ANTI-SEMITISM – THE ULTIMATE HATRED-THE JEW IS THE “OTHER”
As a Canadian-born Jew in his 80th year, the issue of anti-Semitism has been for me both a fascination and a horror. How can a mere se venteen million people, spread throughout the world over such an extended period of time, elicit so much antagonism and hatred? Why have Jews in Europe and the Middle East been the victims of so many unparalleled atrocities? Is there an ultimate solution to the problem?
I would like to begin by citing a statement by Jean Paul Sartre.” If Jews did not exist they would have to be invented as anti-Semitism works by miss-direction with Jews serving as a false cause for other issues”. Sartre is saying that each interest group uses anti-Semitism as a club to promote their own parochial interests. If the problem has not been solved in two thousand years, far be it for me to even try, however I can outline, as I see it, the truths, half-truths and outright lies, that nurture this human failing called anti-Semitism.
There is no doubt that the seeds of anti-Semitism were planted over time by the Catholic Church which, only until recently, accused Jews of being responsible for the killing of Jesus Christ. As the charges were laid years after the event occurred, the veracity of what actually happened could be in doubt. What is not in doubt is the unfairness of the atrocities perpetrated on people two thousand years after the fact. However there is a good practical reason, from the Church’s point of view, to attack and convert the Jews. The Christians saw themselves as the next progressive step in the development of monotheism and therefore, the true believers in Christianity could not tolerate the hesitation of the Jews in accepting their new religion. How much easier it would have been for them, to promote their ideas, if Judaism had just disappeared. That did not happen.
Could anti-Semitism function if Jews existed in far larger numbers? Probably not to the extent it exists to-day, as they would have had their own national state earlier, and found their place among the nation states of the modern world. Antagonism towards Jews would have occurred in a way similar to other nationalities. Small numbers of Jews spread throughout many counties are easy targets of people and nations with anti-Semitic tendencies.
An article in “Front Page Magazine.com” by Daniel Pipes and Gunmar Heinsahn criticizes the idea that the Arab-Israeli war is the most dangerous in the world. Tony Blair, former British Prime minister, told the U.S. congress in 2003 that terrorism will not be defeated without peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians. This leads many European countries to see Israel as the root cause of all terrorism.. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gunmar Heinsahn did a survey of conflicts since 1950. He showed that since that time approximately 85,000,000 people throughout the world were killed in wars. During that time period the statistics show that 35,000 Arabs and 16,000 Israelis died during the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict, which is one out of 1700 persons killed in wars since 1950. An insignificant number compared to the 85,000,000 millions killed. In fact 8, 000,000 Muslims have been killed since 1948 and over 90% were killed by fellow Muslims.
Historical accident and Jewish religious law allowed Jews to be successful money lenders, most certainly a mixed blessing. Money lenders are not anybodies favorite people. The Catholic Church forbade Christians from charging interest, but needed money lenders in order to allow economies to function efficiently. According to Jewish law, Jews were allowed to charge interest, just not to fellow Jews. As Europe’s official money lenders, Jews were necessary and despised. They sometimes did charge exorbitant rates, but with the economic climate it probably made good sense. Capital was scarce, and lenders frequently risked having their capital seized or having the debtors obligations cancelled. Money lenders did not enhance the reputation of Jews and fed the anti-Semitic feelings that already existed.
Success breeds jealousy and by any standard a significant proportion of the Jewish people are successful.. They are educated and innovative, shown by the number of Nobel prizes they have won, and are prominent, if allowed, in any of the university professions. This very success, in so many fields, allows the anti-Semites to encourage the idea of Jewish hidden control of finance, government and literally the world. Absolute nonsense, but the idea never dies, regardless of the fact that we are dealing with 14,000,000 people in constant fear of attack and loss of life.
The State of Israel was proclaimed in 1948, and the dialogue in the Jewish community was very positive. After 100`s of years of no home state the Jews would be like other nations, and have a homeland. The hope was that anti-Semitism would disappear. It was not to be. What happened was that anti-Semites, who for a period of time after the holocaust, found it untimely to utter anti-Semitic statements, could now hide their feelings by using Israel as a scapegoat. A simple rule exposes realistic criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. If Israel is expected to act in a manner not typical of a democratic state, it is anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism.
It is so easy to sum up. Anti-Semitism exists because of the Catholic Church, paucity of Jews, purported dangerous Israel, anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism, money lending history, and success of so many Jews in life, which breed jealousy. These are seemingly insurmountable burdens to overcome.