Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Roots of Jew Hatred [UPDATED]

The massacre of Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue last week was the most deadly attack on Jews in our nation's history.  And while a single deranged person did this on his own, these things do not happen in a vacuum.

Being Jewish myself, I always assumed Jew hatred was based on ancient gripes that only simple minds could abide, and since simple minds would always be around, so would Jew hatred.  I still believe that, but I've also seen how contemporary words and attitudes play a role in causing men to act on those ancient gripes.

While my last name is distinctly German, my family all originated in Russia, and I can't trace a single family member back to Germany.  Jewish persecution in Germany goes back much further than the modern holocaust and Hitler's Nazis.

Jews began being murdered in Germany en masse way back in the 11th century.  Not only were Jews a religious minority, they were also accused of usury, causing plagues, and, of course, killing Jesus.  Back then, the church prevented Christians from lending money, so if you borrowed money, you were probably indebted to a Jew.  Moreover, Jews were frozen out of many professions including farming, and thus were less susceptible to plagues which tended to affect agrarian populations.  These things formed the basis of Jew hatred.  Then came the Crusades in the 11th century and Jews began their long history of being slaughtered by Germans.

Despite that, many Jews survived and remained in Germany after the Crusades.  Some even thrived.  But then came Martin Luther.           

In 1543, a German named Martin Luther wrote a 75 page screed called "The Jews and their Lies".  It instantly became a best-seller.  Luther was a key figure in the Protestant Reformation and one of the most influential Christians in history.  He was also a rabid Jew hater.   His book laid out the case that ultimately led to the bulk of the Jews being driven from Germany, and 400 years later, the Holocaust of WWII.

Luther labeled Jews as vermin, vipers, dumb, miserable, stupid, fools, blind, senseless, thieves, and usurers.  To deal with them, his recommendations included burning their synagogues, burning their houses, not allowing them safe passage on roads, forcing them into labor,  and killing them. 

Here's a sample of his conclusions:
Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish.

These words have reverberated throughout history.

Which brings me to my point.  In the wake of the slaughter in Pittsburgh, many are looking to point fingers and find out what led this deranged man to take action.  What ideas filled the vacuum of his twisted mind?  Who knows. The only thing we do know is that he was not a Donald Trump supporter.  He was listening to other voices.

A week before the murders, a modern American religious leader and influential Democrat named Louis Farrakhan went on a Jew hating rant in front of a large cheering crowd, and then followed up with this Tweet:

As far as I can tell, no prominent Democrat has publicly and emphatically condemned Louis Farrakhan for this latest Jew hating rant.  None.  Not one. 

Words and ideas matter.  They echo through history.  As a Jew, I must shine a light on this and point out its pedigree.

[UPDATE 11/4/18]
Louis Farrakhan is currently in Iran and chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel".  Democrat leaders have remained steadfast in their.....complete and absolute silence.   


  1. Farrakhan's beliefs are rooted in "Nation of ISLAM"...emphasis on Islam. Islam precedes 1543's Luther. Question to ask, with the history of Islamic hegemony upon European soil, how tainted were these nations by Islamic anti-semitism?
    See page 26 of this online lesson by Dr. Bill Warner's CSPI

    Listen to Dr. Warner's lesson here:

    1. Interesting. I don't know much about early Islam's attitude towards Jews. I always considered their initial attitude to be that of conquerors. Everyone had to submit and Jews were just bad at it. But then Jews returned to Israel in the 1800s and Islam's attitude took a big turn for the worse. Since then, and since Islam has been unsuccessful at conquering modern Jews in Israel, things have gotten very personal. So, I see two tracks for Jew hatred: one for Christians and a separate one for Muslims. But that's just my semi-informed impression.