A question about the Holocaust - and anti-Semitism in General?
I have a question that may make me seem really naive, but I've been wanting to ask it for a long time. The Question is - Why the Jews?
For century's people have discriminated the Jews for no particular reason, and I want to ow why. From being expelled from Rome to being persecuted in the Holocaust - or Shoah - people have always discriminated Jews the most. Other religions have been discriminated too, but not nearly as much as the Jewish people. Whether people say they have big noses or are greedy (utter crap, by the way), it seems like anti-Semitism is everywhere. Yes, Christians (Catholics mostly) and Muslims and Buddhists get discriminated too, but not nearly as much as the Jews. Why are people - and I am ashamed to admit mostly Christians - being so horrible to the people whom started our religion and gave us our primary beliefs (ie. G-d, the Old Testament). I am Christian, but it sickens me to see my brothers and sisters be persecuted when they haven't done anything wrong.
- Anonymous1 decade agoBest Answer
Yours is a big question :)
There are several reasons for anti semitism. One is the way that Christianity has historically taught that the Jews killed Jesus. Now, we did not: that was the Romans. But in churches across the world, it's taught that not only did we 'reject' the messiah, but that then we murdered him! Alas, there is material in the NT that does malign Jews. Please don't misunderstand: I'm not saying that the majority of Christians are racist, not at all! Just that inherent in Christian theology are negative views of Jewish people.
There are of course other reasons for anti semitism. I think that because we are such a tiny, tiny minority (0.01 of the world population) many people never get to know us, and thus end up relying on stereotypes. I don't blame them for this, actually. It's ignorance and misunderstanding that sometimes, sadly, does lead to racism.
Another reason is that historically, Jews were only permitted to hold certain jobs, mostly do do with moneylending/usary. In order to survive, as this was the only work allowed, they had to get good at it! It makes sense, right? This has led to one of the most unfair and prevalent myths about us as Jews: that we are 'mean' or 'rich' or 'canny' - choose your own word, the basic idea is always the same.
There are some really bizarre aspects to classic anti semitism. One is the notion that we as this tiny minority are secretly pulling the strings of the world and 'running' the media! I mean hey, we're good, but we're not THAT good!!!
Ironically, anyone who knows their history will know that the opposite is true: Jews have usually been totally powerless and of course ultimately, this resulted in the tragic deaths of so many Jews in the Holocaust.
Finally, modern anti semitism, if we can call it this, tends to focus on Israel. The sheer lies that are told about Israel are ABSURD. You can see them on this very website, believe me. Am I saying that criticism of Israel = anti semitism? NO!
But when that criticism is based on false info, then there is something very wrong.
I read a really good book some years back called 'Anti semitism: The Longest Hatred'. Sorry I forget the name of the author! I recommend it to you if you want to delve deeper into the psychology of this particular prejudice.
And meanwhile, have a star for your question; shalom :)
EDIT TO ASKER
lol - just read the answers by 'mustafa' and 'jonathan' and you will note several classic anti semitic ideas! ECTERBOB has given a lovely answer, as usual :)
COMMENT FOR HEATHEN
- history proves you wrong :) In pre Nazi Germany, the Jews were the MOST assimilated that we have EVER been! There was a lot of intermarriage, for example. But still, despite all this, Hitler was able to plug into the latent anti semitism that has always existed in Germany, Austria and Poland.
EDIT TO SJG - just to say that the Jews were never the 'majority' in Egypt, but a small minority. But their emerging ideas about their faith differed greatly from the prevailing Egyptian obsession with death, and with a range of capricious deities who acted without rhyme nor reason. The Jews had to escape to get free from both physical slavery but also the religious views that were anathema to them.
COMMENT TO STEVE
- I'm happy to hear that Americans have a positive attitude towards Jews! And yes, of course I know that Jesus was Jewish, read ANY of my numerous answers in this forum and you'll see that! But while I agree with your answer, I must argue one point: the Jews did NOT call for the death of Jesus. There was no reason for them to want him dead; he was simply one more in a long line of radical thinkers and false prophets. Judaism as a tradition has always included tremendous debate, discussion and yes, arguing! So even if Jesus was trying to reform some of the practises back then, the Jews would not have had a problem with it.
Moreover, if the Jews HAD wished to kill Jesus, they would have had to act in accordance with Jewish law, and bring him before the Sanhedrin, the judges. This did not happen.
The Jews were in no position to ask the Romans to do anything, let alone kill a man!
Finally, re the NEW TESTAMENT: this was written 70 years or more after Jesus died. If you are seriously arguing that there is no part of the NT that maligns the Jews, then I'm really confused about how much of the NT you've read! Sorry, but the fact is, Christianity as a theology, while lovely in most ways, DOES teach, incorrectly, that the Jews killed Jesus and that we are misguided, at the very least, for not accepting him as messiah.
- FeivelLv 71 decade ago
Why the Jews? That answer could take up volumes. We (I am Jewish) are persecuted for being different and for assimilating. We are persecuted for being poor and being rich.
In Yeshiva (Jewish school) we were taught there were many factors. The first is the fact that Christianity sprung from Judaism. Jesus was a Jew and his followers were Jewish but it turned into "The Jews killed Jesus" in the minds of Christian officials in the early centuries of the church. Martin Luther did not help because he was very anti-Semitic.
When the black plague hit Jews did not die in the numbers as Gentiles did, partly because of the simple custom of hand washing (it did not spread as quickly in Jewish areas). Then a hoax book called "The Protocal of the Elders of Zion" accused Jews of killing infants to use their blood at Passover (which is simply ignorant as Jews do not eat blood) and other atrocities and it was believed.
Now anti-Semitism seems to swirl more around Arab countries and centers around who should be in charge and take control of the land of Israel.
The answers to your question are many and varied. There is a website called Aish.com that has classes you can listen to for free online. A few deal with that very topic and one is called simply "Why the Jews". If you are interested in it, that is a good class. There is also a documentary called "The Longest Hatred" that was done by A&E. It talks about old anti-Semitism and the new breed of anti-Semitism.
Personally, I believe we Jews have always stood out in some form or another and therefore were easy targets for scapegoating.
- BukeLv 41 decade ago
Your statement, "the people whom started our religion and gave us our primary beliefs (ie. G-d, the Old Testament). " carries a lot of the reason why Catholics and the other sects actually hate the Jewish religion with such a passion. The Jews deny that Jesus was the messiah. According to them Christianity is not only extreme blasphemy it is utterly false as a religion. Judaism has almost nothing in common with they Religion that has perverted their God and claims to be the replacement of their religion.
The result is that Judaism, as long as it exists, is a direct refutation of the Christian faith, and has a prior claim to being the correct and true religion.
While the Catholics were able to effectively exterminate the Hellenistic Religions (Zeus, Jupiter and all that) they were unable to exterminate Judaism, at least so far. They have, as you noted, made serious attempts to do so in the past.
One of the problems the Christians face with extermination attempts against Judaism is that the Christians adopted the Jewish holy texts (Torah) as the bases of their own religions holy texts. The Old Testament is Jewish and labels the Jews as Gods favourites, to be honoured and protected.
But that is all history. American Christian all love the Jews now, which is why they are trying to get all the Jews in America to move to Israel, Right!Source(s): LOL @ Ana! The pyramids were a publics work project for the Egyptians. Egypts problem at that time was excess available labour. They did not use or need slaves.
- 1 decade ago
This is mostly my own opinion, though there is some authority for it in Scripture. I think it is because the Jews were God's chosen people, and other people didn't like them being chosen instead of them. Also because God gave them land; Israel is the only land grant that came directly from God. The Holocaust, in my opinion, was the result of satan wanting to exterminate the Jews because they are God's chosen people. Part of the reason it seems like the Jews have received more persecution than anyone else is because of the Holocaust. This was such an atrocity and exterminated millions in a short length of time. To put it into perspective, Christians have also been a target of persecution; millions have been killed. But it took place over a longer period of time. Evil people are motivated to kill those God has chosen.
In the final analysis, I think God allows persecution because He will demonstrate to us that He is the One Who preserves us. The Jews still exist only because of God's preservation.
As Christians, we are commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. This is a prayer directly in support of the Jewish people.
Oh, and by the way, Hitler was NOT a Christian. He was involved in the occult. He tried to appeal to Christians by using the lingo, but that was all.
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- 1 decade ago
Dennis Prager wrote an excellent book on the topic called "Why the Jews?" It is well worth the read. I also do not understand Christian anti-Semitism.
There are a couple of points that need clarification though. Western Christian anti-Semitism reached its peak hundreds of years ago. Eastern Christian anti-Semitism certainly included several pogroms about 100 years ago. (Easter in Kishinev is worth the read too.) Nazi anti-Semitism was not religion based, but race based. Hitler was an atheist by the time he came to power and also killed Catholic priests by the hundreds. He did tap into Eastern Christian anti-semitism in Poland and Romania to round Jews into death camps, but locals in the west were largely uninterested.
Far and away the greatest source of anti-Semitism today is from the Muslim world where hatred of Jews is widely taught.
For a couple of other contributors - Mustafa
If thousands of Muslims and Christians were being killed by the Jews everyday in Palestine for 50 years there wouldn't actually be any left. Why am I very welcome to visit Isreal as a tourist and view all religious sites and practice my religion as I wish, but I can't set foot in Saudi Arabia as a tourist and even on business can't bring in a Bible? To be fair Saudi is extreme. I have traveled to several Muslim countries with degrees of religious freedom (Turkey, Egypt, Bangladesh, Malaysia), but none have the freedom for all religions that Isreal or any western country have.
Your answer is well thought, but you misunderstand the American Christianity and the sympathy toward Jews that we were all taught in Sunday School. The Jews (Abraham, David, Moses, Joshua) were our heroes. Also while the Jews did call for the death of Jesus, He went willingly and had to go. Also Jesus was Jewish and every book of the New Testament was written by a Jew. And it is completely unfair to blame anyone but the group of Jews who happened to be there that day. It is like blaming me for slavery - and slavery happened much more recently.Source(s): http://www.amazon.com/Jews-Reason-Antisemitism-Den... - the Prager book http://www.amazon.com/Easter-Kishniev-Anatomy-Reap... - book about the pogrom
- 1 decade ago
I assumed it was because they refuse to assimilate. They won't give up their culture and integrate into others like every other portion of the world has done. So they are easily pointed at as a group. ie: "Jews are wealthy.", "Jews are smart."
IF you notice you can see the same sorts of things happen to new waves of people who cross the border into the US. As they lose their culture and identity, they become part of the elite mainstream majority. IF they keep their culture they remain outcasts and suffer from discrimination. Right now some African Americans are conforming, others are trying to get their culture to become the dominant mainstream but I suspect that won't hold up. It will eventually integrate. In the meantime they suffer discrimination.
I think the real bottom of the totem-polers are Latinos because they still retain their own language, kind of the most symbolic form of a culture.
But imagine this isn't America, there is only us Germans and the Jews. They have their language and the way the look, we have our language and the way we look. Period. Plus mix it with the fact that many Christians have historically felt it is a slap in the face that Jews refuse to convert. Then you get a different level of discrimination.
Just my observation, I am not an anthropologist or sociologist o.O
- Anonymous1 decade ago
The problem is, where Jews have been discriminated most, at least throughout the majority of history, is where Christianity was at its height. People often called Jews the "murderers of Christ," thus making them evil beings. I cannot stand hatred of people when they are different in something as minor of religion. That's like murdering countless people because their first language isn't English. I mean, COME ON PEOPLE! Who cares??!! It's religion! Not something worth murdering people over!
Sorry to go on that little tirade there. Things like this get me going. But I completely, 100% agree with you.
- Cynthia DLv 41 decade ago
Do you notice who are the most attacked politicians in this campaign? It is usually the front runners. The Jews are a threat to the rest of society because they have always been a people of the BOOK. They are a culture which values education and knowledge and they are usually successful at whatever they do. Also, the Jews have usually seen themselves as exclusive and special (which they are) but that is suspicious and threatening to the people around them. Unfortunately, Christians somewhere got the idea that the Jews caused the death of Christ; it was really all of us who caused His death. But that gave Christians a false sense of righteousness in persecuting them. Insecure people always need someone to hate and the Jews have been the logical target all through history.
- ?Lv 61 decade ago
The Jewish people refused to give up their religion and identity as a unique people, no matter who tried to conquer them. They have always been a small group, and people who need a scapegoat are always going to pick a smaller group, not a majority. Anyone who is different in any way is in danger of being bullied, and it has been acceptable for too long to bully the Jewish people. Some Christians blame them for killing Christ, but they did not. And, as you pointed out, we use the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus was a Jew! We need to stand up for all people who are the targets of hatred. We have to stand together against the haters of the world.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
The persecutuion of the Jewish people was prophesied in the Bible. For example, in Ezekiel 5:11 Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will withdraw my favor; I will not look on you with pity or spare you. 12 A third of your people will die of the plague or perish by famine inside you; a third will fall by the sword outside your walls; and a third I will scatter to the winds and pursue with drawn sword.
God warned them at Sinai that they would suffer greatly whenever they turned away from following him, which according to the Scriptures, they did on many occasions.
Still the promises of God will be fulfilled, and a remnant of loyal Jews will receive his eternal blessings.