Antisemitism Movement, attitude or doctrine against the religion and culture of the Jewish people . Term that arose around 1879 and that designated exclusive hostility towards Jews based on ethnological and non-religious aspects .
2 Historical roots
2.1 Persecution in Western Europe
2.2 Persecution in Eastern Europe and the pogroms
3 Organized anti-Semitism as a political tool
4 Anti-Semitism after World War II
The term Semitic, originally applied to all of Shem’s descendants, refers to a group of peoples in Southwest Asia that includes both Jews and Arabs. Later, the term anti-Semitism, which emerged around 1879 , designated exclusive hostility towards Jews based on ethnological rather than religious aspects.
This hostility was allegedly justified by a theory first developed in Germany in the mid- nineteenth century , according to which the Aryan race (in Sanskrit ‘noble’) was considered superior, both for their physique and for their character and intelligence, to the Semitic race. Although this theory was rejected by ethnologists, widely circulated books were published that incorporated anti-Semitic doctrines; some of its authors were the French diplomat and social philosopher Joseph Arthur , Count of Gobineau , or the German philosopher and economist Karl Eugen Dühring. The theory of the superiority of certain races has been used throughout history to justify the civil and religious persecution of the Jews.
The antisemitic phenomenon has been tried to explain in many ways. One of them, widely accepted by social scientists, suggests that anti-Semitism reappears in periods of social instability and economic crisis, as occurred in Germany in the 1880s and in the years preceding World War II ( 1939 – 1945 ).
The passions and frustrations that were generated in these periods were looking for a scapegoat, throughout history the victims have often been isolated minorities, such as Jews.
Persecution in Western Europe
Despite the term anti-Semitism appearing in 1879 , anti-Jewish sentiment has existed for thousands of years. In the Roman Empire, for example, the devotion of the Jews to their beliefs and other special forms of worship was used as a pretext for their political discrimination, and very few ever acquired Roman citizenship. Beginning in the 4th century AD (and possibly earlier), Jews were held by Christians responsible for the death of Jesus Christ .
With the spread of Christianity in the Western world, discrimination based on religious prejudice against this people became general, giving rise to a systematic and widespread anti-Judaism. Jews were murdered in great numbers (especially during the Crusades), isolated in ghettos, forced to wear identifying marks, and ruined by severe restrictions on their economic activities. In Spain , Jews who did not convert to Christianity were expelled in 1492 by order of the Catholic Monarchs .
In the 18th and 19th centuries , after the French Revolution and the Enlightenment , as there was a greater separation between Church and State, and a greater respect for ethnic and religious differences, religious persecution and The economy against the Jews declined and its members gradually re-integrated into the political and economic order. However, its acceptance was superficial and fluctuated according to economic and social cycles.
In Germany , the process of Jewish emancipation was completed with the formation of the Second German Empire in 1871 . Despite legal reforms ending discrimination on religious grounds, hostility based on racism increased. The racist theories formulated in previous decades gave rise to a new formation of anti-Semitic political parties after the Franco-Prussian War and the economic crisis of 1873 . The political environment in Germany was marked by the presence of at least one openly anti-Semitic party, until in 1933 , under National Socialism, anti-Semitism was adopted as an official government policy.
The example of German anti-Semitism was followed by other Central and Western European countries. In Austria , for example, there was a Christian Social Party that defended an anti-Semitic program. In France , anti-Semitism became one of the key points of the separation between Church and State. The ecclesiastical and monarchical factions generally adopted anti-Semitic principles based on racist theories formulated in Germany and promoted in part by numerous publications, especially in the newspaper La Libre Parole, founded in 1892 by the French journalist Édouard Drumont .
Anti-Semitism in France culminated in the Dreyfus affair, which lasted from 1894 to 1906 . With the release of Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French Army jailed for alleged treason, anti-Semitism almost completely disappeared from the political map in France.
Persecution in Eastern Europe and the pogroms
Opposition to the Jews in Eastern Europe followed different courses. In this region of Europe, the medieval customs that isolated Jews as a social and economic class never disappeared, so the process of Jewish emancipation characteristic of Western Europe did not take place. In fact, the fetters imposed on the Jews in the Middle Ages became more severe. In Russia , measures were taken to prevent Jews from owning land and to limit their admission to higher education institutions to a maximum of 3 to 10% of all students.
The persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe culminated in a series of organized massacres, known as pogroms, that began in 1881 . Some of the bloodiest performances took place in Russia, in the wake of the 1905 revolution . During the pogroms, thousands of Jews were murdered in more than 600 towns and cities, and their property was looted and destroyed. Historians agree that the pogroms were the product of deliberate government policy that aimed to divert the social and political discontent of Russian workers and peasants into religious intolerance.
These riots were fueled by a new type of mass propaganda, such as the dissemination of the pamphlet Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which purported to reveal details of an international Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. This publication, which first appeared in Russia in 1905 , contained false information about Jews. The same distortion of the facts was used during the pogroms after the Russian Revolution of 1917 and caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people.
Organized anti-Semitism as a political tool
During the interwar period ( 1918 – 1939 ) the anti-Semitic trend continued in the international arena. In Germany , during the 1930s and 1940s , anti-Semitism exploded under the Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler . The content of the Nazi propaganda was varied: it included a racist doctrine, in addition to religious hatred and, paradoxically, the identification of Jews with capitalist and communist elements, both German and foreign. The strong anti-Semitic campaign within Germany was also reinforced by movements in Europe and the United States organized by Nazi agents and sympathizers.
However, the physical persecution of the Jewish community was more serious than any psychological campaign. The systematic persecution of Jews, homosexuals and disabled people, was due to the resurgence of the theory of eugenics, a practice that would be developed by the Nazis. Shortly after the National Socialist party came to power in Germany in 1933 , special legislation was passed excluding Jews from the protection of German laws. They were legally detained and confined in concentration camps, where they were sentenced to forced labor, tortured and executed.
Sporadic and local massacres culminated in a widespread pogrom throughout Germany in 1938 , officially organized by the National Socialist Party . Following the outbreak of World War II , the frequency of anti-Semitic activities increased alarmingly. Throughout Europe many governments (such as those of occupied France , Italy , Poland and Ukraine ) adopted anti-Semitic programs. In Germany, Hitlerannounced a “final solution to the Jewish problem”: the extermination of the Jewish community, a crime today typified by international law as genocide. By the end of the war, 6 million Jews (including two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe) had been exterminated. Large numbers of homosexuals, gypsies and political prisoners also died in the concentration camps.
After the war, the strong reaction against the horror of the Nazi death camps gave rise to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 . In the war crimes trials, which took place in Nuremberg, Germany, beginning in 1945 , many Nazi officials were convicted of applying the party’s racial laws and carrying out the extermination of Jews and others in concentration camps.
The government of the Federal Republic of Germany continued to carry out arrests of Nazi officers until the late 1960s and partially returned property, pensions and land seized from Jews. In the former Democratic Republic of Germany, some war crimes trials were held, basically driven by the Soviets, and various death sentences were handed down. However, the restitution of properties did not take place, since the State (unlike the Federal Republic of Germany) was not considered the legal heir of the Third Reich.
Despite the fact that the official position of the unified Germany is clearly against anti-Semitism, there have been sporadic outbreaks of violence and hostility towards Jews. In the other Western democracies, the example of Nazi extremism silenced anti-Semitism in the postwar years. However, violence by neo-Nazi party militants in Great Britain , France , Spain and other countries in Europe and America has resurfaced .
Anti-Semitism after World War II
In these years there have been regular acts of vandalism such as graffiti or burning of synagogues and desecration of Jewish graves. Small neo-Nazi and extremist groups have been responsible for anti-Semitic propaganda and violence. In the United States, since the late 1960s there have been several outbreaks of this type of violence.
In general, the policy of Christian churches has been to react against the Nazi phenomenon by eliminating the religious bases of prejudice. In the postwar years has strengthened cooperation between Christian organizations and Jewish, and at Vatican II ( 1962 – 1965 ) The Catholic Church formally repudiated the accusation that the Jews were responsible for Christ’s death and condemned the genocide and racism as non-Christian practices.
In Latin America , a refuge for many Nazi officers after World War II , anti-Semitic incidents have also occurred. Some of the most serious demonstrations took place on the occasion of the arrest in Argentina of Adolf Eichmann by the Israeli secret services in 1960 . Eichmann was tried in Jerusalem for crimes against Jews and sentenced to death.
In the Middle East, inhabited by Semitic peoples, a new form of anti-Semitism was generated as a result of increased opposition to Zionism, when the State of Israel was created in 1948 . The establishment of this homeland for the Jews, which meant the occupation of a land inhabited mainly by Arabs, led to the displacement of the population and originated strong opposition from the Arab League .
In the course of the following years, numerous confrontations took place on the border between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the hostilities reaching their maximum severity between 1948 and 1949 , and in 1956 , 1967 , 1973 and 1982 .
The Organization for the Liberation of Palestine ( OLP ), created in May of 1964 , maintained a guerrilla war against Israel both within its borders and in other countries. The economic sanctions imposed by the Arab League countries on different governments and companies that cooperated with Israel were the subject of dispute after the 1973 war .
The confrontation between Arabs and Israelis in this context cannot be explained solely by anti-Semitic motives, since the attempts to expand the territory of the State of Israel played an important part in the spiral of violence , after its creation in 1948 .
In the former Soviet Union (USSR) the anti-Semitic imperial legacy was maintained during the postwar period. For orthodox Soviet communism, Judaism, like religious or secular Zionism, was unacceptable as a religion. According to one report, more than 400,000 white Russians and Ukrainian Jews were deported in 1949 to labor camps in Siberia.
The campaign against Jewish culture intensified: the Jewish press was suppressed, leading Yiddish-language writers were silenced, educational opportunities for young Jews were curtailed, and their emigration became virtually impossible. In the late 1980s political unrest in the USSR and Eastern Europe allowed the mass emigration of Jews to Israel. However, the resurgence of nationalism, the decline of communism and the lack of resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict generated a rise in the anti-Semitic movement that has not diminished in the first decade of the 21st century .