Friday, 31 January 2014


What is it about people who dislike the Jews? There are reasons why some people dislike nations, the Japanese and the Germans come to mind. With these two there is a salient argument to be made, but with the Jews? They have never invaded anywhere, they are not a cruel nation, they don't proselytise, they always fit in where ever they are, in fact, they are kind and helpful, inclusive and welcoming. It really beggars belief. Could it be jealousy? They always seem to do well and be well heeled. Even this is not strictly true, there are plenty poor Jews. But to the outsider they seem better off than the next man.

Throughout history the Jews, a small nation in comparison to most, have been the but of pogroms, cruelty, and instability right up to the final act of insuperable inhumanity, the holocaust. They have been harried from country to country for 4,000 years. Wherever they have tried to settle they have been over run or moved on. Why should that be?

Well, a number of reasons come to mind and just about every one leads ultimately to jealousy.

The Jews, as a nation, have survived longer than any other in the Western or Middle Eastern world. Even since their last great dispersal by the Romans the Diaspora has remained in touch. This comes down to total belief in God, the Torah, the Talmud and education.

Their education system began about 4,000 years ago, is inclusive and free and has never ceased. This has made them better educated than the people they lived amongst, especially in Europe. Wherever they were their education made them indispensable to the ruling classes and this was true throughout the Mediterranean region and the rest of Europe. Whilst accepted, they moved in the top echelons of society and became ministers in governments, industrialists and bankers. This success was the main cause of jealousy and the fact that they were different. They would not convert to Christianity or Islam. It was, therefore, easy for any ruler or ruling group who was having problems such as debt or unpopularity, to blame the Jews and chase them out of the country. This happened in England, France, Turkey, Spain, Holland and so on. However, all these countries eventually allowed them back in.

Even when they were forced into ghettos as they were in Eastern Europe and Russia they maintained their independence as self governing units. In England and France during the medieval period, for example, feudalism did not apply to the Jews because it was based on Christianity and the Jews were not Christian. This meant that they owed no fealty and were free to come and go as they pleased and, of course, to be educated. There were always some Jews who converted and they were accepted into society as though they were natives. However, many of these did so only as a temporary measure and when it became safe to reconvert they did.

This whole scenario is well illustrated by the Spanish Caliphate. When Islam conquered Spain the Caliphs wanted, more than anything else, an educated population. At the time Arab learning was way ahead of anything in Europe. They opened libraries and schools all over the peninsular and Christians and Jews were welcome and treated with equality. This was a golden age for Islam and Judaism. It became the richest part of Europe. Then along came the Christians, reconquered the peninsular and the pogroms began against both Muslems and Jews.

The Jews fled east, Muslems fled south. The new Spanish monarchy destroyed the libraries and closed the schools and learning was set back 100 years. Of course the economy collapsed too. Many Jews who could not escape converted to save their lives. They were called Marranos but as soon as they could go they did, mainly to Holland and immediately reconverted. In Spain they were the gold and diamond merchants and hence Amsterdam became and has remained the centre of diamond cutting and polishing.

The Jews were and still are skilful, educated people. They bring industry and hard work wherever they are and it was this that makes them seem better off than their gentile neighbours. Wherever the Jews have been allowed to settle they have joined in without question, helped the economy, helped the ruling classes, shown the way in education, started industries and banks and even fought on the side of their adopted country. In the 20th century just look at the list of Nobel prize winners. You will find it contains a disproportionate number of Jews of all nationalities in comparison to the Gentile nationals.

No comments:

Post a Comment