Jews and Judaism
The story of the Jews is compulsory reading for everybody who is interested a full picture of England today, the history of the human race, their religious concepts and the slow development of human rights. Jews have been a persecuted race for over 3000 years, but were the people who gave England and the rest of the Western World their current moral code. England was the first country in Europe to expel Jews (1290) and under Oliver Cromwell (1656) the first country to welcome them back into an environment where they could live at peace with their neighbours for the first time for over 1000 years. The English during the interwar years (1918-1938) were the only country to drive forward the concept of Jews being allowed to set up a Jewish state in Palestine , their original Biblical “Promised land” while being powerful enough to make it actually happen.
The Jews have the longest and the most interesting documented history of any race, which spans 4000 years or three quarters of what is normally called human civilization. The Jews came from the area in the world where civilisation commenced and writing was invented, (Sumer in southern Iraq), were the people who gave the world the concept of one God rather than the pagan idea of a God for each occasion. On the other hand no race has been persecuted more, has been so unpopular but in spite of this has achieved a position of such dominant wealth as the Jews. These pages try to provide the reasons why, and also look at the basis of their religion, Judaism, which is also the basis of Christianity and of Islam. We will also look at the modern state of Israel formed in 1948 within Palestine which the English had been ruling for 30 years following their conquests in the 1914-1918 or First World War.
This section is one of the longest on this web site. We have therefore provided an extended summary for those not wishing to study the History of the Jews in such detail.
The history of the Jewish race may be divided into the following periods.
- 4000 years ago to 2000 years ago
This is the period described in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible (or the Jewish Torah). Nearly all Western school children will have heard of the famous characters like Abraham, the father of the Jewish people and Moses, the father of Judaism, their religion, who lead the Jews out of captivity in Egypt to their new homeland on the west bank of the river Jordan. (Disputed land in present day Israel and Palestine). Also the likes of warrior King David (and his conquest of the Philistine giant, Goliath) and wise King Solomon and Jesus who was born at the end of this period. (6 BC). The Jew Jesus, a religious and social reformer also claimed to be the Messiah and the Son of God. His fellow Jews did not believe him and a Jewish court sentenced him to death for blasphemy. Execution by Crucifixion was carried out by the occupying rulers, the Romans.
- 2000 years ago to 1000 years ago
Following a revolt by the Jews in AD 70 the Romans destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem, the centre of Jewish faith and culture, and banned the Jews from entering the city. This triggered a mass exodus (Diaspora) from their fertile “promised homeland” between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean sea and the steady spread of the Jewish race mainly westwards across North Africa and into Spain and also north west into Roman Europe but not in this period as far as England. Initially this was a period of reasonable peace for the Jews who wherever they went retained a separate identity, as ethnic minorities, marked by retaining their own religion, their strict eating habits and a notable concentration on education. Unfortunately this all changed 250 years later when Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Following the Nicene council of AD 325 it was decreed that (as Christianity was now the official Roman religion) Jews could no longer have Roman citizenship and were thenceforth a persecuted race, mainly by the Christian Churches, for the next 1500 years, that is up to the French revolution c.1800.
- 1000 years ago to 200 years ago
This was an even worse period for Jews who became caught up in the Christian Religious Crusades against the Muslims who had occupied Jerusalem, the old Jewish city west of the river Jordan. Jews, Christians and Muslims all thought Jerusalem was their exclusive Holy City. The fanatical Crusading Christians unfortunately considered any Jews they came across on the way to the Middle East, fair game to kill, to get into practice for killing Muslims. Thousand were massacred particularly in Germany. About this time the Christian Pope supported by the mass of Christian hierarchy, who had, since Roman Emperor Constantine, always blamed the Jews for the execution of their Messiah Jesus, put out the following instructions:
- No Jews could own any land. (This was re-issuing the Nicean instructions) This meant that Jewish farmers had to move into the towns where they were taken in by caring Jewish towns folk to learn new trades
- No Christian could be in the banking business for theological reasons, then called simply money lending. This was a new restriction for Christians issued in 1179
In addition to this the Jews also found they were much better at international trade than any other section of the community. This was because for over 1000 years Jews had dispersed throughout Europe whilst at the same time keeping in contact with other Jews in other towns across Europe, the Middle and Far East. If you wanted to find out where to buy spices, sheep or silk at the best price simply ask the nearest Jew. They had indeed developed the communications Internet of 1000 years ago. Further the Jews had no trouble with translating other languages as Jews were much better educated than the average Christian and many local Jews spoke two languages, the Jewish Language, Hebrew (or a local version of it like Yiddish) and the local national language. No wonder many Jews became rich and with it unpopular, but perhaps through no fault of their own.
Jews come to England with William the Conqueror at his request. (1066)
Jews were so important to trade that for example, when the Norman King, William “The Conqueror”, invaded England and became King in 1066 he asked a selection of the Jews who lived in Normandy to come with him to set up his financial and trading links. 200 years later (1290), when many English Jews had become very rich, English King Edward 1st expelled the lot and confiscated their wealth. It took 400 years and the brain behind that notorious English ruler, Oliver Cromwell, to ask the Jews to return to England to re-boost English international trade. After the Christian Reformation of 500 years ago, the Roman Catholic Christian Church, then banned in England, continued to brutally kill Jews, normally by burning at the stake. Protestant Holland and England became more tolerant which helped these countries become leaders in international trade at that time.
- 200 years ago to the present day
The Christian Church (except in England, Holland and the US) went on persecuting Jews until the French Revolution (1789-99) which was in part triggered by the American War of independence (1775-83) in which the French were very much involved. Human rights statements were built into legislation for the first time, stating that all men are born equal including finally Jews. The French, being less fortunate than the English in the sense of being ruled by an unelected King without parliamentary control plus the dogmatic and ruthless Roman Catholic Christian Church , erupted in 1777 and killed their King and some 40,000 members of the Catholic Church hierarchy (including over 20,000 nuns) on their way to a democratic state. This fervour against the corrupt ruling classes and Catholic Church was continued by Napoleon who rose as ruler from the ashes of the French revolution and proceeded to conquer the whole of Europe (never England where the Navy and military leaders were too powerful). When Napoleon entered Italy one of his first tasks was to imprison the Pope (for crimes against humanity) and release the Jews from their Ghettos. This triggered the freedom (emancipation) for all European Jews but as the world knows, old habits die hard and the suspicion and hatred of the Jewish race by “Christians” has not completely disappeared.
Hitler 1935-45 The Holocaust
The German ruler Hitler holds the prize! for firstly using Jews as his excuse for their defeat in the First World War and secondly organising the extermination of 6 million European Jews by death in gas chambers (the Holocaust) to ensure that “Jewish contamination” would not stop him winning the Second World War. As the world now knows it didn’t do him much good.
Unfortunately, even today Anti Semitism still exists and in the last 50 years Muslims, prompted by the return of many Jews to their Promised Land, largely organised by England, then Muslim Arab occupied Palestine, have followed the Christians as perpetrators of this evil initially much aided and abetted by Stalin. The five countries in the world which are now the safest havens for Jews, still living as minorities are the US, Canada, Holland, New Zealand and England.
In the UK there are now some 300,000 Jews many indistinguishable from the Anglo Saxon natives. The main exception being in Stamford Hill in north east London where there is a thriving sect of Orthodox/Hasidic Jews very noticeable in their black habits and unshaven beards. These Jews although they live apart are not persecuted and live in peace with their “English” neighbours. England still plays a major role in trying to ensure fair play in Palestine and Israel where 6 million Jews are surrounded by more than 100 million Islamic Arabs.
In the US where Jews arrived soon after the first immigrants 350 years ago, there are now six million which, thanks to Hitler is now almost half the world’s Jewry. Thanks to their education, there are few fields in which Jews have not held dominant roles particularly in the arts and sciences. In Politics 10% of US Senators are Jews, well above the proportion suggested by their population. It is not surprising that American support for Israel is seen to be so strong.
The Jewish Story
This starts the story which is well documented in the Old Testament of the Bible and is now supported or modified by recent archaeological research. That is 2000 years of history before the birth of Jesus which until recently was always taught in English schools.
6000 years ago
Human civilisation commenced in the fertile land between the two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates in the country we now call Iraq (now ruled by Saddam Hussein). Two main centres developed, Babylon just south of modern day Baghdad and Sumer further south (now occupied by the “Marsh Arabs”) One of the better known towns in Sumer was Ur where Abraham the father of the Jews lived his early life. Writing, a huge aid to logical thought and communication, was also developed in Sumer.
4000 years ago
1800 BC - Abraham leaves the civilised city of Ur with a party of family and friends and settles some 1000 miles west in a the fertile but undeveloped area around the river Jordan in Cannan now called Jewish Israel in part and Islamic Palestine in part, at the east end of the Mediterranean sea.
1700 BC - Only about 100 years later and due to famine caused by drought Abraham’s descendants now called Israelites travel to the Nile valley in Egypt in search of food. Here as an ethnic minority, they live as second class citizens and slaves to the Egyptians.
1250 BC - After almost 500 years in captivity, the Israelite/Jew, Moses persuades the Egyptian rulers to let the Israelite slaves return to Cannan (now Palestine/Israel) and leads the Israelite slaves to freedom to the east bank of the river Jordon via the Red Sea (probably the reed sea) and the Sinai desert peninsular. Moses persuades the ruling pharaoh by saying if he does not agree to let the Israelites leave he will bring a curse of 10 plagues upon the land of Egypt. Modern science has confirmed the likelihood of 10 plagues at this time brought about by a huge volcanic eruption 500 miles north, on the island of Santorini. This volcano could also explain the parting of the reed sea which is the most likely crossing point for their journey from Egypt to the Sinai. On Mount Sinai Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God. These Commandments written on tablets some 3000 years ago form the basis of the moral codes of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and the whole of the Western World to this day. Moses is justifiably known as the Law Giver.
1200 BC - The trip from Egypt to the river Jordan took about 40 years. Moses died when around 100 years old and his successor Joshua commenced military sorties west across the river to establish a settlement amongst not surprisingly, hostile Canaanites. This campaign included the famous siege of the city of Jericho. (It is interesting to note that, coincidently this was also the time of the siege of Troy)
1029 -1007 BC - Saul becomes the first king of the Israelites. Up to this time they had behaved like independent tribes with only their religion and their priests holding them together. With some reluctance they appointed a king who was needed to unite the tribes in times of war against any third party. Up to this point most of their battles had been amongst themselves!
3000 years ago
Jews under King David become the most powerful warrior and moral force in the area and occupy much more land than they do currently.
1000 BC - David becomes King of the Jews, makes Jerusalem his capital city and commences building their first Temple. Jews become a powerful nation in the Middle East; they expand their territory and exhibit moral fortitude based on their religion or Moses laws in a corrupt and violent world. This commences what is known as the “First Temple Period”. The significant enemy in David’s were the Philistines who lived in what we now call the (Palestine) Gaza Strip (little changes!). David made his name as a warrior early on by killing the giant of the Philistines, Goliath, with a stone hurled with a sling when he was still a boy.. David, once King, expanded his territory and was soon ruling a land very much larger than present day Israel. His country stretched from the Mediterranean sea, over the mountains to the Rift Valley(now known as the West Bank) to the river Jordan which runs north south parallel to the coast and as far on the east side into what we now call the country of Jordon. North south it covered from Damascus to the Red Sea at the south of the Sinai desert peninsular.
David’s (and his successor Solomon’s) High Priest was the well known Zadok and his senior prophet was Nathan. (as in the song written by Handle). The period is noted for a number of moral and human rights firsts:-
- All men are born equal
- Man has a duty to look after other men
- The sanctity of human life
- Man is obliged to obey the laws of God
- State laws must reflect God’s laws
- God organises the future
- Man’s task is to choose between good and evil.
950 BC - Solomon becomes King of the Jews. The early books of the Bible (Jewish Torah) are begun.
800-600 BC - Jews were the first nation to worship one God rather than the pagan idea of many. This period is important as it shows the tendency for Jews to return to the old pagan rituals of worshiping pagan idols like the sun and the moon and fertility gods. The latter obviously have an attraction of their own as some centres of worship were similar to a modern day brothel.
The period of the First Temple produced a succession of Jewish religious prophets spanning a period of some 200 years. The main ones being:-
- c800 BC
Elijah, Normally said to be the first of the classic Prophets but actually not a Prophet at all as he did not predict. He continuously admonished the then King and Queen Ahab and Jezebel for decadent behaviour particularly sexual immorality and the worship of idols. In the end he was forced to flee the country.
- c750 BC
Amos,A social revolutionary under King Jeroboam 2nd . He preached that the rich, including the King, should look after the poor. Mainly active in Judea. (Present day area around Jerusalem)
He was particularly worried about a return to worshiping idols.
Perhaps the most famous of all the Prophets. He was active in Judea throughout the reign of four kings during a time when the Assyrians in the north began threatening Israeli territories. Isiah claimed that the Israelites could blame this enemy action on their own immoral behaviour.
Much less well known than Isiah but the first to predict the fall of Jerusalem as a punishment for the immoral ways of the Israelites.
- c600 BC
Accurately predicts the outcome of two battles, significant in the defeat of the Assyrians by the Babylonians (605 BC) and the re-capture of Jerusalem (586 BC) by the Babylonians and the subsequent forced exile of the Jews in Babylon.
And finally. Ezekiel
Writing in forced exile in Babylon, he made it very clear that the fall of Jerusalem and the forced exile in Babylon was due to the sins of the Israelis. More famously he introduced the concept of resurrection in his story of the “Dry Bones”. “Oh ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”
It is now 300 years after the glories of the reigns of Kings David and Solomon when morals were high and armies the most powerful in the region. The Prophets have been predicting disaster as a punishment for the fall from a strict moral way of life.
So as predicted disaster strikes twice in the next 125 years:
- 722 BC, Northern Israel, then called Samaria is overrun by the Assyrians (they came from the fertile land east of the Caspian Sea now Turkmenistan). The ten northern tribes of Israel, some 27,000 people, are taken into captivity and to this day are never seen again. Samaria is repopulated with Assyrians. Jews living a few miles south in Judea and its capital Jerusalem remain intact.
- c750 BC, Disaster in Judea the old south of Israel.
The commencement of the “Diaspora”.
Or scattering of the Jewish race 2500 years ago.
Jews taken into captivity in Iraq but are freed by the Iranians (Persians)
592 BC (Iraqi) King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, just south of modern day Baghdad, attacks southern Israel, Judea and takes the remaining Israelites (now definitely called Jews) into captivity in Babylonia. Nebuchadnezzar’s armies destroy the Temple of Jerusalem. (587 BC) There being no Temple in Babylon the Jews develop an alternative centre for their religious and other affairs, like business, the Synagogue
538 BC After some 50 years in captivity, Cyrus King of Persia (Iran) destroys Babylon and frees the enslaved Jews who are allowed to return to Jerusalem. Not all return and two centres of Jewish culture develop. In Babylon Jews follow a less orthodox or freer faith and culture but those who return to Israel (Judea) go back to basics and the more pious sect, the Hasidics (similar to Orthodox Jews) is created, as the forerunner of the Pharisees.
520 BC Those who have returned to Jerusalem commence the rebuilding of the Temple.
2500 years ago
This commences the second temple period.
Jews, still the only race in the world to worship one God rather than many, like everybody else, following domination by their liberators the Persians, come under the influence of the Greek cultural revolution for 400 years, which is then followed by domination by the pagan Romans commencing some 2100 years ago. Prior to the Romans the Jews under revolutionary Joseph Maccabee, once again become the dominant military force in the area controlling a territory almost the size ruled by King David.
Summary of this 500 years
500 to 300 BC
This is the period of classical history as seen by the west. (In Greece the famous thinkers namely, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle spanned the period from BC 530 to 300.) Pythagoras is well known to every English school boy/girl who studies Maths and should be known to every musician for developing the mathematical relationships between musical tones. Aristotle wrote over 400 books on such diverse subjects as Logic, Politics, Metaphysics, Biology, Psychology and Rhetoric. The Jews being in the middle of powerful Greek and Persian empires, as they waxed and waned, were heavily influenced by their cultures and logical thought processes.
Following the Greeks came the most formidable rulers the world had ever seen the Romans. We must also remember the Jews direct northern neighbours the Phoenicians (who lived in modern day Lebanon). Jews who had already had 1500 years of documented history were culturally influenced by all these civilised but pagan groups but their own religion was so strong that the Jewish family and culture remained intact albeit splitting into four sects both at home around Jerusalem and abroad in the Diaspora.
The reforming Jew Jesus was born into this cultural and theological cauldron exacerbated by pagan Roman rule.
These 500 years (500-zero BC) are expanded herewith
Jews under Greek rule
After a period of rule by the Persians, Alexander the Great, a Macedonian Greek added Palestine and Judea to his vast empire. Greek philosophy, art and science became popular in the coastal areas of the Eastern Mediterranean which had a significant Jewish (Diaspora) population, notably in Alexandria in Egypt. This created more cultural problems in Hassidic Jerusalem. During this period the Bible was translated from Hebrew into Greek which became a standard even in Jerusalem.
On Alexander’s death his huge territories were split between his generals. In Jewish areas, Seleucus gained Judea and Ptolemy ruled in Galilee and further south in Alexandria. The Ptolemies encouraged Maths, Astronomy and Geography which intelligent Jews learnt with enthusiasm. (Cleopatra is probably the best known of the Ptolemies). (Claudius Ptolemaeus c.130BC, was the man accredited with developing the science behind this mini “Enlightenment” demonstrating logical scientific thought as opposed to a dogmatic theology)
The Seleucids in Judea conquered the Plotemics in Galilee.
The ruling Seleucid, Antiochus 4th built a temple to Zeus in Jerusalem and persecuted the local Hasidic Jews for their faith. This polarised the local Jews into two directions.
- Devout fundamentalist Hasidics, the forerunners of the Pharisees
- Modernist Hellenic sympathisers mainly Sadducees
164 BC Revolution;
Jews revolt against their powerful rulers, the Greeks and the Persians and once again become powerful and independent for the next 100 years (As under their historical idols Kings David and Solomon).
164-134 BC, Maccabean Revolution
Not surprisingly the more fundamental Hasidics in and around Jerusalem, eventually rose up against their Pagan Hellenised brethren resulting in 30 years of civil war eventually to be won against all odds by the minority Hasidics. Priest Mattathias started it with gorilla tactics and his sons continued the battle for freedom. The most successful and powerful being Joseph Maccabee, the conflict is thus called the Maccabean Revolution.
Under Joseph Maccabee the Jews regained their independence for the first time for 400 years. His dynasty, called Hasmonean remained intact for over 100 years and regained much of the territory ruled by King David 900 years previously. Noteably both sides of the river Jordan that is not only the western territory as now. The Jews were great once more, so powerful in fact that they signed a non aggression treaty with the Romans who did not or could not at this time extend their empire this far east.
100 BC, Diaspora Jews
It is interesting to take a look at where Diaspora Jews were living prior to invasion by the Romans:
Babylon (Iraq) and Jerusalem were the two main theological centres, Alexandria (Egypt), Carthage (Tunisia) Tyre, Sidon, Antioch in the Levant (modern day Lebanon), Byzantium (now Istanbul in modern Turkey), Athens and Corinth in Greece and Rome itself.
63 BC The Romans invade and occupy Judea and Jerusalem
How did the powerful Jews allow this to happen? As with many ruling dynasties, eventually an heir to the throne is not up to the job and law and order is not maintained. This is what happened to the Hasmonean rulers who thought they could solve a particular internal problem by asking the Romans to come in and adjudicate.
The Romans responded by marching in and taking over. The Roman method of rule in a relatively unimportant state like Judea was to install a puppet government from selected local nobles, answerable to Rome. They chose a man from the Hasmonean family called Herod who was not very popular with the locals particularly in the northern state of Galilee which became a hotbed of fundamentalist terrorism. This fundamentalist religious terrorist group became known as the Zealots whose doctrine was:
- Jews owed allegiance only to God, certainly not the pagan Romans
- The Day of Judgement was fast approaching
- The coming of the Messiah was imminent and He would have the military might to deliver the Jews from their pagan Roman rulers
To the Zealots and the majority of ordinary Jews the Messiah would be
- A real person
- A priest, king and military leader
- Anointed to carry out the will of God
- Descended from the house of David
- Would restore the Jewish race to their former glory as under King David of 1000 years previously or at least the Hasmonean dynasty of the last 100 years.
The Messiah Jesus, as we now all know, turned out to be a religious reformer who rode around on a donkey rather than a king and powerful military leader riding in a chariot. No wonder the Jews refused to accept him and accusing him of blasphemy sentenced him to death.
The religious/political parties present at the time of Jesus and the Roman attitude towards them.
A snapshot at 50 BC
- The Pharisees
They represented mainstream Hasidic Judaism as practised by local Jews in Judea and Galilee. Basically sensible pragmatic people, they sort and found ways of living at peace with their pagan Roman masters.
- Sadducccees or Harsmoneans
This was the Jewish aristocracy formed from the previous Harsmonean dynasty and kept in power by the Romans. They appointed the High Priest, ran the Temple finances and organised the money changing centred at the Temple and the collection of taxes from the local Jews. No problem to the Romans.
- The Essenes
The Essens were intensely religious but being pacifists were no problem to the Romans. Their doctrine was similar to but preceded the teachings of Christian evangelist Paul emphasising love not war, respect, truth and stressed diligence in work, study and prayer. Many lived in poverty as hermits in the hills west of the Dead Sea and were indeed the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls only found in 1947 in Quaran. The Essens were the forerunners of the Christian religion.
- The Zealots
This was the militant arm of fundamental Judaism who were not prepared to wait for the Messiah and tried to create a few themselves. They had a presence in all townships in the land but were particularly strong in Galilee. Also known as Dagger Men because of their custom of carrying a concealed dagger. Naturally they were much admired by the majority of Jewish youth but were successfully targeted by Roman anti terrorist squads. However it was not until AD 70 that the Romans finally eliminated them and by this time the hills of Jerusalem were covered with crucifixion sites where they had been put to death.
2000 years ago
The Herods; Jesus, The Temple is rebuilt and finally knocked down by the Romans; Jews have no reason to stay in Jerusalem and the main diaspora begins; the Jews last stand, the Bar Kakhba revolution.
6 BC - 70 AD
The Jesus story in brief. The Temple is rebuilt and destroyed.
The Jewish boy Jesus was born into this diverse Jewish culture in Roman ruled Palestinium as Judea had been renamed by the Romans to make it sound less Jewish. The Jewish scriptures had predicted the coming of a Messiah who will herald peace amongst all men and Jesus claimed to be this person. The Jewish leaders do not believe him as Jesus clearly has no say over the ruling Romans and clearly was no warrior king like David or even Joseph Maccabee. In addition Jews believed there was only one God, so a son of God concept was not acceptable. Jesus was sentenced to death by the leading Jewish court for blasphemy and executed by the ruling Romans by Crucifixion (c.30 AD), a punishment kept for the worst criminals.
Also during this period
- AD 9 - Herod rebuilds the Temple of Jerusalem
- AD 48 - Christian St Paul’s missionary journeys commence
- AD 66 - A five year struggle in Judea by Jews against the Romans
- AD 70 -Roman Emperor Titus finally quells the riots, sacks Jerusalem and destroys the temple.
For clarification readers should remember there was more than one Herod. They were all Jews from the ruling dynasty of the Hasmoneans who had been approved to run Israel by the Romans.
- Herod 1 The Great 73-4 BC. The ruling Herod, very unpopular with the locals, who on hearing a rumour about the birth of a “King of the Jews” ordered the killing of all the male infants in Jerusalem in order to eliminate such a threat to himself!
- Herod Antipas 21BC-39AD, son of Herod the Great, and governor of Galilee. Jesus as a Galilean, was brought to Herod Antipas after his arrest but Antipas sent him to the Roman Pontius Pilate in Judea
- Herod Agrippa 1 was the grandson of Herod the Great and became King of Judea (41-44 AD)
- Herod Agrippa 2, King of Chalcis in southern Lebanon, was the son of Herod Agrippa 1. Judged the case of the arrested Paul, and found him innocent. He attempted to prevent the Jewish rebellion of 66 AD and sent his troops out to help the Romans.
The Diaspora AD 70 to 1800
Jews are now set to live as a persecuted minority as they leave Israel in droves to settle in other lands.
AD 66 sees a number of revolts by Jews against the ruling Romans who now refuse to give Jews Roman citizenship. The Romans kill some 50,000 Jews in Alexandria who up to that time had enjoyed harmony with a Hellenic style rule and culture. Finally the Romans under Emperor Titus became fed up with the continuous civil disorder in Israel and destroyed the centre of Jewish culture, the Temple of Jerusalem. This triggers a mass movement out of Jerusalem and the West Bank and the Diaspora story has begun in earnest.
Jews had many places to go as they join their friends who we have already seen have spread from Babylon to Rome in the north and Carthage on the North African coast. Without their central Temple, religious scholarship is decentralised and the Synagogue comes of age. This period is also when the Jews who had converted to Christianity were travelling through the same towns trying to convert other Jews and Gentiles to the modified Jewish faith of Christianity as documented in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Remember the Old Testament is the story of the Jews up to this period.
The Bar Kakhba revolution AD 132
Jews make a last stand to finally try and rid Israel of their pagan Roman Rulers
The Jews in Palestine who had been expecting a Messiah to liberate them from the Romans clearly did not see the peaceful reforming evangelist Jesus as their man. However in AD 132 Bar Kakhba sometimes called Simeon, the Prince of Israel fitted the role nicely. Simeon was a good military tactician, his military skirmishes were well planned and Emperor Hadrian was forced to send in his best general with the support of 7 legions to quell the uprising. Hadrian flattened Israel, massacred the Jewish inhabitants and destroyed the Temple. Thenceforth the centre of Jewish culture and religion was in Babylon.
AD 200 By this time in spite of having no guaranteed citizenship the Jews had spread throughout the Roman Empire. The following towns with Jewish communities paint the picture.
Rome, 9 cities in Egypt including Alexandria and Thebes, Carthage in Tunis, 6 towns in Spain including Cordova, 3 in France including Massillia and Lugdunum, in Germany on the Rhine Colonia, 9 cities in Greece including Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth and Sparta and 12 cities Turkey, including Ancyra, Caesarea, Tarsus and Edessa, in the Lebanon, Tyre, Sidon and Antioch and Damascus in Syria. Also Salamis (now Cyrenia) in Cyprus.
To this must be added present day Iraq which was not under continuous Roman Rule in the towns of Babylon and Basra nearby the old city of Ur.
In the Roman Empire, Jews were not allowed slaves who were employed for heavy manual labour and they began to hone their minds and skills in the art of money lending and trade.
1800 years ago
Jews add important books to their already impressive theological and historical writings
Christians, mainly Roman and around Constantinople add to their texts which set out the rules for treating Jews as second class citizens
The Roman Empire begins to collapse
Jewish Theological developments.
There now commenced a period of Jewish religious consolidation.
- AD 210 - Completion of the Mishnah, an early code book of Jewish laws.
- AD 390 - Completion of the Jerusalem Talmud. A detailed commentary on the Mishnah.
- AD 500 - Completion of the Talmud written in Babylon. A much longer commentary which enjoys greater authority.
And around the same time, newly converted Roman Christians set the scene for continuous persecution of Jews by Christians.
- AD 313 - The edict of Milan. (Milan is now the main city in the Western Roman Empire.) Joint Emperors Constantine and Lucinius state that the Pagan Roman Empire will now tolerate both Christianity and Judaism. However after Constantine has murdered Lucinius
- AD 325 - The Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine accepts Christianity as the sole official Faith. The theological conference in Nicea not only produces the Christian Creed (“I believe” etc) but also the ruling that from that date that no Jews can have Roman Citizenship which excludes them from the Roman economy where slaves do all manual labour notably in agriculture. This confirmed the practice already in existence in many parts of the Roman Empire.
The Christian Church, very much driven by the Roman theologians in Constantinople was concerned that Christianity and Judaism were still not clearly separated. Hence the additional changes were made.
- The rest day for Jews and Christians alike was the Sabbath. (Saturday) This was moved to Sunday for Christians
- The date of Easter (for Christians) would no longer be tied to the Jewish Passover
- Intermarriage was forbidden
- Reconversion was forbidden
- Christians were forbidden to eat meals with Jews
The Fall of the Western Roman Empire
Jews find they have new pagan masters in Western Europe
- AD 235 to 464 - The Jews who had spread throughout the East and West Roman Empires witnessed the huge upheaval which followed attacks from all their enemies from the north and east (north of the river Rhine and the river Danube) culminating in the elimination of Roman rule in the West but the survival of the then stronger Roman economy centred in Constantinople known as the Byzantium Empire. The order of events was as follows;
- AD 256 to 271 - Saw attacks on the Roman Empire from the German tribes; Saxons (NW Germany) into the Normandy beaches, Franks over the Rhine from Dortmund/Cologne to Paris area, Alemanni and Visigoths from the Frankfurt area into the whole of Gaul (France) and Spain, the Iuthungi from Munich area crossed the Alps and attacked Rome. And in the Eastern Roman Empire the Goths from Ukraine attacked Roman Greece and the old enemy the Persians attacked the modern day Israel, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon areas. At the same time all southern areas of the Roman Empire were attacked by Arab and Berber nomads.
- AD 410 to 476 - The Western Roman Empire came to an end when the Visigoths sacked Milan and Rome. In the East the Romans, headquartered in Constantinople, beat back the Persians.
The points to note are;
- The Jews remained intact as distinctive ethnic minorities during these invasions and change of ruler and sometimes found their new rulers more tolerant than the Romans. This was particularly so in Spain and Gaul (France) under the Visigoths
- The Nicene empire wide restrictions on the Jews dated from AD 325 when the western territories were collapsing so initially enforcement only occurred in the east.
1500 years ago
- Jerusalem changes hands again and again
- The Islamic faith is born in Arabic Arabia and their founder Mohammed lives amongst Jews
- The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) comes under attack from Arabs but they are repelled
- Later under Turks and Mongol organised Arab Islamic armies it is a different story
The Middle East
AD 500 - The Byzantium rulers in Constantinople continue to persecute the Jews and expel them from some key cities notably Antioch.
AD 614 - Jews in Palestine help an invading Persian army to capture Jerusalem from the Byzantium Romans
AD 630 - Byzantium Romans from Constantinople, under Heraclius retake Jerusalem and massacre or expel all the Jewish inhabitants
AD 632 - Mohammed the founder of Islam dies.
AD 640 - Jerusalem taken by Muslim Arabs.
Mohammed 571 to 632 never visited Jerusalem. The Muslims claim Jerusalem is a holy city for them as well as Jews and Christians as Mohammed visited Jerusalem in a dream where he was escorted to heaven to meet the former Jewish prophets.
Under Caliph Abbasid, Islamic headquarters are moved to Baghdad were they obviously come into contact with the centre of Judaism. There is no bloodshed, Jews are allowed to share theologies with their Muslim rulers. Hebrew is now written with the Arabic script and many new Arabic words to describe new thinking are adopted in the Hebrew language. Most importantly the Muslims find that the Jews have an expertise for international trade, translation and finance and many a Jew rides with the Arabic trade caravans as they travel and spread Islam to other countries in the East notably India and Indonesia. This commences a new Judeo-Islamic culture which is surprising as many parts of the Koran are specifically anti Jewish.
AD c. 420 - Germanic Visigoths rule in Spain and initially accept the presence of the Jewish minority.
AD 694 - Visigoths outlaw Judaism
AD 711 - Muslim North Africans (Moors) enter Spain, conquer the Visigoths and allow Jews to practice their religion. This commences a 700 year mainly golden age for Jews who were permitted by their Islamic rulers to integrate into the business and intellectual worlds. Indeed this was a Golden place for Muslims and Christians also, as in Cordova, soon to have 150,000 inhabitants became the largest and richest city in Europe where the three religions lived together freely exchanging ideas on Religion Philosophy and Astronomy. 700 years later Christians, King Ferdinand and devout Queen Isabella bring this wonderful period for Jews to an end with the Spanish Inquisition.
AD 797 - Jews are already integrating into society at the highest level. For example the Frank Charlemagne, who has been appointed head of the military arm of the Roman Christian church, has a Jewish interpreter when negotiating territory deals with the Spanish Islamic ruler Caliph Harum al-Rashid.
1000 years ago
We now see the commencement of 1000 years of persecution of European Jews mainly orchestrated by the Christian Roman Catholic Church.
Jews have now spread throughout Europe save for England and Ireland.
1090 - A new Islamic Arab dynasty enters Spain from North Africa, the Berbers, which is hostile to Jews many of whom flee to southern France where they are treated with respect for some 300 years.
1066 - Norman King William (the Conqueror) invades England and brings with him a team of Jews to help develop local trade and finance.
1290 - Life for the Jews in England is short lived and they are expelled by King Edward 1st . (English historians see Edward as a model medieval king.) He was indeed reluctant to expel the Jews who he saw as a huge asset. Unfortunately because of their special status as a royal protected minority the barons and the Christian church became jealous and the King bowed to popular discontent fuelled by the following: In 1144 rumour was rife, starting in Norwich, that Jews killed Christians in ritual sacrifice and drank their blood. (“Blood Libel”). In 1190 there was a massacre of Jews in York also following a Blood Libel charge. (In fact a blood sacrifice of babies was the least likely crime Jews would commit because of their religious laws about the consumption of blood.) Indeed enemies of the Jews stuck this odious label on the Jews for about 2000 years.
In the rest of Europe, Asia Minor and the Middle East.
- Muslim Arabs organised by their Seljuk Turkish military commanders become firmly established in Jerusalem
- The Christian Crusades are organised by the Pope in Rome in an attempt to regain Jerusalem for the Christians
- This also becomes an excuse to kill a few Jews
- The Plague
1070 - Jews expelled by Christians from within the city walls of Constantinople and make a new settlement called Pera just outside.
1073 - The horse mounted archers of the Seljuk Turks (from modern day Turkmenistan) attack and take Jerusalem.
1096 - The first Crusade. German Rhineland Jews massacred by “Christian” Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem.
1099 - Crusaders retake Jerusalem and massacre all local Jews and Muslims. Christian Crusaders herd the Jews into their Synagogue and burn them alive.
1189 - Richard the Lion Heart becomes King of England and hundreds of Jews are massacred at his coronation. Richard and the King of France, Philip embark on the third Crusade, but cannot take Jerusalem from Saladin. A deal is struck by Richard to allow Christian pilgrims to enter the city.
1290 - Jews expelled from England.
1306 - Jews expelled from France.
The Plague or Black Death
1348 - Black Death Jewish massacres. During the bubonic plagues across Europe it was obvious that the Jews were hardly affected. Christians soon began to believe that this horrible disease was caused by Jews to get their own back against the Christians. The real reason for the plague by-passing the Jewish households was.
- The Jews were not allowed and therefore did not mix with the local population.
- Generally Jewish homes and particularly their food preparation was much cleaner than Christian families because of the strict Jewish religious rules of cleanliness. Indeed Jews had a much longer life expectancy than non Jews.
Spain and Egypt
Rabbi Moses ben Maimon alias Maimonides was born in Cordova in southern Spain into a family who had been Rabbis for five generations during the Golden Period. He is said to be the greatest Jewish scholar of the middle ages, well in advance of his time. Most noted for his work equating faith with reason and many papers notably “a guide to the perplexed”, also books on resurrection and astrology. As was typical amongst Jewish families for years before and since, he was financially supported by his younger brother, a Jeweller who traded between the Mediterranean and Java Indonesia.
Maimonides along with many other Jews living in southern Spain during this period was forced to flee to France to evade the hostile Berber invasion. Maimonides ended up in Cairo by way of the Holy Land where he became the foremost medical expert normally working for the Arabic Islamic royal family. It is said that English Norman King Richard the Lion Heart tried to hire him when crusading in the Middle East.
500 years ago
- Eastern Europe, Asia Minor and the Middle East
- Poland gains the largest population of Jews in the world
- The Christian Reformation begins in Germany under Luther as a result of criminal activities by the Church of Rome
- The new Protestant or non Catholic countries of Holland and England welcome Jews back home
- The Islamic Ottomans also welcome the persecuted Jews into Istanbul and Thessalonica.
1453 After some 300 years of steady expansion from Anatolia in central (modern day) Turkey into Greece and the Balkans, the Islamic Ottomans capture Thessalonica in 1430 then Constantinople in 1453. Thessalonica had the largest Jewish population of the old Byzantium region. In Constantinople, soon to be renamed Istanbul, there were three Jewish sub areas, those originally there having migrated from Jerusalem, and recent persecuted refugees from Venice and Genoa. After the Spanish Inquisition, Jews from Spain soon added to this centre of Jewish culture in an Islamic world.
Jews, during the whole of the Islamic Turkish Ottoman rule over the Middle East, Asia Minor and the Balkans are treated with some dignity and respect compared with the appalling treatment by Christians in Western Europe. Their status was a legal, unpersecuted minority, as were the Christians in this Muslim world, both groups allowed to practise their separate religions so long as they pay their extra taxes. Indeed Jews were made very welcome by the Islamic Ottoman rulers as they knew how their culture and economy would benefit from Jewish academics and traders. (Many Christians joined the elite Ottoman Islamic armies, the Janissaries)
1478 - King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella won their battle against the Muslim Arab/Berbers in the south and proclaim that any non Christian who stayed must convert to Christianity. The Spanish Inquisition commenced. Jews flee to Holland and Istanbul.
1492 - All Jews told to leave Spain.
1492 - All Jews told to leave Sicily, many flee to Ottoman territories.
1492 - Many Jews that have been expelled from Spain, Portugal, Sicily, Venice and Genoa, go to Jewish centres in the Islamic Ottoman Empire particularly Constantinople and Thessalonica where the Muslim leaders welcome them with open arms because of the Jewish reputation for enhancing trade. Some say the explorer from Genoa, Columbus who discovered America was a Jew. He certainly had a Jewish map maker on board.
Holland (Protestant Netherlands)
1590 - Jews from Spain who have been pretending to be Christians (called Marranos) finally decide to leave Spain and settle in Protestant Holland where they are welcomed, based on their reputation for finance, trading and world navigational maps.
Note: Jews were not automatically welcome in Protestant countries as Luther was highly ant-Semitic which later the Nazis continuously quoted.
Luther listed eight actions to be taken against Jews:
- Burn all synagogues
- Destroy Jewish dwellings
- Confiscate Jewish holy books
- Forbid rabbis to teach
- Forbid Jews to travel
- Forbid Jews to charge interest on loans and confiscate Jewish property
- Force Jews to do physical labour
- Expel Jews from areas where Christians live.
1656 - Oliver Cromwell seeing how the Jews are helping Holland to become a world maritime power and empire builder agrees with a delegation of Jews from Holland that they can once again settle in England but this time as free agents. However Jews not fully welcomed back until the reign of Charles 2nd as Cromwell could not persuade parliament to give Jews this freedom.
The background to the existence of so many Jews in Poland.
1772 - Poland was overrun by the Russians and the huge population of local Jews were confined to a “Pale” or enclosure, to avoid “contaminating” the Russians.
Where had this huge population of Jews come from?
1224 - Poland was laid flat by the invasion of the Mongol armies, the Golden Horde, under Genghis Khan. 1241, the Mongols withdrew and the remaining Polish leaders invited many Germans into Poland to repopulate their devastated land. The German settlers were accompanied by a large number of German Jews who were fleeing permanent Christian persecution at the time of the Crusades.
Life in Poland was somewhat better as the Jews soon proved their worth in improving the Polish economy through finance and trade with the Jewish network particularly in the early Ottoman regions. Their status, as in many European countries was as ethnic minorities under special protection of the King (servi camerae regis). Local Christians were, as elsewhere jealous of the position of the Jews (and their successes) and gave them a hard time. Local Christians Burgers asked for Jews to be eliminated but the Kings and the nobles needed the Jews who were, for the first time in Europe, managing huge estates of land on behalf of the nobles. Generally as elsewhere Jews kept to themselves to the extent of running a totally separate economy within Poland.
The 1648 Massacre.
The picture changed drastically for the worse with the Cossack revolt against Polish rule. A local 30 year war commenced which devastated Poland and enabled Czarist Russians to take over the majority of the country. Thousands of Jews were massacred which commenced the movement West and Jews in considerable numbers settled in the safe havens of England and soon the new English colonies in North America.
1762 - Catharine the Great ruled Russia and Poland and determined to modernise her country by inviting in foreign settlers but the decree stated “with the exception of Jews.” Jews remained in the “Pale” of Poland and the Russians found themselves ruling a country with the largest population of Jews in the world. (In some towns the Jews were actually a majority)
200 years ago
- The Emancipation of Jews
- Napoleon the liberator of Jews
The rationalist philosophers in England, France and America in the eighteenth century evolved the explosive doctrine of Human Rights, that is all men (and women) are born equal irrespective of birth or class, colour, race or religion. This was manifest in the constitution of the US after the American War of Independence (1776) and the French constitution following the French Revolution (1791). The French granted Jews equal citizenship which they had not had in Europe for 1500 years under the pre-Christian Romans. However in the remainder of mainland Europe it took the French Emperor Napoleon to free the Jews from the persecution by the Christian Catholics.
The Georgian, Victorian era. 1714-1901
Post Oliver Cromwell and Charles 2nd Jews were probably better off in England than anywhere else in Europe. For example: One of the sons of the German Jewish family, Rothschild had settled in England and managed the English branch of his famous family bank. Actually the original family name was not Rothschild but Amschel. It is instructive to note that the Rothschild name came from the red anti Jewish sign placed on the Amschel’s front door by the German authorities. (Red-sign in German is Rot-Schild.) The name stuck.
Lionel Rothschild and his international bank financed the English battles against Napoleon. Further, at the time Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, Belgium in 1815 it was the Rothschild’s Jewish communications network which first brought the news of the victory to the British Parliament.
1847 Lionel was elected an MP by the City of London but was unable to take his seat in the Houses of Parliament because he had to take an oath “on the true faith of a Christian”. It took eleven years and five changes of Parliament to change this.
1869 when Gladstone was Prime Minister he recommended to Queen Victoria that she should make Lionel a Lord to which she replied “I cannot bring myself to make a Jew a Peer”. Sixteen years later she relented and made Lionel’s son Nathaniel Rothschild the first Jewish English Lord.
1868 to 1880. Benjamin Disraeli was twice Prime Minister of England. Would this have been possible if he had not changed his religion from Judaism to Christianity and his name from D’Israeli to Disraeli?
During this period the English Rothschild Bank made loans to the British Government to aide:
- Emancipation of slaves
- Irish Famine 1847, (yes the British government did do something but not enough)
- Crimea War 1854
- Suez Canal construction 1875
Meanwhile in other countries in Europe the Rothschild family bank was run by the brothers of English line.
In France Baron Edmond de Rothschild contributed hugely to the costs of the early Jewish settlers in Palestine.
In Germany, Italy and Austria the family did not feel the environment was right and the Banks were closed.
Indeed with the fall of Napoleon the emancipation of European Jews had no sponsor and the movement came to a halt.
150 years ago
The Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism
The Emancipation of Jews in Europe brought about by the French Revolution and spread by Napoleon unfortunately commenced the modern anti-Semitic undertones which culminated in the Holocaust of 1940-45 when 6 million Jews were annihilated by the Germans.
With the fall of Napoleon, the Catholic Church in Italy immediately re-introduced Ghettos for Jews and took away their citizenship.
Conservatives and Catholics could not get to terms with having rich middle class Jews living amongst them for the first time. The term “anti-Semitism” was first coined in Germany in 1879. Germany was only unified in 1870. The newly formed Christian Social Workers Party was formed recruiting members on a ticket that German problems were all due to the rich Jews running the financial systems and much of big business. Bismarck the new Chancellor was presented with a petition by the “National Anti-Semitic League” that all Jews should be disenfranchised. This same period in Germany saw the commencement of a mass of nationalistic literature designed to persuade the Germans that they were descended from some fair haired, blue eyed Nordic super race and that this certainly did not include German Jews.
Viennese Mayor and Christian Social Democrat leader, the formidable Karl Lueger was continuously re-elected on an anti-Semitic ticket. One of the listeners to his powerful rhetoric was a young Viennese born, Adolf Hitler.
1881-82 The liberal Tsar Alexander 2nd was assassinated to be immediately followed by a massive wave of Jewish ethnic cleansing. The so called 1881 massacres.
There was no emancipation of Jews in Russia prior to the revolution in 1917.
Palestine and the return to the Promised Land.
1881 saw the commencement of a Jewish emigration to Palestine as the disappointment of the failure of European non Jews to allow a peaceful co-existence with Jews following their emancipation becomes obvious to all Jews. The catalyst was the Russian massacres of 1881. But see also below; the Dreyfus Affair. 1894-1906
FRANCE 100 YEARS AGO
The Dreyfus Affair
Although the Jews must owe it to the Frenchman/Corsican Napoleon Bonaparte for giving them equal Human Rights in Continental Europe, the French have never really buried their anti-Semitism as was evidenced in the Second World War. However the most famous story of all is probably the Dreyfus Affair.
Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), joined the French army and in 1894 was accused of passing secrets to the Germans, was tried by a military court in camera, found guilty and shipped to Devil’s Island where he was kept permanently in chains. At the public military ceremony to degrade him the crowd chanted “death to the Jew”. Fortunately his brother was convinced there had been a set up and gained the support of two prominent French writers, Anatole France and Emile Zola, together with the vice president of the Senate and the formidable debater Clemenceau. Zola himself was imprisoned but escaped to England were he was free to carry on with his campaign.
Not since the French revolution of 100 years before, was France so divided. The two camps being the State, the Army and the Catholic Church against one poor, earnest, hardworking and withdrawn man, a Jew. The World became riveted. The worst aspect was the anti-Semitism brought to the surface. The French press put forward the view that the Jew Dreyfus was in a syndicate financed with heavy world Jewish backing, with the help of the Germans, the Freemasons and Atheists to bring down the French nation. After an independent inquiry it was discovered that a Major Henri had forged the documents, a retrial was authorised but it was a whitewash and Dreyfus’ guilt was re-conformed but with a reduced sentence. Fortunately in 1906 a left wing government came to power and Dreyfus was fully pardoned and reinstated to the army with a higher rank and awarded the Legion of Honour.
His original trial was covered by a Jewish reporter from Vienna a Dr Theodor Herzl. The experience of this injustice crystallized his view that Jews, in spite of Napoleon, would never be safe in Europe and in 1897 he convened the first Zionist Congress in Switzerland. (Zionism is the movement to enable Jews to return to their “Promised Land” and Holy City of Jerusalem where they can live in peace. “Zion” is one of the hills on which Jerusalem is built.)
The Holocaust and Adolf Hitler
Six million Jews are massacred, exterminated, ethnically cleansed.
Germany and Continental Europe 1935-1945
We have seen that from the beginning of the German nation (only formed in 1871 by Bismarck) that nationalism is a trait of these Germanic northern European races. Soon after the foundation it was put about that Germans were part of a mystical Aryan race from Scandinavia noted for a fine physique, blond hair and blue eyes. Jews quite obviously were never part of this imagined ethnic purity and indeed had been persecuted in the German territories since their arrival a thousand years earlier. Hitler, born in Vienna, Austria of simple parents, in a town then much influenced by Jewish traders and bankers, wanted to be an artist but only aspired to house painting in Munich, Germany. As a World War One participant he received the German Iron Cross and afterwards entered politics in the “Workers Party” later renamed the Nationalist Socialist Party or Nazi party. He organised an abortive coup in 1921 and was put in prison where he wrote a book called “My Struggle” (Mein Kampf) setting out his political ideology based on the superiority of the Aryan race and the occursed Jews for most things wrong in Germany including their defeat by the English and the French and the Americans in World War One (1914-1918).
Hitler was elected to power in Germany in 1933 and assumed dictatorial powers in 1934 when he called himself Leader (Fuhrer). Hitler saw himself and the German Aryan race as the rightful conquerors and leaders of Europe and so he commenced this aim by invading Austria 1938, Czechoslovakia and Poland 1939. England was the only country in Europe who seemed determined to stop him. What the British did not know and the Christian Roman Catholic Church in Rome did, was what Hitler was doing to the Jews. In 1935 Hitler took away all their Civil Rights (Nuremburg Laws). Hitler then set about authorising the systematic terrorising of all German Jews. The result of course was a mass exodus of terrified Jewish refugees firstly from Germany then Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland the majority ending up in England and the US.
These new immigrants in England were soon helping Britain with the war effort, particularly in the Air Force, but also in the new technologies like military two-way radio communications where Polish Jewish technology was state of the art. In the meantime those Jews unable to get away were rounded up and transported by cattle truck to concentration camps mainly in Poland but also Germany. The “Final Solution” developed by Hitler in 1942 authorised the mass murder of all the Jews in these camps by gassing. (Camps included Auschwitz, Belson and Dachau). As we have seen the majority of European Jews lived in Poland and it was the Polish Jews which accounted for almost 50% of the total (6 million persons) of those exterminated.
It is not understood today why Christian Roman Catholic Pope Pius 12th in Rome who knew of this, did absolutely nothing to stop it. Was it because he felt that the Jews, who had committed Jesus to death by the ruling Romans 2000 years earlier, deserved it?
The last 50 years - Post Holocaust
The need for a country for Jews to call their own
If there had been any doubt before this for a need for a homeland for Jews, the Holocaust removed it. Since 1860 there had been a slow trickle of Jews making their way to Palestine to farm land which had been left idle by the local Arab Palestinians. These Jews were supported by the Rothschild family in London and Paris. Britain was still the world power in the 1914-1918 war when they not only beat the Germans but also liberated “Arab” Palestine from the Muslim Ottoman Empire. Hence the Brits had many friends in the Arab Middle East as well as being committed to help the Jews. In 1917 the English Foreign Secretary, Balfour, signed his support for making Palestine the Homeland for the Jews. (Balfour Declaration).
The difficult task for Britain of making a just settlement for both Jews and Islamic Arabs was handed over to the United Nations who after the 1940-1945 war drew out the boundaries of present day Israel and Palestine. The new Israeli state was born in 1948. Jews from all over the Middle East, North Africa and Europe moved in, the British army moved out and within a few months the new Jewish state of Israel was under attack from the surrounding Muslim Arabs. 50 years later nothing has changed.
After the Second World War, the victorious English, rulers of the largest empire the world has ever seen, were bankrupt and hence ceased to be the world superpower, this role was taken over by two ideologically opposed giants, the democratic capitalistic USA and totalitarian socialist or communist Russia (then the larger USSR). Both wanted to get their hands on Middle Eastern Oil. Initially Stalin, the leader of Russia, backed the Jews in Israel and financed the supply of a huge military arsenal of Czech made weapons in the hope of finally removing the English and the Americans from Middle Eastern oil territories. However as the mood of the Arab nations surrounding Israel (Egypt, Jordan and Syria) together with Iraq built up to fever pitch with the declaration that they were avowed to annihilate this tiny but growing state of Israel, Stalin changed his tack and armed this league of Arab nations.
Israel’s neighbours, all Muslim Arabs, outnumbering the Jews by more than 10 to 1, have a policy of eliminating this tiny new state. There have been 4 major battles all started by the Muslims and all won by the Jews.
The Muslim Arabs fed up with losing wars against the hated Jews have recently resorted to terrorist attacks organised by one or more of their fundamentalist sects who recruit men and women who are willing to die in these attacks. Examples of these terror groups are Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah. Those Muslims who die have been brainwashed with the promise that death during a Jihad provides an immediate passage to heaven.
The Israeli response is always the same, if you hit us we will return and hit you 10 times as hard. But the Islamic terrorists keep on coming. Each cease fire up to now has been broken by one or other of these Islamic terror groups who seem to work outside the wishes of the Palestinian leader Arafat and all other peace loving Palestinians.
The battles between Israelis and their surrounding Arab neighbours
1948 First Arab Israeli war
Immediately following the formation of the state of Israel, once the British Army move out, the Arabs attack. The Jews, some who are Holocaust survivors are not prepared for war but they manage to repel the invaders who are disorganised. 750,000 Palestinians are made homeless.
1956 Second Arab Israeli war
Actually this was an Egyptian Israeli war where the Israelis attacked Egypt at the request of Britain and France in response to the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by Egyptian President Nasser. Israel inflicted huge damage on the Egyptians but when the British and French bombed the canal on the pretext of separating the warring factions they were forced to withdraw by international pressure particularly from the Americans. British Prime Minister Anthony Eden who was responsible for this fiasco was forced to resign.
1967 Third Arab Israeli war
The so called Six Day war. After the Suez War the Israelis withdrew (1958) from Suez/Red sea front and the Sinai desert and this sensitive frontier was manned by UN troops. The Egyptians were more determined than ever to drive the Israelis into the sea and developed like minded pacts with Jordan and Syria. This provided the platform for a ten year campaign of aggression against Israel on all fronts. Finally when Egypt had sorted out their war with Yemen, the time was right for them to achieve their objective of getting rid of Israel. There followed a massive build up of Egyptian Soviet supplied tanks on Israel’s southern desert borders. Egypt occupied Sharm el-Sheikh cutting off Israel’s sea route from the Gulf of Eilat to the Red sea via the Tiran straights.
With 4 Arab nations ready to attack with the publicly avowed intention of wiping Israel off the map the Israelites took the only course open to them, a pre-emptive strike. In 6 days the bulk of the Arab military machine was destroyed before either the planes were airborne or the tanks had started their engines. In addition the Israeli troops had doubled their land mass and occupied sensitive military and religious areas to make full frontal assault by Arab armies more difficult in the future. Notably the Golan Heights in the north, The West Bank including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsular. This was however still a much smaller territory than ruled by King David 3000 years previously. A further 250,000 Arab Palestinians were made homeless and the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) took over the responsibility of waging a war of terror against the Israelis until they could return to their land west of the river Jordan.
1973 The Fourth Arab Israeli war
The so called Yom Kippur war. The Israelis now with a left wing government missed the signs for another build up of Arab hostilities which were launched during one of the important Jewish public holidays. This time it was joint action by Egypt and Syria with a combined population of 75 million people who took on the task of exterminating the 6 million Jews in Israel. Even though the Jews were on holiday and unprepared, the Islamic forces lost. This defeat hardened the resolve of the Islamic Arabs to exterminate the Jews but Islamic Egypt’s Premier Sadat saw that the future must lie with peace and with the help of the US President brokered a peace with Israel finally signed at Camp David in the US in 1978. Sadat’s bravery was rewarded by his assassination in 1981 by an Islamic hit squad. However on the positive side, in 1982 the Israelis withdrew from Sinai leaving the significant oil wells to the Egyptians. This was followed in 1994 with a peace deal with Jordon and in 1995 Syria commenced peace discussions.
1981 The Fifth Arab Israeli war
The Israeli Air Force destroys the Iraqi nuclear factory in a one off strike. No retaliation.
1982 The Sixth Arab Israeli war
Palestinian Islamic Arab refugees from Israeli occupied lands, settled initially in Jordan and then in southern Lebanon and their plight did not appear to find much sympathy with any of the oil rich Islamic Arab states other than many were employed in fairly menial tasks in the Arab world. The PLO in desperation in these filthy refugee camps commenced terrorist actions against the northern part of Israel. In an attempt to put a stop to it, Israel invaded southern Lebanon in 1982, put the terrorist camps under Marshal law and remained until 1985.
1991 The Seventh Arab Israeli war
The Gulf War. Arabic Iraq under Saddam Hussein, invades Arabic Kuwait. Palestine aligns itself with the Iraqis. The Iraqis bomb Israel with Scud missiles. The US forbids the Israelis to retaliate on the basis that they, the US, will deal with the Iraqis. The US plus UK in (Desert Storm) beat the Iraqis in short shrift.
1985 to date.
- 1988 PLO recognises the state of Israel
- 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and PLO
- 1994 Limited Palestinian independence in Gaza
- 1995 PLO and Israel sign deal on West Bank Autonomy
- 2000 to date. The PLO leader Arafat seems to lose control of the militant fundamentalist Islamic groups in the West Bank and a programme of terrorist suicide attacks against Israeli civilians commences fuelled by successful Islamic suicide attacks against the “West” in other parts of the world notably the 9/11 New York and Washington atrocities. Israelis do what they always have done, that is when attacked hit back harder. This stalemate continues to this day- December 2002.
Jewish Excellence in Academia, Polotics, Science and the Arts
In Europe and the USA Jews have never reached higher than some 3% of the population and generally as in England more like 0.5%. (The exception might be Poland, before the Holocaust, particularly in some cities were the Jewish population was sometimes more than 50%)
However, although small in numbers, Jews, where permitted, have contributed well ahead of their numbers to the wealth and culture of their adopted countries. Indeed 20% of the total number of Nobel Laureates have been Jews.
In the US, 3% of the population are Jews but 27% of the US Nobel prizes have been awarded to Jews. Also if you are an American Jew compared to a non Jew you are twice as likely to be a doctor, 5 times as likely to be a psychiatrist, 3 times as likely to be a dentist, twice as likely to be a mathematician and twice as likely to go to university. The following roll call confirms the point and makes one think why? The reason given for this is not something inherent in the genes of their race but their background of centuries of diligent education well ahead of most, and years of thought provoking social hardship both brought about by a strict adherence to the rules of Judaism.
This list only includes a few well known contributors, a few although Jewish, were not practicing Jews at the time.
Europe in Social/political fields
- Karl Marx (1818-1883) produced the foundations to modern socialism and Communism in his work (In German) Das Kapital. Born in Germany he soon became a revolutionary and had to flee to Paris where he was expelled and eventually he settled in London, England where he was free to write, speak and publish as he liked. Marx renounced Judaism early in his life.
- Leon Trotsky (Lev Bronstein, 1879-1940) Russian revolutionary who became a Marxist before he was 20, played a significant part in the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were he reported directly to Lenin as leader of the Red Army. On Lenin’s death he lost a power struggle with Stalin and fled to Mexico where he was murdered by a Stalin hit squad. Trotsky had also renounced Judaism.
- Ferdinand Lasalle, (1825-1864) a German Jew who associated with Marx but who wanted things to change through democratic means. Founder of the German Social Democratic party.
- Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) A polish lady who founded the German Communist party after the First World War. Murdered by the German Military.
- PRIME MINISTERS. The following Jews reached the highest rank in European politics. Benjamin Disraeli, England, Leon Bum, Pierre Mendes-France and Rene Mayer in France, Luigi Luzzatti in Italy and Bruno Kreiski in Austria.
Europeans in Science
- Albert Einstein 1879-1955. Pacifist and Physicist. Born in Germany, had to move to Switzerland and then to the USA. Perhaps the most famous scientist of all time with his Special Theory of Relativity and the relationship between mass and energy which showed the route to the Nuclear energy industry.
- Sigmund Freud 1856-1939. Founder of Psychoanalysis. Born in Austria but had to move to London, England with the German Nazi takeover of Austria in 1939. The Freud family remain in England with daughter Anna the founder of child Psychoanalysis, grandsons Lucian, painter famous for extremely detailed and accurate portraits of nude women and Sir Clement Freud Liberal MP and television personality.
- Claude Levi-Strauss, pioneer in anthropology.
European Jews in Arts
- Max Liebermann, Jacob Epstein, Lucian Freud and many others
Europeans in Literature
- Nelly Sacks, Nobel Laureate poetess and many others
Europeans in Music
- Felix Mendelssohn, Jacques Offenbach, Gustav Mahler, Otto Klemperer, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Vladimir Horovitz and Arthur Rubinstein.
Europeans in Banking and Money Lending
- Oppenheimer, Rothschild, Lazard, Hambros and Goldsmid.
Business leaders in England
- Lord Seif the man who made Marks and Spencer into the largest and best clothes supermarket in England. No longer such a success story after his retirement.
- Lord Weinstock, the man who created Britain’s largest industrial company. Almost collapsed after his retirement.
In the USA we have this astonishing list:
USA Public Life
- Henry Kissinger (Secretary of State); Benjamin Cardozo, Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Goldburg and Abe Fortas (US Supreme Court Justices)
USA Labour Movements
- David Dubinsky (International Ladies Garment Workers Union), Sidney Hillman (Special Advisor to President Roosevelt on labour matters and Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America), Samuel Gompers (architect of the American Federation of Labour.
USA Nuclear Science
- J. Robert Oppenheimer, Isidor Rabi, Edward Teller.
USA Medical Science
- Jonas Salk and Albert Salin (Polio Vaccine), Selman Waksman (Antibiotics)
- Arthur Miller, Clifford Odets, Lillian Hellman, Moss Hart and Ben Hecht.
USA Song Writer
- Irvin Berlin
Movies (Films) and Musicals
This is a most astonishing list by virtue of the strength of Jewish success in these fields.
- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Hollywood studio founded by Sam Goldwyn and Lewis Mayer)
- Warner Brothers (Hollywood studio founded by the four sons of an immigrant family from Poland)
- Paramount Pictures (Adolph Zukor)
- Universal Studios (Carl Laemmle)
- 20th Century Fox (William Fox and Sol Brill)
- Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein (Oklahoma, South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music), George Gershwin (Porgy and Bess), Lerner and Loewe (My Fair Lady), Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls), Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim (West Side Story), Gerry Block and Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof)
Anti-Semitism or Jew Hatred
Initially a unique religion.
Many books have been written on this subject by Jews and non Jews. The truth of the matter is that no race or religious group has been so hated and so persecuted as the Jews and this has been going on for more than 3000 years.
For the 2000 years up to the commencement of Christianity, Jews were living in a world where they were the only group who worshiped one God when everybody else had many. Typical of the many “Pagan” Gods were the sun the moon and fertility gods most of which were represented by statues (Idols) in the pagan temples. The Jews made themselves unpopular by refusing to join in the worship of these Idols and indeed destroying them.
Christians were the first organised religious anti-Semitists
This commences a period when Jews were not allowed to mix with the Christian majority and this enforced separatism would have caused Jews to be always looked upon suspiciously or worse.
When the Romans adopted Christianity as their official religion, around AD 300, Jews were relegated to second class citizens in the whole of the huge Roman Empire and were denied taking any part in the serious economy with the exception of money lending. This activity which had for many centuries been undertaken by Jews made them even more unpopular as they lent with interest to their customers but for nothing to their fellow Jews. This then had to be coupled with the Christian hatred, who soon became very much in the majority, and who blamed the Jews for killing their founder Jesus. Jews were to be a target for Christian persecution from this time until Oliver Cromwell in England c.1650 and Napoleon in the rest of Europe c1800.
Muslims less anti-Semitic than Christians except for the last 50 years
As far as the Muslim world is concerned even though the Koran is anti-Semitic in many places, the Muslims, until the last 50 years, have been much more tolerant to Jews. Indeed Muslims, like Englishman Oliver Cromwell, very often welcomed a Jewish presence as they generally boosted the local economy through their world wide network of business contacts. As we have seen it was Stalin who started the current anti Jewish sentiment amongst Muslims in the Middle East.
USA and other parts of the old British Empire
This freedom for Jews was copied in nearly all of Britain’s colonies notably America, Australia and New Zealand. Other than in Protestant Holland, the Christian Church in mainland Europe continued to murder Jews until the French revolution and the development of Napoleon’s actions to suppress the corruptive elements of the Roman Catholic Church c.1800.
Some reasons for Jew hatred
As we have seen many Jews are still despised in England and other parts of the Christian world. The main reasons for this are.
- Christians feel Jews were responsible for the early death of Jesus and the Church leaders still feel this way. Even though Jesus preached forgiveness, Christians seem unable to forget this particular one.
- Jews (Orthodox) still keep their strict dietary laws. (As do Muslims). This makes it difficult for Jews to mix socially with non Jews.
- Jews for thousands of years have set their minds to study (as demanded by their religion) and for many centuries were restricted (by Christians) to money lending as their only gainful employment. Also Jews for many years had the best world wide network of business contacts. This made the better educated Jews more successful in business and hence richer than their Christian host. This should be coupled with the special privileges and protection given to them by many Kings in an attempt to keep them alive and working in a hostile environment. These characteristics of success and protection were more often than not despised by non Jews than admired. Remember for years the Christian hierarchy only educated their priests rather than their flock.
The Muslim World
- Currently Jews in Israel are seen by extreme Muslims as examples of the corrupt Capitalist Western World and are under continuous attack from Islamic militants under a hate “The Capitalist West” banner.
- Jews were not present in any numbers in Palestine for almost 2000 years after they had fled Roman persecution and the destruction of their temple. With initial support from England, when they were the most powerful nation on earth, and then the United Nations, Jews were “given” a part of Palestine to make a country of their own after 2000 years of Christian persecution while in exile in Christian countries. Militant Muslims want all the Jews in Israel eliminated. Tolerant Muslims have accepted this Jewish land in an Islamic Arab world.
Jews in England Today
There are three types of Jew in England today.
- The first group are the majority who have fully integrated into Anglo Saxon England by suppressing their faith or even loosing it all together. Many found it necessary to change their name to sound Anglo Saxon rather than Jewish, like Disraeli rather than D’Israeli.
- The second group, many of whom live in the Manchester area, are similar to the above but still keep their religious routes alive (just) with Jewish food, weddings and funerals and occasional visits to the Synagogue on a Saturday. There are other centres like this, for example in the North London areas of Hampstead, St Johns Wood and Golders Green. Both of the above types will often ignore Jewish holidays and continue working the normal Monday to Friday as required in British business. Their, very often, considerable skills are eagerly sort after by non Jewish British businessmen. Both of the above two groups will often opt for Jewish schools for their children where educational levels are more often than not superb. Jewish schools generally accept non Jewish pupils. Both these two groups also are quite comfortable about eating non Kosher food which makes it easy for them to mix with the majority.
- The Third group mainly live in Stamford Hill in North London on the way out to Tottenham Hotspur football ground. These are the Orthodox and Hasidic Jews who do not wish to further integrate into a majority lifestyle and are conspicuous in black suits, black hats and unshaven facial hair. The area is well served with Kosher food suppliers, Synagogues and Jewish schools. Notwithstanding their different life style, this centre of Orthodox Jewry is left in peace.