Modern Anti-Semitism
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Modern Anti-Semitism

What are the different forms of religious, political, social and racial anti-Semitism?

Why are Jews hated and persecuted?

Religious anti-Semitism

In an all encompassing, Christian (predominantly Catholic) world Jews who believed in one God and not a trinity and an infallible Church were outsiders, not part of Christian society. Jews were alternately persecuted and protected, but always singled out.

 

Political anti-Semitism

After the 17th century, in the wake of religious wars, religious discrimination was deemed less and less acceptable. The power of the Church declined, alternative forms of religious worship gained ground, and in the Age of Enlightenment, leading to the French Revolution Jewish emancipation and the integration of Jews into European society gained support. This, however, aligned the issue of Jewish emancipation with radicalism, the revolutionary spirit, and thus conservative and clerical forces vigorously opposed it.

 

Social anti-Semitism

Due to economic changes, and social changes particularly in Eastern Europe Jews migrated from small rural settlements to large important centres where they created communities of outstanding intellectual, social and economic quality. This however aroused the jealousy and antagonism of Christians also similarly dislocated by these social changes, thus members of the old craft guilds resented the competition of Jewish craftsmen, Christian money-lenders resented the historically strong position of Jewish bankers, and the intellectual middle class resented the dramatic success of Jewish intellectuals. Radical philosophers considered Jewish attachment to religion as contrary to the spirit of enlightenment, while conservatives associated Jews with radicalism.

 

Racial anti-Semitism

The notion that Jews were a distinct race had its roots in the racial theories propounded by H. S. Chamberlain, which depicted history as a struggle between Aryan and Semitic races. Prior to that Jews who converted to Christianity were accepted as part of Christian society.

 

National anti-Semitism

The idea of the ‘Nation’ and the 'Nation State’ was a product of the Napoleonic wars. Nationalist anti-Semites thought of Jews as outsiders with no share in the nation’s heritage. Their influence in the arts was considered corrupting by Wagner and others.

 

Anti-Semitism of envy

Due to the Jewish tradition of charity and close family ties, societies from which they were excluded envied the support Jewish communities provided to their poor, including small entrepreneurs who tried to better themselves. They also envied the international network that Jews established through family and community connections, which enabled them to be outstandingly successful in international trade and banking. The tradition of Jewish literacy helped Jews outperform their neighbours in arts and letters.

 

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