Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

Posts tagged ‘Crusades’

Haven’t the Jews been hated enough?

 

Martin Luther, who spent a lifetime reforming the Roman Catholic Church from what he perceived as its “false doctrines” and “ecclesiastic malpractice”, is the same man who said that “so thoroughly hopeless, mean, poisonous, and bedeviled a thing are the Jews that for 1400 years they have been, and continue to be, our plague, pestilence, and all that is our misfortune.” Luther’s words, though uttered in 16th century Germany, could have been expressed by Anti-Semites, both before and after him, around the world and throughout the millennia.

Jewish hatred and scapegoating, like blaming the Jews for the Black Death’s devastation of Europe in the mid-14th century, has led many societies to attempt to eradicate the Jewish people from their populations. There was the:

  • violence against the Jews of Ancient Greece and expulsion of the Jews from Ancient Rome;
  • 11th century Muslim pogroms against the Jews on the Iberian Peninsula;
  • Crusades starting in 1096 and continuing for centuries;
  • expulsion of Jews from England in 1290;
  • Spanish Inquisition;
  • massacres of Ukrainian Jews and the Russian pogroms;
  • Holocaust; and
  • exodus of the Jews from Muslim countries,

to name but a few examples.

See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism and http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Judaism-Western-Tradition-David-Nirenberg/dp/0393058247.

Some thought that the Nazi’s extinction of nearly entire Jewish populations was so repugnant that it would end Anti-Semitism once and for all. They were wrong. Twenty-first century Anti-Semitism is alive, well and occurring throughout the world, including in some of the least likeliest of places, such as: Malmo, Sweden; Toulouse, Paris and Marseilles France; Brussels, Belgium; Auckland, New Zealand; and Montreal, Canada. See, http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/23446/Default.aspx.

Notwithstanding their small numbers, the reality is that the Jews are and have been the likely targets to shoulder blame. The poor hate the Jews for being wealthy capitalists, and the rich hate the Jews for being communists. The Jews who maintain their own culture are hated for insulting the culture of the country in which they live, and the Jews who assimilate are hated for appropriating that culture. A Jew who is attacked and turns the other cheek is a coward, and a Jew who fights back is overreacting. See, Little Nemo, http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=404068.

The scapegoating of Jews has been particularly devastating to the Muslim population of the Middle East. Israel, accounting for one-sixth of one percent of the Middle East land with its 6 million Jews, is routinely blamed for the problems, both political and social, of the 300 million Muslims living there.   Http://www.masada2000.org/geography.html. Until recently, blaming the Jews was the easy answer that hid the root causes for many of the Muslim population’s significant problems, making it impossible to find meaningful solutions.

Today’s Anti-Semitism also includes the intellectually specious Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that attempt either to minimize the horrendous effects of the Holocaust on the Jewish population or to exclude Anti-Semitism as a causal factor in the Holocaust. Some, like Greta Berlin, the American director of the Free Gaza Movement, blame the genocide squarely on the Zionists who “operated the [Nazi] concentration camps” Others, like Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, charge that the Jews willingly murdered millions of their own to win world sympathy for the establishment of Israel. At the extreme, some will deny the very happening of the Holocaust itself. Http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/23446/Default.aspx.

Though satire, the Tom Lehrer song “National Brotherhood Week”, is disturbingly on point.

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Muslims,
And everybody hates the Jews.

The song would be laughable, if it wasn’t so true. See, http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Judaism-Western-Tradition-David-Nirenberg/dp/0393058247.

Yellow badge Star of David called "Judens...

Yellow badge Star of David called “Judenstern”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Religious Intolerance – Deja Vous Again and Again

Intolerance in the name of God has been around for centuries. For example, between 1095 and 1291 and then to a lesser extent for the next three centuries, intensely pious and fanatical Roman Catholics, led by their Popes and with the cross as their standard, fought “Just” and “Holy” wars throughout Europe and the Middle East.  While forcefully converting whole nations to the Roman Catholic church, they killed, looted, tortured and raped Muslims, Jews, believers in the Eastern Orthodox religions and other “heretics” and pagans (believers in pre-Christian religions), throwing a significant portion of the world into the Dark Ages.  Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades and http://wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Christian_thought_on_persecution_and_tolerance.

Today, from West Africa and the Middle East to South Asia and Oceania, Muslim fanatics emulate their crusading forebears. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has described their murder and torture as a “bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other.” Http://thebea.st/11KT9YQ. We see the violence born of intolerance  in the vigilantism of radical Muslims attempting to establish Sharia in Nigeria. As a result, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has warned that “some of the greatest dangers to [Nigeria’s] democracy and freedom are shrouded in the perils of ethnicity and religious intolerance.” http://bit.ly/17VgzkK.  We see the violence born of intolerance in the Sunni Muslim government’s decades-long persecution of Sudanese Christians, culminating in the genocide at Darfur.

Although violent religious intolerance occurs for a variety of historical, political and cultural reasons, monotheistic teachings seem to play a role. The concept of the all-powerful, omniscient and omnipresent One True God means, for the fundamentalists, that all gods other than their god are false, that all holy books other than their holy book are bogus, and that all believers in religions other than their religion are damned for eternity. For the fanatical fundamentalists, it is one short step to the principle that only they, who follow the One True God, are moral, good, righteous and holy enough to inflict His vengeance on all believers in the “other”.  Seehttp://bit.ly/17KsGOw,   http://www.humanreligions.info/fundamentalism.html and http://www.humanreligions.info/violence_and_crime.html.

It is impossible to know with any certainty what Allah would think about the death and mayhem being committed in His name. From just two of the lessons of Muhammad, we can, however, make an educated guess. He taught that “the greatest crimes are to … murder your own species” and  “if people do you good, you will do good to them; and if they oppress you, you will not oppress them.” Fanatical believers have yet to learn some of the most basic lessons of the Prophet.

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Photo Courtesy of: http://www.mitchellteachers.org/WorldHistory/RiseofIslam/Crusades.html

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