General Question

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

Why the animosity toward Jews?

Asked by MRSHINYSHOES (13966points) March 29th, 2010

I have always wondered why Jews have always faced animosity from other groups. Can someone provide a historical explanation why Jews have always been subjects of persecution (eg., in Nazi Germany——even today racist groups regularly target Jews). Why the hatred/negativity? It is so stupid and irrational. We are all human beings, the same flesh and blood.

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38 Answers

Mamradpivo's avatar

I have never understood this. My best guess would be that in medieval times Jews often worked in trades like money-lending and banking that were off-limits to ‘proper’ Christians.

Great question by the way, I look forward to reading the responses of those more learned than myself.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

I agree with Mamaradpivo. Must be their businessmindedness, shrewdness and other issues stemming from biblical times.

Zaku's avatar

There’s a book titled Why the Jews?: The Reason for Antisemitism .

Historically they have survived losing their sovereign territory and so been living in countries while maintaining a “foreign” culture. Etc…

CaptainHarley's avatar

The same reason there’s animosity against African-Americans, or Hispanic-Americans, or any other minority group: they’re an easily idenfiable sub-group which people with little self-respect can look down upon in an effort to make themselves feel better. “I may be poor white-trash, but at least ah ain’t no [ fill in with your favorite racial epithet ].”

SeventhSense's avatar

@CaptainHarley
I disagree. They are despised not by their common denominator status among minorities but because of their success. There is no African or Latin nation that has an Air Force like Israel or has the influence in every industry from banking to media. They were an easy mark in Germany because of the successful Jews in the banking industry not the poor folks in the ghetto.
They are very successful and for their numbers probably more influential than any other cultural group on earth. Most of the top industry and money in the world is either directly influenced by or controlled by Jews. This is amazing by nature of their population. It makes them an easy target. Coupled this with a Fundamentalist Orthodoxy that is beyond dogma in its zeal and it’s not hard to make some enemies.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@SeventhSense

Like I said… “an easily identifiable sub-group.”

Rarebear's avatar

@SeventhSense “Most of the top industry and money in the world is either directly influenced by or controlled by Jews.”
Really?

SeventhSense's avatar

@CaptainHarley
Actually they’re really not an easily identifiable sub group or Nazi Germany would have been more successful. Far from average their influence is far disproportionate to their numbers. This link, ‹(•¿•)› reads like a Who’s Who of nearly every arena.
@Rarebear
Yes really.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Rarebear
Here is one, if not the most, influential banking family of the past century
‹(•¿•)›

anartist's avatar

Has it historically been because they were always a people from somewhere else? Another flutherer, @Arisztid, compared the treatment of the Rromani to the treatment of the Jews, saying both peoples originated about the same time from the same area and never had a homeland until the Jews got Israel. The central theme seems to be a wandering people always being outsiders. However the differences are enormous in that the Jewish identity is tied to religious beliefs, where the Rromani that is not so.

But what is most bewildering is when a people have settled down so much that they are among their adopted country’s foremost thinkers, landowners, even knighted, even in the country’s government and they still can be turned on as outsiders for whatever they have in common as a people—for the Jews, religion.

I can’t figure it out.

SeventhSense's avatar

List of Jewish Economists. Just consider how many
Nobel Prize wiiners among these.
‹(•¿•)›

anartist's avatar

@SeventhSense—re money—don’t ignore the Vatican or the Mormons.
HOW DO YOU STYLE A LINK? I JUST HAVE TO PASTE IT IN NAKED>

susanc's avatar

Medeival Europeans were mad at Jews because they weren’t enslaved and controlled by the Church, wouldn’t/couldn’t convert, wore funny hats, had gorgeous women who were unavailable to smelly, disgusting, militaristic, uncultivated Christian soldiers/burghers, and perhaps most annoyingly, weren’t interested in accepting converts. Nobody likes being excluded by a group they don’t even know enough about to want to join. Because of Jews’ separateness, they were counter-excluded from Christian society, which until the Enlightenment or later was all about religion, and that meant they were not allowed to own land, which meant they couldn’t raise food. However, because moneylending was forbidden to Christians (because Jesus threw the moneylenders out of the temple – which didn’t mean moneylending wasn’t fine with Jesus, it meant he thought it shouldn’t take place in a house of worship – but those old Christians were pretty literal) – as I was saying, because moneylending was against Church law, Jews were not only allowed but importuned to do this filthy work, so that commerce could go forward. They became the bankers of Western Europe, a service only they could perform. And for this they were further hated, because they sometimes had to refuse a loan or call one in.
Sure is fun writing history. Sorry I haven’t done more of it.

Rarebear's avatar

@SeventhSense Listing one Jewish banking family, or a list of Jewish economists doesn’t mean that Jews are controlling the world banking industry.

dpworkin's avatar

Traditional antisemitism started during the shift toward Christianity under Constantine, when the Jews refused to accept Jesus Christ as the messiah. It has become much more elaborate since then, and modern antisemitism (e.g. since the 1890s) tended to be more economic than religious.

anartist's avatar

@dpworkin are you describing a situation where the formerly-Jewish hate the Jewish, while others around them are indifferent?

dpworkin's avatar

No. Constantine led the way for Pagans to convert to Christianity, and Jews were tolerated in Rome at the time, but once Christianity was established, Christians proselytized, and Jews did not.

anartist's avatar

I would think that not proselytizing would be a good thing, since it is so pushy and inflammatory

dpworkin's avatar

Yes, but their refusal to be proselytized caused enmity.

anartist's avatar

@dpworkin In your opinion, were Jews no more or less comfortable in the Roman Empire, and any elsewheres you may have knowledge of than any other populations before the advent of Christianity?

Rarebear's avatar

If you want to know about the roots of Antisemitism in pre-war Germany, there is a wonderful (if enormously depressing) book called The Racial State

dpworkin's avatar

There was a history of fluctuating antisemitism in pre-Christian Greece during Hasmonean Empire when Hellenized Jews were quite hostile to Orthodox (Maccabean) Jews. That story is the true story of Channukah, minus the magic oil, which was a later Rabbinic addition. The real story was the internecine warfare.

Fenris's avatar

All these, not to mention the fact that they hold education and knowledge as a fundament, and that people that are smart and successful when everyone else is not makes them scary because they can lead dumb people around like herd animals.

shilolo's avatar

@SeventhSense Antisemitism 101: draw loose connections where none exist. Some Jews are wealthy, therefore Jews control the money supply. Nonetheless, taking your argument on its face, lets take a look at the list of the world’s richest people. The three richest Jews are Larry Ellison (technology), Michael Bloomberg (IT) and Sergey Brin (Google), at #6, #23 and #24 respectively. These are all self-made men, as are most of the wealthiest Jews. Overall, I would venture a guess and say the wealthy is concentrated far more in non-Jewish than Jewish hands.

Moving on to your Nobel Prize argument. There are many Jews represented in the Nobel Prizes for biomedicine, chemistry, and physics, IN ADDITION to economics. What this proves is that Jews value education, not that Jews control the money supply and economic policy. This Jew (me) deconstructed your fallacious hypotheses easily, assisted by my years of education, not because of some conspiracy.

YARNLADY's avatar

From the earliest days of the Jewish people, they are told by their prophets that they are the chosen people of God. This belief does not go over well with any other group. The Egyptians enslaved them, yet the legends would have us believe that God protected them, anyway, by bringing horrible things down upon the ruling class.

anartist's avatar

@YARNLADY My guess is they didn’t run around telling their goyische neighbors, “Nyah Nyah, I’m one of the Chosen People and YOU aren’t!”
Do you go around telling people you are in MENSA and they aren’t?
:-)

YARNLADY's avatar

@anartist The teachings and beliefs of the Jewish people have been a subject of public knowledge from the very start. No need to get personal

anartist's avatar

@YARNLADY – - My apologies – -

JeffVader's avatar

It stems from history. After the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans many Jewish people abandoned Israel. In the following centuries more & more were forced from the area due to the growth of Islam. These Jews settled in whatever countries they were allowed to, many ended up in Europe, although there is evidence to show that these Jewish refugees made it as far as China. Europe was a Christian society & as the Jews were blamed for killing Jesus, they weren’t very popular. Over the years most European rulers forced the Jewish refugees to settle within concentrated areas, hence the development of Ghetto’s. The problem with this is that it separated the Jews from society, leading to huge amounts of misunderstanding with regards their religious practices which became seen as perverse & evil. The myths of the ‘Blood Sacrifice’ & of Passover bread containing the blood of children arose around this time. In addition to this there is the belief that Jews all are rich, & they were accused of stealing certain types of employment in order to benefit themselves over the native populations of the countries they lived in. This of course was another myth. Jews were forced into the professions of law, banking, medicine, acting etc as these were seen as ignoble. In medieval days noble, honest work was done with your hands, carpentry, iron mongering, tending the fields etc. Jews were literally banned from working in these ‘noble’ professions. These, or variations on these are the basis of Anti-Semitism, especially in Christian countries.

anartist's avatar

@JeffVader “These Jews settled in whatever countries they were allowed to”
Is it unusual for a country to forbid settlers?

JeffVader's avatar

@anartist Indeed, medieval Europe (I’m using this as I’m most familiar with it) did not like influxes of new people or ideas. They were seen as a disruptive element to society, which in itself was pretty fragile in this period. Another travelling group that got it in the neck, quite literally, were the Romani or gypsy people.

shilolo's avatar

One wonders why there would be a wikipedia article specifically listing Jewish economists, and one listing economists in general, but not one on Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Agnostic, or Atheist economists? This is a not-so-subtle form of anti-Semitism, namely, that Jews have to be singled out in any profession (and in particular, one that deals in part with money). I see no reason why these individuals couldn’t just be recognized as economists, and not cross-referenced by their religion.

SeventhSense's avatar

@shilolo
Well as you are well aware “Jewish” is not necessarily a religion only but rather a cultural phenomenon. If you look at it as a list of accomplishments rather than a singling out of a people it’s actually quite flattering. There’s more than a bit of preconceived bias in your stance and I won’t shirk for fear of being branded Antisemitic. I would say that the list of successful Jews is borne of a feeling of collective guilt in trying to honor the Jewish people and not as you imagine. I mean what are you imagining? What else would the list be for? To build resentment and envy among Neo Nazis and Radical Muslims? Is it that hard to imagine that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar? A Nobel Prize is a noble honor.

And of course you bring up the most obvious reason that Jews always feel victimized. Yes of course historically they have had reason to feel victimized but to adopt victimization as a lifestyle only attracts further victimization. I list successful scientists, economists and bankers not as a means to raise antisemitism but as a hypothesis as to suggest why Antisemitism exists. Should this be a reason to not be successful in various fields? Or further should one say that the Rothschilds, the Greenspan’s, the Einsteins, or the Spielbergs do not exist and this is all just imagination for fear of being further victimized? Of course not. Otherwise that’s dishonest and suggests that there may be a hidden agenda where there is none. Transparency and assimilation is part of the fabric of society and fosters trust. He who does not trust is considered with suspicion as being untrustworthy.

What I am just suggesting is that the Jewish people may be a victim of their own success. And false modesty is really just the flip side of pride… maybe this is the Achilles heel of the Jewish people.

Response moderated
SeventhSense's avatar

@shilolo
It was not just economists. Here’s the whole list. ‹(•¿•)›
Talk about a chip on your shoulder. Cheez…
“I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.”
Groucho Marx

shilolo's avatar

Um, you can’t even look at your own quip? Right there is your link to a list of Jewish economists, right after you linked to a prominent Jewish banking family. This, of course, followed this winner of a standard anti-Semitic canard, which I easily refuted “Most of the top industry and money in the world is either directly influenced by or controlled by Jews.” If it waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.

SeventhSense's avatar

Ok I didn’t link the whole article but it was just backing up my point about the bankers. And yes maybe it was a bit inflammatory to use an ominous tone- “control the world’’—-(dum dum dum sound effects) but there is no denying that Jewish influence in almost every arena is far disproportionate to their numbers in the population.

philosopher's avatar

@CaptainHarley
You are as usual correct.

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