Sunday, November 09, 2003


i am busy with my essay submission n management n human resource exam preparation. so dat explained e lack of posts lately. here is an article from The Straits Times Singapore which i find interesting 2 share 2 all. here it is:

The former Malaysian prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said recently that Jews rule the world by proxy. Opinion polls in Europe show a majority of Europeans feel Israel is a threat to world peace. Anti-Semitic 'hate speech' and 'hate acts' seem more frequent lately. But as Janadas Devan finds out, anti-Semitism has a long, persistent and troubling history.


CONSIDER the following examples of anti-Semitism:

'Reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable.'

'You may as well do anything most hard/ As seek to soften that - than which what's harder? -/ His Jewish heart.'

'How I hated marrying a Jew.'

'Down in a tall busy street he read a dozen Jewish names on a line of stores... New York - he could not dissociate it now from the slow, upward creep of these people.'

'Jew York'. 'Jewnited States.' 'Franklin Delano Jewsfeld.'

Who uttered these statements?

Dr Josef Goebbels? Some Nazi poet? A blond Aryan, expressing regret for marrying a Jew during the Holocaust? A member of the lunatic Ku Klux Klan?

None of the above.

They were made by some of the most prestigious figures in Anglo-American culture: T.S. Eliot, William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf (who, of course, married Leonard Woolf, a Jew), F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound.

Similar examples of anti-Semitism can be easily multiplied.

In French literature - Emile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Maurice Barres.

In English literature - Rudyard Kipling, Hilaire Beloc, G.K. Chesterton.

In American letters - Henry Adams, H.L. Mencken. Among industrialists - Henry Ford.

Among 'All-American heroes' - Charles Lindbergh. Among royalty - King Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor.

And on and on, ad infinitum.

But these are only examples of 'hate speech'.

The list of 20th century anti-Semitic 'hate acts' is more gruesome.

The Holocaust, when six million Jews were exterminated by Hitler, was only the final act.

Pogroms during and after the 1917 Russian Revolution resulted in the death of 75,000 Jews.

In Germany, after World War I, Jewish communities in Berlin and Munich were terrorised by anti-Semitic organisations.

After the Munich Soviet was crushed, all foreign-born Jews were expelled from the city.

The Holocaust didn't happen out of the blue; Europe was well-primed for the 'Final Solution'. And it was not the work of only a few decades, but of centuries.

As historian Paul Johnson points out in his History Of The Jews, though the term 'anti-Semitism' was not coined until 1879, anti-Semitism, 'in fact if not in name', undoubtedly existed from 'deep antiquity'.

'The specific hostility towards the Jews, which began to emerge in the second half of the first millennium BC, was a function of Jewish monotheism and its social consequences,' he writes.

Circumcision, for instance, 'set them apart and was regarded by the Graeco-Roman world as barbarous and distasteful'.

In the Roman era, these religious prejudices took on a political dimension.

'The Jewish refusal to practise the formalities of state worship was seen not merely as characteristic of Jewish exclusiveness... but as actively disloyal.'

In AD70, Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem.

Anti-Semitism in the Christian era had one of its source in the Bible.

Matthew's Gospel, for example, quotes 'the people', watching Pilate wash his hands, exclaim: 'His blood be upon us and on our children.'

This was interpreted by the early Church as an admission by Jews themselves that they bore guilt for Christ's crucifixion.

As a result, as early as in the 5th century, Christian theologians presented Jews as deicides or murderers of God.

Jews lost their rights in many Christian societies, were excluded from state office, and often expelled altogether.

The first mass expulsion occurred in England, in 1290, and the last in Spain, in 1492.

In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council required Jews to distinguish themselves from Christians by wearing a badge, a practice that Hitler later copied.

Jews were victims of genocides and pogroms throughout the Crusades, from 1096-99 to the 15th century.

In the Middle Ages, Jews also became the subject of an extraordinary allegation.

Known as 'blood libel' - 'the allegation that Jews murder non-Jews, especially Christians, in order to obtain blood for the Passover or other rituals' - it led 'to trials and massacres of Jews in the Middle Ages and early modern times,' the Encyclopedia Judaica explains.

There were 'blood libel' trials as recently as the 17th century in Poland, with Jews being tortured to extract confessions of having drunk Christian blood, especially of children.

Tsarist Russia revived the libel in the early 20th century, as did the Nazis in the 1930s and the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

The persistence of such beliefs indicates how different anti-Semitism is from other forms of racism.

Strictly speaking, it is not a racism, for what defines a Jew is not so much a race as a religion.

That, more than economics or politics, explains the persistence of anti-Semitism in the Church's history.

'The provocation to Christian theology of Jewish survival; assumptions that Judaism had been superseded by Christianity, and that Christian ethics are superior to those of Judaism' - these, as the scholar Dr Anthony Julius notes, are the historical causes of European anti-Semitism.

That is why St John Chrysostom could argue in the 5th century: 'If the Jewish rites are holy and venerable, our way of life must be false'.

That is why Hippolyte Gayraud, a French Dominican, could advocate a 'Christian anti-Semitism' in the 19th century, arguing 'a convinced Christian is by nature a practising anti-Semite'.

From St Ambrose in the 4th century to Martin Luther in the 16th, anti-Semitism infected most denominations of the Church - a fact that Pope John-Paul II himself has underlined, by apologising for that history.

But there were also counter-arguments - and counter-examples.

The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II rejected the blood libel, as did Pope Innocent IV.

The most important theologian in the early Church, St Augustine, adopted a relatively enlightened attitude towards Jews.

England expelled Jews in the 13th century, but in the 19th, it made Benjamin Disraeli, a Jew, its Prime Minister.

Even at the height of the Holocaust, in Berlin itself, about 10,000 German families risked their lives to hide Jewish friends.

And the Danes, an occupied people, refused to enact any of the anti-Jewish laws that the Nazis had insisted upon.

Indeed, when the Nazis announced in 1943 a round-up of all the Jews in Denmark, the whole country resisted.

In a stupendously daring operation, the Danes ferried by sea almost all Jewish Danes to neutral Sweden and out of harm's way.

After the war, when the Jews returned, they not only found their homes intact, they discovered that their neighbours, in many instances, had paid the rent in their absence.

The Danes, one might say, merely acted as Christ, the founder of Christianity - and a Jew - would have.


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