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ALEXANDER KIMEL - HOLOCAUST UNDERSTANDING & PREVENTION

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SOURCE OF HATRED, ANTI-SEMITISM

by Alexander Kimel - Holocaust Survivor
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What is the source of anti-Semitism? To understand this basic question we have to go back to the beginning of Christianity. In the first century, Christianity was considered a branch of Judaism; Jews and Christian prayed together and shared synagogues. Almost from the beginning, Christianity split into two competing sects; the Jewish sect called Ebionites, headed James the brother of Christ and Gentile churches headed by Paul from Tarsus. The two group competed for converts, but there was no hatred. In the writing of St. Paul, the Jews were not made responsible for the crucifixion.

In the quest for converts, Christians adopted the Hellenistic culture, abandoned the requirements for circumcision, and the dietary laws and disregarded the ethical teaching of Judaism. "I came to liberate you from the curse of the Law," declared St. Paul in his epistles to the Romans. After the destruction of the JerusalemTemple in the year 69 AD, it was necessary for the Chuch to denounce Judaism and diminish the guilt of the Romans for the crucifixion, by passing the guilt onto the Jews. The Jews became the God killers.

Next, came the assertion that the Jews, by rejecting Christ the Messiah, broke the covenant with God, thus losing their state as the chosen people. The Scriptures were used to prove the wickedness of the Jews. The anti-Jewish bias became part of the Christian faith and is reflected in the synoptic Bibles. Each consecutive version is more virulent toward the Jews.

After Christianity became the state religion, (313) the Jews were treated as pariahs and became the scapegoats for all the ills of the society. Founding Fathers of the Church like St. Chrysotom and St. Ambrose of Milan (379-395 AD.), advocated Jewish persecution, teaching the gospel of hate:

The Jews are the most worthless of all men. They are lecherous, greedy, rapacious. They are perfidious murderers of Christ . . .The Jews are the odious assassins of Christ and for killing God there is no expiation possible, no indulgence or pardon. Christian may never cease vengeance, and the Jews must live in servitude forever. God always hated the Jews. It is incumbent upon all Christians to hate the Jews. -- St. John Chrysotom-Patriarch of Constantinople known as the Bishop with the Golden Tongue.

The anti-Semitism is also reflected in the writings of Great Catholic theologian, Father of the Church - St. Augustine:

The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus.

-- St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Father of the Church.

The negative projection of Jews continued for ages. In the XIII century Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) defined explicitly the Jewish position in the Christian world:

The Jews' guilt of the crucifixion of Jesus consigned them to perpetual servitude, and like Cain, they are to be wanderers and fugitives . . . the Jews will not dare to raise their necks, bowed under the yoke of perpetual slavery, against the reverence of the Christian faith.

Even the Reformation did not improve the situation of the Jews. At the beginning, Martin Luther, expecting mass conversions of the Jews, wrote:

The Jews are blood-relations of our Lord; if it were proper to boast of flesh and blood, the Jews belong more to Christ than we. I beg, therefore, my dear Papist, if you become tired of abusing me as a heretic, that you begin to revile me as a Jew.

When the mass conversion of the Jews did not materialize Luther felt betrayed and his acceptance of the Jews turned into loathing. Luther declared:

Know Christians that next to the devil thou hast no enemy more cruel, more venomous and violent than a true Jew.

With the spread of Christianity, anti-Semitism became embedded into the Western culture. Whenever there was a social upheaval, the Jews were persecuted. The Jews were blamed for the plaque in the Middle Ages. . . for losing of the WWI by Germany . . . for the excesses of communism in Poland. Anti-Semitism became a cultural phenomena.

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