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§309 The many phases of anti-Semitism

March 11, 2009

Purim and the story of Esther made me ponder a bit about the history of anti-Semitism. Before the Babylonian exila 586 BCE there were Hebrews that were divided into Israelites and Judaites. These were both mainly national and territorial identities. After the exile, the Judaic national identity became an ethnic Jewish identity, and the Jewish people came to be. This is of course a later historic re-construction. In reality the Hebrew words that translate “Judaic” and “Jew” are the same words. Nowadays we use these different terms as historic distance has showed us there is a difference (and we have lately seen the same developement in new-made countries or areas, like Jordanians, Iraqis, Palestinians, etc. – territorial identities that turned into ethnic identities). So we can’t really talk about anti-semitism in the Biblical time before Esther, because there were no “Jews”, only “Judeans”. So the first historic narration of anti-Semitism is Haman in Persia, a few hundred years after the exile. We will call this antisemitism “Phase one”. And here is my very short, very compact and very simplified history of anti-Semitism:

Phase one – the pre-Christian anti-Semitism
The Jews think they are better than us, and will not agree to bow down to our gods, despite the fact that we won the war, which proves that our gods are stronger. They have their own laws and won’t obey our laws. They are different from everyone else. Let’s kill them all.

Phase two – the Christian anti-Semitism
How evil those Persians and Romans were to the Jews. The chosen people from which the Messiah came. Too bad only that the Jews refuse to accept the Messiah and that they use Christian children’s blood in their weird holidays. Let’s force them to accept their own Messiah by giving up their national heritage, and if they refuse we will kill them all.

Phase three – the Modern post-Christian anti-Semitism
How evil those medieval Christians were. Accepting Jews if they converted. Today we know it’s part of their race. They are all evil. The best would be if there was a Jewish state where we could send them. But there is none, so we will just kill them all. Let’s be human and kill them as fast and pain free and industrialized as possible.

Phase four – the post Modern anti-Semitism
How evil those Nazis were killing Jews like that. Today we know Jews are human beings and they must be accepted by society, as long as they agree with us in condemning that awful horrible apartheid state Israel. Why on the earth did the Jews Israelis build their own state, and how dare they defend themselves against hostile attacks. They even protect their civilians and have fewer casualties which proves that they are the bad guys. Not only that, but they refuse to agree to every single little demand that their enemies have. We must of course boycott Israel, forbid audience when they play sports with our teams, refuse to buy their products, etc. Nono, this is criticism of a specific government policy, we are not against Jews. The Jews are fine, as long as they don’t have their own country (because labelling a country “jewish” and putting a Star of David in the flag is apartheid by definition, the democratic laws are irrelevant). Or at least refrain from defending it. We would embrace Israel as a great country if they only freed Palestine. Of course the freed country Palestine would never declare war against Israel, nor make pacts with nuclear Iran, even if that’s exactly what their leaders are doing now. Those Jews Israelis must understand that we don’t hate them. We just hate the fact that they exist. If they only agree to a few things that would probably lead to their destruction, we would accept them.

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