Jewish Persecution | Timeline of Judaism | History of AntiSemitism
Lesser Known Highlights of Jewish International
Relations In The Common Era (an Abbreviated sampling)
Diocese of Clement (France)
Diocese of Uzes (France)
Ban on Sea Travel
Rouen, Limoges & Rome
Jews Burned Alive
Northern France & Germany
1/3 of Jewish Population Massacred
Jews Burned Alive
Jews Burned Alive
Carenton, Ramenu & Sully (France)
London & York
Jews Burned Alive
Jews Burned Alive
Rioting and blood bath against the Jews of Toledo.
Lateran Council of Rome decrees that Jews must wear the "badge of shame" in all Christian countries. Jews are denied all public sector employment, and are burdened with extra taxes.
Jews Forced to Wear Badges
Massacre & Property Confiscation
Property confiscation. Jews either imprisoned, converted, expelled, or burned.
Blood libel in Lincoln results in the burning / torture of many Jews & public hangings.
Council of Vienna declares that all Jews must wear a "pointed dunce cap." Thousands murdered.
Jews Forced to Wear Horned Hats
Weissenberg, Magdeburg, Arnstadt, Coblenz, Singzig, and Erfurt
Jews Burned Alive
The libel of the "counterfeit coins" - all Jewish men, women and children in England imprisoned. Hundreds are hung.
Hungary & Poland
The Council of Offon denies Jews the right to all civic positions. The Jews of Hungary & Poland are forced to wear the "red badge of shame."
Mayence & Bacharach
Jews Burned Alive
King Edward I issues an edict banishing all Jews from England. Many drowned.
The Jewish refugees from England are promptly expelled from France.
Forced conversions & expulsion of the Italian Jewish community.
The libel of the "Desecrated Host" is perpetrated against the Jews of Germany. Approximately 150 Jewish communities undergo forced conversion.
Franconia, Bavaria & Austria
Reindfel's Decree is propagated against the Jews of Franconia and Bavarai. Riots against these Jewish communities, as well as those in Austria, result in the massacre of 100,000 Jews over a six-month period.
Castille, Toledo, Madrid, Seville, Cordova, Cuenca & Barcelona
Forced Conversions & Mass Murder
Jews Burned Alive
Jews Burned Alive
Fribourg & Zurich
Jews Burned Alive
Public Torture &. Burnings
Jews Burned Alive
Cuidad Real, Guadalupe, Saragossa & Teruel
Jews Burned Alive
Jews Burned Alive
Public Torture & Execution
Public Torture & Execution
Cracow & Portugal
Public Torture & Execution
Cremona, Pavia & Lodi
Public Torture & Execution
Jews Burned Alive
1/3 of Jewry Slaughtered
Jews Burned Alive
Public Torture &. Execution
Oran (North Africa)
3,000 Jews Slaughtered
Lubeck & Bremen
Austria & Prussia
New York City
500 People, Led by Police, Attacked & Wrecked Jewish Synagogue
Area under General Grant's Jurisdiction in the United States
Manchuria, Kiev & Volhynia
Leo Frank Lynched
Wide Spread Pogroms
Munich & Breslau
Lawrence Lowell, President of Harvard, calls for Quota Restrictions on Jewish Admission
Widespread Anti-Semitic Riots on University Campuses
The Passion: A Historical Perspective
Mel Gibson’s film fits comfortably within the history of Christian anti-Semitism.
Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of Christ,” has already stirred a lot of passions and heated debate. What’s all the fuss about? After all, isn’t it just a movie and we all know the ending already? Clearly there are much bigger issues at stake. By examining the implications of the story of the Passion, we can begin to understand why so many are justifiably apprehensive about the impact this movie might have.
THE ROOTS OF CHRISTIAN ANTI-SEMITISM
The Passion remains the central event of Christianity and the role of the Jews in this story serves as the foundation of the early Christian view of Judaism and the Jews.
Here is a brief overview of the Jewish role in the Passion story as portrayed in the Gospel. The corrupt priesthood, feeling threatened by Jesus’ popularity, conspire against him and have him arrested by the Romans. A Jewish mob further conspires to keep him imprisoned and ensure his torture and crucifixion. As he is led to his death, he is further abused by a Jewish mob.
The Jewish role in the story is overwhelmingly negative and culminates in the ultimate crime: deicide—the murder of God. The Gospel is uniformly hostile toward the Jews, while making the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, almost completely guiltless. After being “forced” by the Jewish mob to sentence Jesus to death, Pilate symbolically washes his hands and pronounces: “I am not responsible for the death of this man! This is your doing. The whole crowd [the Jews] answered back: Let his blood be on our heads and the heads of our children.” (Matthew 27:24-25)
Paul, the most important personality in the history of the church, makes a special point of blaming the Jews for the death of Jesus: ”[the Jews] killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecuted us. How displeasing they are to God! How hostile they are to all men. They even tried to stop us from preaching to the Gentiles…This is the last full measure of the sins they have always committed. And now God’s wrath has at last fallen upon them.” (Thessalonians 1,2)
Probably the most damning of all accusations appears in John 8:44: “You are the children of your father, the Devil, and you want to follow your father’s desires. From the very beginning he was a murderer.”
The negative role that the Jew plays in the Passion served to create a solid foundation on which later Christian anti-Semitism would be built.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF CHRISTIAN ANTI-SEMITISM
While latent hostility toward the Jews simmered for centuries, intense persecution and serious anti-Semitic violence started to take shape after the year 1000—at the end of the first millennium. It seems that people get nervous about big dates, especially Christians whose Book of Revelations predicts that at the end of a thousand years Satan will be released from prison and then he’s going to wreak havoc on the world.
The approaching millennium led to a religious revival in the Christian world which historians call the “New Piety.” The New Piety focused especially on the historicity of Jesus, which meant focusing on his death and of course the Jews’ role in that conspiracy. So at this time, we see the notion of Jews as “Christ-killers”—which first surfaced in the 4th century—gaining tremendous popularity. But that alone does not explain the vehemence of Christian persecutions. To fully understand the issue, we have to look at other, more complex reasons.
To start off, the continued existence of the Jews was an irritant to many Christians. And this is why:
Christian theology accepts the Hebrew Bible. It does not quarrel with the statements therein that the Jews were a special people chosen by God to receive the Torah and bring holiness into the world. But Christian theology says that the Jews failed in their mission. This is why God sent His “son” (Jesus) to straighten things out, but the Jews refused to recognize him as “god” and worse, conspired to have him killed. As a result, God abandoned the Jews and replaced them with the “new chosen people”—the Christians. (Hence, the Christian segment of the Bible is called the “New Testament” which is Greek for “New Covenant.”)
By this line of reasoning however, there would no longer be any purpose for Jews in the world. They should disappear, like did so many mightier nations. But by the first millennium—already 1,000 years after the death of Jesus—the Jews were still all over the place. Christian theology had to come up with some sort of answer to this problem, and it did. The Jews must have been doomed to wander the earth by God as a “witness people”—teste veritatis in Latin. The purpose of a “witness people” is to survive throughout history to bear witness at the end of days, when Jesus appears again for the so-called “Second Coming.”
But the explanations of Christian theology could not remove the sore spot that the presence—at times, strong and prosperous presence—that the Jews represented. At the heart of the matter was the Christian view of Judaism as a direct competitor for the soul of humanity.
The hostility that the Christians felt toward the Jews can be seen readily from the writings of the early fathers of the Christian Church. (See: What Did They Think of the Jews?by Allan Gould, pp. 24-25.)
From John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople, we get this:
“Slayers of the lord, murderers of the prophets, adversaries of god, haters of god, men who show contempt for the law, foes of grace, enemies of the father’s faith, advocates of the devil, brood of vipers, slanderers, scoffers, men whose minds are in darkness, leaven of the Pharisees, assembly of demons, sinners, wicked men, stoners and haters of righteousness.”
In some places, such calumny exploded in a wave of massive anti-Jewish violence and the murder of thousands of Jews in Europe and the Middle East during the first Crusade from 1096-1099. (Some 10,000 Jews of an estimated population of about 20,000-30,000 were murdered in 1096 as the first Crusade got under way.)
In other places, such calumny bred other forms of persecution.
It is next to impossible to explain the accusations that were hurled at the Jews during this time. Jews were persecuted not only for being “Christ-killers” but as “baby-killers.”
The first such accusation—better known as a “blood libel”—was leveled in 1144 in Norwich, England. There, Jews were charged with kidnapping a Christian baby and draining the baby of blood. The charge became so popular it would sweep, in various forms, through Europe and then spread to other parts of the world.
Why did Jews need blood according to Christian opinion? What do you think is the correct answer?:
a. Jews suffered from hemorrhoids as a punishment for killing Jesus and drinking blood was the best cure for hemorrhoids at the time.
b. All Jewish men menstruate and need a monthly blood transfusion.
c. Jewish men, when they’re circumcised, lose so much blood because of that surgical procedure that they need to drink Christian babies’ blood.
d. It’s the chief ingredient in matzah, and therefore prior to every Passover Jews would be requiring a large supply.
e. All of the above.
The correct answer is (e)—all of the above. This is a very important lesson in anti-Semitism. You can say anything about the Jews and people will believe it.
It’s ironic that Jews, who are prohibited by Jewish law of consuming any blood whatsoever (kosher meat is carefully washed and salted to remove all traces of blood), were precisely the people accused of drinking blood.
The blood libel makes even less sense when you consider that in the 13th century the Church adopted the doctrine of transubstantiation. This is a mystical idea which maintains that when the priest says mass over the wafer and wine, these objects mystically change into the body and blood of Jesus. Christians who consume the wafer and drink the wine are said to be mystically eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking his blood. It’s ironic that the Christian world, while engaged in the ritual of “drinking the blood of Jesus” would accuse the Jews—who are forbidden to drink blood—of this totally fabricated hideous crime. But then the accusations got even wilder.
Starting in Switzerland and Germany in the 13th century, Jews were accused of kidnapping communion wafers from churches—to torture it. Medieval documents tell stories describing how a Jew (usually called Abraham) would steal a wafer from a church, stick a knife in it, and blood would start pouring out. He would then cut it up into pieces and send it to different Jews who would continue to torture it.
This would be funny if not for a fact that thousands of Jews were slaughtered as a result of such stories. For example, the entire Jewish community of Berlitz, near Berlin in Germany, was all burned alive based on the accusation of torturing a wafer.
Other accusations were to follow: well poisoning, causing the Black Death and numerous other heinous acts, usually accomplished with the help of Satan. These accusations led to the dehumanization, brutalization, expulsion and murder of Jews throughout Europe.
It is important to note that in Medieval Europe Passion Plays, reenacting the final drama of the life of Jesus, would be regularly performed in the weeks leading up to Easter. These plays would usually inflame the audience and were often followed by accusations of Jewish ritual murder and violence against Jews. (Gibson has also timed the release of his movie to correspond with the beginning of Lent and the period leading up to Easter Sunday.)
The ultimate consequence of the deeply superstitious, irrational and violent anti-Semitism of Europe was the Holocaust. Hitler could not have carried out the Final Solution without the cooperation of the many Germans, nor without the collusion of much of Europe. Centuries of largely Church-sponsored Jew hatred had transformed Europe into a fertile ground for the mass murder of the Jews.
Possibly the scariest modern development is that the Arab world has now picked up on the worst, Medieval libels against the Jews. Accusations of blood libels, poisoning, and murder circulate daily throughout the Palestinian Authority’s print and electronic media. In 2003 Syrian television aired a series based on the famous forgery, TheProtocols of the Elders of Zion, which contained staged scenes portraying Jewish ritual murder.
Although it was usually too little too late, throughout history there were church officials and even a few popes who spoke out against anti-Semitism. The most significant turning point in the Church’s relationship with the Jews happened in October 1965 with the publication of Vatican II-Declaration of the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religious. Vatican II states: “True, authorities of the Jews and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ (cf jn.19:6), still, what happened in His passion cannot be blamed upon all the Jews then living, without distinction, nor upon the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as repudiated or cursed by God as if such views followed from the Holy Scriptures.” (Alexis P. Rubin, Editor, Scattered Among the Nations-Documents Affecting Jewish Hisitory 49-1975. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1995. P.302).
Vatican II clearly represents a great leap forward in the Church’s attempt to make amends for millennia of Christian hostility toward the Jews. The current pope, John Paul, has gone further than any other pope in history in his attempts to make amends and heal Catholic-Jewish relations. And there is no doubt that the Church has a far more positive and tolerant attitude toward the Jews. Gibson’s graphic, modernPassion Play could well represent a huge step backward in the relationship between Jews and Christians, possibly undoing decades of progress.
RE-IGNITING THE HATRED
Despite the good intentions expressed in Vatican II that “...the Jews should not be presented as repudiated or cursed by God as if such views followed from the holy Scriptures,” the fact of the matter is that anyone looking objectively at the Christian Bible will see that it is loaded with anti-Jewish sentiment. Any attempt, therefore, to accurately portray the Passion story on film is likely to stir up anti-Jewish sentiment and help to re-ignite the age-old hatred that has caused so much Jewish suffering. The timing for the release of The Passion is particularly poor, given the current rise in anti-Semitism world-wide, especially in Europe.
Carroll, James, Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews - A History, Houghton Mifflin, 2002
Lewis, Bernard, Semites and Anti-Semites-An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice. New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999
Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Gospel. vNew York: Vintage Books,1989.
Prager, Dennis and Telushkin Joseph, Why The Jews-The Reason for Antisemitism. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1983
Trachtenberg, Joshua, The Devil and the Jews-Medieval Conceptions of the Jew and its relation to Modern Antisemitism. New York, Meridian Books, 1961
Rubin, Alexis P., Scattered Among the Nations-Documents Affecting Jewish History 49-1975. Northvale, New Jersey, jason Aronson Inc., 1995
Wistrich, Robert S., Anti-Semitism-The Longest Hatred. London, Thames Methuen, 1991.
I have received a lot of feedback from Christian readers regarding the topic of Medieval anti-Semitism. Most of the comments come from evangelical Christians who claim that those who persecuted Jews in the Middle Ages were not really true Christians and that I shouldn’t lump all Chritians together.
Readers of this series should understand that this is a history series and as such, it reflects the historical realities of the past. One thousand years ago in Western Europe, there were no evangelicals. The Catholic Church reigned supreme. Superstitious, violent anti-Semitism was rampant and there were no Christian supporters of the Jewish people.
Today, thank God, the situation is very different. There are tens of millions of Christians who are good friends of the Jewish people and true supporters of Israel.
In no way is the series meant to reflect the modern realities of Jewish-Chrisitan interaction, nor is it meant as an attack against Israel’s true friends and allies. My sincere apologies if it was understood to be otherwise.
Rabbi Ken Spiro
Why Study History of JudaismWe learn Jewish history not only to avoid the mistakes of the past, but to understand where our destiny is taking us. The Bible as HistoryAn enormous amount of information in the Bible has been borne out by archeology. There is not much direct evidence, but there is a hugeamount of indirect or circumstantial evidence.
1812 BCE - Time of Abraham begins
(Mesopotamian & Egyptian civilization in flower) The World of Abraham By understanding the character of Abraham, the "proto-Jew", one can understand what Jews are all about. Founder of Judaism Abraham gave rise to a nation of Hebrews—people who live "on the other side." The Promised Land God gave Abraham and his family the Land of Israel as a laboratory where his descendants are supposed to create the nation that’s the model for the world.
1712 BCE - Time of Isaac begins 1652 BCE - Time of Jacob begins Isaac and His Sons History repeats itself. Whatever groove Abraham or Isaac or Jacob are going to carve, their descendants are going to get stuck in it.
1544 BCE - Joseph sold into slavery Joseph The story of Joseph demonstrates a classic historic pattern of the Jew in Diaspora. The Jew arrives impoverished, works hard despite deprivation, and rises to the top.
1522 BCE - Josephwelcomes his family to Egypt Reunion Joseph realizes that through the generations, the family has created a rut of hatred among the brothers. To remedy the situation, he sets the stage for a great test.
1428 BCE -Israelites enslaved in Egypt 1392 BCE - Time of Moses begins
(Egyptian cities of Pithom & Ramses are built) Moses In an all-time irony of ironies, the savior of the Jewish people is raised in the house of the ultimate enemy of the Jews.
1312 BCE - Exodus The Ten Plagues Most miracles are natural phenomena with awesomely good timing. The Ten Plagues are a notable exception. Here the laws of nature are turned upside down to help free the Jews.
1312 BCE - Torah given at Mount Sinai
(Canaanites tribes occupy Promised Land) Mount Sinai The encounter between God and the Jews at Mount Sinai was a totally unique event in all of human history. The Golden Calf Only 1/10 of 1% of the Jews participated in worshipping the golden calf. Yet God’s reaction makes it clear he is blaming the whole nation. What’s going on here?
1272 BCE - Conquest of Promised Land The Tragedy of the Spies The spies story occurred on one of the most significant and tragic dates in Jewish history—the 9th of Av. Every major disaster in Jewish history is connected to this date. Joshua & the Conquest of the Promised Land This is no typical war of conquest replete with pillaging and murder. God has said, "If you follow My instructions all will go well."
1106 BCE - Time of the Judges begins
(Philistines occupy coastal area of Israel) The Time of the Judges The Jews had no king, but when they needed guidance they turned to "judges," who were both warriors and prophets.
879 BCE - Saul anointed king King Saul King Saul was a great man who committed one terrible mistake, dooming his reign from the start.
877 BCE - Time of King David begins David The Shepherd & The Warrior Still too young to fight in the army, David becomes Israel’s champion when he slays Goliath. David The King He established Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, choosing a place that Jacob called “the gate of heaven.”
836 BCE - King Solomon begins his rule 825 BCE - First Temple completed
(Assyrian empire rising in the north) King Solomon King Solomon, the wisest of all men, built the Temple in Jerusalem and reigned over Israel’s golden age.
796 BCE - Israel split into two kingdoms A Divided Nation In response to the king’s arrogance, the ten northern tribes secede, splitting Israel in two.
555 BCE - Assyrians overturn northern Israel; Ten tribes are lost Assyrian Conquest The Assyrians, who conquer northern Israel, introduce a new way of dealing with vanquished nations. It’s called exile.
547 BCE - Sennacherib attacks Jerusalem
(Babylonians overrun Assyrian empire) The End of Israel Judah lasts another of 134 years before it, too, falls bringing to an end the kingdom of Israel.
422 BCE - Babylonians conquer Israel & destroy Temple
(Persians overrun Babylonian Empire) Babylonian Exile The Babylonians think God has abandoned the Jews and celebrate. But they have a surprise coming.
370 BCE - Jews return from Babylonian exile 355 BCE - Miracle of Purim Purim in Persia Another feast celebrating God’s abandonment of Israel puts in motion a plot to annihilate the Jews.
352 BCE - Construction of Second Temple begins The Second Temple The Temple the Babylonians destroyed is rebuilt, but it is never the same – the Ark of the Covenant is missing.
347 BCE - Time of the Great Assembly begins
(Greeks overrun Persian Empire) The Great Assembly These extraordinary sages defined the essence of Judaism for the Jews of Israel and the Diaspora.
312 BCE - Greeks conquer Israel The Greek Empire To the Greeks, what was beautiful was holy; to the Jews, what was holy was beautiful. These views were bound to clash.
245 BCE - Torah is translated into Greek; Greeks persecute Jews Greek Persecution Terror reigned—women who allowed their sons to be circumcised were killed with their babies tied around their necks.
167 BCE - Revolt of Maccabees begins 139 BCE - Miracle of Chanukah
(Romans overrun Greek Empire) The Revolt of the Maccabees The Jewish revolt against the Greeks sets a precedent in human history - it becomes the world’s first religious war.
63 BCE - Romans invade Israel The Romans Jewish tradition maintains the Romans were descendants of Esau, the red-haired and blood-thirsty brother of Jacob.
37 BCE - Herod, the Great, begins his rule Herod the Great A madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis, Herod was also the greatest builder in Jewish history.
32 BCE - Time of Hillel & Shammai Hillel and Shammai In a time when many things were going wrong for the Jews, Hillel and Shammai defined what was going right.
67 CE - The Great Revolt of Jews against Rome begins The Great Revolt In a seemingly suicidal move, Jews decided to take on the might of Rome.
120 CE - Rebellion of Bar Kochba The Bar Kochba Revolt Despite the disastrous results of the Great Revolt, the Jews revolt again and again.
136 CE - Rabbi Akiva martyred Exile The Romans sought to extinguish Jewish presence in Jerusalem by renaming it Aelia Capitolina, and by changing Israel to Palestine.
219 CE - Mishna compiled by Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi Talmud In a time of chaos, the rabbis decide that they must do the unprecedented—write down the Oral Law.
Seeds of Christianity During a time of cruel oppression of the Jews, a number of splinter sects sprang up whose members believed that the Apocalypse was at hand.
312 CE - Constantine converts Roman Empire to Christianity
(Fall of Rome and rise of Byzantine Empire) From Paul to Constantine At first, Christianity was the most successful where people had been attracted to Judaism but were unwilling to take on all its precepts.
638 CE - Islamic conquest of Jerusalem The Rise of Islam Mohammed reacted with anger when Jews refused to recognize him as the last of the prophets. The Jews of Babylon The oldest and most stable of Jewish communities was saved from the Christians by Muslims sweeping through the Middle East.
1040 CE - Time of Rashi begins 1135 CE - Time of Maimonides begins The Jews of Spain The land of opportunity for Jews—from the 8th to the 12th century—was Spain.
1096 CE - Time of Crusades begins The Crusades The Crusaders came to liberate the Holy Land from the "infidels" and woe to any Jews who stood in their way.
1144 CE - First Blood Libel Blood Libel Nothing can rationally explain the extreme Christian accusations leveled against the Jews at this time: Jews killed babies and drank their blood!
1263 CE - The Great Disputation; time of Nachamanides 1348 CE - Black Plague The Black Death Although the Europeans didn’t know what brought on the bubonic plague, they had no trouble naming the cause—it had to be the Jews!
1478 CE - The Inquisition begins 1492 CE - Jews expelled from Spain; Columbus discovers America
(Ottoman Empire takes over the Middle East) The Inquisition The basic accusation of the Inquisition was that Jews who converted to Christianity were still secretly Jewish.
1517 CE - Protestant Reformation; time of Martin Luther The Reformation and the Jews The Reformation exposed the corruption of the Church and brought about the advent of Protestantism. For the Jews it just meant more bad news.
1567 CE - Jews invited into Poland
The Jews of Poland King Boleslav of Poland invited the Jews, granting them unprecedented rights and privileges.
1570 CE - Time of the Ari & Kabbalists The Kabbalists In the 16th century, the mountaintop town of Tzfat became the center of Jewish mysticism – the Kabbalah.
1648 CE - Chmielnicki Massacres in Eastern Europe The Jews of Poland 1651 CE - Time of Shabbetai Tzvi, false messiah
1698 CE - Time of the Ba’al Shem Tov begins; the Hassidic Movement 1772 CE - Time of the Misnagdim & Vilna Goan
(The Enlightenment; American Revolution; French Revolution) The Hassidic Movement Initially a movement of the poor and uneducated, Hassidism introduced Kabbalah and spirituality into everyday life.
1791 CE - Jews herded into Pale of Settlement in Russia Pale of Settlement An area of Russia where Jews were most oppressed, the Pale of Settlement gave rise to amazingly good things.
1810 CE - Reform Movement begins in Germany Reform Movement The German Jews who founded the Reform Movement emphasized their loyalty to the "fatherland" in order to be accepted in mainstream German society.
1881 CE - Jews made scapegoats for Czar of Russia The Czars and the Jews In Czarist Russia, government-organized pogroms against the Jews kept the eyes of masses off the corrupt regime.
1894 CE - Dreyfus Affair in France The Face of Anti-Semitism Even in such civilized nation as France and the United States, anti-Semitism never died out.
1897 CE - First Zionist Congress
(World War I; end of Ottoman Empire) Modern Zionism The First Zionist Conference, held in 1897, was a major event in the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
1917 CE - British Mandate begins in Palestine; Balfour Declaration 1927 CE - Country of Jordan created by the British on the East Bank of the Jordan River The British Mandate The British promised to create a Jewish state. Instead they served their own Arab-linked interests as millions died in the Holocaust.
1933 CE - Hitler comes to power in Germany
(World War II) The Holocaust While Nazi Germany proceeded to systematically round up and execute Jews, the rest of the world closed its eyes and its doors.
1942 CE - Final Solution formulated by the Nazis The Final Solution Hitler was mindlessly focused on his goal: the elimination of all Jews from the planet.
1947 CE - Partition of Palestine by the UN 1948 CE - State of Israel declared The State of Israel After the British brutally turned away Holocaust survivors from Israel, the UN voted to partition the land.
1948 CE - War of Independence 1964 CE - PLO founded 1967 CE - Six Day War and Reunification of Jerusalem War Since its founding in 1948, Israel has been in a constant state of war and yet it has achieved great economic success.
It has been prophesied in the Torah that Jews would be an eternal nation:
“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and your descendants after you, throughout the generations. An eternal covenant to be your God, and the God of your descendants after you” (Genesis 17-7).
This promise is repeated many times throughout the Torah (Leviticus 26:43, Deuteronomy 4:26-27, Deut. 28:63-64). And it has come true. Even though Jews did not have a homeland, a common language or a shared history (the factors that historians use to define a nation), they have remained a distinct people.
It has been prophesied in the Torah that Jews would be exiled and dispersed:
“And you, I will scatter among the nations, at the point of My drawn sword, leaving your country desolate and your cities in ruins” (Leviticus 26:33).
Jews have remained a people despite exile and dispersion. In all of human history, there have been less than ten exiles of an entire people out of their country. It’s a highly unusual phenomenon to take a whole people and throw them out of their country.
Multiple exiles are unheard of, since after the first one the people generally disappear—they simply become assimilated among other peoples. In human history, multiple exiles and dispersion are unique only to the Jewish people.
The dispersion of the Jewish People to the four corners of the globe is a completely unique phenomenon in human history. Jews have wandered and settled in almost every land on earth -while somehow managing to maintain their distinct national identity.
The Jewish people were exiled from Israel by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. They survived, returned to Israel after 70 years, and then built the Second Temple. Then in 70 CE, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple, causing the Jews to go into exile once again.
Therefore, we see two different uniquenesses:
A. The only nation exiled twice from their own land
B. The only nation to ever survive and return from a previous exile
The Torah goes on to spell out one final uniqueness within this phenomenon—amongst these nations within which the Jews will be scattered, there will be a continual wandering. Immediately after Deuteronomy 28:64 (“And G-d shall scatter you among all the peoples from one end of the earth to the other…”), the prophesy continues—“Among those nations you shall find no repose, not a foot of ground to stand upon, for there the L-rd will give you an anguished heart and wasted eyes and a dismayed spirit.” (Deuteronomy 28:65).
This prophesy of the “Wandering Jew” has remarkably not only characterized our ancient history, it continues to identify us as a unique people right up until and including the present day.
When we scan the diaspora of Jewry over the entire globe and throughout the entire civilized world, we are surprised to see that this Nation, which is almost the most ancient in the world, is in truth the youngest in terms of the land under its feet and the sky above its head. As a result of the relentless persecutions and forced expulsions, most Jews are but recent new-comers to their respective lands of residence. Ninety percent of the Jewish people have lived in their new homes for no more than 50 or 60 years! (The Jewish People) are dispersed throughout over 100 lands on all five continents.
- Leschzinsky, “The Jewish Dispersion”, pg. 9 (Heb.)
It has been prophesied in the Torah that Jews will survive as an eternal nation despite dispersion and being few in number:
“God will then scatter you among the nations, and only a small number will remain among the nations where God shall lead you” (Deuteronomy 4:27).
To every other people, a small population spells extinction. We know from the records that the Romans kept about 2,000 years ago, there were between 8-10 million Jews living in the world. How many Jews do demographers say should be in the world today?
If in the same period of time, the Chinese went from a population of 30 million to over 1 billion people, there should be approximately 500 million Jews alive in the world today. After the Chinese and the Indians, the third largest ethnic group on the planet earth should be the Jews! But there are only 14 million Jews alive today.
There are virtually no more Jews in the world today than there were 2,000 years ago and yet throughout all this time, the Jews remained a distinct people.
The term “anti-Semitism” itself is very curious. Why not refer to the hatred and persecution of Jews by more generic terms like religious bigotry, xenophobia, or racism? The Jews are the only group in the world with a unique term for their persecution. Why? The world seems to realize that anti-Semitism isn’t simply one more unfortunate example of hatred in the world, but is instead a phenomenon specific to the Jews.
There are four different aspects to anti-Semitism which characterize it as being a hatred like no other:
The universal scope of anti-Semitism can be seen in the fact that Jews have been expelled from virtually every country in which they have resided. Jews were expelled from England in 1290, France in 1306 and 1394, Hungary in 1349 and 1360, Austria in 1421, from various places in Germany throughout the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, from Lithuania in 1445 and 1495, Spain in 1492, Portugal in 1497, and from Bohemia and Moravia in 1744-45. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, Jews were not permitted to enter Russia, and when they were finally admitted, they were restricted to one area, the Pale of Settlement.
Parallel to these atrocities in Europe were various levels of anti-Semitism at the hands of the Arabs. From Islam’s inception in the 7th century, the Jews living in Arab countries were constantly made to feel like second-class citizens. Violent outbreaks sporadically occurred throughout the following 1300 years and reached a climax during the years 1948 and 1967. During that period, almost all of the Jews living in Aden, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, over 500,000 in all, were forced to flee, fearing for their lives, in the wake of pogroms, assaults and massacres.
Even as far away as Ethiopia, where a small community of Jews were cut off from the rest of the Jewish people for over 2000 years, we find evidence of persecution from the neighboring peoples. There has even been evidence of anti-Semitism in Japan—a country where virtually no Jews ever lived! Jewish Persecution Timeline
The ultimate example is the Holocaust (acknowledged throughout the world as the ultimate manifestation of evil in all of history)—the only time an entire people (i.e., men, women and children) had a campaign of complete annihilation waged against them.
Most of the world’s great powers, even those with only a small percentage of Jews among them, regarded the Jews as a central enemy. This phenomenon began as early as the Greek persecutions of Jews during the Second Temple period. It continued with the late Roman Empire, the Arabs, and the Christian world for over 15 centuries (most notably with the frequent occurrence of blood libels all throughout the Middle Ages) and more recently with the Nazis and the Soviet Union, as well as the Arabs today.
FULL LIST OF EMPIRES AGAINST THE JEWS:
Ottoman Turkish Empire,
We are the only people ever accused of “deicide” (killing a god)—this has been claimed as one of the major causes of anti-Semitism for almost 2000 years. Despite the fact that eating blood is as strong a prohibition as that against eating pork, Jews were constantly persecuted throughout the Middle Ages through blood libels, the charge that we drank the blood of non-Jewish children. We were attacked in pogroms for well-poisoning and once even for air-poisoning.
The Jews in Germany were accused of having brought Socialism and Communism to Germany, of being responsible for Germany losing World War I, and of causing the economic problems of the 1920’s. This paranoia existed in spite of the fact that the percentage of Jews in Germany at the time was only 0.8%. Many nations have even hurt themselves with their persecution of the Jews, most notably Spain (economically) and Germany (with science, culture, military, etc.).
A forgery purporting to be the conspiratorial discussions of Jewish elders plotting to take over the world, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was, next to the Bible, the best-selling book in the world during the 1920’s. It has since been printed in numerous languages. Since 1987 it is being widely distributed in Japan…
Of all the extreme fanaticism that plays havoc in man’s nature, there is none as irrational as anti-Semitism. The Jews cannot vindicate themselves in the eyes of these fanatics. If the Jews are rich, they are victims of theft and extortion. If they are poor, they are victims of ridicule. If they take sides in a war, it is because they wish to gain advantage from the spilling of non-Jewish blood. If they espouse peace, it is because they are scared and anxious by nature or traitors to their country. If the Jew dwells in a foreign land he is persecuted and expelled. If he wishes to return to his own land, he is prevented from doing so. - Lloyd George, 1923
Whatever we do, that is precisely what is cited as the reason for the hatred against us. At the same time that Jews in America were accused of being communists, Jews in Russia were being labeled as capitalists. The more one studies anti-Semitism, the more obvious it becomes that the innumerable “explanations” offered throughout the various societies in which Jews have resided are not reasons at all (i.e. whose absence would necessarily result in no more persecutions), but rather excuses.
But as my research into Jewish history progressed, I was surprised, depressed, and to some extent overwhelmed by the perpetual and irrational violence which pursued the Jews in every country and to almost every corner of the globe. If, therefore, persecution, expulsion, torture, humiliation, and mass murder haunt these pages, it is because they also haunt the Jewish story.
- Martin Gilbert, “Jewish History Atlas” Oxford 1985
It has been prophesied in the Torah that Jews will be persecuted:
“Among those nations you shall find no respite, no rest for your foot. There God will make you cowardly, destroying your outlook and making life hopeless. You will live in constant suspense. Day and night, you will be terrified, never sure of your existence. In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were night,’ and in the evening you will say, ‘If only it were morning!’ Such will be the dread that your heart will feel and the sights that your eyes will see” (Deut. 28:65-67).
No other form of racial hatred comes close to anti-Semitism in its virulence, its intensity and its irrationality.
As Professor Michael Curtis of Rutgers University put it:
“The uniqueness of anti-Semitism lies in the fact that no other people in the world have ever been charged simultaneously with alienation from society and with cosmopolitanism, with being capitalistic exploiters and also revolutionary communist advocators. The Jews were accused of having an imperious mentality, at the same time they’re a people of the book. They’re accused of being militant aggressors, at the same time as being cowardly pacifists. With being a chosen people, and also having an inferior human nature. With both arrogance and timidity. With both extreme individualism and community adherence. With being guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus and at the same time held to account for the invention of Christianity.” (Colloquium on anti-Semitism, 1987)
If we look at the history of anti-Semitism, we see one unceasing chain of slaughter, pogroms, pillaging, expulsion, etc. There are horrendous levels of violence that lead up to the worst thing that can be done to a hated people: Genocide. Most nations in history have not been subjected to even one genocide. But in almost every generation there’s an attempted Jewish genocide somewhere in the world on a macrocosmic or microcosmic scale. Jewish Persecution Timeline
It has been prophesied in the Torah that Jews would be a light unto the nations,
“I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. You shall become a blessing. And I will bless those who bless
Now, if you obey Me and keep my covenant, then you shall be My special treasure among all the nations for all the world is Mine. And you will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation to Me… (Exodus 19:5-6)
The prophet Isaiah (42:6) states,
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand and keep you. And I will establish you as a covenant of the people, for a light unto the nations.”
Despite our small numbers, the Jewish People seem to occupy a disproportionate place as a focus of world attention.
As Mark Twain wrote of the Jew:
“He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning, are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.”
How could we imagine a small group having such a profound impact on the world all around it? The two approaches which seem to have some precedent to them are:
1) Conquest (like in the case of Greece and Rome), or
2) Proselytization (as with Christianity and Islam).
The difficulty, however, is that during the past almost 2,000 years, the Jewish people have rarely had an army, and have always shied away from conversions.
Despite being the most hated people, few in number and dispersed across the globe, Jews are the most influential people the world has known. Jews are responsible for the idea of ethical monotheism and the absolute moral standard that comes from a belief in one God.
Before the Jews, the ancient world thought that infanticide was morally correct (even Aristotle wrote in favor of it.) Before the Jews came along, the world thought that “might was right.”
It was the Jewish people that gave the world the ideas of respect for life, peace, equality, justice, love of neighbor, social responsibility, and holiness of human purpose.
Approximately three billion people (almost half the world) believes in some form of monotheism, and all agree that they got it from us (i.e. from Abraham). This is the clear prerequisite to both morality and civilization in the world.
All throughout the world, many of the major concepts within Judaism have been widely accepted:
We are all “children of one G-d”, therefore we have a fundamental social responsibility towards others. This leads directly to “love your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:18)—a Jewish, not a Christian idea.
Society must be committed to truth, justice, fair trials, etc.
All people have free will and unlimited potential for greatness. “All men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence). This may be why the Talmud mandated universal education about 2,000 years ago, while the rest of the world has only incorporated this into their society within the last 100 years.
We should seek peace, not war. Today, on the wall outside the United Nations, the hope of the world is emblazoned, using the words of the Jewish prophet Isaiah: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nations shall not lift up sword against nations. Neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4) (click here for picture)
One might ask, “Aren’t these ideas intuitively obvious? How can we take credit for them? Didn’t other societies also have them?” The point being made is the following—we are the only society which doesn’t merely posses the ideas, but has a complete system for implementing them. Our society, in fact, was the only one until very recently which even attempted to actually put them into practice. It is very significant to note that many of these ideas were only accepted recently by the Western world—where our influence has been strongest, and are still not accepted in many areas of the rest of the world—where our influence has been more minimal.
A very fundamental question could be asked on everything which has been said within this prophecy until now: The prophecy is that the Jewish people will be a light unto the nations; all that has been shown until now, however, could be viewed as merely showing that the Torah alone has been a light unto the nations. Where do we have any indication that the Jewish people themselves, independent from Judaism, have an intrinsic ability to strongly impact the world? In other words, maybe there is nothing particularly distinctive about Jews themselves. Perhaps, it is only because the Jews have been in possession of such an extraordinary book, the Torah, that their impact upon the world has been so profound!
The difficulty with attempting to answer this question is that all throughout history, Jews have been so intrinsically connected with the Torah. It would seem that the only way to evaluate this would be to do an experiment in which we separated Jews from Judaism. We could then determine if Jews continued behaving in an extraordinary manner (although not necessarily in accordance with Torah guidelines) or simply faded into the background and acted like all other people.
This experiment has already been performed for us. Over the past 150 years, for the first time in all of Jewish history, we have Jews entirely disconnected from Judaism. What then do we find when we study the behavior of these first truly secular Jews?
The Wall Street Journal ran a 3-part series a few years ago on the three individuals that in their view had the greatest impact on the entire 20th century. Who do you think they selected? Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, and Karl Marx. How likely is it that all three would turn out to be Jewish? Considering that the Jews have never (in recent times) exceeded 1/2 of 1% of the world population, that means that for every Jew that lived within the previous 150 years, there were over 200 non-Jews. Therefore the odds against the first of these three occupying this position of ultimate influence on the world were 200 to 1, the second joining him were 40,000 to 1, and the third being there as well, were 8,000,000 to 1.
Remarkably, Jews have received almostone-fifth of all Nobel prizes awarded since 1901. This is all the more striking when one considers that it was as recently as the middle of the 19th century that Jews were first given the ability to attend universities and enter many different professions, especially in the various sciences!
Jews continue to be exceptionally committed to education. In America, they are twice as likely to attend college as non-Jews. At Ivy League schools, about 23% of students are Jewish, even though Jews comprise just 2% of the U.S. population, according to Hillel. In numerous top colleges, Jews comprise in excess of 30% of the student population. At least 35% of Washington students and about 30% of Emory students are Jewish, even though these are in the south, with traditionally low Jewish student populations. In 2002, the Wall Street Journal reported that many colleges were actively recruiting Jews to their ranks. This encluded Vanderbilt where Jewish enrollment had gone up from 2% in the 70’s to 4% in the 2000s. Princeton in the 1980s cultivated ties with predominantly Jewish high schools by offering merit scholarships to their graduates. One third of the University of Pennsylvania’s student body is Jewish.
Jews are prominently in the forefront pushing for social change:
1) Many of the top leaders of both the Russian and Hungarian revolutions were Jewish.
2) Approximately 60% of the members of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society)—the major student activist organization of the 1960’s, were Jews. The two most well-known student activists of the 1960’s, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, were both Jews. In fact, a survey by the American Council of Education in 1966-7 stated that “the best single predictor of campus protest (during the 1960’s) was the presence of a substantial number of students from Jewish backgrounds.”
3) In 1967, 40% of all Peace Corps volunteers were Jewish.
4) In careers: Jews in the USA are over represented in proportion to the general population by 231% in medicine, 233% in mathematics, 265% in law, 300% in dentistry, and 479% in psychiatry.
5) In income: Jews in the USA have the highest income of any ethnic group, 72% above the average and 40% higher than the second highest group, the Japanese.
The Gemara says that Jews are more driven for meaning than non-Jews. It is this extraordinary drive for meaning which seems to be the common denominator for all of these many differences in the behavior of even secular Jews. Whether meaning is understood in terms of science, education, desire for social change, idealism, a prestigious profession, or just money—Jews are clearly more determined and able to achieve a remarkable level of success than the general non-Jewish population around them. One thing which is abundantly clear—this phenomenon of uniqueness is just as much a function and a statement of the Jewish people themselves as it is about the Torah.
It has been prophesied in the Torah that the land of Israel was rich and fertile while the Jews were living there:
“I have come down to rescue them from Egypt’s power. I will bring them out of that land, to a good, spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…”
Even up until the time of Josephus (i.e. approximately 1300 years later), it was still very prosperous and fertile.
For the whole area is excellent for crops or pasturage and rich in trees of every kind, so that by its fertility it invites even those least inclined to work on the land. In fact, every inch of it has been cultivated by the inhabitants and not a parcel goes to waste. It is thickly covered with towns, and thanks to the natural abundance of the soil, the many villages are so densely populated that the smallest of them has more than fifteen thousand inhabitants.
(Josephus, The Jewish Wars; Book III 3:2 Penguin edition, p. 192)
And when they were exiled, it would become barren and desolate:
“So devastated will I leave the land that your enemies who live there will be astonished… Your land will remain desolate, and your cities in ruins.”
During the two thousand years of Israel’s exile from its Land, numerous empires have conquered the Land and countless wars were fought for its possession. And yet, astonishingly, no conqueror ever succeeded in permanently settling the Land or causing the deserts to blossom.
Mark Twain, who visited Israel in 1867, describes the Land of Israel:
“We traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given wholly to weeds - A silent, mournful expanse… A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action . The further we went the hotter the sun got and the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became.”
(“The Innocents Abroad” Vol. II)
Others make similar observations:
Outside the walls of Jerusalem however we saw no living being, heard no living voice. We encountered that desolation and that deadly silence which we would have expected to find at the ruined gates of Pompey… A total eternal dread spell envelopes the city, the highways and the villages… the burial grounds of an entire people.
Alfons de Lamartine, “Recollections of the East” Volume I London (1845) pg. 238 (Hebrew-French)
Until today no people has succeeded in establishing national dominion in the land of Israel… No national unity or spirit of nationalism has acquired any hold there. The mixed multitude of itinerant tribes that managed to settle there did so on lease, as temporary residents. It seems that they await the return of the permanent residents of the land.
Professor Sir John William Dosson in “Modern Science in Bible Lands” London (1888) Pp. 449-450
The Ramban comments on Leviticus 26:32
Similarly, that which He stated here, and your enemies that shall dwell therein shall be desolate in it, constitutes a good tiding, proclaiming that during all our exiles, our Land will not accept our enemies. This also is a great proof and assurance to us, for in the whole inhabited part of the world one cannot find such a good and large Land which was always lived in and yet is as ruined as it is [today], for since the time that we left it, it has not accepted any nation or people, they all try to settle it, but to no avail.
The “land of milk and honey” turning into a desert, is a phenomenon unique in the annals of history.
7) The Return of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel
It has been prophesied in the Torah that Jews would be exiled from the land and that they would return to the land:
And it shall come to pass when these things shall come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have placed before you, you will take it to heart amongst all of the nations where God has scattered you; you will return to the Lord your God and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you today, you and your children with all of your heart and with all of your soul. Then the Almighty will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you; and He will return and gather you from among all of the nations where he has dispersed you. If your dispersed ones will be even at the ends of the heavens, from there God Almighty will gather you and from there He will take you. And God your Lord will bring you to the land that your fathers inherited and you shall inherit it and He will do good for you and make you more numerous than your forefathers. (Deuteronomy 30:1-5)
No other people has ever gone into exile and survived for thousands of years to come back to re-establish a national homeland. The return of the Jews from exile to the land of Israel was nothing short of a miracle.
However, not only was the physical return of the Jewish people prophesied, the re-blossoming of the land was as well.
As for you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel, for their return is close at hand. For behold, I am with you and I shall turn to you; then you shall be tilled and sown. And I will multiply men upon you, the entire family of Israel… Then I will multiply men and animals upon you, and they shall increase and be fruitful. I shall cause you to be inhabited as in your former times and I will make you even more bountiful than you were in your beginnings. You shall know that I am G-d.
As long as Israel does not dwell on its Land, the Land does not give of her produce as she is accustomed. When she will begin to reflourish, however, and give of her fruits in abundance, this is a clear sign that the end—the time of Redemption—is approaching, when all Israel will return to their Land.
Maharsha, R. Shmuel Eliezer Aidels (1555-1631)
Just as after the 1300 years of prosperity from when the Jewish people first entered Israel from Egypt, we’d have expected this fertility to have continued, after almost 2000 years of desolation, we’d certainly expect this to continue as well. Either—even a good land would be ruined by then, OR—if the land was still good, wouldn’t we figure that someone else would have been able to have made it work before almost 2,000 years had gone by?!
When we look at Jewish history, we see a history where the Jewish people have defied the laws of nature and the laws of history! We have survived and impacted this world though we have been thrown out of our land not once, but twice! We have impacted the world perhaps more than any other people in history—the concepts of the value of human life, universal education, justice and equality, the importance of and goal of world peace (as opposed to glorifying war), the importance of a strong stable family as a basis for a moral foundation for society, individual and national responsibility for the world—though we were beaten, killed and exiled from one nation to the other. Though few in number and spread to the four corners of the earth, we survived as a people, never assimilating into anonymity. Even our land, the Land of Israel, defied the laws of nature, only fertile when the Jewish people inhabited it.
Coincidence? Good luck? A roll of the dice? Perhaps—except that each and every phenomena was prophesied and predicted in the Torah hundreds and thousands of years before the events. Does it make you think that perhaps something is going on here? That perhaps there is a special relationship between the Almighty and the Jewish people?
The Almighty, the Jewish people and the Torah are intertwined. In the past 3,300 years there have been effort after effort—from within as well as from without—to redefine and redirect our people. Each and every one has failed. If you wonder why, then perhaps the time has come to read the Torah and find out. The Torah is not only our heritage, it is the game plan for the Jewish people and the world.
Persecution of Jews by Muslims
Two millennia of Jewish persecution
persecution of Jews: 1800 to 1946
The conversion from religiously-based to racially-based persecution:
Prior to 1800 CE: Persecution was directed at followers of Judaism because of their religious beliefs; it has been referred to as anti-Judaism. CE, Jews could escape oppression by converting to Christianity, and being baptized. The Christian church taught in past centuries that all Jews (past, present and future) were responsible for Jesus' death. The Church also believed that some Jews must be allowed to live, because the biblical book of Revelation indicated that they had a role to play in the "end times." They concluded that it was acceptable to make Jews' lives quite miserable.
Since about 1800: "...Nationalism became a dominant value in the Western and Arab worlds...antisemitism increasingly focused on the Jews' peoplehood and nationhood." 15 Persecution became a form of racism, and has generally been called "anti-Semitism" -- a word "created by an antisemite, Wilhelm Marr [in 1879]. Marr's intention was to replace the German word Judenhass (Jew-hatred) with a term that would make Jew-haters sound less vulgar and even somewhat scientific." 15 The word, (variously spelled antisemite, anti-Semite and anti-semite). It is not a particularly good choice, because the root word "Semitic" refers to a group of languages, not to a single language or to a race, people or nation. However, it is in near-universal usage.
Antisemitism: Persecution of Jews along racial lines:
Subsequent attacks against Jews tended to be racially motivated. They were perpetrated primarily by the state. The Jewish people were viewed as a separate people or race.
1806: A French Jesuit Priest, Abbe Barruel, had written a treatise blaming the Masonic Order for the French Revolution. He later issued a letter alleging that Jews, not the Masons were the guilty party. This triggered a belief in an international Jewish conspiracy in Germany, Poland and some other European countries later in the 19th century.
1819: During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many European Jews lobbied their governments for emancipation. They sought citizenship as well as the same rights and treatment as were enjoyed by non-Jews. This appears to have provoked sporadic anti-semites to engage in anti-Jewish violence. The rioters cried "Hep! Hep!." The origin(s) of this cry are not clear. Jews and their property were attacked first in Wuerzburg, Germany during 1819-AUG. The rioting spread across Germany and eventually reached as far as Denmark and Poland. 17
1840: A rumor spread in Syria that some Jews were responsible for the ritual killing of a Roman Catholic monk and his servant. As a result of horrendous treatment, some local Jews confessed to a crime that they did not commit. This "Damascus Affair" spurred early Zionist writers like Hess to promote the Zionist cause. 17More details.
1846 - 1878: Pope Pius IX restored all of the previous restrictions against the Jews within the Vatican state. All Jews under Papal control were confined to Rome's ghetto - the last one in Europe until the Nazi era restored the church's practice. On 2000-SEP-3, Pope John Paul II beatified Pius IX; this is the last step before sainthood. He explained: "Beatifying a son of the church does not celebrate particular historic choices that he has made, but rather points him out for imitation and for veneration for his virtue."
1858: Edgardo Mortara was kidnapped, at the age of six, from his Jewish family by Roman Catholic officials after they found out that a maid had secretly baptized him. He was not returned to his family but was raised a Catholic. He eventually became a priest.
1873: The term "antisemitism" is first used in a pamphlet by Wilhelm Marr called "Jewry's Victory over Teutonism."
1881: Alexander II of Russia was assassinated by radicals. The Jews were blamed. About 200 individual pogroms against the Jews followed. ("Pogrom" is a Russian word meaning "devastation" or "riot." In Russia, a pogrom was typically a mob riot against Jewish individuals, shops, homes or businesses. They were often supported and even organized by the government.) Thousands of Jews became homeless and impoverished. The few who were charged with offenses generally received very light sentences. 1
1893: "...anti-Semitic parties won sixteen seats in the German Reichstag." 2
1894: Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an officer on the French general staff, was convicted of treason. The evidence against him consisted of a piece of paper from his wastebasket with another person's handwriting, and papers forged by antisemitic officers. He received a life sentence on Devil's Island, off the coast of South America. The French government was aware that a Major Esterhazy was actually guilty. 3 The church, government and army united to suppress the truth. Writer Emile Zola and politician Jean Jaur? fought for justice and human rights. After 10 years, the French government fell and Drefus was declared totally innocent. The Dreyfus Affair was world-wide news for years. It motivated Journalist Theodor Herzl to write a book in 1896: "The Jewish State: A Modern Solution to the Jewish Question." The book led to the founding of the Zionist movement which fought for a Jewish Homeland. A half century later, the state of Israel was born.
1903: At Easter, government agents organized an anti-Jewish pogrom in Kishinev, Moldova, Russia. The local newspaper published a series of inflammatory articles. A Christian child was discovered murdered and a young Christian woman at the Jewish Hospital committed suicide. Jews were blamed for the deaths. Violence ensured. The 5,000 soldiers in the town did nothing. When the smoke cleared, 49 Jews had been killed, 500 were injured; 700 homes looted and destroyed, 600 businesses and shops looted, 2,000 families left homeless. Later, it was discovered that the child had been murdered by its relatives and the suicide was unrelated to the Jews. 4
1905: The Okhrana, the Russian secret police in the reign of Czar Nicholas II, converted an earlier antisemitic novel into a document called the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion." 16 It was published privately in 1897. A Russian Orthodox priest, Sergius Nilus, published them publicly in 1905. It was promoted as the record of "secret rabbinical conferences whose aim was to subjugate and exterminate the Christians." 5 The Protocols were used by the Okhrana in a propaganda campaign that was associated with massacres of the Jews. These were the Czarist Pogroms of 1905.
1915: 600,000 Jews were forcibly moved from the western borders of Russia towards the interior. About 100,000 died of exposure or starvation.
1917: "In the civil war following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the reactionary White Armies made extensive use of the Protocols to incite widespread slaughters of Jews." 5 Two hundred thousand Jews were murdered in the Ukraine alone.
1920: The Protocols reach England and the United States. They are exposed as a forgery, but are widely circulated. Henry Ford sponsored a study of international activities of Jews. This led to a series of antisemitic articles in the Dearborn Independent, which were published in a book, "The International Jew." The Protocols were sold on Wal-Mart's online bookstore until they were removed on 2004-SEP-21.
1920: The defeat of Germany in World War I and the continuing economic difficulties were blamed in that country on the "Jewish influence." One antisemitic poster has been preserved from that era. 6 It shows a German, presumably Christian woman, a male Jew with distorted facial features, a coffin and the word "Deutschland" (Germany).
1920's, 1930's: Hitler had published in Mein Kampf in 1925, writing: "Today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." The Protocols are used by the Nazis to whip up public hatred of the Jews in the 1930's. Widespread pogroms occur in Greece, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Rumania, and the USSR. Radio programs by many conservative American clergy, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, frequently attacked Jews. Reverend Fr. Charles E Coughlin was one of the best known. "In the 1930's, radio audiences heard him rail against the threat of Jews to America's economy and defend Hitler's treatment of Jews as justified in the fight against communism." (12) Other conservative Christian leaders, such as Frank Norris and John Straton supported the Jews. 7
Discrimination against Jews in North America is widespread. Many universities set limits on the maximum number of Jewish students that they would accept. Harvard accepted all students on the basis of merit until after World War I when the percentage of Jewish students approached 15%. At that time they installed an informal quota system. In 1941, Princeton had fewer than 2% Jews in their student body. Jews were routinely barred from country clubs, prestigious neighborhoods, etc. 8
1933: Hitler took power in Germany. On APR-1, Julius Streicher organized a one-day boycott of all Jewish owned businesses in the country. This was the start of continuous oppression by the Nazis culminating in the Holocaust (a.k.a. Shoah). Jews "were barred from civil service, legal professions and universities, were not allowed to teach in schools and could not be editors of newspapers." 2 Two years later, Jews were no longer considered citizens.
1934: Various laws were enacted in Germany to force Jews out of schools and professions.
1935: The Nazis passed the Nuremberg Laws restricting citizenship to those of "German or related blood." Jews became stateless.
1936: Cardinal Hloud of Poland urged Catholics to boycott Jewish businesses.
1938: On NOV-9, the Nazi government in Germany sent storm troopers, the SS and the Hitler Youth on a pogrom that killed 91 Jews, injured hundreds, burned 177 synagogues and looted 7,500 Jewish stores. Broken glass could be seen everywhere; the glass gave this event its name of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. 9
1938: Hitler brought back century-old church law, ordering all Jews to wear a yellow Star of David as identification. A few hundred thousand Jews are allowed to leave Germany after they give all of their assets to the government.
1939: The Holocaust, the Shoah -- the systematic extermination of Jews in Germany -- began. The process only ended in 1945 with the conclusion of World War II and the liberation of the death camps. Approximately 6 million Jews (1.5 million of them children), 400 thousand Roma (Gypsies) and others were slaughtered. Some were killed by death squads; others were slowly killed in trucks with carbon monoxide; others were gassed in large groups in Auschwitz, Dacau, Sobibor, Treblinka and other extermination camps. Officially, the holocaust was described by the Nazis as subjecting Jews "to special treatment" or as a "solution of the Jewish question." Gold taken from the teeth of the victims was recycled; hair was used in the manufacture of mattresses. In the Buchenwald extermination camp, lampshades were made out of human skin; however, this appears to be an isolated incident. A rumor spread that Jewish corpses were routinely converted into soap. However, the story appears to be false. 10
1940: The Vichy government of France collaborated with Nazi Germany by freezing about 80,000 Jewish bank accounts. During the next four years, they deported about 76,000 Jews to Nazi death camps; only about 2,500 survived. It was only in 1995 that a French president, Jacques Chirac, "was able to admit that the state bore a heavy share of responsibility in the mass round-ups and deportations of Jews, as well as in the property and asset seizures that were carried out with the active help of the Vichy regime." 11
1941: The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC estimates that 13,000 Jews died on 1941-JUN-19 during a pogrom in Bucharest, Romania. It was ordered by the pro-Nazi Romanian regime of Marshal Ion Antonescu. The current government has admitted that this atrocity happened, but most Romanians continue to deny that the Jews were killed on orders from their own government. 12
1941: Polish citizens in Jedwabne in northeastern Poland killed hundreds of Jews, by either beating them to death or burning them alive in a barn. According to the Associated Press: "The role played by Polish citizens was suppressed for nearly six decades until publication of a book by a Polish emigre historian, Jan Tomasz Gross. After release of the book in 2000, the Polish government launched an investigation. 'The role of the Poles was decisive in conducting the criminal act,' [prosecutor Radoslaw] Ignatiew, said. The book, 'Neighbours,' sparked national soul-searching among Poles, many of whom could not believe that anybody but the Nazis would have committed the atrocity." 13
1942: The Nazi leaders of Germany, at the Wannsee conference, decided on"the final solution of the Jewish question" which was the attempt to exterminate every Jew in Europe. From JUL-28 to 31, almost 18,000 Russian inhabitants of the Minsk ghetto in what is now Belarus were exterminated. This was in addition to 5,000 to 15,000 who had been massacred in earlier pogroms in that city. This was just one of many such pogroms during World War II. 14
1945: The Shoah (Holocaust) ended as the Allied Forces over-ran the Nazi death camps.
1946: Even though World War II ended the year before, antisemitic pogroms continued, particularly in Poland, with the deaths of many Jews.