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Anti Semitism. Essay

1439 words - 6 pages

Jews could be found in all walks of life, farmers, tailors, seamstresses, factory hands, accountants, doctors, teachers, and small-business owners. Many children ended their schooling early to work in a craft or trade; others looked forward to continuing their education at the university level. Whatever their differences, they all had one thing in common, by the 1930s, with the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany, they all became potential victims, and their lives were forever changed. However, Jewish misfortunes did not begin in Germany with the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. For centuries, the country had harbored strong anti-Jewish feelings. However, they were intensified in the Nazi era until theses feelings erupted in a frenzy of brutality and genocide.Throughout history Jews have faced prejudice and discrimination. Driven out of present-day Israel nearly two thousand years ago by the Romans, they spread throughout the globe and tried to keep a firm hold onto their unique beliefs and culture while living as a minority (World Book Encyclopedia (H) 256a). In some countries Jews were welcomed, and they enjoyed long periods of peace with their neighbors. In European societies where the population was primarily Christian, Jews found themselves increasingly isolated as outsiders. Jews do not share the same Christian belief that Jesus is the Son of God or the Messiah, and many Christians considered this refusal to accept Jesus' divinity as arrogant. Not to mention how they "arrogantly boast that they are the chosen people" (HaTorah n.p.). Many Christians also believed that the Jews were to blame for the death of Jesus. For centuries the church taught that the Jews were responsible for Jesus' death. Not only were there religious conflicts, but there were economic ones too. (World Book Encyclopedia (A) 558)Society placed restrictions on Jews, interdicted them from holding certain jobs and from owning land. Jews were allowed very few ways to earn their livings. At the same time, since the early church did not permit usury, or charging interest for money loaned out, Jews came to fill the vital, but unpopular, role of moneylenders for society. Eventually, those in power used Jewish moneylenders to collect taxes so that the people's anger would be directed at the Jews. Jews therefore became associated with money and finance. This association was the origin of the of the beliefs the "all Jews were rich" and "Jews control all the money."In more desperate times, Jews became scapegoats for many problems people suffered. (Bachrach 10). For example, they were blamed for causing the "Black Death" epidemic (1340-1351), a widespread outbreak of a bubonic and pneumonic plague. The Black Death caused approximately 25 million European deaths. Many people believed that Jews created the plague by poisoning food and water supplies to kill Christians. The Jews religiously practiced cleanliness which sometimes protected them from the diseases. However, Jews drank...

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