Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
THE STORY OF GOD AND THE JEWS:
Nineteen Hundred Years of Rejection
“However divided the Gentile nations may be in their instincts and aspirations, they unite in their common aversion to the Jew; it is the one point on which they establish immediate agreement.”
When Jewish leader Leon Pinsker made the above statement, in the year 1882, the pogroms of Russia, in which tens of thousands of Jews were massacred, had only just begun; Adolph Hitler of Germany was not yet born; the Dreyfus Case of France was still twelve years away. Yet the truth of Pinsker’s statement was as strikingly evident when he made it as it is today.
For nineteen hundred years the pattern has been the same — relentlessly, incredibly, almost monotonously the same. Wherever in the world numbers of Jews have appeared, in that place antipathy to Jews has arisen. It is a phenomenon without precedent or parallel in human experience. The hostilities that have grown against other peoples, in particular places, at particular times, cannot be compared with this stupendous, world-filling hatred. Its outbreaks punctuate history like an insistent, recurring theme. So universal is it, that if a colony of Jews should settle in a country where their race had never before been known, it could be predicted, unequivocally, that sooner or later the people of that country would turn against the Jews. It has never failed. And the longer the inevitable reaction is delayed, the more furiously does it eventually burst forth. “The growth of anti-Semitism is proportionate to the number of Jews per square kilometer,” Chaim Weizmann, first President of the State of Israel, once said. “We carry the germs of anti-Semitism in a knapsack on our backs.”
In the following paragraphs, The Point presents a summary of what has happened to the Jews as they have wandered through the world with their knapsacks. It is a grim, violent story — concerning a people who, in the words of Saint Paul, “please not God and are adversaries to all men.”
Perhaps the most striking evidence of the world’s antipathy toward Jews lies in the well-kept record of Jewish expulsions. Nearly every land which the Jews have entered has, at some point, lost all patience with them and demanded that they pack up and leave. This has been going on, without interruption, ever since the Roman armies turned the Jews out of Jerusalem in the year 70 A. D. Successive Roman emperors continued the suppression, and after the break-up of the Empire, Jews came to be looked upon as the “property” of the many feudal princes, who tolerated or expelled them at their pleasure.
With the rise of centralized governments, the Jews incurred far more inclusive edicts of banishment. Thus, they were barred from all of Spain in the seventh century, and again in 1492. The Moorish kingdom of Granada expelled them in 1066, and they were forced out of France in 1182, again in 1306, again in 1394, and again, out of Southern France, in 1682. In accordance with a decree of Pope Leo VII, the Jews were exiled from Germany in the tenth century; they were expelled again one hundred years later, and once again in the year 1349. England ordered them to leave in 1290, preventing their return for 350 years. The Jews were forced out of Hungary twice: in 1360 and again in 1582. From Belgium, they were expelled in 1370. From Austria in 1420 and again in 1670. From Lithuania, in 1495. From Portugal, in 1498. From Prussia, in 1510. From the Kingdom of Naples, in 1540. From Bavaria, in 1551. From the Genoese Republic, in 1567. And from the Papal States, the Pope’s personal domains, the Jews were expelled in 1569 and, once again, thirty years later.
The usual history text which sets out to tell the story of the Jews over the past 2,000 years becomes, in effect, a repetitious catalogue of one mass slaughter after another. For, since the dispersion of the year 70, when more than a million Jews were left dead in the streets of Jerusalem, wholesale death — the riot and then the pogrom — has followed the Jew down each new path of his wanderings.
The total number of Jews put to death under the authority of the later Roman Empire has never been tabulated to the Jews’ satisfaction. In one three-year period (132-135) 500,000 Middle East Jews fell before Roman swords. And each succeeding age, down to our own day, has left a similar record behind it.
The year 523 saw thousands of Jews slaughtered by Christian Abyssinians in Yemen. The Mohammedan Caliph of Damascus took a comparable toll in the early 700’s. The first days of the Crusades brought death to numberless Jewish communities in Central Europe, and when Jerusalem was finally taken by the Christian armies in 1099, the city’s Jewish inhabitants died in the flames of the principal synagogue. The century following saw pogroms in many countries, the most extensive being those of Mohammedan Spain, of France, and of England.
Christian Spain and England both started off the next century with slaughters of the Jews, and Germany concluded it with the pogroms of 1283 and 1298. The year 1321 brought anti-Jewish riots in France, which were surpassed in intensity by those of Spain in 1355. During the fourteenth century, in Germany alone, 300 entire communities of Jews were destroyed. Early in the fifteenth century, all the Jews of Salzburg were burned alive and, shortly after, the riots in Rome provoked by the preaching of Saint John Capistrano forced all the Jews in the city to barricade themselves in their houses.
The most notable Jewish slaughters of the l600’s were those in Poland, where more than 200,000 were slain under the Cossack leader, Chmielnicki. Such treatment for the Jews of Eastern Europe (over half the world’s number at that time) continued into the present century. During Russia’s anti-Jewish demonstrations of 1905, there were 690 separate pogroms within one eleven-day period. And in the years that followed, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Romania all conducted extensive slaughters of their respective Jews — until these countries became incorporated into that potent anti-Jewish machine which the Jews claim was the bloodiest of all time: the National-Socialist Government of Germany.
Behind the expulsions and mass exterminations of the Jews there has been, of course, an ordered and unquestioned tradition of social, political, and religious legislation against them. In the year 315, the first law of Imperial Rome passed under direct Christian influence demanded the death penalty for any gentile who should join himself to a synagogue. Saint Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan (397), instructed his people on the need for avoiding the Jews by saying that, “The very conversation with them is a pollution.” In 418, Jews in the Empire were forever excluded from the Roman army and from all public offices. In 537, they were prohibited from receiving dignities or honors of any kind, and in 553 the Emperor Justinian interdicted their Talmud. Around 650 the Mohammedan Caliph Omar ordered that Jews in his territories must wear a distinctive dress that would make them at all times recognizable. Similar strictures were imposed in 723 by the Byzantine Emperor Leo III. Charlemagne’s son was severely reprimanded in 829 by the ecclesiastical Council of Lyons for advocating the softening of certain anti-Jewish laws, and all during the rest of the ninth and tenth centuries both the feudal states of Europe and the Byzantine Empire in the East kept detailed legislation against Jews strictly enforced.
By the year 1006, ghettos had already been established in Bavaria, and the special “Jew tax” was everywhere exacted. This followed upon the universally accepted principle (later taught by the Church’s eminent theologian, Saint Thomas Aquinas) that all property of the Jews belongs by right to the temporal ruler who suffers them in his domains. The year 1155 saw the accession of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who referred to Jews as “belonging to the royal treasury,” and expended them accordingly. The Church’s Fourth Lateran Council, whose decrees are binding on all Catholics, codified and reasserted in 1215 many traditional pronouncements on Jewish segregation. Most emphatically urged were the exclusion of Jews from all public offices and the demand that they wear the “Jew badge.” In some sections this bright-colored badge came to be required not only of unconverted Jews, but also of all Jewish converts.
During the next three centuries, in those countries where Jews were still legally allowed to remain, there was vigorous enforcement of further anti-Jewish legislation, including compulsory attendance at “conversionist” sermons, prohibitions against Jews appearing in the streets on Sundays and great Church feast days, more rigorous ghetto edicts, and public burnings of the Talmud. By 1550, there were no Jews lawfully resident in England, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries or Russia. Pope Paul IV, in 1555, re-decreed much of the previous papal legislation against the Jews, emphasizing that they must not practice medicine or own real estate in Christian communities. In 1615, King Louis XIII bolstered the “Jew laws” of France by forbidding the Christians, under pain of death and confiscation, to shelter Jews or even to converse with them. Between 1649 and 1882, the Russian government issued over a thousand distinct anti-Jewish measures, The first Jews who arrived in what was to be the United States were asked to leave by Peter Stuyvesant at New Amsterdam; and even Lord Baltimore’s Catholic colony of Maryland, famed for its “tolerance,” would not grant citizenship to Jews. Indeed, it was not until 1826 that Jews in Maryland were given full “emancipation” by the state legislature; while in nearby North Carolina comparable recognition did not come until after the War Between the States.
The right of citizenship, withheld from Jews in every country during all the Christian ages, was not allowed to them until the triumph of the Judaeo-Masonic, anti-Christian principles of the French Revolution in 1789. Thus, Jews were not granted citizenship in France until 1791, in Holland until 1796, in Belgium until 1815, in Denmark until 1849, in England until 1858, in Switzerland until 1865, in Austria-Hungary until 1867, in Germany until 1870, and in Russia until 1917.
With their new-won citizenship, and the freedom of operation that it brought, the Jews devised spectacular reprisals against the nations which had so long held them in check. And yet, “liberation” of the Jews has in no sense meant immunization from further anti-Jewish outbreaks. Our own century, which has seen the unrivalled height of Jewish power, has already known unprecedented slaughters of the Jews. Europe, wasted by Jewish wars, beleaguered by Jewish Marxism, still, even now, gives indication of resistance — with 53 deputies in the present French Assembly elected on an anti-Jewish platform.
Even America, most docile of hosts to the Jews, is not for a moment regarded by them as a lasting, sure asylum. That leading molder of Jewish opinion, the Jewish Examiner of Brooklyn, put the issue very clearly just a couple of years ago with its hold-type warning, “We have no faith in the future security of American Jewry.”
The history of the Jews, as they have wandered from nation to nation, inevitably leads one to ask: But why have these people been singled out for universal abhorrence? What have they done to make themselves so despised? What is wrong with the Jews?
This question has its answer in an event that happened long ago, when a frenzied Jerusalem mob, standing in the courtyard of the city’s Roman governor, hurled at the heavens its defiant shout, “His Blood be upon us and upon our children!”
That is what is wrong with the Jews. They have assumed, as a nation, guilt for the death of God They, once God’s chosen people, have called on themselves a curse, which as Saint Jerome says, “rests on them to this very day, for the Blood of the Lord is not taken from them.”
The curse which the Jews invoked in the year 33 A. D., and which descended on them with manifest finality in the year 70, had been prophesied 1,500 years before by Moses, who warned the Jews of what would happen if they dared ever to turn away from God (Deuteronomy, Chapter 28): — ”Cursed shalt thou be in the city, cursed in the field … Cursed shalt thou be coming in, and cursed going out … And mayst thou always suffer oppression, and be crushed at all times … And thou shalt he lost, as a proverb and a byword to all people, among whom the Lord shall bring thee in … The Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the farthest parts of the earth to the ends thereof … Neither shalt thou be quiet, even in those nations, nor shall there be any rest for the sole of thy foot. For the Lord will give thee a fearful heart, and languishing eyes, and a soul consumed with pensiveness: and thy life shall be as it were hanging before thee.”
The bitter hatred flung at the Jews by all the world can be accounted for only in terms of this divine judgment. The Jews’ baseness and sensuality and perpetual intrigue, their insatiable ambition, their open contempt for all standards of decency and order — all these malignities, these natural reasons for their being hated, spring from and are sustained by the central and supernatural fact that they are cursed.
That such has been the teaching of the Catholic Church — openly, vigorously, and abundantly proclaimed — is a circumstance of which the Jews are keenly aware. Mordecai Kaplan, of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, wrote recently, “It is unfortunately true that in the Christian religious tradition the Jews are assumed to be the accursed of God. There is no use evading the fact or prevaricating about it. There is only one way to deal with it; it must cease to be a fact. The judgment on the Jews must be expunged from Christian tradition.”
Audacious as this campaign is, however, it is quite futile. Even if Rabbi Kaplan and his cohorts should be completely successful in their undertaking — even if all references to the Jews as “perfidious” and “rejected by God” were to be stricken from parochial school textbooks, from the writings of the saints and decrees of the popes, from the prayers of the Church, and from Holy Scripture itself — the Jews would find their lot still no better than it has been for the last nineteen centuries. For the curse upon them is a reality, divinely-imposed and irrevocable, whether anyone talks about it or not. As Saint John Chrysostom declares, ”The Jews say it is men who have brought on their misfortunes; but in fact it is God who has brought them about.”
Though the Jews may become powerful for a time in some particular countries, as they once were in Moorish Spain, as they once were in modern Germany, as they now are in the United States, even then, in their hours of triumph, they will be always restless and fearful, knowing from deep experience that at any moment the Gentiles among whom they live may rise up against them.
The Jews have fixed their course. Till the end they shall remain a spectacle before all the world of a wicked and unrepentant people — a people who have called on their heads the abiding wrath of God.