Analysis: The longest hatred

Billie Firmin, Editor

The Holocaust: perhaps the most infamous account of human genocide and oppression. From a young age, children are taught about Adolf Hitler, concentration camps, and World War II, and all of the abuses are rightfully condemned.

But that is typically where the concern for Jewish people tapers off. The concentration camps were liberated, the Jews were free once again, and Hitler was dead. After the war was over, what was the point in continuing to worry about the Jews? Their problems were over.

However, anti-Semitism, the prejudice and discrimination of Jews, has never gone away. Jewish communities around the world still have problems directly related to anti-Semitic views.

Beginning in the first century with the death of Jesus Christ, anti-Semitism has plagued the world. Historically, the Jews were blamed for the crucifixion of Christ, but modern research by historians has caused the responsibility of Jesus’s death to fall on the Romans. “It is unlikely that the Romans would have initiated action against him without prompting from the Jewish authorities… Jesus’ death was no doubt motivated by the perceived threat felt by the religio-political powers of his day” (Zondervan Academic). As Christianity quickly became the largest religion in the world, the story that the Jewish people were responsible for Jesus’s death spread and created animosity and prejudice towards Jews.

Throughout time, various myths surrounding Jewish people and culture were created by anti-Semites such as the idea that Jews “used the blood of Christian children for ritual purposes.” These hateful and clearly false stories only continued to paint Jews in a negative light.

Finally, the most prominent example of anti-Semitism that has occurred in history was the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler, who rose to power in Germany throughout the 1920s and became chancellor in 1933, was a member of the Nazi Party and helped to fuel anti-Jewish propaganda geared towards Germans. The propaganda entailed the idea that Jewish business owners were stealing non-Jewish business owners’ customers and that they were responsible for Germany’s failing economy. Propaganda and hate led to the establishment of concentration camps, where Jews and other less desirable members of Germany were gassed, cremated, and worked to death. The horrors of the camps cannot be overstated – families were separated and never saw each other again, prisoners who stopped working were shot, women and children were burned alive, and countless people starved or died of illnesses. Six million Jews alone were murdered during the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, anti-Semitism continues today. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, only two percent of the United States population is Jewish, yet 54 percent of religious hate crimes in 2016 targeted Jews. In 2017, there were “703 incidents of harassment, including 162 bomb threats against Jewish institutions; 584 incidents of vandalism, including 52 against Jewish institutions, and 12 physical assaults” according to the Anti Defamation League. Several political figures in the country have histories of anti-Semitism, notably Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

It is the responsibility of all people to bring an end to anti-Semitism. Never again can we as humans allow hatred to take root and cause the death of millions of people. Whenever possible, we must speak the truth about the history of the Jewish people and what they have faced for thousands of years. Those who perpetuate hatred against Jews must be held accountable for their actions. Hopefully, this generation will be the one to end prejudice against the Jewish people and bring peace to a group of people who more than anything wish simply for acceptance.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email