Essay, Research Paper: Anti-Semitism Influence

Religion

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The word rests in a conversation like a foul stench and with it comes unbidden
images and accusations. Today in many circles this word alone is possibly the
most horrendous name to place on a person. Maybe though, not because of what it
means, but because of what it brings to mind. Automatically and unwanted,
pictures come to our mind of goose stepping Nazis and concentration camps,
bodies piled high and what we think of as the air fills with the scent of
burning flesh. Our worst nightmares and human kinds worst behavior’s. Yet,
many of us do not know where the term came from or even what it means beyond
their simple ideas. Even dictionaries only give the blandest description of the
term. Webster's New World Dictionary defines anti-Semitism as "having or
showing prejudice against Jews," "discriminating against or
persecuting Jews," "...hostility [toward Jews]." but there really
isn’t a lot to be learned from that, that we didn’t already know. So I knew
I had to dig deeper. So I started to look for references to Nazi’s and Hitler
as well as Martin Luther. I began to even look for sites of the Ku Klux Klan in
efforts to find some background on the term that brings so much angst into the
mind as this. Although I admit, I did find a wonderful article in an unexpected
location, unexpected only because I had already consulted so many encyclopedias
and found nothing. Yet Funk and Wagner told me this: “ANTI-SEMITISM,
political, social, and economic agitation and activities directed against Jews.
The term is now used to denote anti-Judaic acts or sentiments based on any
grounds, including religious ones. The adjective Semitic originally was applied
to all descendants of Shem, the eldest son of the biblical patriarch Noah; in
later usage, it refers to a group of peoples of southwestern Asia, including
both Jews and Arabs. The word anti-Semitism was coined about 1879 to denote
hostility only toward Jews. This hostility is supposedly justified by a theory,
first developed in Germany in the middle of the 19th century, that peoples of
so-called Aryan stock are superior in physique and character to those of Semitic
stock.” www.funkandwagnalls.com/ I was surprised to learn that it had to do
with more then just the Jews, but Arabs as well. Else where, I found a little
more to back this up; “Anti-Semitism, from a strict adherence to the compound
structure and meaning of the word itself, can be defined simply as being against
(antagonistic toward, opposed to) the Semitic people. In a grammatical and
etymological sense (as pertaining to race), such a definition would include all
the descendants of Shem (e.g., the Arabic nations as well as the nation of
Israel). The word "anti-Semitism" though is not really used in a broad
sense pertaining to the entire Semitic line. Rather, the word is invariably used
in a much more restrictive sense, referring to opposition exhibited toward only
one branch of the Semitic line -- opposition exhibited toward the descendants of
Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. The Jewish people alone, among the Semitic
people, have been the target of persecution after persecution during the past
three and one-half millenniums; and "anti-Semitism" is an expression
which has come into use pointing to these persecutions. Other Semitic nations
are not in view at all.” gracenet.com/lamp/TODA1.html And a little more on the
background; “Today one hears protests that the word anti- Semitism should not
be used, because there are other Semites besides the Jews. The term however, was
coined in 1879 by a racist named Wilhelm Marr. He was searching for a more
scientific sounding term then Jew when he founded the League of Anti-Semites. In
the European context, the word Semite was used strictly for the Jews.” Page 36
Christians and Jews in Germany. Uriel Tal. The term can further be broken own
into both racial and religious anti-Semitism. “Both religious and racial
anti-Semitism were to be found in the Second Reich. Religious anti-Semitism
insisted that a Jew could not retain his Jewish identity, and it demanded that
he converts and assimilates. Fredrick Paulsen, a prominent liberal humanist and
outspoken critic of racial anti-Semitism, explained in his “System of
Ethics” that ‘to remain a complete Jew and a complete German is
impossible.’ Racial anti-Semitism treated the Jew as a parasite, a biological
inferior that conversion and assimilation would not cure, a danger to the body
politic.” Uriel Tal, Christian’s and Jews in Germany: Religion, Politics,
and Ideology in the Second Reich, 1870-1914, trans. Noah Jonathan Jacobs (Ithaca
NY Cornwell University 1975) Page 291. This of course brings a little more
directly to the issue at hand. The people that are and have been anti-Semites.
Hitler and the Third Reich automatically come to mind. Yet sitting in the
background of that totally deplorable incident sits a man that we knowingly
would never have placed with Hitler at all. Martin Luther. It would seem that
Martin Luther’s writings inspired much of the Holocaust. This causes a lot of
problems for some people. In speaking to people when I was working and
researching this paper, many people had no idea that Martin Luther had leanings
that way at all. In fact most people simply can’t believe that the Father of
Protestantism could have ever been so mislead. Yet I do not believe that Luther
held these beliefs out of a mislead doctrine. No, I believe that they were
simply a reaction from what must have been a bitter personal disappointment and
shaming. This does not excuse him, not does it change the fact that he was in
fact and anti-Semite, but certainly, it would remind us that even the greatest
from among us are libel to allow our disappointments to colour our thinking, no
matter how inspired it may be. “No apologist can claim that Martin Luther bore
his anti-Jewishness out of youthful naivete', uneducation, or out of unfounded
Christianity. On the contrary, Luther in his youth expressed a great optimism
about Jewish conversion to Christianity. But in his later years, Luther began to
realize that the Jews would not convert to his wishes. His anti-Jewishness grew
slowly over time. His logic came not from science or reason, but rather from
Scripture and his Faith. His "On the Jews and Their Lies" shows
remarkable study into the Bible and fanatical biblical reasoning. Luther, at age
60 wrote this dangerous "little" book at the prime of his maturity,
and in full knowledge in support of his beliefs and Christianity. Few people
today realize that Luther wrote 'On the Jews and Their Lies.' (He also wrote
such works like "Against the Sabbatarians.") Freethinkers should
become aware of the anti-Semitic influence that Luther has brought on the world.
His vehement attack on Jews and his powerful influence on the believers of the
Germans has brought a new hypothesis to mind: that the Holocaust, and indeed,
the eliminationist form of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany may not have occurred
without the influence from Luther's book "On the Jews and Their Lies."
Today, white-supremacists and Neo-Nazis continue to spread Luther's Jewish
hatred and use quotes from this book as "proof" of their
convictions.” members.icanect.net/~zardoz/luther.htm Yet, Luther had not
always been so. “At the beginning of his career, Luther was apparently
sympathetic to Jewish resistance to the Catholic Church. He wrote, early in his
career: The Jews are blood relations of our Lord; if it were proper to boast of
flesh and blood, the Jews belong more to Christ than we. I beg, therefore, my
dear Papist, if you become tired of abusing me as a heretic, that you begin to
revile me as a Jew. But Luther expected them to convert to his purified
Christianity. When they did not, he turned violently against Jews… While there
is little doubt that Christian anti-Semitism laid the social and cultural basis
for modern anti-Semitism, modern anti-Semitism does differ in being based on
pseudo-scientific notions of race. The Nazis imprisoned and killed Jews who had
converted to Christianity: Luther would have welcomed them. None of this
justifies what follows, but it may help to comprehend what is happening” ©Paul
Halsall June1997 halsall@murray.fordham.edu www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/luther-jews.html
Also, “Luther appeared to be a breath of fresh air in the midst of a dismal
situation. Initially he had high regard for the Jewish people because he
expected them to convert en masse once they were presented with a Christian
message free from “Papal Paganism” In his treatise “That Jesus Christ Was
born A Jew” 1523… He wrote’ If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts
and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would have sooner become
a hog then a Christian.” At this time he took a firm stand against the
mistreatment of the Jews, and advocated a new relationship with the… Therefore
I would request and advise that one deal gently with them, (the Jews) and
instruct them From Scripture; then some of them may come along. Instead of this
we are trying only to drive them by Force, slandering them, accusing them of
having Christian blood if they don’t stink, and I know not What other
foolishness. So long as we treat them like dogs, how can we expect to work any
good Among them? Again, when we forbid them to labour and do business and have
any human fellowship With us, thereby forcing them into usury, how is that
supposed to do them any good? If we really Want to help them, we must be guided
in our dealings with them not by Papal law but by the law of Christian Love…
Alas. Luther became irritated when the Jewish people continued to resist
conversion. In 1526 he complained of the Jews stubbornness, and by the 1530’s
he was presenting the common medieval stereotypes accorded to the Jews. In
“Conversations in Table Talk” he caricatured Jews as stiff-necked,
ironhearted, stubborn as the devil, and usurers. In 1543, at the end of his
life, he wrote three derogatory treatises against the Jews, which anti-Semites
would quote for the next 400 years. So horrible were his statements that Julius
Streicher, Hitler’s hate-sheet editor and propagandist in Der Sturmer, cited
Luther at his Neurenburg trial to justify his actions.” Note martin Luther to
George Spalatin, Wittenburg, 1514 in Perserved Smith, ed.and trans, Luther’s
correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters. Philadelphia: Lutheran
Publication Society 1913 pages 28-29 Martin Luther, That Jesus Christ was Born a
Jew, 1523 trans. Walther I, Brandt, in Luther’s Works. Philadelphia:
Muhlenburg, 1962) 45:229 And so we see that no real malice was originally
intended, but that after dealing with deep disappointment and shame, Luther
lashed out bitterly. Yet he is a man and therefore still responsible for his
actions, and therefore still could be called an anti-Semite. What did he do and
write that is so bad, that one could label him so? I will explain. I will put
forth that Luther was both a racial and religious anti-Semite and them further
prove that it was his writings that helped to fan the flame of anti-Semitism
that turned into the Holocaust and the KKK movements that we see today. In
putting forth that Luther was a religious anti-Semite, I first place under
observation the premise for his writing his pro-Jewish book “That Jesus Christ
was Born a Jew”. Alone the fact that he wrote in hopes that Jews would convert
to Lutheranism would have him branded. “Luther's Enthusiasm for Mission Work.
Luther did not always show himself to be a hopelessly anti-Semitic man. In his
1523 work "Jesus Christ was born a Jew" he makes reference to the
origins of Christianity. He wanted to convert the Jews to the belief he found
after years of searching. Luther wanted the Jews to recognize and confess the
"true belief". www.luther.de/e/juden.html In going back to our working
definition of religious anti-Semitism we find that it is based on a need for the
Jew to convert and assimilate. Later, in a letter he would say; “But what am I
doing? My heart is fuller of these thoughts than my tongue can tell. I have come
to the conclusion that the Jews will always curse and blaspheme God and his King
Christ, as all the prophets have predicted. He who neither reads nor understands
this, as yet knows no theology, in my opinion. And so I presume the men of
Cologne cannot understand the Scripture, because it is necessary that such
things take place to fulfill prophecy. If they are trying to stop the Jews
blaspheming, they are working to prove the Bible and God liars.” But trust God
to be true, even if a million men of Cologne sweat to make him false. Conversion
of the Jews will be the work of God alone operating from within, and not of man
working-or rather playing-from without. If these offences be taken away, worse
will follow. For they are thus given over by the wrath of God to reprobation,
that they may become incorrigible, as Ecclesiastes says, for every one who is
incorrigible is rendered worse rather than better by correction. Farewell in the
Lord; pardon my words, and pray the Lord for my sinning soul.” "Martin
Luther's to George Spalatin," from Luther’s Correspondence and Other
Contemporary, Letters, trans. by P. Smith (1913), Vol. 1, pp. 28-29.
www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1514luther.html So we see he was absolutely
determined that the Jews would and should convert to Christianity. When they
refused to do this as he ha anticipated, then he became frustrated and bitter,
and his desire for them to convert would be articulated in much stronger terms.
“Therefore be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have
their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in which sheer
self-glory, conceit, lies, blasphemy, and defaming of God and men are practiced
most maliciously and veheming his eyes on them.” And also, “If I had to
refute all the other articles of the Jewish faith, I should be obliged to write
against them as much and for as long a time as they have used for inventing
their lies-- that is, longer than two thousand years.” However it is difficult
for one to find quotes that lend themselves specifically to a religious
anti-Semitism. It is much, much eisier to find racial slurs within Luther’s
writings. But even then, you find them peppered with comments about their
blasphemies towards God… for we must never forget that Luther’s main
complaint was a religious one, not a personal one. The following are a series of
quotes, all taken from Luther’s book “The Jews and Their Lies” all are
excellent examples of the man’s growing hatred for the Jewish race. Therefore
the blind Jews are truly stupid fools... -- “...their blindness and arrogance
are as solid as an iron mountain” -- “Moreover, they are nothing but thieves
and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing, which they
have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury. Thus they
live from day to day, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, as
arch-thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security.” -- “ Alas, it
cannot be anything but the terrible wrath of God, which permits anyone to sink
into such abysmal, devilish, hellish, insane baseness, envy, and arrogance. If I
were to avenge myself on the devil himself I should be unable to wish him such
evil and misfortune as God's wrath inflicts on the Jews, compelling them to lie
and to blaspheme so monstrously, in violation of their own conscience. Anyway,
they have their reward for constantly giving God the lie.” -- “ I brief,
dear princes and lords, those of you who have Jews under your rule-- if my
counsel does not please your, find better advice, so that you and we all can be
rid of the unbearable, devilish burden of the Jews, lest we become guilty
sharers before God in the lies, blasphemy, the defamation, and the curses which
the mad Jews indulge in so freely and wantonly against the person of our Lord
Jesus Christ, this dear mother, all Christians, all authority, and ourselves. Do
not grant them protection, safe-conduct, or communion with us.... . With this
faithful counsel and warning I wish to cleanse and exonerate my conscience.”
-- “ He who hears this name [God] from a Jew must inform the authorities, or
else throw sow dung at him when he sees him and chase him away.” -- “
...they remain our daily murderers and bloodthirsty foes in their hearts. Their
prayers and curses furnish evidence of that, as do the many stories which relate
their torturing of children and all sorts of crimes for which they have often
been burned at the stake or banished.” -- “Undoubtedly they do more and
viler things than those which we know and discover.” So we see what a litany
of hate and hurt spews forth from one of the most beloved father’s of the
church. Yet it gets worse, for I do not call Luther the Father of the Nazi for
no reason, no indeed. “The Nazis did not discard the past, they built on it.
They did not begin a development. They completed it.” - Raul Hilberg ,
Holocaust historian www.tulane.edu/~so-inst/d1.htm Probably the most surprising
thing that Luther ever wrote, even after reading all these previous quotes, was
his six-step plan for further treatment of the Jewish race. It reads very much
like what we would expect to read in a Storm Trooper’s handbook. “What shall
we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they
live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of
their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their
lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of
divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With
prayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we
might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves.
Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the
throat. I shall give you my sincere advice: First to set fire to their
synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so
that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in
honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are
Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing,
and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in
the past unknowingly - and I myself was unaware of it - will be pardoned by God.
But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for
the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about,
blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it
would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we
very well know. Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.
For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might
be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to
them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are
living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us
before God. Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings,
in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from
them. (Remainder omitted) Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to
teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly
forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the
saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey
their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: "what they
teach you in accord with the law of the Lord." Those villains ignore that.
They wantonly employ the poor people's obedience contrary to the law of the Lord
and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the
pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], "You
are Peter," etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that
issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God,
and therefore he forfeited the right to teach. Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct
on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business
in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like.
Let they stay at home. (...Remainder omitted). Sixth, I advise that usury be
prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken
from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that,
as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and
by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should
now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely
converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred
florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself
up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the
maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not
put to use with God's blessing in a good and worthy cause. Seventh, I commend
putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands
of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the
sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen. 3[:19]}. For
it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of
our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove,
feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their
lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out
these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.” So the question now is posed,
did Hitler and alter on, the KKK use his writings as a base for their own ends.
Yes they did. “In page after page of Hitler's ranting against the Jews in Mein
Kampf, one soon comes to realize that echoes of Martin Luther are being heard.
Julius Streicher, the chief party ideologist of anti-Semitism, argued in his
defense at the Nuremberg trials that he had never said anything about the Jews
that Martin Luther had not said four hundred years earlier” www.infidels.org/org/ffrf/fttoday/back/hakeem/holocaust4.html
and, “More then 120 American organizations were activily dissemating anti-Semitatic
propaganda between 1933 and 1940. Anti-Sematic flyers blanketed the US. One
declaired ‘Jesus Christ, Martin Luther, Mohammed, Pope Clement VIII, Benjamen
Franklin, Ulysses Grant, James A Garfeild, and Henry Ford unite with 50 other
famous personages in saying: ‘Jews are traiters to America and should not be
trusted.” 98-99 So vehemently did Luther speak against the Jews, and the fact
that Luther represented an honorable and admired Christian to Protestants, that
his written words carried the "memetic" seeds of anti-Jewishness up
until the 20th century and into the Third Reich. Luther's Jewish eliminationist
rhetoric virtually matches the beliefs held by the Hitler and much of the German
populace in the 1930s. Luther unconsciously set the stage for the future of
German nationalistic fanaticism. William L. Shirer in his "The Rise and
Fall of the Third Reich," puts it succinctly: "Through his sermons and
his magnificent translations of the Bible, Luther created the modern German
language, aroused in the people not only a new Protestant vision of Christianity
by a fervent German nationalism and taught them, at least in religion, the
supremacy of the individual conscience. But tragically for them, Luther's siding
with the princes in the peasant rising, which he had largely inspired, and his
passion for political autocracy ensured a mindless and provincial political
absolutism which reduced the vast majority of the German people to poverty, to a
horrible torpor and a demeaning subservience. Even worse perhaps, it helped to
perpetuate and indeed to sharpen the hopeless divisions not only between classes
but also between the various dynastic and political groupings of the German
people. It doomed for centuries the possibility of the unification of
Germany." In Mein Kampf, Hitler listed Martin Luther as one of the greatest
reformers. And similar to Luther in the 1500s, Hitler spoke against the Jews.
The Nazi plan to create a German Reich Church laid its bases on the "Spirit
of Dr. Martin Luther." The first physical violence against the Jews came on
November 9-10 on Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) where the Nazis killed Jews,
shattered glass windows, and destroyed hundreds of synagogues, just as Luther
had proposed. In Daniel Johah Goldhagen's book, Hitler's Willing Executioners,
(Alfred A. Knoph, NY 1996), he writes: "One leading Protestant churchman,
Bishop Martin Sasse published a compendium of Martin Luther's antisemitic
vitriol shortly after Kristallnacht's orgy of anti-Jewish violence. In the
foreword to the volume, he applauded the burning of the synagogues and the
coincidence of the day: 'On November 10, 1938, on Luther's birthday, the
synagogues are burning in Germany.' The German people, he urged, ought to heed
these words 'of the greatest antisemite of his time, the warner of his people
against the Jews.'"
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