Anti-semitism

  • Category: Religion
  • Words: 1077
  • Grade: 100
For more than two thousand years anti-Semitism has plagued the Jews, however, the term has only been around for about thirty years (Strack 594). Due to the hateful accusations and of those who did not understand their religion, Jews, as a scorned people, gradually became more exclusive and intolerant of other religions. Because of Judaism's strict adherence to their own beliefs and unwillingness to consider any alternatives, Muslims and Christians have scorned and persecuted Jews.

        First, the Muslim's basis for anti-Judaism rests primarily on religious beliefs. Islam teaches that Allah, the Muslim god, requires that a good Muslim pray a ritual prayer five times per day, give a token of their income to charity, and if possible a pilgrimage to Mecca, their Holy City ("The Rise and Spread of Islam"¦"). "Muhammad himself was hostile to the Jews" (Rivkin 25) because he believed Allah to be the one true God and saw the Jewish Doctrine of the Trinity to be polytheistic. The Jews, however, rejected all divine worship except their own. Also, Jews had certain laws and customs concerning food and circumcision which further segregated them from the Muslims. All these differences gave rise to mutual rejection between these two groups. As part of his rejection of the Jews, Muhammad abandoned certain Jewish customs, for example, Saturday as the Muslim holy day and Jerusalem as the Muslim holy city (Davies 329). The conversion of a Muslim to any other religion was strictly forbidden and punishable by death. The Jews were given the dhimmi status "meaning that they were not deserving of slaughter and could retain their religious practices in a limited form" ("The Spread of Islam to India"¦"). Just as slaves, the Jews did not possess full legal rights ("The Rise and Spread of Islam"¦"). These dhimmis were merely tolerated and forced to pay special taxes and wear yellow badges as a means of public identification (Davies 329). Evidence presented by a Jew in court against a Muslim would not be accepted. Dhimmis had to obtain permission before building new places of worship or repairing old ones, and they could never construct worship cites that overshadowed Muslim places of worship. Jews were also prohibited from carrying arms, riding horses or camels, or inheriting from a Muslim ("The Rise and Spread of Islam"¦"). In addition, Jews killed animals only according to the Jewish rites. In some places these methods were outlawed deliberately, making permanent residence in that place by Jews very difficult and therefore regulating it (Strack 597). "Forced out of agriculture by the discriminating land tax, many Jews"¦undertook an active role in the expanding international trade and finance" (Rivkin 25) because they needed a means of making money in order to survive. However Muslim merchants were granted privileges over others therefore the merchants who were discriminated against had to work extra hard, be extra shrewd, and even more importantly charge interest in order to survive and get ahead. In consequence, the Jews got stereotyped as being ruthless, money-hungry, and even unethical. One well-known ethnologist Friedrich Von Hellwald says, "No means are too wicked for them to use in order to secure a material advantage." He also sums up the general hate for the Jews when he says, "We cannot do otherwise than designate the Jews the very canker from which the lands of Eastern Europe suffer" (Strack 549). To conclude, Muslims rejected the Jews for their religious beliefs and rejection of Islam, but, further, they hated them for their roles in the merchant world.

        Like the Muslims the Christians persecuted the Jews for not conforming Christianity, but even more so because they blamed the Jews for the death of their savior Jesus Christ. Because of this prejudice, the Jews were blamed for causing the troubles of society (Levanon 559). In other words, so scorned were the Jews that they became scapegoats for the wrath of the community. Also, Christianity had converted many heathens and the leaders "regarded it as their duty to oppose Jewish influence" (Strack 595) so that the heathens would remain Christian. In other words, the Christians must have seen Judaism as a threat. They believed that Jews were under the rejection and punishment of God and portrayed Jews as "blind and deaf to the truth" (Davies 329). Myths were told of Jewish crimes such as ritual murder and conspiracy against Christendom (Davies 327). Also, the Jews were used for their labor. "In each Christian country the Jews enjoyed a positive status so long as their services were utilizable by the ruling classes, a negative status when disintegrative forces in society undercut their usefulness" (Rivkin 25). The Jews, as in the Muslim culture, were forced the resort to money lending and, consequently, charging interest in order to make a living. The Christians, who already loathed the Jews, hated them to a greater extent because they had to pay them more money that they believed to be fair. In summary, the Jews were shunned for their rejection of Christianity, hated for what they had supposedly done, resented for the interest they charged, and used for their labor by the Christians of the tenth century.

        Finally, Muslims and Christians detested the Jews for being different than them. Anti-Semitism still exists today in many countries. For example, in Syria the government denies Jews the right to vote and restricts their emigration (Levanon 559). As Christians, it is our duty to refrain from slander and false accusations of Jews. Should we only show love to those who share our religious beliefs? Even the pagans love those who love them. (Luke 6:32) Are we not called to be different than the world and show the love of God to all?



Bibliography

Davies, Alan. "Anti-Semitism." The Encyclopedia of Religion. Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan, 1995.

Levanon, Yosef. "Anti-Semitism." The World Book Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Chicago: World Book Inc., 1993.

"The Rise and Spread of Islam, 570-1258." http://galenet.gale.com

Rivkin, Ellis. "Jews." Encyclopedia International. Vol. 10. Philippines: Lexicon Publications, 1980.

"The Spread of Islam to India and Southeast Asia, 711-1400." http://galenet.gale.com

Strack, Hermann L. "Anti-Semitism." Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. Vol. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, [n.d.]
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