As Europe and other countries around the world become aggressively more
anti-Semitic, and antagonism towards the State of Israel escalates, there is a
need for careful assessment of the nature of anti-Semitism.
What is the
reason more and more Europeans deny Israel’s right to exist and wish to boycott
its universities and products? How do we explain that throughout the years, the
United Nations has condemned Israel for the “crime” of defending its citizens,
while totally overlooking the most heinous offenses by other nations against
millions of people? Why is it that so many are incapable of thanking Israel for
fighting terrorism, even when they know that the same criminal mentality of
Hamas, al-Qaida and other militant Islamic organizations is threatening their
own existence as well as that of the Western world at large, including some Arab
countries? In his book Moses and Monotheism, Sigmund Freud tried to understand
Jewish history and the formation of the people of Israel and
While this work has come under heavy criticism by eminent
scholars due to Freud’s many unproven assumptions, it is remarkable that
numerous theologians and sociologists are in agreement with Freud’s
understanding of anti-Semitism.
Freud suggests anti-Semitism is the
result and expression of resentment felt by many Christians who hold the Jewish
people responsible for the creation of their own religion: “They have remained
what their ancestors were, barbarically polytheistic.
They have not yet
overcome their grudge against the new religion which was forced on them, and
they have projected it onto the source from which Christianity came to them....
The hatred for Judaism is at bottom hatred for Christianity...”
right on the mark. When carefully reviewing the history of Christianity and
Western civilization, it becomes clear that both are deeply indebted to Judaism
for many of their moral values. These Jewish values were often contested,
ridiculed and fought against. Millions of newborn Christians raised in the pagan
world of Rome were not able to extricate themselves from morally questionable
practices and beliefs rooted in that world.
As a consequence,
Christianity throughout all of its history became entangled in many polytheistic
beliefs, giving birth to a religious society that was never at ease with the
fundamental concepts of monotheism. This resulted in a complex psycho-religious
condition, trapping millions of Christians in an uncomfortable situation in
which they were unable to distinguish between authentic monotheism with its
moral demands on one hand, and pagan practices on the other. With the exception
of some of Christianity’s erudite thinkers, most of its spokesmen could not free
themselves from this influence.
In 1948, well-known Christian thinker
Arthur Roy Eckardt asked whether the Christian church could ever supersede the
synagogue in the struggle against paganism. His answer was no, because the
church itself is subject to pagan distortions: “Against all idolatries Judaism
protests: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.’” He and others,
including renowned Protestant philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich,
postulated that there would always be a need for Judaism, because it is “the
corrective against the paganism that goes along with
Freud’s observation is therefore not surprising. Not only
was it a near impossibility for Christians to accept the oneness of God, but
even more unsettling were the consequences.
This God’s ethical demands on
men required much self-discipline and therefore encountered strong
The bottom line was the awareness that Jesus was a Jew who
incorporated much of Jewish ethical values into his teachings, and this turned
many early Christians against their own religion.
In his 1940 study of
anti-Semitism, Zionist leader and author Harry Sacher stated that anti-Semitism
is “Europe’s revenge on the prophets.”
The Jew is persecuted because he
brought ethics and the conception of sin into the Western world: “The European
Christian cannot forgive the Jew for giving him Christianity....
not because they are ‘good Christians’ that the Europeans are instinctively
anti-Semites. It is because they are bad Christians, in reality repressed...
“It is of Jesus that the anti-Semites are afraid. They make their
assault on those who are responsible for the birth of Christianity. They spit on
the Jews not because they were Jesus killers, but because they are Jesus
Part of the Western world has always tried to effect a divorce
between Judaism and Christianity, since it cannot accept that Christianity is
greatly indebted to Judaism. It therefore calls for the destruction of Judaism
so that the uncertainty of its conscience and the reality of its guilt can be
Resisting its own destiny, it needs to destroy those who
bring that destiny to mind. The Jew spoils the anti-Semite’s life by emphasizing
the ethical demands of the Torah which, despite their often inaccurate
absorption into Jesus’ teachings, still remind him of those demands. The
anti-Semite therefore re-enacts the crucifixion of his savior by torturing and
killing the Jew who represents the teachings that Jesus had adopted.
it is not surprising that when Jews are forced to defend their country and
declare war on terrorists, many people are delighted at having found an
opportunity to accuse Israel of war crimes. While they are fully aware that
their own countries would have decimated a criminal organization that fired
thousands of rockets on their own citizens, they cannot bring themselves to
admit the legitimacy of such action when it concerns the Jews. They are the
victims of their own subconscious animosity against Jewish values propagated by
They take cowardly revenge on the Jews, whose biblical
forefathers laid the foundations of justice and morality, which they now proudly
use to condemn those Jews. What irritates them more than anything is the
knowledge that Israeli soldiers try to do everything in their power not to hurt
the general Palestinian population, in contrast to their own armies that would
surely have taken much more aggressive action and left thousands
Nothing infuriates the anti-Semite more than observing those he
hates maintaining a strong moral sense, even in the middle of a war that could
determine their very survival.
When looking at Europe today, we see an
increase in pagan attitudes and a decrease in Judaic values. Consequently,
Europe is headed for more and more trouble, which will only be reversible once
it understands that the delegitimization of Israel and Jews is its own undoing.
It is the Europeans’ good fortune that there are still many non-Jews among them,
including honest Christians, who fully understand this and try to turn the
Above all, it is important for us Jews and for Israel to realize
that we are hated because of Judaism’s stand on paganism and its unfaltering
commitment to morality. And we should be proud of it. Let us at least be hated
for the right reasons.
Nathan Lopes Cardozo is the dean of the David
Cardozo Academy in Jerusalem and the author of many