On the Causes of Antisemitism (part 1: up until recently)
The Jews who have arrived would nearly all like to remain here, but learning that they (with their customary usury and deceitful trading with the Christians) were very repugnant to the inferior magistrates, as also to the people having the most affection for you; the Deaconry also fearing that owing to their present indigence they might become a charge in the coming winter, we have, for the benefit of this weak newly developing place and land in general, deemed it useful to require them in a friendly way to depart; praying also most seriously in this connection, for ourselves also for the general community of your worships, that the deceitful race—such hateful enemies and blasphemers of the name of Christ—not be allowed further to infect and trouble this new colony. —Peter Stuyvesant, colonial Governor of New Netherland (now New York and New Jersey), in a letter to the Dutch West India Company, in 1654
There is a joke, I don’t know if it’s an old one or a new one, in which a comic claims that he has been thrown out of more than a hundred bars, or pubs, or nightclubs…and after a while he started to consider that maybe, just maybe, he was somehow responsible for that. The joke is referring to the alleged fact that the Jewish people have been ejected from more than a hundred countries over the course of history, yet they seem not to acknowledge that maybe it’s partly because of something that they themselves have been doing, not simply a matter of irrational xenophobic hatred and jealousy on the part of the goyim. Considering that the Jews have been resented, hated, and occasionally massacred pretty much wherever they have lived since ancient times, by various non-Jewish cultures, Christian and non-Christian, it would seem that there may be some truth to the idea that the Jews are at least partly responsible.
However, many Jewish people, including intellectuals in western academia, appear very reluctant to admit this possibility, or at least they don’t want to do so publicly. The leading theorists of Freudian psychoanalysis and Frankfurt-School-style neo-Marxism, both of which are originally and predominantly Jewish movements, declared antisemitism to be a kind of psychological pathology based on authoritarian parents and daddy issues. Fascism and German National Socialism also were allegedly brought about as the lingering aftereffects of authoritarian Gentile fathers. But considering that not all ethnic minorities have faced the same resentment and hatred that the Jews have, and that the Jews have, as already mentioned, met hostility pretty much everywhere they have lived, there is apparently much more to the story than that.
Cases of antisemitism are described in the Old Testament itself. For example the Edomites and other neighboring tribes were well known for their hatred of Israelites. Considering that the Israelites under their first warlord—namely Moses—were commanded to exterminate, totally, all of the indigenous people in the Promised Land aside from the Hebrews themselves, this hostility is understandable. Eventually the Assyrians and the Babylonians threw the Jews out of the first country from which they were expelled—their own Promised Land. This was evidently brought about largely by the exasperation of the political powers of the day, as the Israelites and Judeans stubbornly insisted that they were God’s Chosen People and consecrated to be the leaders of the world, and not subservient to anybody. So it appears that much, at least, of the earliest hatred against Jews was the result of resentment of Jewish racial supremacism and hostility or disdain towards non-Jews. Kevin MacDonald in his dry yet very informative book The Culture of Critique points out repeatedly that modern Jew/Gentile friction has tended to be the result of “cultural separatism and the reality of group-based competition for resources,” with at least half of that “cultural separatism” coming from the Jews themselves. This observation of MacDonald’s evidently applies even to the most ancient cases of antisemitism, and of Jewish “antigoyism.”
It is a recurrent, perennial theme of Jew/Gentile relations in predominantly non-Jewish societies inhabited by Jewish populations that there has been considerable racial xenophobia directed both ways, which has been exacerbated by resentment of the xenophobia of the other side. At least as important as racial xenophobia has been cultural and ideological xenophobia, with similar mutual aggravation through resentment of the xenophobic tendencies of the outgroup. So one reason why Jews have been hated since ancient times is that they not only looked and behaved differently from the people with whom they were sharing territory, but they obviously considered themselves to be superior in a sense, being God’s Chosen, and occasionally expressed hostility or disdain towards the goyim, which was resented.
The massacres have not all been one way; for example in ancient Greek and Roman times there were several incidents of Jewish people massacring their neighbors, partly out of frustration that the Jews were a subject people and not, as their prophets had promised, the guiding light of the world. The fervency of this belief of special status also disinclined them to assimilate into the various cultures in which they lived, increasing xenophobic sentiment on both sides. The ancient Romans, at least, though brutally quelling Jewish rebellions and ultimately sacking Jerusalem and destroying the third Temple, were more tolerant of the Jews than they often were of the Christians. The Jews were viewed as a race, a nationality, a people, and so from the Roman perspective they had some justification for not assimilating so much and for occasionally rebelling. The Christians, on the other hand, were viewed by the pagan Romans as a perverse cult more than as a tribe, and so they received much more actual persecution for their often hostile refusal to assimilate. This attitude of the Romans has resulted in Imperial Rome being one of the most successful attempts at multiculturalism thus far in history, although it did eventually fail, for various reasons.
In medieval Europe, when almost everybody was Christian, the old two-way xenophobia and two-way resentment of the other’s xenophobia were still in effect; although there came to be a few new causes of friction. An obvious one was religious: The Jews rejected a man who was arguably the greatest prophet or holy man that Judaism ever produced; and for reasons we needn’t delve into here the early Christians were more inclined to blame Jews than Romans for the crucifixion of their Savior. Consequently the Jews came to be loathed as blasphemers and “Christ killers,” with the Jews naturally resenting this sentiment and reciprocating in kind. Possibly the only thing that prevented the Christians from exterminating the Jews altogether was the biblical idea that the Jews really were special to God for some reason, an idea that couldn’t be totally dismissed considering that the medieval Christians accepted the Old Testament as infallible holy scripture. The Muslims had a similar excuse for grudging tolerance, acknowledging the Jews as legitimate People of the Book following the teachings of an earlier Prophet, Moses, as stated in the Quran itself.
|the Jews of Cologne burned alive, woodcut from the late 15th century|
Another source of discord between medieval Christians and Jews was the Christian prohibition on lending money at interest, declared to be an act of the sin of usury. Because of this, Jews were seen as invaluable to kings, nobles, and other wealthy aristocrats who might want to borrow money occasionally. Their protection also saved many Jews from medieval pogroms; I’ve read several accounts of the nobility sheltering Jews within their castle walls while the peasants ran amuck in the streets, sometimes blaming the Jews for causing plagues by maliciously poisoning wells and so forth. At any rate, this allowance for Jews to lend money at interest to the goyim resulted in lots of Jews becoming wealthy—which of course then resulted in increased jealousy and resentment from the Christian masses. The wealth of the Jews didn’t always protect them however, and sometimes the otherwise protective kings and lords would simply declare open season on them if they owed them too much money to repay conveniently.
At any rate the Jews’ monopoly on moneylending resulted not only in widespread resentment among the Gentiles, it also acted as an evolutionary pressure towards intellectuality in central and eastern European Jews. Considering that they were pressured economically into white-collar jobs (assuming that kaftans can have white collars) and the skillful handling of money, there was great evolutionary pressure towards intelligence, and also towards what is vulgarly referred to as “greed.” Studies show today that Ashkenazi Jews have an average IQ of at least 110, making them the highest-IQ ethnicity on the planet, and also a higher likelihood of having certain alleles associated with “acquisitiveness.” They are also much more prone than anyone else to certain neurological disorders associated with this rapid evolution towards greater brain efficiency concerning traits associated with business pursuits and intellect. This higher intellectuality naturally resulted in even greater economic success and wealth, resulting in more jealousy and resentment from Christians, resulting in a greater likelihood of violence…which no doubt further resulted in another driving force for intelligence in European Jews especially: The slow, stupid ones were much more likely to be caught and massacred than the clever ones. Natural selection, caused primarily by artificial taboos on moneylending and the survival of continual massacres, produced the stereotypical clever, greedy Jew. This tendency towards intellect (I can’t say with regard to the acquisitive genes) is not found in other Jewish ethnicities such as the Sephardic Jews of Spain or the Asiatic Jews who remained in Iraq after the Babylonian Captivity. There is no indication that Jews in Europe were particularly clever in classical times; in ancient Rome it was the Greeks who had the reputation for cleverness, shrewdness, and a tendency toward swindling people. The evolutionary process towards cleverness was rapid, evidently beginning in the Middle Ages, which helps to account for the sloppy genetic side effects with regard to neurological problems in the Ashkenazim.
Even among the Sephardi and Asiatics also, however, there was much emphasis placed on education; and the Jews of Moorish Spain, for example, were well-known for being skilled physicians. How many Muslim countries actively expelled Jews, I don’t know. It appears that up until around 1948 the Jews got along with Muslims better than with Christians most of the time.
And so, historically, there have been plenty of reasons why not only Gentiles hated Jews, but Jews hated Gentiles as well. First there is basic human animal xenophobia and tribalism, with resentment of similar sentiments expressed towards themselves by a societal outgroup. This was exacerbated by cultural forces encouraging the Jews to become a kind of mercantile class who became wealthy, and consequently also economically powerful. The animosity they experienced from non-Jews strengthened the Jewish concern for money and social status as means of security, and also in a very clannish, more ethnocentric mentality. Although the Jewish religion is very worldly, the Jews have considered themselves to be morally as well as culturally and intellectually superior to the Christians who despised and resented them, and for this reason also they have been less inclined than most ethnicities to assimilate into the surrounding culture. The entire situation of antisemitism, as well as the less well-known anti-goyim attitude of many Jews, thus has had a whole interconnected web of causes and effects.
All of this has been standard for many centuries; and now in the 21st century all these older factors persist to varying degrees. Some causes for friction have faded considerably—for example there is relatively little resentment now against Jews on the grounds that they are Christ killers. For that matter, even the inordinate influence of Jews on the banking systems and the economy in general is less of a burning issue than previously. But now there is a major new reason for antisemitism, one that may eclipse all the rest in importance.