Antisemitism Essay Generic Hatred In Memory Simon Wiesenthal

Antisemitism Essay Generic Hatred In Memory Simon Wiesenthal-15
It is simple in that almost every Jew feels like they either have direct experience or at least an expert knowledge of it, and yet it is so complex that scholars still cannot agree on its exact definition.The definitions offered range from a broad description of antisemitism "as a term denoting (my emphasis) forms of hostility manifested toward Jews throughout history,"1 to narrower contexts that refer only to actions that cross certain specified lines (i.e.I have made only a few minor changes in the text to reflect current issues.

It is simple in that almost every Jew feels like they either have direct experience or at least an expert knowledge of it, and yet it is so complex that scholars still cannot agree on its exact definition.

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Both groups had strong proselytizing tendencies, and eventually they competed against each other for the ultimate prize - the Roman Empire.

It was this competition that drove Paul to eliminate compliance to Jewish Law as a requirement for conversion; a move which "changed the course of the world's history."9 The picture derived from those early sources, including the Gospels and the Church Fathers, has been termed "The Teachings of Contempt."10 These teachings develop three themes: A) Jews were responsible for .13 It was not only what was said, but the heavily charged language that helped create this "Adversus Judaus" tradition.

The Scroll of Esther as well as the Apocryphal books of Judith and Tobit have been viewed, in the words of one popular history, as being "the first evidence of those virulent anti-Jewish attitudes that were to become so frequently directed at major Jewish communities"3 in the Diaspora.

The debate over historical references to antisemitism intensifies when we turn to the classical Greco-Roman period.

The Book of Revelations described the "Synagogue of Satan" (, 3:9) making explicit a linked identity between the Devil and the Jews that would continue for centuries; and in particular, the language of John Chrysostom (late 4 Century) stood out for it's invective.14 As the Roman world became Christianized, these attitudes were reflected in the legal codes, such as that of Theodosian (438).

This code forbade Jews from interfering with conversions to Christianity, from owning Christian slaves (and later any slaves - thus helping remove Jews from all except small substinance farming), from proselytization amongst Christians, and from building new synagogues, and throughout all this Judaism was referred to as "nefarious," "sacrilegious" and in other negative terms.15 Ultimately, for Christianity, Jews had not only become dispersed (punished) for the crime of deicide committed in their degenerate condition, but Christianity "had polarized the actors of the Bible (original-Old Testament) into bad Jews and good Hebrews and thought of themselves as the descendants of the Hebrews and the true Israel."16 In this reading, all of God's promises and blessings were earmarked for Christianity and all the curses and punishments were reserved for Judaism.

Director of Government Affairs, Simon Wiesenthal Center Past Chair, Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance This article was originally written in 1994 for a forthcoming volume that was commissioned by the Council of American Jewish Museums.

It is published here with the kind permission of Ori Soltes, editor of that volume.

Again, as in the classical era, the record was not totally one sided.

Popes such as Gregory the Great (590-604) attempted to protect Jews according to the rights that they were allowed while maintaining a balance of not allowing Jews more rights than they were permitted.17 This basic pattern would continue to dominate European Jewish history for hundreds of years, well into the medieval period.


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