What is the history of persecution of the Jews?
The legacy of hatred against the Jews goes back thousands
of years to when Christianity had become the dominant
religion of the Western World. Accused of rejecting Christianity
and murdering Jesus, the Jewish people were subjected
to an increasingly large policy of degradation and isolation
as the church consolidated its power. Jews were expelled
from almost all countries in Europe with the exception
of Italy and Germany, where they were segregated, forced
to wear identifying badges and live in ghettos at night
when they were not being forced into increasingly marginal
vocational opportunities in the day. Due to the separation
of Jews and Christians, wild stories about Jews circulated
freely around Europe, claiming that they were devils with
horns, hoofs, and a tail, who killed Christian children
and drank their blood.
These rumors, which developed into blatant racial anti-Semitism,
transmuted the religious basis for hatred of the Jews
in the twentieth century. The arising social sciences
that defined people as races and ranked those races in
order of merit, placed Jews at the bottom. The Nazis made
this doctrine the cornerstone of their policy, claiming
they had to rid the world of the Jews lest they intermarry
with non-Jews and bring about the decay of Western Civilization.
The result was the holocaust Ð the calculated annihilation
of six million Jewish children, women and men. Today,
the great strides that have been taken to minimize anti-Semitism
within the United States are considerable; The Roman Catholic
Church as well as many Protestant denominations have released
public statements regarding the acceptance of Judaism
and the rejection of religious anti-Semitism. However,
many still feel that nothing can be done to mend the wounds
of the past.