The Roots of Antisemitism

By Gideon

Antisemitism is prejudice, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as a national, ethnic, religious or racial group, a form of racism. Antisemitism may be manifested in many ways, ranging from expressions of hatred of or discrimination against individual Jews to organized violent attacks by mobs, state police, or even military attacks on entire Jewish communities. [Wikipedia]

In 1879, German journalist Wilhelm Marr originated the term antisemitism, denoting the hatred of Jews, and also hatred of various liberal, cosmopolitan, and international political trends of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries often associated with Jews. The trends under attack included equal civil rights, constitutional democracy, free trade, socialism, finance capitalism, and pacifism.

The specific hatred of Jews, however, preceded the modern era and the coining of the term antisemitism. Among the most common manifestations of antisemitism throughout history were pogroms, violent riots launched against Jews and frequently encouraged by government authorities. Pogroms were often incited by blood libels—false rumors that Jews used the blood of Christian children for ritual purposes.

Hostility toward Jews dates to ancient time. Jews were criticized and sometimes punished for their efforts to remain a separate social and religious group that refused to adopt the values and the way of life of the non-Jewish societies in which it lived. The rise of Christianity and Islam greatly increased hatred of Jews.

In his book The Chosen, Dr. Avi Beker, claims that the roots of antisemitism is in the competition between the three major monotheistic religions; each one claims to be the “Chosen People” (special people in the eyes of the Almighty G-D). The Jews were the first to claim it and as long as they are claiming it, the two other religions have difficulties claiming it for themselves. The idea of the Chosen People occupies a central place in Jewish tradition and liturgy and should be viewed as the key defining concept of Judaism. It also remains, however, the central unspoken and explosive psychological, historical, and theological problem at the heart of Jewish-Gentile relations.

In the modern era, antisemites added a political dimension to their ideology of hatred. In the last third of the nineteenth century, antisemitic political parties were formed in Germany, France, and Austria. Publications such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion generated or provided support for fraudulent theories of an international Jewish conspiracy. A potent component of political antisemitism was nationalism, whose adherents often falsely denounced Jews as disloyal citizens.

Related Article:  “A Christian can never be an anti-Semite”: A new chapter in Jewish – Catholic Rrelationships


The Chosen by Dr. Avi Beker


Holocaust Encyclopedia