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Anti-Semitism, Research Paper Example

Pages: 8

Words: 2219

Research Paper

Anti-Semitism: Analyzing the Views of the European Society on Jews during the Eighteenth Century

Introduction

Prejudice has always been accounted for as part of the disadvantage of living in a diversified community of individuals. Understandably, some people seem to feel indifferent about the others simply because of their beliefs, their culture and their understanding of life that is separately different from the social norms. During the eighteenth and nineteenth century, a particular face of prejudice has been considered most evident, the discrimination and incrimination of Jews from most of the normal concerns of the society. What is it that makes the Jews so unlikable that they have been the focus of social exclusion? The said event in the history has placed the Jews in a specifically unprecedented position that made them the outcasts of the society during the time. The discussion that follows shall try to imply on how much the outcast of the Jews reshaped the European history. Through the utilization of documented evidences, the said discussion shall try to examine how the evidences pertain to the actual occurrence of social inequality pertaining to the Jews within the said region of the world. To note, it is first important to know what the word anti-Semitism means and how much it affects the position of the Jews of the society during the eighteenth century.

Understanding Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism in itself is considered the process of secluding the Jews [specifically] apart from the other members of the society through the utilization of going against the provision of social recognition that the individuals belonging to the said group observes. Understandably, the discrimination included constant ridicule of their lifestyle and their being as well as being separated from the society in terms of being set apart when it comes to the recognition of their civil rights, making it hard for them to acquire anything including housing and financial stability. It did not end in simply putting these people aside; it also included the creation of false rumors that set the Jews in an indifferent position against the Christians. In addition to this, the Jews were literally hurt in public places sometimes even pushed on by the public officers. It could just be imagined how hard it was for the Jews to live normal lives facing this particular discrimination. Several evidences exist to prove the occurrence of anti-Semitism. Even several public figures have provided their view about the situation and at some point even imposing more implicating points of prejudice against the Jews. Question is what is the reason behind the hatred against the Jews? This shall be better discussed in the section that follows.

Why they hated the Jews

There are several different reasons behind the definite incrimination of the Jews when it comes to the realization of their rights and their worth as human individuals. One would be that of the idea that they live specific lifestyles and follow specific rituals. This particular path of living puts them in a differential position that makes them more compromised when it comes to the realization of their need to be accepted. Some of the most crucial points of practices that the Jewish individuals recognize which includes their Saturday Sabbath meetings and their prohibition of the practice of circumcision and eating of pork are the primary elements used by society to put the Jews in the course of unrelenting imbalance. Undeniably, although the laws provide assumptive recognition of the rights of human groups to perform their own religious traditions, the Jews were at some point recognized to be so dedicated to their beliefs that some of the important matters of social requirements have been realized to keep them apart from regular norms that the society recognizes. One of the most controversial issues that Jews had to deal with [which specifically placed them in the state of being ridiculed further]; this report includes the allegations that they kill their children as a part of their religious ritual which was recorded in Martin Luther’s On Jews and Their Lies (1543), here he mentions how “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 stake or banished, let us apply the same cleverness [which is expulsion]; which means these matters give the society a reason to put them aside and set apart from the regularities that the community recognizes (Document 3). How were the Jews separated from the society then? The paragraphs that follow shall further describe the different procedures by which the Jews were set aside from the social norms and were kept at a pace that assured their exclusion from society and how others in the European region opened their hands to lend a help to those who were expulsed from the society.

A Divided Society on Prejudice against the Jews

The fact that they lived different lives, several social groups makes it a point that they are placed within a recognizable identity that assured their being set apart from the others. Among the said identifiable inclusions that were quite obvious was the creation of badges specifically dedicated for the Jews. The badges are semi-circular in shape and are worn at the left side of the chest within the outer garment of each Jew. It serves as much as that of an identification card; along with it is also an specialized Jewish hat that has a pointed top which makes it easier to identify them even when they are in the middle of the crowd. (Document 1)

In support to this particular movement, the Spanish King was definitely indifferent against the Jews and has specifically showed this through expulsion of the Jews and most of them went to Portugal who has become more indifferent than the Spanish king against the Jewish community. As reported from the Jewish History Sourcebook by Paul Halsall, the expulsion was not the only process that was taken into account, the making of slaves out of the Jews and killing some more of them makes the process of discriminative approach more appalling. Nonetheless, Halsall also reports that those who desired to go to Naples found a better way of living in the hands of the King along with the people who provided as much as the Jews needed to survive. At some point, even the Dominican Brothers were actually able to give support to the Jews during their most depressing point of existence. (Document 2)

In Beyond the Pale’s collection of archived illustrations, it has been shown how the Jews’ residences were set aside apart from the actual territories of the communities and were thus conformed to living behind civilization (Document 7). Serving as barriers towards life, the crescent-shaped street insisted on the separation of the Jews from the Christians which even imposed a sense of insult to the Jews of being recognized as Muslims; while another illustration shows how 1,380 people were expulsed outside Frankfurt after the riots of 1614. The map showing the Pale Settlement of 1795-1917 compiled by Yafa Eliach (1998, 37) even points out how excluded the Jews were from the central communities of several regions in Europe (Document 10). Even to those who remarkably helped the Jews, there was a punishment. Rodrigo Lopez, a Portuguese Marrano was presented to be hanged by Queen Elizabeth I for helping the Jews when they were exiled (Document 5).

An Essence of Rebuttal

The contradicting ideas on the reputation of the Jews and how they should be treated has created a sense of confusion on some while imposing the power of will on many. While others believed that the Jews should be dealt with indifference, some others point out that they should be considered equally in comparison with other people who intend to practice their religious beliefs freely. Explaining the misery of the lives of Jews have even been accounted for through the emancipation of their role in the death of Christ, saying that they were the ones who crucified him, therefore it was just right for them to suffer the consequences of their acts as Howard Langer mentions in the reading The History of Holocaust: a Chronology of Quotations (Document 8). As the years of development progress, the level of discrimination against Jews somehow lower down and at some point, the Jews were able to accomplish progress as well, especially in the hands of those who accepted them as part of their society. These people specifically felt sorry for the situation that the Jews have experienced and have specifically responded to the fact that some Jews ought to be respected due to the firm fact that they are but humans. Jews were remarkably excellent when it comes to dealing with the arts. Shakespeare for example admitted that he was Jew and used his talent for writing to make sure that his and his people’s voice would be heard as he say’s “ I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes… if you prick us do we not bleed?… and if you wrong us shall we not revenge? “(Document 4). With his strong words he was able to convince some members of the society that people are all alike just like Jews are alike with all the others just different when it comes to their religious beliefs and practices. Another individual of the art was Simon Basileo was recognized for his excellence and was remarked as an important figure in his community even though he was a Jew (Document 6).

Remarkably though, the growth of the Jewish population has created a sense of doubt on the part of some of the people in opposition of their existence.  In respect to this matter, the Papal Encyclical of Pope Benedict XIV issued a call for appeal to the people as he points out how slowly the Jews are making the modern society, being the bosses and the Christians becoming their employees. He mentions about the need to abolish this system and make sure that the Christians remain at a higher ground of recognition than that of the Jews (Document 9). Somehow, the Pope believed that Christians ought to remain strongly as a united society that stands for their own kind, which means supporting their own people and empowering their strength as a religious group hence imposing power against the Jews. Fearing that at some point, the oppression that they have imposed on the “lowly” Jews would come back to them once the Jews have regained strength, the Pope called for compliance among the Christians to fully integrate the culture of indifference among the Jews within themselves. How shall this particular course turn out to be? Would it not be more chaotic if this is imposed fully for the Christian society? Would not the Christian society negate their own beliefs when it comes to treating their fellowmen equally? This is why the imposition of the new course of development in social recognition among Jews has been reformed through the declaration of rights. TheDeclaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen states that every man is entitled to his own opinion, his own lifestyle and public positions (Document 12), giving way to the idea that Jews should be given the chance to be who they really are, given that they are not disturbing any public order. True, with this implied decision, no religious groups are placed on top of the other making them lords of the other supposedly “lowly” religious groups. Giving birth to the new identification of social oneness and equality, this declaration of rights creates a more definite path that the society could take in imposing social level that is separate from the implication of oppression against what the majority does not accept.

Conclusion

The ways by which the Jewish culture affected the lives of many in Europe was remarkable. From the point of being excluded, to being accepted and becoming the elitists of some communities, the Jewish community has gone a long way in pushing the idea that prejudice is somewhat a course taken by people who do not know the meaning of being different. Consistently, the Jewish people emerged even though they have been tried to be banished by some of the sectors of the society they used to live in. However, the strength of their united social connection with each other enabled them to reach the current years of existence and live lives that are far better than that of their accounted past.

References

Document 1 and 7:

Beyond the Pale. www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale. (Retrieved on October 16, 2011).

Document 2:

Paul Halsall. Jewish History Sourcebook. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/jewishbook.html. (Retrieved on October 16, 2011)

Document 3:

Marvin Perry, Joseph Peden, Theodor Van Laue. Sources of the Western. Volume 1 fourth edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. NY: 1999/p313.

Document 4:

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. http://tech-2.mit.edu/shakespeare/merchant. (retrieved on October 16, 2011).

Document 5:

Paul Halsall. Jewish History Sourcebook. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/jewishbook.html. (Retrieved on October 16, 2011)

Document 6:

Medici Archive Project: Jewish History, Religion and Culture. www.medici.org/jewish. (Retrieved on October 16, 2011)

Document 8:

Howard Langer. The History of the Holocaust: a chronology of quotations. Janson Aranson, NY, 1997.

Document 9:

Paul Halsall. Jewish History Sourcebook. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/jewishbook.html. (Retrieved on October 16, 2011)

Document 10:

Yaffa Eliach. There once was a world. Little Brown and Company. 1998.

Document 11:

Philosophical Dictionary: Tolerance. http://history.hanover.edu/text/Voltaire. (Retrieved on October 16, 2011)

Document 12:

The Avalon Project. www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/rightsof.htm. (Retrieved on October 16, 2011).

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