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KalWest's avatar

What do you think are the roots of anti-semitism?

Asked by KalWest (1389points) April 20th, 2009
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14 Answers

augustlan's avatar

Well that pretty much sums it up.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Hate and prejudice can also play a part.

Likeradar's avatar


qashqai's avatar

The very wrong belief there’s always one responsible if things are going badly.

Staalesen's avatar

Historicaly the jews have been known for beeing god with money, landing them a reputation as greedy, capitalistic and “Evil” within the context of finances..
This led to laws about jews not beeing alowed to run buisness, and other restrictions.
Even during the crusades it were like that, WW2 treatment of jews were more of a culmination of general feeling in europe at the time. Offcourse, when the rest of the world saw the industrializaton of killing jews that Nazi germany were behind, they got pangs of guilt for treating them badly during the ages, and thus sought to make up for millenia of trating them bad by giving them land in a controversial area of the world.

ragingloli's avatar

The church saw the Jews as the responsible ones for the death of their Messias and thus accused them of deicide.

tinyfaery's avatar

Money and power, just like everything else.

Qingu's avatar

Those answers are kind of simplistic. Not that anti-semitism isn’t based on fear and ignorance. But we could go deeper. Judaism has a long history and has itself changed quite a bit.

The early Jews, up until the time of the Roman Empire, were really a lot like Muslim fundamentalists today. They were religious zealots, often violent, who wanted their own political sovereignty. They got conquered (along with everyone else nearby) by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, but many of them refused to integrate.

It would be a mistake to generalize, because during the Greek and Roman period, Jews were just as diverse as they are today—you had the “secular” Jews who dressed and acted Greek/Roman, you had the secluded communities. But there were also had violent revolutionaries, such as the Maccabees. During Roman times, zealots called “sicarii” would ambush and kill Romans by stabbing them with daggers, often dying in the process themselves—much like Islamic suicide bombers. The Romans ended up going to full-scale war with the Jews beginning in the 60’s AD, and eventually destroyed their temple, which was considered by Jews to literally be the house where Yahweh lived. The religion has never been remotely the same since then.

After that, Jews became codified in Christianity as the arch-villains of history. Jesus’ blood is on their hands, according to the gospels. Unsurprisingly, Jews were not treated well by the Christians. They were treated slightly better by Muslims, but they were still “dhimmis” (i.e. second-class citizens). Without a homeland or any hopes of political or military power, Jewish culture became concentrated in pockets within other, larger cultures. I think it’s safe to say the segregation between these cultures was largely mutual—a similar dynamic between “black” and “white” cultures in America, which also has led to a lot of resentment and mistrust on the part of the more powerful culture. They were not allowed to participate in the more powerful culture, so they had to remain the “other,” through little fault of their own.

So yes, fear and ignorance, but also a long and complex history and a common theme of “lack of integration”—which, early on, was really their own damn fault.

benjaminlevi's avatar

I would assume that its from the same things that cause people to hate other groups of people, ignorance, fear, hatred, scapegoating and using social acceptance as an excuse not to challenge those who teach them to hate.

@discover There was anti-semitism long before Hitler was born.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Unfamiliarity, fear and exposure to prejudices. As a child my grandmother told me to never consider a latin or middle eastern man since “they beat their women and are terrible lovers”. This went hand in hand with being warned not to adopt Vietnamese children because “they’ll grow up to kill you in your sleep”. It’s sounded silly to me even then but my grandmother was serious. Had I never before met children or adults of other ethnicities or culture, I might have believed her.

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