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Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism in Early Europe A Presentation by: G. Ben Fred Early Europeans James Shipman’s F Block Class Due: May 17, 2004


Definitions: What the ASS are we talking about? “Essentially, anti-Semitism means either of the following: (1) hostility to Jews as a group which results from no legitimate cause or greatly exceeds any reasonable, ethical response to genuine provocation; or (2) a pejorative perception of Jewish physical or moral traits which is either utterly groundless or a result of irrational generalization and exaggeration�

Xenophobia: An irrational fear of strangers and/or foreigners.


Forms of Anti-Semitism • There are three main types of anti-Semitism which many non-Jews feel are valid reasons for hating and discriminating against the Jewish people: • Socio-economic antiSemitism: The theory that Jews secretly conspire to achieve success in their occupations.

• Racist anti-Semitism: The belief that Jews are racially distinct from non-Jews, and are therefore valid victims of discrimination. • Religious anti-Semitism: Hatred of the Jewish religion. Often, along with this hatred comes the belief that the Jews were responsible for murdering Jesus.


Results of Anti-semitism • The Babylonians in 586 BC and the Romans in 135 AD were responsible for expelling the Jews from Judea in a forced dispersion called the Jewish Diaspora. Jews had been exiled from their homelands countless times throughout history; everywhere they went they were a minority. As a result of being scattered throughout the world, there was no Jewish nation, making them an easy target for discrimination.


Hatred by other Religions • Jews were hated by other cultures and religions which differed from their own; historically, polytheistic groups were their greatest enemies (including the Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans.)

• Because the Jews tended to isolate themselves, outsiders knew very little about them as a people. As a result of this ignorance, false accusations were made, and stereotypes began to develop.


Pogroms • “The Russian word  pogrom denotes a massive  violent attack on people  with simultaneous  destroying of their  environment (homes,  businesses, religious  centers). Historically the  term has been used to  denote massive acts of  violence, either  spontaneous or  premeditated, against  Jews and other ethnic  minorities living in  Europe.”

• Though the word is Russian, the concept of annihilating whole villages dates further back than Russian antiSemitism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pogroms occurred all throughout Europe, killing thousands of Jews, and sending still more into exile. In 1648, more than one hundred thousand Jews were slaughtered in attacks led by anti-Semitic rebels; many of them tried to flee to the Ottoman Empire.


Pogroms (cont.) • In 1143, 150 Jews were killed in Ham, France. • In 1285, 68 Jews were killed as a result of a blood libel in Munich, Germany. This is a relatively small number, compared to other Jewish pogroms throughout history.

• In 1321, 5,000 Jews were massacred when accused of poisoning the wells in Europe during the black death in central France. • In 1348, 600 Jews were burned at the stake in Basel, while others were baptized, and their synagogue became a church


Get the picture? Pogroms have occured throughout history, throughout the world. Millions of Jews have been forced out of their homes, their jobs, and many have lost their lives.


Crusaders • You may be thinking, “The crusaders were enemies of the Arabs. How did this affect the Jews?” It’s true that when the Christians attacked Jerusalem and the surrounding area, they were trying to kill Arabs. However, in the process, they didn’t bother trying to distinguish Jew from Muslim (also, many Arabs were Jews themselves.) In the end, many Jews lost their lives as a result of the crusades.


The Jewish Stereotype • 59 BCE - Cicero describes Jews as people “born to be slaves” • 66-73 AD - Titus proclaims, after crushing the Great Jewish Revolt, that there is “no merit in vanquishing people forsaken by their own G-d.” • 170 AD - Melito of Sardis blames the Jews for the murder of Jesus, shifting blame from Romans to Jews to encourage Romans to convert to Christianity.

Jews were often forced into professions such as tax collecting, which encouraged the stereotype that Jews were out to get money.


False Accusations! • Especially during the Middle Ages, many people (mostly Christians) believed that Jews practiced a religion which they knew was false in an attempt to offend G-d. They viewed Jewish practices as mockeries of the Christian religion (for example, Jews were accused of holding reenactments of the crucifixion.)

Along with other nonChristian religions, the Jews were accused of having blood libels, in which human (Christian) blood was used in ceremonies and to make matzoh (Jewish passover bread.)


Black Plague • Another example of ignorance leading to anti-Semitic accusations!! While people were dying throughout Europe in the 14th Century, though we now know that the black death was probably spread by rats, the Jews were used as a scapegoat. Some Christians accused them of poisoning their wells. They were also accused of having magical powers (which they got from making a deal with the devil,) and of using their evil powers to attack Christian populations.


The New Testament Some Christians view the New Testament as an antiSemitic text, which attacks the Jewish people as a whole. A Jewish group referred to as the Pharisees (the dominant Jewish group at the time of Jesus Christ) are condemned in the New Testament because they would not accept Jesus Christ as their savior. Also, they are criticized for caring only about money, and being self-righteous. This encouraged the belief that Jews were interested only in wealth and in jobs having to do with money (for example, tax collectors.)


Jewish Worship PROHIBITED!

• Throughout history, Jews have been forbidden to worship their G-d, either by a series of proclamations against their religious practices or by physical burnings and desecrations of their synagogues. • As these acts became more and more common, the laws began to attack Jewish personal life more and more. Jews were not allowed to hold certain jobs, practice Jewish burials, or raise their children Jewish.


Jewish SelfIsolation • It is unfair to hold other cultures completely responsible for their persecution of the Jewish people. Jews also played a part in isolating themselves from other cultures. Whether this came from a fear of being persecuted, or whether persecution was a result of this self-isolation is unclear.

• Jews were not allowed to marry outside of the faith. Therefore, Orthodox Jewish adults were not encouraged to build close relationships with nonJews. • Monotheism was a relatively new idea to older religions of the world (especially European cultures.) Jewish religious practices differed greatly from those of surrounding cultures, and many Jews looked down on other cultures for not following their G-d.


Bibliography • • • • • • •

Artz, Frederick B. The Mind of the Middle Ages: A Historical Survey A.D. 200-1500. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. ©1954 Cantor, Norman F. The Meaning of the Middle Ages: A Sociological and Cultural History. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc. ©1973 http://www.campusprogram.com/reference/en/wikipedia/d/di/diaspora.html http://www.campusprogram.com/reference/en/wikipedia/h/hi/history_of_anti_ semitism.html http://www.campusprogram.com/reference/en/wikipedia/c/ch/christianity_and _anti_semitism.html http://www.campusprogram.com/reference/en/wikipedia/j/je/jews_in_the_new _testament.html Levine, Allan. Scattered Among the Peoples: The Jewish Diaspora in Twelve Portraits. New York: Overlook Duckworth. ©2003


Picture Bibliography • • • • • • • • •

http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/StarGerm.gif (Jewish Star Marking) qumran.com/images/ torah.jpg (Torah) webs.wichita.edu/.../biol103/ lecture15/rat.gif www.bucklesofestes.com/images/ 4558fishsymbol.jpg (Jesus fish) www.hopecommunitybible.com/ images/crucifixion.jpg www.informationwar.org/wars%20gallery/ jews-ww2.jp (Holocaust boy) www.ironictimes.com/images04/ crusaders.jpg www.jcsm.org/Israel1997/ WesternWall2.jpg (Wailing Wall) www.mkcdc.org.uk/ images/roman.jpg (Roman soldier)

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