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10 Anti-Semitic Myths

10 Anti-Semitic Myths

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Popular Anti-Jewish Beliefs

In the Middle Ages, many delusional beliefs about Jews gripped the European masses, some of which were later modernized by the Nazis. There were at least 10 such superstitions, traces of which can still be found today.

The Blood Libel and Ritual Murder

In 1144, in Norwich, England, a 12-year-old child named William disappeared in Thorpe's Wood, a forest near the town, and was found dead. A Jewish convert to Christianity, a monk named Theobald, testified that the Jews tortured the child, stabbed him, and nailed him to a cross, reenacting Yeshu's death. Since this event took place around Pesach, and the Christian days of Good Friday and Easter, rumors spread that the Jews needed to sacrifice a Christian child on Pesach. William quickly became St. William, the first of many Christian child martyrs, and his tomb became a popular site for religious pilgrimages. As Christianity became more fixated on the power of Yeshu's blood, considering it even as the Korban Pesach, Jews were accused of slaughtering Christian children in order to obtain their blood for matzah and red wine of the seder. Pesach then became a dread time for Jews in Europe, for fanatic priests would whip up the masses into frenzied mobs.

Unlike the accusation of usury, which had a semblance of truth, the blood libel was completely false. Jewish law, as is well known, prohibits the consumption of even the smallest amount of blood, and not even one blood libel was proven to be true. Frequently, Christians killed one of their own children and tried to plant the body in a Jewish house. Although the popes repeatedly stated that this accusation was false, it remained entrenched in the mind of the general Christian public for centuries.

The ritual murder charge even appears in classic English literature. The great medieval English writer, Geoffrey Chaucer, relates such a story in his Canterbury Tales. The Prioress' Tale tells of a little Christian child who happily sang Christian hymns as he walked. Chaucer describes what happened when the child walked through the Jewish quarter of town:

The serpent, our first foe, who has his nest
Of hornets in Jews' hearts, puffed up and said,
"O Hebrew people, is it for the best
That a mere boy, just as he likes, should tread
Your street, and bring contempt upon your head,
And sing to such a purpose, for a cause
That is against the reverence of your laws?"

From this time on the cursed Jews conspired
This innocent boy out of the world to chase.
A murderer for their purposes they hired
Who in an alley had a secret place,
And as he went by at his childish pace,
This Jew seized on him, and held him fast, and slit
His neck, and threw his body in a pit.

Into a privy they threw the boy, I say,
A place in which these Jews purged their entrails.
O cursed people, unchanged since Herod's day,
What think you that your foul design avails?
Murder will out, for certain; it never fails,
The more so when the honor of G‑d's name
May spread! The blood cries on your deed of shame!

The distraught mother, after much searching, found the child in the pit. Miraculously, the child, even with his throat slit, began to sing hymns. The amazed Christians called for the magistrate:

The magistrate at once put every Jew
To death with torment and with shamefulness.
He spared not one that of this murder knew.
He would not palter with such wickedness.
"He that deserves ill, he shall have no less,"
And so he ordered that wild horses draw
Their flesh, and then he hanged them by the law.

The child instructed the monks how to cause him to stop singing. After the child died again, he was buried as a holy martyr in a special tomb. Referring to another such child, Chaucer concluded his story:

Young Hugh of Lincoln, you who were also
Slain by accursed Jews, notoriously,
For it was a little while ago
Pray for us; in our fitful errancy...

From Norwich, the blood libel rapidly spread all over Europe. In 1171, after the Jews of Blois, France, were executed on account of such an accusation, Rabbeinu Tam declared the 20th of Sivan as a fast day. In all, more than 150 accusations of ritual murder are recorded, many leading either to massacre or expulsion of the Jews. From the 1200s to the 1400s, most of these cases occurred in Germany. Later, the blood libel moved to Poland and Russia. In 1840, a famous blood libel took place in Damascus, Syria, and in 1913, the notorious Beilis blood libel trial was conducted in Russia. The Nazis made it a cornerstone of their anti-Jewish propaganda. In 1946, the Kielce blood libel broke out in Poland, killing numerous Jews, including Chaim Hirschman, one of two survivors of the Belzec death camp, which itself took 600,000 victims. Sadly, the blood libel is still believed in many parts of the world, even in the United States. Tourists still visit the Child-Devouring Fountain in Berne, Switzerland (Kinderfresserbrunnen), dedicated to a young boy who vanished from the city in 1294, prompting a pogrom that killed all Berne's Jews. In the words of the Catholic historian Edward Flannery, "The ritual murder calumny stands in the judgment of history as the most monstrous instrument of anti-Jewish persecution in the Middle Ages."

Desecration of the Host

In 1215, the Church announced the dogma of transubstantiation, meaning that the consecrated wafers (host) and sacramental wine consumed by Christians represented the body and blood of Yeshu. Soon Jews were accused of stealing wafers from churches and torturing them by sticking pins in them, thus crucifying Yeshu again. According to some reports, blood gushed from such wafers as they moaned in agony. Other accounts had the hosts flutter in the air, producing butterflies, angels, and doves. The entire matter would be laughable, except that more than 100 such accusations were made, resulting in the massacre of countless Jews. In 1298, a notorious Jew-hater named Rindfleisch spread the calumny throughout Germany and Austria. Within a short period of time, 150 Jewish communities were destroyed, causing the deaths of more than 100,000 Jews.

Jews as Devils

The association of the Jews with the devil can be detected in the Christian Bible, which describes the devil as the father of the Jews. In the Middle Ages, when superstition was rampant, the devil was a terrifying reality to the masses of Christians. Jews were portrayed in woodcuts as pigs (Judensau), depicted as swarthy and hook-nosed, and presumed to have a tail and horns. Jews were seen as sorcerers and magicians, expert in the black arts of the occult. The Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer reproduced a number of such woodcuts, reinforcing this belief in modern times. Many eyewitnesses report that Germans regularly asked : "Are you Jews? You are human beings who work! Where are your horns?"

The Jewish Smell

Since the Jews were associated so closely with the devil, they were believed to share his characteristics, notably his smell of sulfur. If Jews did not smell of it, Christians claimed they used Christians’ blood to rid themselves of it. Indeed, the belief about a unique Jewish odor was so powerful that it not only persisted throughout the ages, but also became the object of study by Nazi scientists.

The Wandering Jew

The Christian Bible relates that Yeshu cursed a Jew to endless wandering who had mocked him. The mythical Wandering Jew became known by the name of Ahasverus (sic), and reports of his sighting spread throughout Europe for hundreds of years. In 1602 a German Lutheran minister published Brief Description and Tale of a Jew Named Ahasverus, and the book became so popular that it went through 50 editions in just a few years. This myth, too, has persisted throughout the ages. The Wandering Jew was reported in Upper New York State in 1898. In 1940, a man believing himself to be the Wandering Jew visited the New York Public Library and had his borrower’s card printed as T. W. Jew.

Polluted Jewish Blood

Christians in the Middle Ages believed that the Jews were sickly and weak people, possessing blood diseases that could only be cured by an infusion of Christian blood. Thus, the Jews were always looking for opportunities to intermarry with pure Christians and pollute their lineage. This canard became the most powerful of all Nazi beliefs about the Jews, and it was employed as a justification for annihilating the entire Jewish people.

Well Poisoning

In the mid-1300s, the Black Death swept throughout Europe, decimating perhaps 50% of the population. Jews, too, were greatly affected, although not to the same degree as the Christians, due to traditional Jewish emphasis on personal cleanliness and burial of their dead. Soon a rumor spread that Jews brought about the plague by poisoning wells. Although Pope Clement issued a papal bull contradicting the allegation, and numerous rulers stated likewise, the superstitious Christian masses believed that the plague was the work of the devil through his children, the Jews.

The populace also believed that the Black Death was Divine punishment for their sins. Christian penitents, known as flagellants, went from town to town, whipping themselves with iron rods until the flagellants bled, all to expiate their sins and those of the people. After performing in city squares to the awed attention of the populace, they then led the people against the real villains, the Jewish well poisoners. In countless communities, especially in Germany, nearly all the Jews lost their lives.

Jewish World Conspiracy

This belief, which is still quite prevalent today, originated in the Middle Ages. It was claimed that a council of rabbis from Spain met secretly every year to cast lots regarding which city should supply the Christian victim for the annual sacrifice required by the Jewish religion. Later, this myth changed the Jewish goal from human sacrifice to world financial domination, as found in the 19th-century publication of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Currently, this lie is being spread by Arab regimes into countries that have had little or no previous encounters with Jews.

Jewish Stubbornness

Naturally, the Jews were seen as a stubborn people for absolutely refusing to convert and accept Yeshu as the Messiah. Such a refusal was particularly infuriating to the Christians, who believed that the Second Coming of Yeshu was contingent upon the Jews accepting Christianity. Thus, as the Jews were seen as blocking the Final Redemption, special effort has been expended through the ages to enable them to see the so-called light of Christianity, either by the Jews’ own volition or by force.

Jewish Laziness

This accusation held that Jews did not engage in productive occupations, preferring instead to live off honest Christian labor by engaging in money lending and shady transactions. (For their part, Christians were invariably seen as productive farmers and craftsmen.) What was conveniently forgotten was that Jews were not permitted any form of manual labor. Of course, the myth that Jews become rich at the expense of hard-working, poor Christians has persisted to today, and is strongly held by many people.

Expulsions

During the Middle Ages, the Jews were expelled at one time or another from virtually every country in Europe. Many times, they were driven out of a city and had to seek sanctuary in another town. Usually, these expulsions, even from entire countries, were not permanent, and the Jews were able to return after several years -- sometimes even sooner than that. However, when the Jews were expelled from England in 1290, they were not permitted to return until the late 1600s. (It is interesting to note that William Shakespeare, who caricatured Jews as rapacious in The Merchant of Venice, may have never seen a Jew.) Of course, the most famous of all expulsions is known as The Expulsion -- the forced departure of the Spanish Jews in 1492.

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Anonymous united states April 29, 2017

Interesting, I grew up around Jews and never considered them any different than anyone else. Unbelievable that such things occurred and that Jews are still blamed for many things today Reply

mrh March 15, 2017

this is amazing stuff. I can't believe I didn't know any of this until now. Reply

Anonymous Detroit July 7, 2015

Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit... It is true that anti-Semitism exists. And it is definitely true that we must be able to arm ourselves and defend ourselves.

I think however it is necessary to balance this with two other realities.

The destruction of the Beis haMikdash was the result of baseless hatred amongst Israel. Therefore Hashem counted us as unworthy to have the temple. From this we see that the antidote to anti-Semitism is not just military might, but spiritual might and G-dliness.

As well we must remember that there are also righteous gentiles who gave their lives for the Jewish people. Reply

Al Hoffman Mreced Area July 7, 2015

Don' Lend An Arm To Enemies Let us not be letting bad events come, yet neither say or do what helps haters get justification , and make another lie, and point the finger of voice saying,"See?! That's how they are! Get 'em!" Reply

Anonymous Guilford July 6, 2015

Let Me Reiterate All I have to say on the subject is this: nothing has changed since forever. We Jews must speak up and out against all this poisonous hatred and lies. All those who want to destroy us should be warned that we will do to them what they want to do to us. We can still do good and follow the path of Torah; but along with that we need to be armed and ready to defend ourselves. Enough martyrdom. Give them what they want and deserve. Easy victims are the first to go; let's remember that; unless we don't mind being murdered. Reply

Al Hoffman July 5, 2015

The Tongue! Etc. The voice needs careful constraint. Mustn't lend hands to mischief. No subterfuge with intent to harm neither. Reply

Z Phillips Austalia July 5, 2015

God Bless Israel Just came across this website and horrified to read the extent of persecution over the centuries. As a Catholic I am truly sorry. May God be with you as you defend your right to exist. You are a great nation! Reply

Anonymous Guilford, Connecticut November 15, 2014

Oh How Our History Would Have Been Different If we had been armed and ready to defend ourselves through the millenia, think of how different things would have been. Oh if only we would have been able to give them all what they gave us. That is one of the biggest reasons why the world wants Israel to cease to exist. They can't stand it that we can defend ourselves now. No more victims. Reply

Anonymous Flagstaff, AZ November 14, 2014

Ben Noach Moreover, (if you're talking about what I think you are) Ro 10 is merely an interpretation of the words in Dt 30: he quotes verses, then gives interpretations of the verses, which is not the same as "changing the words". Reply

Ben Noach November 13, 2014

Anonymous in Flagstaff poin1a: Agreed. You only mentioned Torah not Christianity. And I only responded to that.

point 1b. Death is what exempts one from the mitzvot. Agreed. But unless you are resurrected the point is moot. Furthermore, R. Schochet Z''l is referring to physical death, not being "dead with JC"

"the difference is merely on of interpretation and timing." I disagree... It's a crucial difference.

1c. I think it's wrong of you to use the words of R. Schochet to bolster your views when he vehemently opposed the notion of JC as savior or Messiah.

2. Just answer me this: Do Jews have to believe in JC as their Messiah/Savior in order to be part of this "restored Israel" Paul talks about?

You bet!

Paul definitely says that those who do not believe in JC are not "true Israel".

And I am not using one passage, as the "whole kit-n-caboodle," this is consistent throughout his letters.

BTW: Just compare Deut. 30 11-14 with Ro. 10:6-8. Paul changes the text. How can he do that? Reply

Anonymous Flagstaff, AZ November 4, 2014

Ben Noach 1a. Remember, I said "concerning Torah" not "concerning Christianity".
1b. The resurrection isn't what exempts the Jew from his obligation, but his death does. Consequently, the person who is resurrected will *still* be exempt from his obligations (having died), yet live a life that is holy; he will naturally keep Torah because of the power of being a new creation.
Paul argues we die with Messiah's death thus Jews in Him are released.
The difference is merely one of interpretation and timing.
1c. R' Schochet and Christianity agree that "the Mitzvos remain", but that they will be "observed after a different angle or go on a deeper level": of course they will continue to observe the Commandments (e.g., 1 Co 9:8-10)!

2. You can't take a singular writing, and say, "it's the whole kit-n-kaboodle": Paul fully expects the restoration of Israel [Ro 11:25-27]. No one can take the place of Israel, because they (and they alone) have that gifting and calling and it is "irrevocable" [Ro 11:29]. Reply

Ben Noach November 3, 2014

To Anonymous in Flagstaff To point number 1:
There are many more differences between Christianity and Judaism besides when the Torah will end, but I will address that one since you mention it.

First, in Rambam's 13 principles of the faith, principle 9 reads that the Torah will never be changed.
Second, to the point made by Rabbi Schochet Z''l. His point was that if a person was actually, physically resurrected from the dead, then some opinions hold that he would no longer be under the Torah. But that would not translate to Christians because they have not taken part in the physical resurrection yet, even according to Paul.

Third, please read Devarim (Deuteronomy) 30. Notice that the promise to circumcise Israel's heart is part of a promise to restore them to their land and that they will obey the commandments in the book of Torah that Moses gave them.

Point 2: In the writings of Paul's NT book (the one beginning with letter "G"), it is clear that "spiritual Israel" replaces the "natural" Israel. Reply

Al J Hoff Dos Palos, ca October 30, 2014

Maybe Too Many Subject Titles to Catalogue The ideologies of British Israelism, Replacement Theology, Dominion Theory , Papal Authority, while not in alphabetical order, these are a short list of what is a form of disorder. Reply

Amy Filippini Oxnard October 30, 2014

Jew, Hebrews, Israelites are all synonyms When the 12 Apostles laid the foundation of the Church after Acts 2, Apostates came in bringing "destructive heresies" Later. in the book of Revelation, you see what Yeshua has to say about them. He does not address Jews, he addresses Romans, "those who say they are Jews, and are not". Constantine took over the church, and added idol fake gods, and copied some Jewish traditions to make themselves look like a church. Today, these "fake Jews" are fake "Christians" who teach and practice "Replacement Theology." You can easily find them as "Mormon's" who claim they are the "lost ten tribes of Israel", you can see them as Jehovah's Witness as they claim they will be the 144,000 Jews who will bring about a world wide revival during the beginning of the Tribulation. Catholics who kicked the Jews out of their church. These are the people that will later be made to worship at the feet of real Jews during the Millennium. If they repent. God knows who they are, and they will be found out. Reply

Elijah October 29, 2014

To Anonymous New Yorker: Either your Hebrew Prayer Book is wrong or the Holy Scriptures are wrong, concerning God never altering the Law. Prophet Jeremiah spoke the Lord YHVH's words:

"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant [cutting agreement by blood] with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which THEY broke, though I was a Husband to them, says the LORD." (Jer. 31:32-32) NKJV; intrpl. mine

This is the problem with rabbinical Judaism and Christianity: putting religious beliefs before the Scriptures and distorting Scriptures for religious beliefs. I dare the author to allow my words, for he knows they are truths by the Scriptures. Every person who has deceived will be called to account and will bow before the Lord and His elect when Messiah comes as King of Jerusalem and the world. Reply

Elijah October 29, 2014

To Former Christian: You have distortedly taken all three quotes out of context and you know it. All three were said by Jews about specific groups of other Jews- not blanket condemnations on all Jews. In Revelation, the Jew Yohannon wrote of false Jews of a corrupt stnagogue who will have to bow before the true Jews doing God's will- in Jerusalem, which is from an Old Testament (Tanakh) passage: "To Me every knee shall bow." (cf. Isa. 45:23). And: "Kings shall be your [true Jews] foster fathers, and their [nations] queens your nursing mothers; they shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth. And lick up the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the YHVH. For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me." (cf. Isa. 49:23) If you actually knew the Scriptures, you would know that this is about God gathering Israelites back. And in the Revelation passage you distorted is about God having the "key of David" and providing an open door for returners who have not denied HaShem. Reply

Al J. Hoffman Ca October 29, 2014

Do Not Forget The "Hiding Place". Nor Paul aka Shaul in Romans. Blanket castigation is to no one's credit. Reply

Anonymous Flagstaff, AZ October 29, 2014

Former christian None of the verses you quoted proved your position.

1. I've already explained Jn 8:44 (an October 24th comment).

2+3. Jesus denies they are Jews ("...say they are Jews and are not..."), saying they are a "meeting place" of satan instead. Why would Jesus deny they are Jews, saying they are a "meeting place" of satan, if he taught Jews were physical progeny of the devil? Shouldn't he have affirmed they were Jews, instead of denying it, if he taught all Jews were the devils children and a meeting place of satan? Reply

Former christian USA October 29, 2014

Wandering Jew
This is seen as an origin to the "Wandering Jew" idea:

Matthew 16:28"Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Reply

Former christian USA October 28, 2014

This is the quote in the christian scriptures that says Jews are from the devil John 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

Revelation 2:9 "I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan."

Revelation 3:9 "I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you." Reply

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