Why are Jews hated by so many people? Why are so many people anti-Semitic? How and why did anti-Semitism start? Is there a solution to anti-Semitism?
THE WORLD, THE JEWS AND THE SCIENCE OF HUMAN SURVIVAL
Anti-Semitism, division, separation, violent conflicts and a general breakdown of the institutions of human society.
Is there a science that can explain the laws that govern our development as a society, as a species? What can 4000 years of human history and big data tell us about ourselves? Why is it that despite our technological advancement we’re still facing the same issues that have been plaguing our society for millennia? And what do the tales in the Bible have to do with it? Could there be a deeper meaning to the texts that have been capturing our imagination, uniting us and separating us at the same time? Is it possible that science, religion and human history are not at odds with each other but are actually different points of view of the same thing? Different points of you? We promise to answer these questions and many others about the origin of the Jewish people, their unique role in humanity and how can we come out of the crisis that is gripping the world today.
Here’s the Core Reason
Why People Hate Jews
That No One’s Talking About
THIS ARTICLE HAS APPROX. 5,000 WORDS
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 18 MIN.
Throughout history, never has a nation been more persecuted than the Jews. Throughout history, never has a nation survived every single persecution and emerged stronger.
Jews are a living testament of resilience. They have been persecuted by the Romans, the Spanish Inquisition, the Russian Empire of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and of course, Hitler … yet they have survived. Modern-day challenges will also not destroy the Jews unless they sit idly by and fail to use anti-Semitism as a wake-up call. To answer the call and make sure that a slaughter of Jews does not happen again, they must understand who they are, why they are here, and what is their role on this planet. Only then will they be able to comprehend why they experience so many trials and tribulations, and how to reroute the nation to a positive course. So, let’s start by asking to ourselves the million dollar question: Why do people hate Jews?
In “Concerning the Jews,” Mark Twain mused on the hatred of Jews, on one hand, and their persistence, on the other hand: “…The Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. …Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. …The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone. Other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out… The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies… All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
Not less bewildering than the survival of the Jews is the fact that from Pharaoh to Hitler, virtually every detractor of the Jews sealed his doom in persecuting them. Some were even aware of the fact that the Jews are indestructible, yet could not help themselves, as if compelled by a force greater than themselves. In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote, “When … I scrutinized the activity of the Jewish people, suddenly there arose up in me the fearful question whether inscrutable Destiny, perhaps for reasons unknown to us poor mortals, did not, with eternal and immutable resolve, desire the final victory of this little nation.” Despite this premonition, Hitler tried, and almost succeeded in exterminating European Jewry. But he, too, everntually failed and will go down in histroy as the epitome of evil.
Hated or loved, Jews were always treated as different. They are judged by different standards, revered, admired, and hated more than any other nation on the face of the Earth.
British Bishop, Thomas Newton wrote about Jews: “What but a supernatural power could have preserved them in such a manner as none other nation upon earth hath been preserved?” French Mathematichian, Blaise Pascal, pondered the formula that has kept the Jews thus far: “This people are not eminent solely by their antiquity, but are also singular by their duration, which has always continued from their origin till now … in spite of the endeavors of many powerful kings who have a hundred times tried to destroy them.”
Illustrious Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, pondered the survival of the Jews, but also sensed that their existence had to do with a unique purpose: “What is the Jew?…What kind of unique creature is this whom all the rulers of all the nations of the world have disgraced and crushed and expelled and destroyed; persecuted, burned and drowned, and who, despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish? …The Jew is the symbol of eternity. … He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity.”
Perhaps the most striking facet about Jew-hatred is its irrationality. The are as many reasons for hating Jews as there are people. Everything that upsets, hurts, or displeases people they often attribute to the Jews. Jews have been blamed for manipulating the media to their needs, usury, blood libels of various forms, well poisoning, dominating slave trade, disloyalty to their host countries, organ harvesting and AIDS spreading.
Moreover, Jews are often accused of conflicting “crimes.” Communists accused them of creating capitalism; capitalists accused them of inventing communism. Christians accused Jews of killing Jesus, and acclaimed French historian and philosopher, François Voltaire, of inventing Christianity. Jews have been labeled warmongers and cowards, racists and cosmopolitans, spineless and unbending, and the list could go on forever.
Clearly, Jew-hatred is irrational and deep. Yehuda Bauer, Prof. of Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, believes that anti-Semitism remains latent until it is triggered, usually during crises. The multiple crises we are seeing around the world are therefore expected to continue to exacerbate the current wave of anti-Semitism.
The most important point to take from this brief review of anti-Semitism is that if we are to find the reason for anti-Semitism, we must look beneath the surface. As we have seen, rationalizations cannot explain the existence, persistence, and diversity of Jew-hatred. A deeper root is at play here. When anti-Semitism awakens, it is justified according to its particular milieu and therefore takes on different forms and manifestations at different times.
Since ancient times, the Jews have been dubbed “the chosen people,” that they were chosen to be a “light unto nations.” However, today Jews are being blamed for doing the exact opposite. In Hebrew, there is a famous truism: “Enters wine, out comes a secret.” Several years ago actor Mel Gibson was stopped by traffic police on suspicion of DUI. His response to the officer was cursing the Jews and declaring, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?” Malaysia’s former prime minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was presumably far more sober than Mr. Gibson when he spoke at the Conference for the Support of Al-Quds on January 21, 2010. Yet, sobriety did not inhibit his declaration that “Even after their massacre by the Nazis of Germany, they [Jews] survived to continue to be a source of even greater problems for the world.”
Under certain circumstances, even people who are not known for harboring explicitly anti-Jewish sentiments will express thoughts that can only be interpreted as anti-Semitic. When reporter for Israeli National News, Henry Schwartz, approached retired General “Jerry” Boykin, he was met with a surprising observation: “The Jews are the problem. The Jews are the cause of all the problems in the world.”
Such generalizations should tell us something: If people believe that Jews are responsible for every problem in the world, they must also expect the Jews to fix them. When faced with such a conviction that the Jews are responsible for the well-being of the world, as long as there are problems in the world there will be hatred of Jews. And the more pain there is, the more the anger will turn on the Jews. If Jews are responsible for every problem, then any problem is the fault of the Jews. AIDS—it’s the Jews’ fault; earthquakes—the Jews’ fault; terrorism—the Jews’ fault; financial crisis—certainly the Jews’ fault! You name it—it’s the Jews’ fault.
A conviction that Jews are responsible for all the problems and must therefore fix them implies that anti-Semitism does not arise during crises because Jews are easy scapegoats, as some believe. Quite the contrary, in people’s eyes Jews are indeed the perpetrators. When things are fine people let Jews be. But when troubles ensue, the Jews are blamed for causing it.
Evidently, willingly or unwillingly, Jews never stopped being the chosen people—chosen to fix the world. And the reason why there is anti-Semitism is very simply that the world is still not fixed.
Being “the world’s fixers” is a tall order for anyone. It is especially so when you have no desire to be one, and even if you did, you have no idea what it means or how to go about it. For the most part, today’s Jews have no idea what it means to be a chosen people or a “light unto nations,” nor do they want anything to do with it. When Jews are left alone they tend to assimilate. At the height of the convivencia [friendly coexistence] between Jews and Christians in Spain, the inquisition erupted and mercilessly extinguished the Jewish community. Five centuries later, when the Jews in Germany were almost completely emancipated and strove to dissolve in the German society, the National Socialist party came about and exterminated the Jews throughout Europe almost entirely.
Today, the U.S. Jewry is in a similar situation to that of pre WWII German Jewry. U.S. Jews are largely confident that seeing toxic anti-Semitism of the kind we see in Europe is unlikely on the other side of the Atlantic. However, the reality of increasing anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses and diffusion of anti-Semitic violence, such as stabbings, to the U.S. indicate that Jews are likely falling once again into the trap of complacency. As it happened in Spain and in Germany, the harder U.S. Jews try to assimilate, the more painfully they will be pushed away. It is already beginning to happen, and the similarity between past process and the current situation in America makes the seemingly benign state of U.S. Jewry a very precarious one.
Similar to its diasporas, the State of Israel wishes only to be a nation in the family of nations. Instead, it is rebuked time and again, especially by the entity representing the entire world: the United Nations. The below report by UN Watch demonstrates the inexplicably disproportionate negative attention given to Israel: “The U.N. General Assembly’s 2015 session is adopting 20 resolutions singling out Israel for criticism — and only 3 resolutions on the rest of the world combined. …The three that do not concern Israel are: one on Syria, a regime that has murdered more than 200,000 of its own people, one on Iran, and one on North Korea. Not a single UNGA resolution this year (70th session) is expected to be adopted on gross and systematic abuses committed by China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Yemen, Zimbabwe, or on dozens of other perpetrators of gross and systematic human rights violations.”
And if this is not enough, the rapidly spreading BDS movement is working very hard to isolate Israel economically, politically, culturally, and academically. To put it simply, the harder Israel tries to “blend in,” the more ferociously it is pushed away.
However hard Jews try, they will not be able to avoid doing what they must. They may not know what it is they must do or how to do it, and people may tell them that they do not believe they are the chosen people, but the existence of global, ever-present hatred toward them proves that the Jews have been singled out as the world’s worst wrong doers. Now, either they realize what is the wrong they are doing and fix it or the world will punish them once more.
To understand the wrong that Jews are doing, we need to look at how, and especially why the Jewish nation formed. The father of Judaism, and of all Abrahamic religions, is Abraham Our Father [Abraham the Patriarch], who symbolizes mercy. The Midrash (Beresheet Rabah) tells us that when Abraham saw his countryfolk arguing and quarrelling he tried to make peace and help them unite. In the words of the Midrash, he tried to “patch up” all the people in the world.
The book, Pirkey de Rabbi Eliezer, describes how Abraham once walked next to the Tower of Babylon and watched the people building it, lifting the heavy stones one at a time. He noticed that if a stone fell down the workers mourned its loss, but if one of their coworkers fell they utterly ignored it. When he saw this he cursed them and wished for their failure.
When Abraham discovered that the problem of his countryfolk was disunity and alienation, he began to urge them to unite. Even when he was deported from his homeland he kept calling out his message, and anyone who resonated with the message of unity above all differences was welcome to join him. Maimonides, the great 12th century scholar, describes Abraham’s efforts to spread his message of unity and bequeath it to his descendants—both physical and spiritual—until his tiny entourage had become a nation based on unity and brotherly love: “[Abraham] began to call out to the whole world … wandering from town to town and from kingdom to kingdom until he arrived at the land of Canaan… And since [people in the places where he wandered] gathered around him and asked him about his words, he taught everyone…until he brought them back to the path of truth. Finally, thousands and tens of thousands assembled around him, and they are the people of ‘the house of Abraham.’ He planted this tenet in their hearts, composed books about it, and taught his son, Isaac. And Isaac sat and taught, warned, and informed Jacob, and appointed him a teacher to sit and teach… And Jacob the Patriarch taught all his sons…”
No other nation has been forged in this manner, where people of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths became a nation based on brotherly love, transcending different origins, beliefs, or any other dissimilarity. They did this because they sensed that this was, as Maimonides put it, “the path of truth.” They felt that alienation and animosity do not lead anywhere good and therefore sought to unite.
Abraham, an inquisitive person by nature, discovered that the enormous diversity before us derives from one source—a creative force that manifests in myriad ways that lead back to that source. He realized that the indifference and alienation of his people, as he witnessed in the builders of the tower, could be mended if they united in the aspiration to grasp that force, as he did. But because they were unaware of its existence, they became separated and alienated from one another, believing in different things and aspiring for different things.
However, at the time the Babylonians were not ready for the idea that one, benevolent force comprised the whole reality. As the Midrash and Maimonides tell us, Abraham was expelled from his country because of his ideas. But as he wandered, he gathered around him followers, planted brotherly love in their hearts, and they became a nation committed to passing on his method for happiness through unity.
A Light unto Nations: to Show the Way to Unity to the Whole World
The arrival of Moses introduced a new phase in the development of the Israeli nation. Self-centeredness and alienation increased in the world around them as it did in them. At the time of Moses, Israel had amassed such a level of disunity that they needed a new method if they were to unite above it. They were also far more Hebrews than the tribe that went into Egypt. By Moses’ time there were three million of them, far too many to be taught the way Abraham had taught his students.
As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” The necessity to find a new way to teach people to unite resulted in the giving of the Torah, the Pentateuch, a.k.a., The Five Books of Moses. But the reception of the Torah came with a prerequisite: you must first agree to unite “as one man with one heart.”
Once the Hebrews united, they were given the Torah and became a nation. But that nation was like none other. Being founded upon the principle of love of others, they were entrusted with a task to pass on the method for uniting, for loving your neighbor as yourself. This is when they were told that they must be “a light unto nations,” namely to show the way to unity to the whole world, just as Abraham had tried back in Babylon and wherever he went.
Abraham did not intend to unite the Jews. In his days, Judaism as we know it did not even exist. As we quoted above, he tried to “patch up all the people in the world.”
All of Abraham’s successors knew it and continued his legacy. The great Kabbalist, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lozzatto (Ramchal), wrote in Adir BaMarom [The Mighty One On High] “Noah was created to correct the world in the state that it was at that time.” In, The Commentary of Ramchal on the Torah, he wrote that “Moses wished to complete the correction of the world at that time. This is why he took the mixed multitude, as he thought that thus would be the correction of the world …
However, he did not succeed because of the corruptions that occurred along the way.” Still, the world was not ready to embrace unity wholeheartedly. As a result, those who pledged to be “as one man with one heart” became the people of Israel and were entrusted with the duty to treasure the method of achieving unity until the world is ready.
The people of Israel worked hard to keep the tenet of unity. They had to fight their own growing egos, and the attacks of other nations. But as The Book of Zohar [The Book of Radiance] tells us, “All the wars in the Torah are for peace and love.” The Book of Zohar also speaks about how important it is to rise above hatred, not just for the divided parties but for the entire world. In the portion, Aharei Mot, the book writes, “‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to also sit together.’ These are the friends as they sit together, and are not separated from each other. At first, they seem like people at war, wishing to kill one another. Then they return to being in brotherly love. …And you, the friends who are here, as you were in fondness and love before, henceforth you will also not part … And by your merit there will be peace in the world, as it is written, ‘For the sake of my brothers and my friends let me say, ‘Let peace be in you.’’”
The ruin of the Second Temple marks a key point in the history of the world. Not only was the Jewish people exiled from the land of Israel, the Jews also lost their war against self-centeredness. For the first time since its inception, the tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” was not the guiding rule within the nation. Jews still had high regard for unity, as they still do to this day, but they began to use it to gain self-centered purposes instead of as a means for correction of the ego and as an asset to be passed on to all mankind.
In the time since the ruin of the Temple, many sages recognized the absolute necessity of unity for the Jews and for the world. Regrettably, their voice was not heard because the Jews were too preoccupied with themselves. The book, Shem Mishmuel tells us, “The intention of creation was for all to be one bundle… but because of the sin [egoism] the matter was spoiled. The correction began in the generation of Babylon, meaning the correction of gathering and assembling of people which began with Abraham. …And the final correction will be when everyone becomes one bundle.” Similarly, Rav Kook wrote in the early 1900s: “In Israel is the secret to the unity of the world.” Rabbi David Solomon wrote in Willows of the Brook, “Israel are commanded to unity of the hearts, as it is written, ‘And Israel encamped there,’ in singular form [in Hebrew] … meaning they had unity.”
Notice the power of importance that Rabbi Kalman Epstein, author of Maor VaShemesh, ascribes to unity: “The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come over them. …When there is bonding among them, and no separation of hearts, they have peace and quiet … and all the curses and suffering are removed by that.”
Alas, very few listened. And when the Jews do not listen and do not unite, they suffer the consequences. During WWII, Rav Yehuda Ashlag wrote in a paper he titled, “The Nation”: “It is clear that the immense effort required of us on the rugged road ahead requires unity as strong and as solid as steel, from all factions of the nation without exception. If we do not come out with united ranks toward the mighty forces standing in our way then we are doomed before we even started.”
As long as humanity was fully engaged with its self-centered trajectory, rewarding personal accomplishments with accolades, the pressure on the Jews was relatively tolerable. Still, because whenever there is pain the Jews are to blame, the Jews did suffer persecutions and expulsions wherever they went. Since hatred and disunity is at the heart of every problem, the Jews were always viewed as the perpetrators, even though the persecutors could not rationally explain why they blamed the Jews and had to make up absurd rumors about them. And yet, however painful, these persecutions were not meant to annihilate the Jews altogether.
In the early 20th century things began to change. Europe was locked in rivalries and alliances, and tensions were running high. The hatred culminated in the outbreak of WWI. Chemical warfare was used for the first time, many millions of people died, and many more were left destitute and hopeless. Germany was brought to its knees, but all of Europe was in ruins. No one was happy. When Hitler rose to power and blamed the war on the Jews, hardly anyone objected. Initially, he did not plan to exterminate the Jews, but only to expel them from his country. In the summer of 1938, when Hitler heard that there is a conference in Evian, France, to discuss the possibility of helping the Jews move out of Germany, he said, “We are ready to put all these criminals at the disposal of these countries, for all I care, even on luxury ships.” But as the nations do not want the Jews today, they did not want them then. With suave indifference, country by country excused itself from taking in Jews. The Australian delegate, T. W. White, sarcastically noted, “As we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.”
Even after Evian Conference Hitler did not give up and sought to accelerate the pace of forced Jewish emigration from Germany. On May 13, 1939, he did what he had promised, and 900 Jews left for Cuba, hoping to eventually enter the U.S., on the luxury transatlantic liner, the S.S. St. Louis.
But Cuba denied them entrance. Desperate, they tried heading straight for Florida, but the Americans would not let them dock either. Left with no choice, they returned to Europe where hundreds of them perished in the Holocaust.
The Holocaust gave the Jews a pause from hatred and helped turn the sympathy of the nations toward them enough to vote in favor of establishing a Jewish state. But that pause was short lived. Since the Six Day War in 1967, the world has been turning against the Jews once more, and specifically against Israel.
As the world deteriorates into chaos crisis by crisis, the pressure on the Jews will continue to grow. A few years ago, a second Holocaust was unthinkable. Today it is a concern that people are beginning to express openly.
In the early 1950s, Rav Yehuda Ashlag wrote The Writings of the Last Generation, in which he describes the progression he saw for the world’s political development, especially in the Western world. “The world erroneously considers Nazism a particular offshoot of Germany,” he wrote. “In truth, it is the offshoot of a democracy and socialism that were left without … manners, and justice. Thus, all the nations are equal in that; there is no hope at all that Nazism will perish with the victory of the allies, for tomorrow the Anglo-Saxons will adopt Nazism, since they, too, live in a world of democracy and Nazism.”
Over several essays, Rav Ashlag expounded on the reasons why there will not be peace in the world until there is unity and brotherly love throughout the world. He also explains that the more the world suffers from the adverse consequences of what researchers, Twenge and Campbell, call “the narcissism epidemic,” the more people will turn their anger against Jews. Subconsciously, people expect the Jews to pave the way for a better society, namely to be “a light unto nations.” Until the Jews carry out this task, the animosity and accusations against them will grow.
Renowned English historian, Prof. Paul Johnson, wrote in A History of the Jews: “No people has ever insisted more firmly than the Jews that history has a purpose and humanity a destiny. At a very early stage in their collective existence they believed they had detected a divine scheme for the human race, of which their own society was to be a pilot.”
Acclaimed British historian, Sir Martin Gilbert, wrote in Churchill and the Jews about British Premier, Winston Churchill’s keen perception of the importance of unity to the Jewish people: “The Jews were a lucky community because they had that corporate spirit, the spirit of their race and faith. [Churchill] would not … ask them to use that spirit in any narrow or clannish sense, to shut themselves off from others … far from their mood and intention, far from the counsels that were given them by those most entitled to advise. That personal and special power which they possessed would enable them to bring vitality into their institutions, which nothing else would ever give. [Churchill believed without disrespect that] A Jew cannot be a good Englishman unless he is a good Jew.”
Even Henry Ford, whose notorious anti-Semitic publication, The International Jew—The World’s Foremost Problem, made him the object of Hitler’s admiration, wrote in that infamous composition: “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems on paper, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.”
No one but the Jews is expected to be a role-model society. The light that the Jews are obliged to bring to the nations is the light of a united society, where mutual responsibility and friendship prevail, where “love your neighbor as yourself” is the motto, the foundation, and the goal that individuals in the society aspire to achieve.
Not only The Book of Zohar, but numerous Jewish scholars and sages wrote that the unity of Israel will save them and save the world. The book, Sefat Emet, writes, “The children of Israel corrected the world … when they returned to being one nation and one language. And also individually … the correction should be that we are rewarded with correcting ourselves and finding the root of unity out of the separation.”
Because the Jews have a mission to carry out, author Michael Grant, wrote about them: “The Jews proved not only unassimilated, but inassimilable.” However unclear the way may be, the only solution to anti-Semitism is for the Jews to bring the light of unity to the world by establishing a role model society, and sharing its principles with the world. They will not be able to avoid this mission by assimilating.
It has been two millennia since the ruin of the society that Ford looked up to. Unlike Abraham’s time, or Moses’ time, the world is ready to hear why things are not working out. The Jews must introduce once more the method for uniting above differences. Indeed, the key is the word, “above.” The Jews did not suppress their differences, but used them to the benefit of the whole of society. Today the Jews must teach themselves once more how to conduct themselves this way, and thereby become a role model society.
Indeed, the best way to achieve unity above differences is by focusing not on uniting the Jews, but on building an example of unity for the world, so that the world can unite. The world will not tolerate the Jews as long as they do not unite among themselves, because only then the rest of the world will be able to learn and implement the way. If the Jews unite in order to help the world, not in order to help themselves, they will be viewed favorably by all the nations, without exception. In the words of the book, Sefat Emet [True Language], “The children of Israel became guarantors to correct the entire world … everything depends on the children of Israel. To the extent that they correct themselves [and become united], all creations follow them. As the students follow the teacher, the whole of creation follows the children of Israel.”
If Jews bring unity to the world by uniting among them and setting an example, they will never have to ask, “Why do people hate Jews?”
About the Author
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 Henry Ford, The International Jew—The World’s Foremost Problem (The Noontide Press: Books On-Line), 7.
 Yehuda Leib Arie Altar (ADMOR of Gur), Sefat Emet [Language of Truth],Beresheet [Genesis], Noah.
 Michael Grant, From Alexander to Cleopatra: the Hellenistic World (New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1982), 75.
 Yehuda Leib Arie Altar (ADMOR of Gur), Sefat Emet [Language of Truth],Shemot [Exodus], Yitro [Jethro].
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