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From Matthew to Mel Gibson: A Short History of anti-Semitism

ALLISON DORIAN Aug 10, 2006


All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”
—Matthew 27:2 4-25

For thousands of years, from the Book of Matthew to the ranting of Mel Gibson, anti-Semitism has flourished as a twisted subtext to European “civilization.” Often an attempt to blame a small demographic group for larger disasters and oppressions, European anti-Semitism led directly to the Holocaust of World War Two. The following is a brief history of anti-Semitism, from biblical times to the present day.

52 A.D. The apostle Paul writes, in a letter to the Thessalonians, “the Jews…killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. …The wrath of God has come upon them at last.” (Thess 2:14-16).

132 Hadrian replaces the Temple of Jerusalem with a temple to Jupiter. Judea is taken off record and replaced with Palestine.

320 (approx) Constantine I outlaws the conversion of Christians to Judaism and the circumcision of slaves.

418 In the first record of a Jew having to decide between conversion and banishment, the Bishop of Minorca, Severus, forced over 500 Jews to convert to Christianity after capturing the island.

1096 The First Crusade results in the deaths of over 5,000 Jews.

1179 The Third Lateran Council, Canon 26, forbids Jews to bear witness against Christians in court.

1348 European Jews are accused of causing the Black Death by poisoning the wells. Over 350 separate massacres ensue; 150 Jewish communities are exterminated.

1492 Ferdinand and Isabella give Spanish Jews the choice between conversion and emigration. Half of Spain’s Jews leave the country. Trials of suspected Jews continue until 1818.

1543 Martin Luther publishes a pamphlet, On The Jews and Their Lies, proposing to get rid of Jews either by conversion or banishment.

1648-49 Bohdan Khmelnytsky leads Ukrainian Cossacks in the slaughter of over 100,000 Jews (estimated).

1762 Rhode Island, newly established as a bastion of tolerance, refuses to grant citizenship to two Jewish men because only Christians “can be admitted free to this colony.”

1791 Catherine the Great establishes Pale of Settlement for Russian Jews, after her predecessors’ attempts to remove Jews from Russia fail. At its heyday the Pale contains 5 million Jews. The Pale officially goes out of existence in 1917.

1903 The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic forgery, are first printed in Russia as an attempt to discredit the anti-Tsarist revolutionary movement. The Protocols are later embraced and reprinted by Henry Ford.

1915 With the start of World War I, 250,000 Jews are banished from Russia.

1922 Harvard, Yale and Princeton Universities start requiring personal interviews from applicants because too many Jews are entering under the merit-based system.

1938 Jews attempting to flee Nazi Germany are refused everywhere, except the Dominican Republic and Poland.

1939-1945 Nazi Holocaust results in the torture and murder of 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million children.

2005 – 20 Twenty members of the Russian State Duma propose banning Jewish organizations from Russia as extremists. They later retract their demand.