- Note: Written in 9/16. Updated 8/19
I just attended a talk the recent history of Canada. The speaker was a Canadian lawyer, Jewish, and a well educated and politically experienced person.
One member of the audience asked this question: “What was the Canadian policy towards German Jews wanting to escape Nazi Germany?”
The speaker – who was extolling the virtues of Canadian culture – said that some aspects of Canadian history weren’t so virtuous. He said that a book describing the Canadian policy toward immigrating Jewish refugees was titled, “None is Too Many.” He said the title summarized the Canadian policy.
The policy was similar to the American policy during the same era. Most countries didn’t want the Jewish refugees, and many Jews were returned to Europe, where they were killed.
These episodes brings up the historical question: “Why does everyone seem to dislike Jewish people?” There have been hundreds of books and essays written, trying to answer his question, and I’m not pretending to have an answer, but let’s give it a try.
One answer is simply that it is tribal warfare. Throughout history various tribes have fought each other, hated each other, and even tried to exterminate each other. The Jewish tribe hasn’t been innocent in this constant warfare, as described in the Old Testament. This tribal warfare continues to this day, as we can see the Arab tribes hating the Jewish tribe and visa-versa.
(See the article, Trump and Jesus, for a continued discussion on scapegoating.)
Although the concept of the Jewish people as scapegoats is been one of the main explanations for anti-Semitism, there may be other explanations as well. Also, while the phenomenon of scapegoating seems somewhat abstract and theoretical, it is actually very ordinary in our everyday lives.
Scapegoating can be seen as projecting one’s interior — especially the dark side of one’s interior — onto another person or group. We can see people projecting their inner selves onto others in everyday life.
One stark example of this is when a parent — for no rational reason — has contempt for one of their children, while admiring the others. This parent may be scapegoating that child.
In the case of scapegoating Jewish people, the majority population projects all their “sins” onto the Jewish people. Of course, Jewish people are not immaculate, but rather have pretty much the same amount of interior darkness as everyone else.
(Note: See the article Projection for a discussion about this very interesting — and ordinary — phenomenon.)
Who has the true religion?
Another reasonable answer explanation for anti-semitism is the religious conflict. Many Jews believe they have the true religion and the truest perception of God, as one understands Him. They see Christians, who worship a carpenter from Nazareth, as idolaters. Some see Jesus – as interpreted by the New Testament – as being a blasphemer who claimed that:
“All power on heaven and earth has been given to me.”
“Before the world existed, I am.”
“I am the Son of God.” and
“One can only get to heaven through me.”
Catholics praying to Jesus’ mother is seen by many Jewish believers — as well as many Christian fundamentalists — as another form of idolatry.
Many Christians – not to be outdone — condemn Jews because they don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah who was predicted by the prophets in the Old Testament.
Many Muslims – bent on outdoing both the Jews and the Christians – believe that both of these groups are blasphemers and idolaters. They are condemned to eternal hell because they don’t accept Mohammed as the last and final prophet.
Maybe they’re wrong
Another source of this contempt towards the Jewish people is that they give existential evidence that the other religions might be wrong!
Often the Jewish tribe — living in countries throughout the world — achieve a higher quality of life than the people of the native tribes, nations and religions. The Jewish people are often better educated, live more ethical lives, are more financially, and are genetically successful (in duplicating their genes). Often — pound for pound — they often contribute more to the society than other groups. This gives evidence that perhaps God is on their side. Believers in other religions can think that “perhaps their perception of spiritual reality is superior our perception of spiritual reality”:
Perhaps their God is better than our God. Perhaps their interpretation of who God is, and what he wants from us, is better than our interpretation!
This conflict can result in hatred:
I want to get rid of their God and all the evidence that He is better. I want to destroy their faith, so I can be more confident that my faith is true.
(This conflict touches on one of the most basic philosophical conflicts in the last 2,000 years: “Is Jesus’ interpretation of spiritual reality true or not?”)
And maybe they’re right
Another pair of eyeglasses that we can put on to “see” the phenomenon of historical anti-Semitism is a pair of spiritual eyeglasses.
Some people argue that, in the end, all reality is spiritual, that is, all reality is mystical. With these eyeglasses, we can interpret the mystical phenomenon of anti-Semitism as that, perhaps, the Jewish nation — for whatever reason — is God’s chosen people, and the Creator of the universe does bless them and guide them in a special way. This would explain the phenomenon that many evil political movements throughout history often express an irrational hated of the Jews, i.e., a hatred of people touched by God. Thus, Russian communists, the fascists, and now some Muslim groups seem to express this irrational hatred of the Jewish community.
This spiritual tradition also gives us a possible explanation for the fact that inspired cultural leaders are often killed. It is almost as if they provide the world with light and the forces of darkness want them snuffed out. These leaders include Jesus, Lincoln, J.F. Kennedy, and M.L. King. The assassins want a dark world.
Another possible source of the hatred of Jews – which is seldom mentioned – is the Jewish religious belief in their superiority — intellectual, cultural, and spiritual superiority. (See also Superiority, what is it?)
Judaism has the firm belief that the Jewish tribe is God’s chosen people – and God has set them apart from other peoples to show the world how to live within God’s commandments. However God’s covenant is exclusively between them and God.
Most Christians also believe that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people, but that they were chosen to bring God’s revelations to all people, especially the revelations proclaimed by Jesus. In a way, Christians took the Jewish faith from the Jewish people and then criticized them for not accepting the Jewish teacher, Jesus, as the Messiah.
It can be mentioned here that there are stark — and even humorous — contradictions in Jewish theology concerning Jesus. Most Jewish theologians state that Jesus was a prophet but not the messiah.
If he was a prophet, then why is there such a taboo against even listening to his words?
Also, many Jewish people are very proud of what their small tribe has contributed to world civilization, but they never acknowledge what great contributions their most famous Jewish leader made. Jesus: 1) made the whole world more civil; 2) freed the world from sin and death; 3) introduced the imperative to forgive others and to love one’s enemy; 4) gave the world hope of eternal life; and 5) gave all the Jewish wisdom to the whole world (well, actually it was the Holy Spirit).
Getting back to the belief in Jewish superiority
In a practical, everyday sense, the religious belief in Jewish superiority is often supported by evidence.
Throughout history, when Jews had their oppression lifted (as during the Renaissance), they ascended to the heights of the society – in social status, in money, in culture, and in political power. Not all the Jews, certainly, but the upper echelons of the Jews. Once reaching these heights, there was often renewed oppression of the Jewish population (as with the Spanish expulsion and Inquisition).
Even in contemporary society, Jews are very proud that the number of Jews in high achievement is much higher than the numbers of other genetic/cultural groups (tribes). Now, there are statistical studies that show that Ashkenazi Jews have an average IQ 5 to 20 points higher than most other genetic groups. Studies like this contribute to the Jewish belief in their superiority.
This creates resentment among the other genetic groups (tribes) that the Jewish people outcompeted, a resentment Jewish people can’t understand:
Why do they resent us? What’s the problem with us outcompeting the general population? We did it fair and square. So what, if we are smarter, harder working, and better educated than other people? Us being winners is how life should be. Non-Jews are just jealous of us. They want to be like us.
This response underlines one aspect of Jewish political philosophy. There is the general belief that the Jewish population should be able to go into any country and be totally accepted – while often keeping separate for religious and social reasons, if they so decide. Then, they should be able to compete freely with the native population and succeed as much as possible. And if they outcompete the native population, so be it.
(The native population often has the belief that the Jewish population joins exclusive groups, like synagogues, Jewish communities, and private clubs, where they help each other to succeed, much as the natives, themselves, do. The Jewish population may respond to this belief with: “Ok, we help each other; what’s the problems with that? You do the same thing.”)
However, there is one contradiction to this philosophy: Israel. Jewish people should be able to immigrate to any country and be free to compete on an equal basis. But in Israel, only Jews can immigrate and compete on an equal level with the majority population. After all, Israel is a Jewish state. As if Russia wasn’t a Russian state. And Spain wasn’t a Catholic country.
One complaint that some Jewish people have is that, throughout history, Gentiles have treated Jews like Israelis treat Palestinians.
One of the side effects of this out-competing the majority population is — along with the religious belief in superiority — the Jewish people often have a denigrating view of the majority population: “The goyim are stupid, lazy, and ignorant.” And “They believe in idol worship.”
This denigration, although never openly expressed, is felt by the many of the people in the majority population, and many of the people of the country have had experiences of the Jewish expression of the majority’s denigration. For instance, it is often considered a “step down” when a Jewish person marries a goyim.
Some Jewish people can’t understand why Gentiles can’t just accept their inferiority: “Why are they so against being treated as inferiors — when they are?”
Not to be outdone, many people in other religions – specifically in Christian and Islam religions — denigrate Jewish people. The main source of this denigration is the fact that the Jewish people didn’t reject their own religion and accept the religion of the majority.
Rejecting other religions
Many Jews see their rejection of other religions as being obedient to the first commandment of their covenant with God: “Do not worship false gods.”
Other reasons that Jews have historically rejected other religions are: One, accepting the majority’s religion would mean eventual extinction of the Jewish tribe, just as all the other tribes in ancient Mid-East have been extinguished. And, two, being persecuted by the Christian and Muslim religions for 2,000 years has left a bad taste in their mouths for those religions. It wasn’t a good way to attract the Jewish believers.
Who goes to hell?
Many believers in both the Christian and Islamic religions believe that one must accept their religion to go to eternal paradise: “If you don’t accept my religion, you will go to eternal hell, that is, eternal suffering.”
Many Christians and Muslims have historically seen the Jewish people as condemned to hell, and thus have treated them accordingly, for example, the slur, “dirty Jew.”
This anti-Semitism was modified to a great extent with the American experiment, where, for the first time in history, all citizens were given the freedom of religion.
Pope John Paul II also lessened anti-Semitism in a December, 2015, 10,000 word statement. This document stated that Jews don’t have to accept Jesus as the Messiah in order to be saved. The Pope saw that one of the sources of the historical persecution of Jews was the theological idea, expressed by Jesus, that one must believe in him in order to be saved:
If you believe in me you will have eternal life. If you don’t, you are condemned already.
With the theological belief that “the Catholic Pope is Jesus’ representative on earth,” John Paul II made the decision that the commandments to “love one another” and “love one’s enemy” was more important than the belief that non-believers were condemned to hell, a belief that has caused so much hate. Love trumps hate.
The belief in the freedom of religion has been proven by the historical laboratory of human experience to be more functional than the belief that all people should believe in only one religion. However, as we can see in other articles, the Islamic religion threatens the political practice of the freedom of religion.