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.
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.