Antisemitism: Why & How?

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It is safe to safe that a majority of people would not complain if it were possible for the world’s population to coexist in complete harmony and tranquility. However, at this point in time that is just not possible, and it has not been possible for quite some time. Throughout history there has been a trend where one group of people single out and persecute another group of people simply because of their differences. African slaves, Native American, and Muslims during the Crusades are just a few examples of this phenomenon, but perhaps the most famous and oldest example of hated people are the Jewish people. The Jews have had to deal with anti semitism for thousands of years and continue to in the present time due to ignorance. No country is innocent in letting anti semitism persist, and both the United Kingdom and Germany can be used to illustrate the ebbs and flows of its existence.

Antisemitism has its roots in the religion that arose directly from Judaism - Christianity. Christianity grew from the Jewish religion, Jesus himself being Jewish, but as the religion developed, it’s followers felt that Christianity replaced Judaism, and therefore viewed the Jews as a dangerous to their religion, and evil. A Roman theologian, Augustine of Hippo, alive in the fourth and fifth centuries AD helped to further consolidate the Christian’s perspective on Jews by introducing the “Witness Theory.” The Witness Theory essentially stated that Christians should not hurt Jews, but only because God created them as an example of non Christian life. This theory boiled down portrays the Jews as a damned people. As stated previously, hatred of the Jewish people has persisted for thousands of years, but the term “antisemitism,” used to describe that hatred is only around 140 years old. A German journalist, Wilhelm Marr, first used the term in a pamphlet in 1879. When breaking down the word, “anti” stands for hatred, “semit” is a term that comes from semitic, which is a group of languages such as Hebrew, Arabic, and Amharic, and finally, “ism” indicates that it is a school of thought or movement. Professor Dan Michman asserts that the term antisemitism stems from an attempt to make anti-Judaism “a more intellectual face and not as something that results from emotions.” Use of this emotional reasoning to persecute Jewish people can be seen throughout the history of England?

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In 1066 AD, William the Conqueror arrived to the shores of England and along with his fleet he brought the first recorded Jewish people to England. The Jews were used as moneylenders to King so that William could establish his rule through a building program of fortresses and churches. The Jews were the only people who could be moneylenders, as usury was considered a Christian sin. The Jews were tolerated, until it came time for them to collect their money which led to people thinking of them as greedy and in a negative way. Throughout the middle ages, the Jews became a scapegoat and target for the Christians as a result of their place in society and the meaning they have to their faith. Prime examples are the way Jews were viewed as demonic figures, and the use of blood libel. Blood libel is an anti semitic concept where they claimed Jews took and killed Christian children to use their blood for religious rituals. In 1290 Edward I revoked the Charter of Protection of the Jews and expelled the English population. Oliver Cromwell reversed the expulsion in 1657, but Jews still continued to be discriminated against - living apart from the general population and forced to pay specific taxes designed to humiliate the population. Anti semitism is not a thing of the past, however. It continued to persist, and not just in England alone. The most famous show of it occurred in Germany.

Antisemitism in Germany has some of its roots in romanticism and nationalism. German romanticism placed an emphasis on things such as the German language, race, culture, customs and religions.

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Antisemitism: Why & How? (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Antisemitism: Why & How?” Edubirdie, 21 Feb. 2022,
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