What is Anti-Semitism?

Judaism and Anti-Semitism together have shaped the history and the future of Jewish people. The past of Judaism is a continuous journey of the Jewish people in finding acceptance and establishing their Holy state. Ever since Exodus, Jewish people have tried to establish themselves in parts of Europe until they returned to Jerusalem after World War II to found the Holy state of Israel. The time between the two incidents is a saga of oppression, prejudice, stereotyping and holocaust.

Anti- Semitism, however, dates back to the middle age. Hostility against Jewish people wasn’t unheard of before Nazi Germany took it to the new level. Although Christianity and Judaism shared almost the same beginning, intolerance against Jews rose with the popularity of Christianity. Jews were hated for staying as a separate community unwilling to adopt the cultures of the nation they are living in. They were regarded anti-Christ and perpetrator of Crucifixion. Jews were forced to live in ghettos, separated from the main society and many rules were imposed on them as they continued to live there. Later, the religious hatred was replaced by a conscious effort to establish supremacy of white Christians over Jewish people. It was made a vehicle by the Nazis as a part of their propaganda in spreading hatred and intolerance against Jews. They used the general prejudice against Jews to justify their action to kill every Jew in Europe.

Anti-Semitism got a new meaning and a new height in Nazi Germany. Anti-Semitism became wide spread and the Nazis used people’s emotion to mobilize the state’s forces to make Europe Jew free. During this time Jews were subjected to inhuman treatment that ranged from preventing them from practicing their vocation, confiscating their property, boycott, to mass execution.

The holocaust and Nazi Germany

Yellow badge Star of David called

Yellow badge Star of David called “Judenstern”. Part of the exhibition in the Jewish Museum Westphalia, Dorsten, Germany. The wording is the German word for Jew (Jude), written in mock-Hebrew script. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

World War II has both political and racial significance. The era begun with Hitler’s political aspirations but later turned into a movement to prove racial supremacy over Jews.

Anti-Semitic movement started during the early days of Nazi regime. Jews were prevented from practicing their trades and were asked to wear an armband marked with the Star of David as a sign of identification. Jews were even prevented from moving freely on streets.

The hostility gradually grew and on 1st April, 1933 on-day mass boycott of Jewish shops were observed. But Anti-Semitism became wide spread during the nights of 9th-10th November, 1938 when over 7,500 Jewish shops were destroyed and 400 synagogues were burnt. The event is known as Crystal Night or Kristallnacht. The whole event was engineered by NSDAP. They took advantage of people’s emotion after the murder of a German diplomat, Ernst vom Rath by a Jewish refugee in Paris, Herschel Grynszpan.

The early idea of Nazis was to force Jews to leave Germany and other European countries but later it became the vehicle of Hitler’s political aspiration to establish supremacy of German race over Europe. Jews all around Germany and Poland were rounded up and were sent to the concentration camps where they were subjected to tortures and mass extermination. Between the year 1939 and 1945 over six million Jews were exterminated in the various concentration camps across Germany. Jews from all parts of German occupied Europe were sent to these camps where they were subjected to harsh labor, inhospitable living condition, starvation, tortures, experiments and execution. Many mass graves of the victims killed during the Holocaust were later discovered by the Allied Force.

Over the years and after the World War II Anti-Semitic sentiments have somewhat subdued in western nations but stereotyping is still common. Jews have founded themselves an all-Jewish free nation in Israel, which is regarded the homeland of all Jews people living in the different countries.