. Dalin, for example, criticized Kertzer in the Weekly Standard for using evidence selectively.
The Nazis used Martin Luther's book, On the Jews and Their Lies (1543), to claim a moral righteousness for their ideology. Luther even went so far as to advocate the murder of those Jews who refused to convert to Christianity, writing that "we are at fault in not slaying them"
Archbishop Robert Runcie has asserted that: "Without centuries of Christian antisemitism, Hitler's passionate hatred would never have been so fervently echoed...because for centuries Christians have held Jews collectively responsible for the death of Jesus. On Good Friday Jews, have in times past, cowered behind locked doors with fear of a Christian mob seeking 'revenge' for deicide. Without the poisoning of Christian minds through the centuries, the Holocaust is unthinkable." The dissident Catholic priest Hans Küng has written that "Nazi anti-Judaism was the work of godless, anti-Christian criminals. But it would not have been possible without the almost two thousand years' pre-history of 'Christian' anti-Judaism..."
The document Dabru Emet was issued by many American Jewish scholars in 2000 as a statement about Jewish-Christian relations. This document states,
"Nazism was not a Christian phenomenon. Without the long history of Christian anti-Judaism and Christian violence against Jews, Nazi ideology could not have taken hold nor could it have been carried out. Too many Christians participated in, or were sympathetic to, Nazi atrocities against Jews. Other Christians did not protest sufficiently against these atrocities. But Nazism itself was not an inevitable outcome of Christianity."
According to American historian Lucy Dawidowicz, antisemitism has a long history within Christianity. The line of "antisemitic descent" from Luther, the author of On the Jews and Their Lies, to Hitler is "easy to draw." In her The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945, she contends that Luther and Hitler were obsessed by the "demonologized universe" inhabited by Jews. Dawidowicz writes that the similarities between Luther's anti-Jewish writings and modern antisemitism are no coincidence, because they derived from a common history of Judenhass, which can be traced to Haman's advice to Ahasuerus. Although modern German antisemitism also has its roots in German nationalism and the liberal revolution of 1848, Christian antisemitism she writes is a foundation that was laid by the Roman CatholicChurch and "upon which Luther built." Dawidowicz' allegations and positions are criticized and not accepted by most historians however. For example, in "Studying the Jew" Alan Steinweis notes that, "Old-fashioned antisemitism, Hitler argued, was insufficient, and would lead only to pogroms, which contribute little to a permanent solution. This is why, Hitler maintained, it was important to promote 'an antisemitism of reason,' one that acknowledged the racial basis of Jewry." Interviews with Nazis by other historians show that the Nazis thought that their views were rooted in biology, not historical prejudices. For example, "S. became a missionary for this biomedical vision... As for anti-Semitic attitudes and actions, he insisted that 'the racial question... [and] resentment of the Jewish race... had nothing to do with medieval anti-Semitism...' That is, it was all a matter of scientific biology and of community."
The Second Vatican Council, the Nostra aetate document, and the efforts of Pope John Paul II helped reconcile Jews and Catholicism in recent decades, however. According to Catholic Holocaust scholar Michael Phayer, the Church as a whole recognized its failings during the council, when it corrected the traditional beliefs of the Jews having committed deicide and affirmed that they remained God's chosen people.
In 1994, the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States and a member of the Lutheran World Federation publicly rejected Luther's antisemitic writings.
Accusations of deicide
Though never a part of Christian dogma, many Christians, including members of the clergy, held the Jewish people under an antisemitic canard to be collectively responsible for deicide, the killing of Jesus, whom they believed to be the son of God. According to this interpretation, the Jews present at Jesus' death as well as the Jewish people collectively and for all time had committed the sin of deicide, or God-killing. The accusation has been the most powerful warrant for antisemitism by Christians.
Passion plays are dramatic stagings representing the trial and death of Jesus and have historically been used in remembrance of Jesus' death during Lent. These plays historically blamed the Jews for the death of Jesus in a polemical fashion, depicting a crowd of Jewish people condemning Jesus to crucifixion and a Jewish leader assuming eternal collective guilt for the crowd for the murder of Jesus, which, The Boston Globe explains, "for centuries prompted vicious attacks — or pogroms — on Europe's Jewish communities".
With the origin of Islam in the 7th century AD and its rapid spread in the Arabian peninsula and beyond, Jews (and many other peoples) came to be subject to the rule of Muslim rulers. The quality of the rule varied considerably in different periods, as did the attitudes of the rulers, government officials, clergy and general population to various subject peoples from time to time, which was reflected in their treatment of these subjects.
Various definitions of antisemitism in the context of Islam are given. The extent of antisemitism among Muslims varies depending on the chosen definition:
- Scholars like Claude Cahen and Shelomo Dov Goitein define it to be the animosity specifically applied to Jews only and do not include discriminations practiced against Non-Muslims in general. For these scholars, antisemitism in Medieval Islam has been local and sporadic rather than general and endemic [Shelomo Dov Goitein], not at all present [Claude Cahen], or rarely present.
- According to Bernard Lewis, antisemitism is marked by two distinct features: Jews are judged according to a standard different from that applied to others, and they are accused of "cosmic evil." For Lewis, from the late 19th century, movements appear among Muslims of which for the first time one can legitimately use the technical term antisemitic. However, he describes demonizing beliefs, anti-Jewish discrimination and systematic humiliations, as an "inherent" part of the traditional Muslim world, even if violent persecutions were relatively rare.
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According to Jane Gerber, "the Muslim is continually influenced by the theological threads of anti-Semitism embedded in the earliest chapters of Islamic history." In the light of the Jewish defeat at the hands of Muhammad, Muslims traditionally viewed Jews with contempt and as objects of ridicule. Jews were seen as hostile, cunning, and vindictive, but nevertheless weak and ineffectual. Cowardice was the quality most frequently attributed to Jews. Another stereotype associated with the Jews was their alleged propensity to trickery and deceit. While most anti-Jewish polemicists saw those qualities as inherently Jewish, ibn Khaldun attributed them to the mistreatment of Jews at the hands of the dominant nations. For that reason, says ibn Khaldun, Jews "are renowned, in every age and climate, for their wickedness and their slyness".
Muhammad's attitude towards Jews was basically neutral at the beginning. During his lifetime, Jews lived on the Arabian Peninsula, especially in and around Medina. They refused to accept Muhammad's teachings. Eventually he fought them, defeated them, and most of them were killed. The traditional biographies of Muhammad describe the expulsion of the Banu Qaynuqa in the post Badrperiod, after a marketplace quarrel broke out between the Muslims and Jews in Medina and Muhammad's negotiations with the tribe failed.
Following his defeat in the Battle of Uhud, Muhammad said he received a divine revelation that the Jewish tribe of the Banu Nadir wanted to assassinate him. Muhammad besieged the Banu Nadir and expelled them from Medina. Muhammad also attacked the Jews of the Khaybar oasis near Medina and defeated them, after betraying the Muslims in a war time, allowing them to stay in the oasis only on the condition that they deliver one-half of their annual produce to Muslims.
Anti-Jewish sentiments usually flared up at times of Muslim political or military weakness or when Muslims felt that some Jews had overstepped the boundaries of humiliation prescribed to them by Islamic law. In Spain, ibn Hazm and Abu Ishaq focused their anti-Jewish writings on the latter allegation. This was also the chief motivating factor behind the massacres of Jews in Granada in 1066, when nearly 3,000 Jews were killed, and in Fez in 1033, when 6,000 Jews were killed. There were further massacres in Fez in 1276 and 1465.
Islamic law does not differentiate between Jews and Christians in their status as dhimmis. According to Bernard Lewis, the normal practice of Muslim governments until modern times was consistent with this aspect of sharia law. This view is countered by Jane Gerber, who maintains that of all dhimmis, Jews had the lowest status. Gerber maintains that this situation was especially pronounced in the latter centuries in the Ottoman Empire, where Christian communities enjoyed protection from the European countries, unavailable to the Jews. For example, in 18th-century Damascus, a Muslim noble held a festival, inviting to it all social classes in descending order, according to their social status: the Jews outranked only the peasants and prostitutes.
Jews in Islamic texts
Leon Poliakov, Walter Laqueur, and Jane Gerber, suggest that later passages in the Qur'an contain very sharp attacks on Jews for their refusal to recognize Muhammad as a prophet of God. There are also Qur'anic verses, particularly from the earliest Qur'anic surahs, showing respect for the Jews (e.g. see [Quran 2:47], [Quran 2:62]) and preaching tolerance (e.g. see [Quran 2:256]). This positive view tended to disappear in the later Surahs. Taking it all together, the Qur'an differentiates between "good and bad" Jews, Poliakov states. Laqueur argues that the conflicting statements about Jews in the Muslim holy text has defined Arab and Muslim attitude towards Jews to this day, especially during periods of rising Islamic fundamentalism.
Differences with Christianity
Bernard Lewis holds that Muslims were not antisemitic in the way Christians were for the most part because:
- The gospels are not part of the educational system in Muslim society and therefore Muslims are not brought up with the stories of Jewish deicide; on the contrary the notion of deicide is rejected by the Qur'an as a blasphemous absurdity.
- Muhammad and his early followers were not Jews and therefore they did not present themselves as the true Israel or feel threatened by survival of the old Israel.
- The Qur'an was not viewed by Muslims as a fulfillment of the Hebrew Bible, but rather as a restorer of its original messages that had been distorted over time. Thus no clash of interpretations between Judaism and Islam could arise.
- Muhammad was not killed by the Jewish community and he was victorious in the clash with the Jewish community in Medina.
- Muhammad did not claim to have been Son of God or Messiah but only a prophet; a claim which Jews repudiated less.
- Muslims saw the conflict between Muhammad and the Jews as something of minor importance in Muhammad's career.
Status of Jews under Muslim rule
Traditionally Jews living in Muslim lands, known (along with Christians) as dhimmis, were allowed to practice their religion and to administer their internal affairs but subject to certain conditions. They had to pay the jizya(a per capita tax imposed on free adult non-Muslim males) to Muslims. Dhimmis had an inferior status under Islamic rule. They had several social and legal disabilities such as prohibitions against bearing arms or giving testimony in courts in cases involving Muslims. The most degrading one was the requirement of distinctive clothing, not found in the Qur'an or hadith but invented in early medieval Baghdad; its enforcement was highly erratic. Jews rarely faced martyrdom or exile, or forced compulsion to change their religion, and they were mostly free in their choice of residence and profession.
The notable examples of massacre of Jews include the 1066 Granada massacre, when a Muslim mob stormed the royal palace in Granada, crucified Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela and massacred most of the Jewish population of the city. "More than 1,500 Jewish families, numbering 4,000 persons, fell in one day." This was the first persecution of Jews on the Peninsula under Islamic rule. There was also the killing or forcibly conversion of them by the rulers of the Almohad dynasty in Al-Andalus in the 12th century. Notable examples of the cases where the choice of residence was taken away from them includes confining Jews to walled quarters (mellahs) in Morocco beginning from the 15th century and especially since the early 19th century. Most conversions were voluntary and happened for various reasons. However, there were some forced conversions in the 12th century under the Almohaddynasty of North Africa and al-Andalus as well as in Persia.
The portrayal of the Jews in the early Islamic texts played a key role in shaping the attitudes towards them in the Muslim societies. According to Jane Gerber, "the Muslim is continually influenced by the theological threads of anti-Semitism embedded in the earliest chapters of Islamic history." In the light of the Jewish defeat at the hands of Muhammad, Muslims traditionally viewed Jews with contempt and as objects of ridicule. Jews were seen as hostile, cunning, and vindictive, but nevertheless weak and ineffectual. Cowardice was the quality most frequently attributed to Jews. Another stereotype associated with the Jews was their alleged propensity to trickery and deceit. While most anti-Jewish polemicists saw those qualities as inherently Jewish, Ibn Khaldun attributed them to the mistreatment of Jews at the hands of the dominant nations. For that reason, says ibn Khaldun, Jews "are renowned, in every age and climate, for their wickedness and their slyness".
Some Muslim writers have inserted racial overtones in their anti-Jewish polemics. Al-Jahizspeaks of the deterioration of the Jewish stock due to excessive inbreeding. Ibn Hazm also implies racial qualities in his attacks on the Jews. However, these were exceptions, and the racial theme left little or no trace in the medieval Muslim anti-Jewish writings.
Anti-Jewish sentiments usually flared up at times of the Muslim political or military weakness or when Muslims felt that some Jews had overstepped the boundary of humiliation prescribed to them by the Islamic law. In Moorish Iberia, ibn Hazm and Abu Ishaq focused their anti-Jewish writings on the latter allegation. This was also the chief motivation behind the 1066 Granada massacre, when "[m]ore than 1,500 Jewish families, numbering 4,000 persons, fell in one day", and in Fez in 1033, when 6,000 Jews were killed. There were further massacres in Fez in 1276 and 1465.
Islamic law does not differentiate between Jews and Christians in their status as dhimmis. According to Bernard Lewis, the normal practice of Muslim governments until modern times was consistent with this aspect of sharia law. This view is countered by Jane Gerber, who maintains that of all dhimmis, Jews had the lowest status. Gerber maintains that this situation was especially pronounced in the latter centuries, when Christian communities enjoyed protection, unavailable to the Jews, under the provisions of Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire. For example, in 18th century Damascus, a Muslim noble held a festival, inviting to it all social classes in descending order, according to their social status: the Jews outranked only the peasants and prostitutes. In 1865, when the equality of all subjects of the Ottoman Empire was proclaimed, Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, a high-ranking official observed: "whereas in former times, in the Ottoman State, the communities were ranked, with the Muslims first, then the Greeks, then the Armenians, then the Jews, now all of them were put on the same level. Some Greeks objected to this, saying: 'The government has put us together with the Jews. We were content with the supremacy of Islam.'"
Some scholars have questioned the correctness of the term "antisemitism" to Muslim culture in pre-modern times. Robert Chazan and Alan Davies argue that the most obvious difference between pre-modern Islam and pre-modern Christendom was the "rich melange of racial, ethic, and religious communities" in Islamic countries, within which "the Jews were by no means obvious as lone dissenters, as they had been earlier in the world of polytheism or subsequently in most of medieval Christendom." According to Chazan and Davies, this lack of uniqueness ameliorated the circumstances of Jews in the medieval world of Islam. According to Norman Stillman, antisemitism, understood as hatred of Jews as Jews, "did exist in the medieval Arab world even in the period of greatest tolerance". Also see Bostom, Bat Ye'or, and the CSPI issued text, supporting Stillman and cited in the bibliography.
There was a massacre of Jews in Baghdad in 1828 and in 1839, in the eastern Persian city of Meshed, a mob burst into the Jewish Quarter, burned the synagogue, and destroyed the Torah scrolls. It was only by forcible conversion that a massacre was averted. There was another massacre in Barfurush in 1867.
In 1840, the Jews of Damascus were falsely accused of having murdered a Christian monk and his Muslim servant and of having used their blood to bake Passover bread or Matza. A Jewish barber was tortured until he "confessed"; two other Jews who were arrested died under torture, while a third converted to Islam to save his life. Throughout the 1860s, the Jews of Libya were subjected to what Gilbert calls punitive taxation. In 1864, around 500 Jews were killed in Marrakech and Fez in Morocco. In 1869, 18 Jews were killed in Tunis, and an Arab mob looted Jewish homes and stores, and burned synagogues, on Jerba Island. In 1875, 20 Jews were killed by a mob in Demnat, Morocco; elsewhere in Morocco, Jews were attacked and killed in the streets in broad daylight. In 1891, the leading Muslims in Jerusalem asked the Ottoman authorities in Constantinople to prohibit the entry of Jews arriving from Russia. In 1897, synagogues were ransacked and Jews were murdered in Tripolitania.
Benny Morris writes that one symbol of Jewish degradation was the phenomenon of stone-throwing at Jews by Muslim children. Morris quotes a 19th-century traveler: "I have seen a little fellow of six years old, with a troop of fat toddlers of only three and four, teaching [them] to throw stones at a Jew, and one little urchin would, with the greatest coolness, waddle up to the man and literally spit upon his Jewish gaberdine. To all this the Jew is obliged to submit; it would be more than his life was worth to offer to strike a Mahommedan."
According to Mark Cohen in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies, most scholars conclude that Arab antisemitism in the modern world arose in the 19th century, against the backdrop of conflicting Jewish and Arab nationalism, and was imported into the Arab world primarily by nationalistically minded Christian Arabs (and only subsequently was it "Islamized").
Modern Islamic antisemitism
The massacres of Jews in Muslim countries continued into the 20th century. Martin Gilbert writes that 40 Jews were murdered in Taza, Morocco in 1903. In 1905, old laws were revived in Yemen forbidding Jews from raising their voices in front of Muslims, building their houses higher than Muslims, or engaging in any traditional Muslim trade or occupation. The Jewish quarter in Fez was almost destroyed by a Muslim mob in 1912.
Antagonism and violence increased still further as resentment against Zionist efforts in the British Mandate of Palestine spread. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni played a key role in violent opposition to Zionism and closely allied himself with the Nazi regime. From 1941 al-Husayni was based in Germany from where he urged attacks on Jews. There were Nazi-inspired pogroms in Algeria in the 1930s, and massive attacks on the Jews in Iraq and Libya in the 1940s (see Farhud). Pro-Nazi Muslims slaughtered dozens of Jews in Baghdad in 1941.
Anti-Zionist propaganda in the Middle East frequently adopts the terminology and symbols of the Holocaust to demonize Israel and its leaders. At the same time, Holocaust denial and Holocaust minimization efforts have found increasingly overt acceptance as sanctioned historical discourse in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Arabic- and Turkish-editions of Hitler'sMein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion have found an audience in the region with limited critical response by local intellectuals and media. See International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust.
According to Robert Satloff, Muslims and Arabs were involved both as rescuers and as perpetrators of the Holocaust during pro-Nazi rule of Vichy in French North Africa, and during Italian and German Nazi occupation of Tunisia and Libya.
According to a Pew Global Attitudes Project report released on August 14, 2005, Anti-Jewish sentiment was endemic. Of six Muslim majority countries surveyed, all have high percentages of their populations with unfavorable views of Jews. Turkey reported that 60% had unfavorable views of Jews, Pakistan reported 74%, Indonesia reported 76%, and Morocco reported 88%. 100% of Lebanese Muslims viewed Jews unfavorably, as did 99% of the Jordanian people.
George Gruen attributes the increased animosity towards Jews in the Arab world to several factors, including the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire and traditional Islamic society; domination by Western colonial powers under which Jews gained a larger role in the commercial, professional, and administrative life of the region; the rise of Arab nationalism, whose proponents sought the wealth and positions of local Jews through government channels; resentment against Jewish nationalism and the Zionist movement; and the readiness of unpopular regimes to scapegoat local Jews for political purposes.
Blood libels are false accusations that Jews use human blood in religious rituals. Historically these are accusations that the blood of Christian children is especially coveted. In many cases, blood libels served as the basis for a blood libel cult, in which the alleged victim of human sacrifice was elevated to the status of martyr and, in some cases, canonized.
Although the first known instance of a blood libel is found in the writings of Apion, who claimed that the Jews sacrificed Greek victims in the Temple, no further incidents are recorded until the 12th century, when blood libels began to proliferate. These libels have persisted from then through the 21st century.
Anti-Judaism and antisemitism
Some scholars distinguish anti-Judaism from antisemitism entirely. Historian Gavin Langmuir, for example, defines anti-Judaism as "a total or partial opposition to Judaism—and to Jews as adherents of it—by men who accept a competing system of beliefs and practices and consider certain genuine Judaic beliefs and practices as inferior."
Langmuir argues that anti-Judaism is concerned with exaggerated accusations against Jews that may contain a kernel of truth, whereas antisemitism (which he says dates back in Europe to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries) is based on false suppositions. Langmuir believes that labeling Jews as "Christ-killers" is an example of anti-Judaism, but that accusations of well-poisoning are antisemitism. In his view, anti-Judaism and antisemitism have existed side by side from the twelfth century onwards and have strengthened each other ever since.
Franklin Littell rejects such distinctions. In his view:
In some circles it has become fashionable to speak of early Christian 'anti-Judaism' rather than 'anti-Semitism'. But to the victim this is a distinction without a difference. It also lifts from the Churches the guilt of preaching and teaching theological anti-Semitism, the closed system of rejection of the Jews which the midrashim of the Church Fathers developed."
- Christianity and antisemitism
- Christian opposition to antisemitism
- Criticism of Judaism
- History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union
- Islam and antisemitism
- Religion in Nazi Germany
- See, for example:
- "Anti-Semitism", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006.
- Johnson, Paul. A History of the Jews, HarperPerennial 1988, p 133 ff.
- Lewis, Bernard. "The New Anti-Semitism", The American Scholar, Volume 75 No. 1, Winter 2006, pp. 25-36. The paper is based on a lecture delivered at Brandeis University on March 24, 2004.
- Antisemitism is more commonly used than "religious antisemitism" or "anti-Judaism." The Encyclopædia Britannica, for example, defines "antisemitism" to include religious antisemitism: "hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group." ("Anti-Semitism", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006.) Also see "Anti-Semitism", Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
- Reuven Firestone, An introduction to Islam for Jews, Jewish Publication Society, 2008 p.188
- Nichols, William: Christian Antisemitism, A History of Hate (1993) p. 314.
- Flannery, Edward H. The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism. Paulist Press, first published in 1985; this edition 2004, pp. 11-12.
- See, for example, Flannery, Edward H. The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism, Stimulus Books, first published 1985, this edition 2004.
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