Dear Akhlah Friends and Family:
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Yale University historian Timothy Snyder is indebted to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently made Snyders new book even more newsworthy than his extraordinary scholarship deserves to be. And Netanyahu is indebted to Snyder, whose theory of Hitlers anti-Semitism is germane to two questions: Is the Iranian regimes anti-Semitism rooted, as Hitlers was, in a theory of history that demands genocide? If so, when Iran becomes a nuclear power, can it be deterred from its announced determination to destroy Israel?
Netanyahu recently asserted, again, that a Palestinian cleric was important in Hitlers decision to murder European Jews. Netanyahu said that on Nov. 28, 1941, when Hitler supposedly preferred to expel Europes Jews rather than exterminate them, Haj Amin al-Husseini, grand mufti of Jerusalem, met with Hitler and urged him to burn them.
Certainly the mufti favored genocide; he certainly was not important in initiating it. Mass murder the Holocaust accompanied the German army, especially after the September 1939 outbreak of war, and especially after the June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. Granted, it was not until the January 1942 Wannsee Conference that the final solution became explicit. But by the time Hitler met the mufti, approximately 700,000 Soviet Jews had been shot. Snyder, not Netanyahu, should be heeded concerning the Holocausts genesis.
Attempts to explain Hitlers obsession with Jews began with the idea that he was unfathomable, a lunatic Teppichfresser (carpet eater). The comforting theory was that no theory can explain Hitler because he was inexplicable, a monster, a phenomenon without precedent or portent.
In 1996, however, Daniel Goldhagens book Hitlers Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust argued that the explanation for the genocide was acculturation centuries of German conditioning by the single idea of eliminationist anti-Semitism. This cognitive determinism reduced Hitler to a mere catalyst who unleashed a sick societys cultural latency.
In an October 20 speech to the World Zionist Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, gave Adolf Hitler the idea to exterminate Jews during WWII. (YouTube/IsraeliPM)
This drew a rejoinder from Christopher Browning, author of Ordinary Men (1992), a study of middle-aged German conscripts who became consenting participants in mass-murder police battalions in Poland. Browning noted that protracted socialization centuries of conditioning could not explain the Khmer Rouges murder of millions of Cambodians or the Chinese slaughter of millions of Chinese during Maos Cultural Revolution.
What happened in those places proved the power of an idea Marxism understood as a mandate to extirpate false consciousness to legitimize, even mandate, mass murder. In Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, published in September, Snyder argues that the Holocausts origins have been hidden in plain sight, in ideas Hitler articulated in Mein Kampf and speeches.
Snyder presents a Hitler more troubling than a madman, a Hitler implementing the logic of a coherent worldview. His life was a single-minded response to an idea so radical that it rejected not only the entire tradition of political philosophy but also the possibility of philosophy, which Hitler supplanted by zoology.
In Hitlers world, Snyder writes, the law of the jungle was the only law. The immutable structure of life casts the various human races as separate species. Only races are real and they are locked in mutual and unassuageable enmity, in Hitlers mind-set, because life is constant struggle over scarcities of land, food and other necessities.
One group, however, poisoned the planet with another idea. To Hitler, says Snyder, It was the Jew who told humans that they were above other animals, and had the capacity to decide their future for themselves. To Hitler, Ethics as such was the error; the only morality was fidelity to race. Hitler, who did not become a German citizen until 11 months before becoming Germanys chancellor, was not a nationalist but a racialist who said the highest goal of human beings is not the preservation of any given state or government, but the preservation of their kind. And all world-historical events are nothing more than the expression of the self-preservation drive of the races.
Now, assume, reasonably, that Irans pursuit of a potentially genocidal weapon will not be seriously impeded by parchment barriers such as the recent nuclear agreement. And assume, prudently, that the Iranian regime means what it says about Jews and their Zionist entity.
Then apply Snyders warning: Ideas have consequences. The idea of anti-Semitism is uniquely durable and remarkably multiform. It can express a mentality that is disconnected, as in Hitlers case, from calculations of national interest.
Hence an anti-Semitic regime can be impervious to the logic of deterrence. Much, including Israels calculation of what military measures are necessary for its safety, depends on the nature of Irans anti-Semitism.
Read more from George F. Wills archive or follow him on Facebook.
Does Irans anti-Semitism run too deep for deterrence …
Antisemitism (also spelled anti-Semitism or anti-semitism) is prejudice against, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as an ethnic, religious, or racial group. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is widely considered to be a form of racism.
While the conjunction of the units anti-, Semite, and -ism indicates antisemitism as being directed against all Semitic people, the term was popularized in Germany in 1873 as a scientific-sounding term for Judenhass (Jew-hatred), although it had been used for at least two decades prior, and that has been its normal use since then. For the purposes of a 2005 U.S. governmental report, antisemitism was considered “hatred toward Jewsindividually and as a groupthat can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity”.
Antisemitism may be manifested in many ways, ranging from expressions of hatred of or discrimination against individual Jews to organized violent attacks by mobs, state police, or even military attacks on entire Jewish communities. Although the term did not come into common usage until the 19th century, it is now also applied to historic anti-Jewish incidents. Notable instances of persecution include the pogroms which preceded the First Crusade in 1096, the expulsion from England in 1290, the massacres of Spanish Jews in 1391, the persecutions of the Spanish Inquisition, the expulsion from Spain in 1492, Cossack massacres in Ukraine of 16481657, various pogroms in Imperial Russia between 1821 and 1906, the 18941906 Dreyfus affair in France, the Holocaust in German-occupied Europe, official Soviet anti-Jewish policies and Arab and Muslim involvement in the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries.
The origin of “antisemitic” terminologies is found in responses of Moritz Steinschneider to the views of Ernest Renan. As Alex Bein writes “The compound anti-Semitism appears to have been used first by Steinschneider, who challenged Renan on account of his ‘anti-Semitic prejudices’ [i.e., his derogation of the “Semites” as a race]”.Avner Falk similarly writes: ‘The German word antisemitisch was first used in 1860 by the Austrian Jewish scholar Moritz Steinschneider (1816-1907) in the phrase antisemitische Vorurteile (antisemitic prejudices). Steinschneider used this phrase to characterise the French philosopher Ernest Renan’s false ideas about how “Semitic races” were inferior to “Aryan races”‘.
Pseudoscientific theories concerning race, civilization, and “progress” had become quite widespread in Europe in the second half of the 19th century, especially as Prussian nationalistic historian Heinrich von Treitschke did much to promote this form of racism. He coined the phrase “the Jews are our misfortune” which would later be widely used by Nazis. In Treitschke’s writings “Semitic” was synonymous with “Jewish”, in contrast to its use by Renan and others.
In 1873 German journalist Wilhelm Marr published a pamphlet, Der Sieg des Judenthums ber das Germanenthum. Vom nicht confessionellen Standpunkt aus betrachtet (The Victory of the Jewish Spirit over the Germanic Spirit. Observed from a non-religious perspective.)[pageneeded]&/or[need quotation to verify] in which he used the word Semitismus interchangeably with the word Judentum to denote both “Jewry” (the Jews as a collective) and “jewishness” (the quality of being Jewish, or the Jewish spirit).
This use of Semitismus was followed by a coining of “Antisemitismus” which was used to indicate opposition to the Jews as a people and opposition to the Jewish spirit, which Marr interpreted as infiltrating German culture. His next pamphlet, Der Weg zum Siege des Germanenthums ber das Judenthum (The Way to Victory of the Germanic Spirit over the Jewish Spirit, 1880), presents a development of Marr’s ideas further and may present the first published use of the German word Antisemitismus, “antisemitism”.
The pamphlet became very popular, and in the same year he founded the Antisemiten-Liga (League of Antisemites), the first German organization committed specifically to combating the alleged threat to Germany and German culture posed by the Jews and their influence, and advocating their forced removal from the country.
So far as can be ascertained, the word was first widely printed in 1881, when Marr published Zwanglose Antisemitische Hefte, and Wilhelm Scherer used the term Antisemiten in the January issue of Neue Freie Presse.
The Jewish Encyclopedia reported: In February 1881, a correspondent of the “Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums” speaks of “Anti-Semitism” as a designation which recently came into use (“Allg. Zeit. d. Jud.” 1881, p.138). On 19 July 1882, the editor says, “This quite recent Anti-Semitism is hardly three years old.”
The related term “philosemitism” was coined around 1885.
Despite the use of the prefix anti-, the term “anti-Semitic” is not a direct opposite of “Semitic” which linguistically makes the term a misnomer. Within common, day to day usage, however, the terms “anti-Semitism” and “antisemitism” have accepted and specific use to describe prejudice against Jews alone and in general. This is despite the fact that there are other speakers of Semitic languages (e.g. Arabs, Ethiopians, or Assyrians) and that not all Jews speak a Semitic language.
The term “antisemitic” has been used on occasion with meanings inclusive of bigotry against other Semitic-language peoples such as Arabs, with the validity of such use being challenged.
The terms “anti-Semitism” and “antisemitism” are both in use. Some scholars favor the unhyphenated form because, “If you use the hyphenated form, you consider the words ‘Semitism’, ‘Semite’, ‘Semitic’ as meaningful” whereas “in antisemitic parlance, ‘Semites’ really stands for Jews, just that.” For example, Emil Fackenheim supported the unhyphenated spelling, in order to “[dispel] the notion that there is an entity ‘Semitism’ which ‘anti-Semitism’ opposes.” Others endorsing an unhyphenated term for the same reason include Padraic O’Hare, professor of Religious and Theological Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack College; Yehuda Bauer, professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and James Carroll, historian and novelist. According to Carroll, who first cites O’Hare and Bauer on “the existence of something called ‘Semitism'”, “the hyphenated word thus reflects the bipolarity that is at the heart of the problem of antisemitism”.
Though the general definition of antisemitism is hostility or prejudice against Jews, and, according to Olaf Blaschke, has become an “umbrella term for negative stereotypes about Jews”, a number of authorities have developed more formal definitions.
Holocaust scholar and City University of New York professor Helen Fein defines it as “a persisting latent structure of hostile beliefs towards Jews as a collective manifested in individuals as attitudes, and in culture as myth, ideology, folklore and imagery, and in actionssocial or legal discrimination, political mobilization against the Jews, and collective or state violencewhich results in and/or is designed to distance, displace, or destroy Jews as Jews.”
Elaborating on Fein’s definition, Dietz Bering of the University of Cologne writes that, to antisemites, “Jews are not only partially but totally bad by nature, that is, their bad traits are incorrigible. Because of this bad nature: (1) Jews have to be seen not as individuals but as a collective. (2) Jews remain essentially alien in the surrounding societies. (3) Jews bring disaster on their ‘host societies’ or on the whole world, they are doing it secretly, therefore the anti-Semites feel obliged to unmask the conspiratorial, bad Jewish character.”
For Sonja Weinberg, as distinct from economic and religious anti-Judaism, antisemitism in its modern form shows conceptual innovation, a resort to ‘science’ to defend itself, new functional forms and organisational differences. It was anti-liberal, racialist and nationalist. It promoted the myth that Jews conspired to ‘judaise’ the world; it served to consolidate social identity; it channeled dissatisfactions among victims of the capitalist system; and it was used as a conservative cultural code to fight emancipation and liberalism.
Bernard Lewis defines antisemitism as a special case of prejudice, hatred, or persecution directed against people who are in some way different from the rest. According to Lewis, antisemitism is marked by two distinct features: Jews are judged according to a standard different from that applied to others, and they are accused of “cosmic evil.” Thus, “it is perfectly possible to hate and even to persecute Jews without necessarily being anti-Semitic” unless this hatred or persecution displays one of the two features specific to antisemitism.
There have been a number of efforts by international and governmental bodies to define antisemitism formally. The U.S. Department of State states that “while there is no universally accepted definition, there is a generally clear understanding of what the term encompasses.” For the purposes of its 2005 Report on Global Anti-Semitism, the term was considered to mean “hatred toward Jewsindividually and as a groupthat can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity.”
In 2005, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (now Fundamental Rights Agency), then an agency of the European Union, developed a more detailed working definition, which states: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” It also adds that “such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity,” but that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” It provides contemporary examples of ways in which antisemitism may manifest itself, including: promoting the harming of Jews in the name of an ideology or religion; promoting negative stereotypes of Jews; holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of an individual Jewish person or group; denying the Holocaust or accusing Jews or Israel of exaggerating it; and accusing Jews of dual loyalty or a greater allegiance to Israel than their own country. It also lists ways in which attacking Israel could be antisemitic, and states that denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor, can be a manifestation of antisemitismas can applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, or holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel. Late in 2013, the definition was removed from the website of the Fundamental Rights Agency. A spokesperson said that it had never been regarded as official and that the agency did not intend to develop its own definition.
In 1879, Wilhelm Marr founded the Antisemiten-Liga (Anti-Semitic League). Identification with antisemitism and as an antisemite was politically advantageous in Europe in the latter 19th century. For example, Karl Lueger, the popular mayor of fin de sicle Vienna, skillfully exploited antisemitism as a way of channeling public discontent to his political advantage. In its 1910 obituary of Lueger, The New York Times notes that Lueger was “Chairman of the Christian Social Union of the Parliament and of the Anti-Semitic Union of the Diet of Lower Austria. In 1895 A. C. Cuza organized the Alliance Anti-semitique Universelle in Bucharest. In the period before World War II, when animosity towards Jews was far more commonplace, it was not uncommon for a person, organization, or political party to self-identify as an antisemite or antisemitic.
In 1882, the early Zionist pioneer Judah Leib Pinsker wrote that antisemitism was a psychological response rooted in fear and was an inherited predisposition. He named the condition Judeophobia.
Judeophobia is a variety of demonopathy with the distinction that it is not peculiar to particular races but is common to the whole of mankind.’…’Judeophobia is a psychic aberration. As a psychic aberration it is hereditary, and as a disease transmitted for two thousand years it is incurable.’… ‘In this way have Judaism and Anti-Semitism passed for centuries through history as inseparable companions.’……’Having analyzed Judeophobia as an hereditary form of demonopathy, peculiar to the human race, and having represented Anti-Semitism as proceeding from an inherited aberration of the human mind, we must draw the important conclusion that we must give’ up contending against these hostile impulses as we must against every other inherited predisposition. (translation from German)
In the aftermath of the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, German propaganda minister Goebbels announced: “The German people is anti-Semitic. It has no desire to have its rights restricted or to be provoked in the future by parasites of the Jewish race.”
After the 1945 victory of the Allies over Nazi Germany, and particularly after the extent of the Nazi genocide of Jews became known, the term “anti-Semitism” acquired pejorative connotations. This marked a full circle shift in usage, from an era just decades earlier when “Jew” was used as a pejorative term. Yehuda Bauer wrote in 1984: “There are no anti-Semites in the world… Nobody says, ‘I am anti-Semitic.’ You cannot, after Hitler. The word has gone out of fashion.”
Antisemitism manifests itself in a variety of ways. Ren Knig mentions social antisemitism, economic antisemitism, religious antisemitism, and political antisemitism as examples. Knig points out that these different forms demonstrate that the “origins of anti-Semitic prejudices are rooted in different historical periods.” Knig asserts that differences in the chronology of different antisemitic prejudices and the irregular distribution of such prejudices over different segments of the population create “serious difficulties in the definition of the different kinds of anti-Semitism.” These difficulties may contribute to the existence of different taxonomies that have been developed to categorize the forms of antisemitism. The forms identified are substantially the same; it is primarily the number of forms and their definitions that differ. Bernard Lazare identifies three forms of antisemitism: Christian antisemitism, economic antisemitism, and ethnologic antisemitism.William Brustein names four categories: religious, racial, economic and political. The Roman Catholic historian Edward Flannery distinguished four varieties of antisemitism:
Louis Harap separates “economic antisemitism” and merges “political” and “nationalistic” antisemitism into “ideological antisemitism”. Harap also adds a category of “social antisemitism”.
Gustavo Perednik has argued that what he terms “Judeophobia” has a number of unique traits which set it apart from other forms of racism, including permanence, depth, obsessiveness, irrationality, endurance, ubiquity, and danger. He also wrote in his book Spain Derailed that “The Jews were accused by the nationalists of being the creators of Communism; by the Communists of ruling Capitalism. If they live in non-Jewish countries, they are accused of double-loyalties; if they live in the Jewish country, of being racists. When they spend their money, they are reproached for being ostentatious; when they don’t spend their money, of being avaricious. They are called rootless cosmopolitans or hardened chauvinists. If they assimilate, they are accused of fifth-columnists, if they don’t, of shutting themselves away.”
Louis Harap defines cultural antisemitism as “that species of anti-Semitism that charges the Jews with corrupting a given culture and attempting to supplant or succeeding in supplanting the preferred culture with a uniform, crude, “Jewish” culture. Similarly, Eric Kandel characterizes cultural antisemitism as being based on the idea of “Jewishness” as a “religious or cultural tradition that is acquired through learning, through distinctive traditions and education.” According to Kandel, this form of antisemitism views Jews as possessing “unattractive psychological and social characteristics that are acquired through acculturation.” Niewyk and Nicosia characterize cultural antisemitism as focusing on and condemning “the Jews’ aloofness from the societies in which they live.” An important feature of cultural antisemitism is that it considers the negative attributes of Judaism to be redeemable by education or religious conversion.
Religious antisemitism, also known as anti-Judaism, is antipathy towards Jews because of their perceived religious beliefs. In theory, antisemitism and attacks against individual Jews would stop if Jews stopped practicing Judaism or changed their public faith, especially by conversion to the official or right religion. However, in some cases discrimination continues after conversion, as in the case of Christianized Marranos or Iberian Jews in the late 15th century and 16th century who were suspected of secretly practising Judaism or Jewish customs.
Although the origins of antisemitism are rooted in the Judeo-Christian conflict, religious antisemitism, other forms of antisemitism have developed in modern times. Frederick Schweitzer asserts that, “most scholars ignore the Christian foundation on which the modern antisemitic edifice rests and invoke political antisemitism, cultural antisemitism, racism or racial antisemitism, economic antisemitism and the like.” William Nichols draws a distinction between religious antisemitism and modern antisemitism based on racial or ethnic grounds: “The dividing line was the possibility of effective conversion… a Jew ceased to be a Jew upon baptism.” From the perspective of racial antisemitism, however, “… the assimilated Jew was still a Jew, even after baptism…. From the Enlightenment onward, it is no longer possible to draw clear lines of distinction between religious and racial forms of hostility towards Jews… Once Jews have been emancipated and secular thinking makes its appearance, without leaving behind the old Christian hostility towards Jews, the new term antisemitism becomes almost unavoidable, even before explicitly racist doctrines appear.”
The underlying premise of economic antisemitism is that Jews perform harmful economic activities or that economic activities become harmful when they are performed by Jews.
Linking Jews and money underpins the most damaging and lasting Antisemitic canards. Antisemites claim that Jews control the world finances, a theory promoted in the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and later repeated by Henry Ford and his Dearborn Independent. In the modern era, such myths continue to be spread in books such as The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews published by the Nation of Islam, and on the internet. Derek Penslar writes that there are two components to the financial canards:
Abraham Foxman describes six facets of the financial canards:
Gerald Krefetz summarizes the myth as “[Jews] control the banks, the money supply, the economy, and businessesof the community, of the country, of the world”. Krefetz gives, as illustrations, many slurs and proverbs (in several different languages) which suggest that Jews are stingy, or greedy, or miserly, or aggressive bargainers. During the nineteenth century, Jews were described as “scurrilous, stupid, and tight-fisted”, but after the Jewish Emancipation and the rise of Jews to the middle- or upper-class in Europe were portrayed as “clever, devious, and manipulative financiers out to dominate [world finances]”.
Lon Poliakov asserts that economic antisemitism is not a distinct form of antisemitism, but merely a manifestation of theologic antisemitism (because, without the theological causes of the economic antisemitism, there would be no economic antisemitism). In opposition to this view, Derek Penslar contends that in the modern era, the economic antisemitism is “distinct and nearly constant” but theological antisemitism is “often subdued”.
An academic study by Francesco DAcunto, Marcel Prokopczuk, and Michael Weber showed that people who live in areas of Germany that contain the most brutal history of anti-Semitic persecution are more likely to be distrustful of finance in general. Therefore, they tended to invest less money in the stock market and make poor financial decisions. The study concluded “that the persecution of minorities reduces not only the long-term wealth of the persecuted, but of the persecutors as well.”
Racial antisemitism is prejudice against Jews as a racial/ethnic group, rather than Judaism as a religion.
Racial antisemitism is the idea that the Jews are a distinct and inferior race compared to their host nations. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, it gained mainstream acceptance as part of the eugenics movement, which categorized non-Europeans as inferior. It more specifically claimed that Northern Europeans, or “Aryans”, were superior. Racial antisemites saw the Jews as part of a Semitic race and emphasized their non-European origins and culture. They saw Jews as beyond redemption even if they converted to the majority religion.
Racial antisemitism replaced the hatred of Judaism with the hatred of Jews as a group. In the context of the Industrial Revolution, following the Jewish Emancipation, Jews rapidly urbanized and experienced a period of greater social mobility. With the decreasing role of religion in public life tempering religious antisemitism, a combination of growing nationalism, the rise of eugenics, and resentment at the socio-economic success of the Jews led to the newer, and more virulent, racist antisemitism.
According to William Nichols, religious antisemitism may be distinguished from modern antisemitism based on racial or ethnic grounds. “The dividing line was the possibility of effective conversion… a Jew ceased to be a Jew upon baptism.” However, with racial antisemitism, “Now the assimilated Jew was still a Jew, even after baptism…. From the Enlightenment onward, it is no longer possible to draw clear lines of distinction between religious and racial forms of hostility towards Jews… Once Jews have been emancipated and secular thinking makes its appearance, without leaving behind the old Christian hostility towards Jews, the new term antisemitism becomes almost unavoidable, even before explicitly racist doctrines appear.”
In the early 19th century, a number of laws enabling emancipation of the Jews were enacted in Western European countries. The old laws restricting them to ghettos, as well as the many laws that limited their property rights, rights of worship and occupation, were rescinded. Despite this, traditional discrimination and hostility to Jews on religious grounds persisted and was supplemented by racial antisemitism, encouraged by the work of racial theorists such as Joseph Arthur de Gobineau and particularly his Essay on the Inequality of the Human Race of 18535. Nationalist agendas based on ethnicity, known as ethnonationalism, usually excluded the Jews from the national community as an alien race. Allied to this were theories of Social Darwinism, which stressed a putative conflict between higher and lower races of human beings. Such theories, usually posited by northern Europeans, advocated the superiority of white Aryans to Semitic Jews.
William Brustein defines political antisemitism as hostility toward Jews based on the belief that Jews seek national and/or world power.” Yisrael Gutman characterizes political antisemitism as tending to “lay responsibility on the Jews for defeats and political economic crises” while seeking to “exploit opposition and resistance to Jewish influence as elements in political party platforms.”
According to Viktor Kardy, political antisemitism became widespread after the legal emancipation of the Jews and sought to reverse some of the consequences of that emancipation. 
Holocaust denial and Jewish conspiracy theories are also considered forms of antisemitism.Zoological conspiracy theories have been propagated by the Arab media and Arabic language websites, alleging a “Zionist plot” behind the use of animals to attack civilians or to conduct espionage.
Starting in the 1990s, some scholars have advanced the concept of new antisemitism, coming simultaneously from the left, the right, and radical Islam, which tends to focus on opposition to the creation of a Jewish homeland in the State of Israel, and they argue that the language of anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel are used to attack Jews more broadly. In this view, the proponents of the new concept believe that criticisms of Israel and Zionism are often disproportionate in degree and unique in kind, and they attribute this to antisemitism. Jewish scholar Gustavo Perednik has posited that anti-Zionism in itself represents a form of discrimination against Jews, in that it singles out Jewish national aspirations as an illegitimate and racist endeavor, and “proposes actions that would result in the death of millions of Jews”. It is asserted that the new antisemitism deploys traditional antisemitic motifs, including older motifs such as the blood libel.
Critics of the concept view it as trivializing the meaning of antisemitism, and as exploiting antisemitism in order to silence debate and to deflect attention from legitimate criticism of the State of Israel, and, by associating anti-Zionism with antisemitism, misused to taint anyone opposed to Israeli actions and policies.
Many authors see the roots of modern antisemitism in both pagan antiquity and early Christianity. Jerome Chanes identifies six stages in the historical development of antisemitism:
Chanes suggests that these six stages could be merged into three categories: “ancient antisemitism, which was primarily ethnic in nature; Christian antisemitism, which was religious; and the racial antisemitism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”
The first clear examples of anti-Jewish sentiment can be traced back to Alexandria in the 3rd century BCE. Alexandria was home to the largest Jewish diaspora community in the world at the time and the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, was produced there. Manetho, an Egyptian priest and historian of that era, wrote scathingly of the Jews. His themes are repeated in the works of Chaeremon, Lysimachus, Poseidonius, Apollonius Molon, and in Apion and Tacitus.Agatharchides of Cnidus ridiculed the practices of the Jews and the “absurdity of their Law”, making a mocking reference to how Ptolemy Lagus was able to invade Jerusalem in 320 BCE because its inhabitants were observing the Shabbat. One of the earliest anti-Jewish edicts, promulgated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in about 170167 BCE, sparked a revolt of the Maccabees in Judea.
In view of Manetho’s anti-Jewish writings, antisemitism may have originated in Egypt and been spread by “the Greek retelling of Ancient Egyptian prejudices”. The ancient Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria describes an attack on Jews in Alexandria in 38 CE in which thousands of Jews died. The violence in Alexandria may have been caused by the Jews being portrayed as misanthropes. Tcherikover argues that the reason for hatred of Jews in the Hellenistic period was their separateness in the Greek cities, the poleis. Bohak has argued, however, that early animosity against the Jews cannot be regarded as being anti-Judaic or antisemitic unless it arose from attitudes that were held against the Jews alone, and that many Greeks showed animosity toward any group they regarded as barbarians. Statements exhibiting prejudice against Jews and their religion can be found in the works of many pagan Greek and Roman writers. Edward Flannery writes that it was the Jews’ refusal to accept Greek religious and social standards that marked them out. Hecataetus of Abdera, a Greek historian of the early third century BCE, wrote that Moses “in remembrance of the exile of his people, instituted for them a misanthropic and inhospitable way of life.” Manetho, an Egyptian historian, wrote that the Jews were expelled Egyptian lepers who had been taught by Moses “not to adore the gods.” Edward Flannery describes antisemitism in ancient times as essentially “cultural, taking the shape of a national xenophobia played out in political settings.”
There are examples of Hellenistic rulers desecrating the Temple and banning Jewish religious practices, such as circumcision, Shabbat observance, study of Jewish religious books, etc. Examples may also be found in anti-Jewish riots in Alexandria in the 3rd century BCE.
The Jewish diaspora on the Nile island Elephantine, which was founded by mercenaries, experienced the destruction of its temple in 410 BCE.
Relationships between the Jewish people and the occupying Roman Empire were at times antagonistic and resulted in several rebellions. According to Suetonius, the emperor Tiberius expelled from Rome Jews who had gone to live there. The 18th-century English historian Edward Gibbon identified a more tolerant period in Roman-Jewish relations beginning in about 160 CE. However, when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, the state’s attitude towards the Jews gradually worsened.
James Carroll asserted: “Jews accounted for 10% of the total population of the Roman Empire. By that ratio, if other factors such as pogroms and conversions had not intervened, there would be 200 million Jews in the world today, instead of something like 13 million.”
From the 9th century CE, the medieval Islamic world classified Jews (and Christians) as dhimmi, and allowed Jews to practice their religion more freely than they could do in medieval Christian Europe. Under Islamic rule, there was a Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain that lasted until at least the 11th century. It ended when several Muslim pogroms against Jews took place on the Iberian Peninsula, including those that occurred in Crdoba in 1011 and in Granada in 1066. Several decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were also enacted in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen from the 11th century. In addition, Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in some parts of Yemen, Morocco and Baghdad several times between the 12th and 18th centuries. The Almohads, who had taken control of the Almoravids’ Maghribi and Andalusian territories by 1147, were far more fundamentalist in outlook compared to their predecessors, and they treated the dhimmis harshly. Faced with the choice of either death or conversion, many Jews and Christians emigrated. Some, such as the family of Maimonides, fled east to more tolerant Muslim lands, while some others went northward to settle in the growing Christian kingdoms.
During the Middle Ages in Europe there was persecution against Jews in many places, with blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and massacres. A main justification of prejudice against Jews in Europe was religious.
The persecution hit its first peak during the Crusades. In the First Crusade (1096) hundreds or even thousands of Jews were killed as the crusaders arrived. This was the first major outbreak of anti-Jewish violence Christian Europe outside Spain and was cited by Zionists in the 19th century as indicating the need for a state of Israel.
In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in Germany were subject to several massacres. The Jews were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds’ Crusades of 1251 and 1320. The Crusades were followed by expulsions, including, in 1290, the banishing of all English Jews; in 1394, the expulsion of 100,000 Jews in France; and in 1421, the expulsion of thousands from Austria. Many of the expelled Jews fled to Poland. In medieval and Renaissance Europe, a major contributor to the deepening of antisemitic sentiment and legal action among the Christian populations was the popular preaching of the zealous reform religious orders, the Franciscans (especially Bernardino of Feltre) and Dominicans (especially Vincent Ferrer), who combed Europe and promoted antisemitism through their often fiery, emotional appeals.
As the Black Death epidemics devastated Europe in the mid-14th century, causing the death of a large part of the population, Jews were used as scapegoats. Rumors spread that they caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells. Hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed. Although Pope Clement VI tried to protect them by issuing two papal bulls in 1348, the first on 6 July and an additional one several months later, 900 Jews were burned alive in Strasbourg, where the plague had not yet affected the city.
During the mid-to-late 17th century the PolishLithuanian Commonwealth was devastated by several conflicts, in which the Commonwealth lost over a third of its population (over 3 million people), and Jewish losses were counted in the hundreds of thousands. The first of these conflicts was the Khmelnytsky Uprising, when Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s supporters massacred tens of thousands of Jews in the eastern and southern areas he controlled (today’s Ukraine). The precise number of dead may never be known, but the decrease of the Jewish population during that period is estimated at 100,000 to 200,000, which also includes emigration, deaths from diseases and captivity in the Ottoman Empire, called jasyr.
European immigrants to the United States brought antisemitism to the country as early as the 17th century. Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch governor of New Amsterdam, implemented plans to prevent Jews from settling in the city. During the Colonial Era, the American government limited the political and economic rights of Jews. It was not until the Revolutionary War that Jews gained legal rights, including the right to vote. However, even at their peak, the restrictions on Jews in the United States were never as stringent as they had been in Europe.
In the Zaydi imamate of Yemen, Jews were also singled out for discrimination in the 17th century, which culminated in the general expulsion of all Jews from places in Yemen to the arid coastal plain of Tihamah and which became known as the Mawza Exile.
In 1744, Frederick II of Prussia limited the number of Jews allowed to live in Breslau to only ten so-called “protected” Jewish families and encouraged a similar practice in other Prussian cities. In 1750 he issued the Revidiertes General Privilegium und Reglement vor die Judenschaft: the “protected” Jews had an alternative to “either abstain from marriage or leave Berlin” (quoting Simon Dubnow). In the same year, Archduchess of Austria Maria Theresa ordered Jews out of Bohemia but soon reversed her position, on the condition that Jews pay for their readmission every ten years. This extortion was known as malke-geld (queen’s money). In 1752 she introduced the law limiting each Jewish family to one son. In 1782, Joseph II abolished most of these persecution practices in his Toleranzpatent, on the condition that Yiddish and Hebrew were eliminated from public records and that judicial autonomy was annulled. Moses Mendelssohn wrote that “Such a tolerance… is even more dangerous play in tolerance than open persecution.”
In 1772, the empress of Russia Catherine II forced the Jews of the Pale of Settlement to stay in their shtetls and forbade them from returning to the towns that they occupied before the partition of Poland.
According to Arnold Ages, Voltaire’s “Lettres philosophiques, Dictionnaire philosophique, and Candide, to name but a few of his better known works, are saturated with comments on Jews and Judaism and the vast majority are negative”. Paul H. Meyer adds: “There is no question but that Voltaire, particularly in his latter years, nursed a violent hatred of the Jews and it is equally certain that his animosity…did have a considerable impact on public opinion in France.” Thirty of the 118 articles in Voltaire’s Dictionnaire Philosophique concerned Jews and described them in consistently negative ways,
Historian Martin Gilbert writes that it was in the 19th century that the position of Jews worsened in Muslim countries. Benny Morris writes that one symbol of Jewish degradation was the phenomenon of stone-throwing at Jews by Muslim children. Morris quotes a 19th-century traveler: “I have seen a little fellow of six years old, with a troop of fat toddlers of only three and four, teaching [them] to throw stones at a Jew, and one little urchin would, with the greatest coolness, waddle up to the man and literally spit upon his Jewish gaberdine. To all this the Jew is obliged to submit; it would be more than his life was worth to offer to strike a Mahommedan.”
In the middle of the 19th century, J. J. Benjamin wrote about the life of Persian Jews, describing conditions and beliefs that went back to the 16th century: “they are obliged to live in a separate part of town Under the pretext of their being unclean, they are treated with the greatest severity and should they enter a street, inhabited by Mussulmans, they are pelted by the boys and mobs with stones and dirt.”
In 1850 the German composer Richard Wagner published Das Judenthum in der Musik (“Jewishness in Music”) under a pseudonym in the Neue Zeitschrift fr Musik. The essay began as an attack on Jewish composers, particularly Wagner’s contemporaries (and rivals) Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer, but expanded to accuse Jews of being a harmful and alien element in German culture. Antisemitism can also be found in many of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, published from 1812 to 1857. It is mainly characterized by Jews being the villain of a story, such as in “The Good Bargain (Der gute Handel)” and “The Jew Among Thorns (Der Jude im Dorn).”
The middle 19th century saw continued official harassment of the Jews, especially in Eastern Europe under Czarist influence. For example, in 1846, 80 Jews approached the governor in Warsaw to retain the right to wear their traditional dress, but were immediately rebuffed by having their hair and beards forcefully cut, at their own expense.
In America, even such influential figures as Walt Whitman tolerated bigotry toward the Jews. During his time as editor of the Brooklyn Eagle (1846-1848), the newspaper published historical sketches casting Jews in a bad light.
The Dreyfus Affair was an infamous antisemitic event of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery captain in the French Army, was accused in 1894 of passing secrets to the Germans. As a result of these charges, Dreyfus was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. The actual spy, Marie Charles Esterhazy, was acquitted. The event caused great uproar among the French, with the public choosing sides on the issue of whether Dreyfus was actually guilty or not. mile Zola accused the army of corrupting the French justice system. However, general consensus held that Dreyfus was guilty: 80% of the press in France condemned him. This attitude among the majority of the French population reveals the underlying antisemitism of the time period.
Adolf Stoecker (18351909), the Lutheran court chaplain to Kaiser Wilhelm I, founded in 1878 an antisemitic, anti-liberal political party called the Christian Social Party. This party always remained small, and its support dwindled after Stoecker’s death, with most of its members eventually joining larger conservative groups such as the German National People’s Party.
Some scholars view Karl Marx’s essay On The Jewish Question as antisemitic, and argue that he often used antisemitic epithets in his published and private writings. These scholars argue that Marx equated Judaism with capitalism in his essay, helping to spread that idea. Some further argue that the essay influenced National Socialist, as well as Soviet and Arab antisemites. Marx himself had Jewish ancestry, and Albert Lindemann and Hyam Maccoby have suggested that he was embarrassed by it. Others argue that Marx consistently supported Prussian Jewish communities’ struggles to achieve equal political rights. These scholars argue that “On the Jewish Question” is a critique of Bruno Bauer’s arguments that Jews must convert to Christianity before being emancipated, and is more generally a critique of liberal rights discourses and capitalism. David McLellan and Francis Wheen argue that readers should interpret On the Jewish Question in the deeper context of Marx’s debates with Bruno Bauer, author of The Jewish Question, about Jewish emancipation in Germany. According to McLellan, Marx used the word Judentum colloquially, as meaning commerce, arguing that Germans must be emancipated from the capitalist mode of production not Judaism or Jews in particular.
Between 1900 and 1924, approximately 1.75 million Jews migrated to America, the bulk from Eastern Europe. Before 1900 American Jews had always amounted to less than 1% of America’s total population, but by 1930 Jews formed about 3.5%. This increase, combined with the upward social mobility of some Jews, contributed to a resurgence of antisemitism. In the first half of the 20th century, in the USA, Jews were discriminated against in employment, access to residential and resort areas, membership in clubs and organizations, and in tightened quotas on Jewish enrolment and teaching positions in colleges and universities. The lynching of Leo Frank by a mob of prominent citizens in Marietta, Georgia in 1915 turned the spotlight on antisemitism in the United States. The case was also used to build support for the renewal of the Ku Klux Klan which had been inactive since 1870.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Beilis Trial in Russia represented incidents of blood-libel in Europe. Christians used allegations of Jews killing Christians as a justification for the killing of Jews.
Antisemitism in America reached its peak during the interwar period. The pioneer automobile manufacturer Henry Ford propagated antisemitic ideas in his newspaper The Dearborn Independent (published by Ford from 1919 to 1927). The radio speeches of Father Coughlin in the late 1930s attacked Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and promoted the notion of a Jewish financial conspiracy. Some prominent politicians shared such views: Louis T. McFadden, Chairman of the United States House Committee on Banking and Currency, blamed Jews for Roosevelt’s decision to abandon the gold standard, and claimed that “in the United States today, the Gentiles have the slips of paper while the Jews have the lawful money”.
In the early 1940s the aviator Charles Lindbergh and many prominent Americans led The America First Committee in opposing any involvement in the war against Fascism. During his July 1936 visit to Germany, Lindbergh wrote letters saying that there was “more intelligent leadership in Germany than is generally recognized”. The German American Bund held parades in New York City during the late 1930s, where members wore Nazi uniforms and raised flags featuring swastikas alongside American flags. Sometimes race riots, as in Detroit in 1943, targeted Jewish businesses for looting and burning.
In Germany, Nazism led Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, who came to power on 30 January 1933, instituted repressive legislation denying the Jews basic civil rights. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws prohibited sexual relations and marriages between “Aryans” and Jews as Rassenschande (“race disgrace”) and stripped all German Jews, even quarter- and half-Jews, from their citizenship, (their official title became “subjects of the state”). It instituted a pogrom on the night of 910 November 1938, dubbed Kristallnacht, in which Jews were killed, their property destroyed and their synagogues torched. Antisemitic laws, agitation and propaganda were extended to German-occupied Europe in the wake of conquest, often building on local antisemitic traditions. In the east the Third Reich forced Jews into ghettos in Warsaw, Krakw, Lvov, Lublin and Radom. After the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 a campaign of mass murder, conducted by the Einsatzgruppen, culminated from 1942 to 1945 in systematic genocide: the Holocaust. Eleven million Jews were targeted for extermination by the Nazis, and some six million were eventually killed.
Antisemitism was commonly used as an instrument for personal conflicts in the Soviet Union, starting from conflict between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky and continuing through numerous conspiracy-theories spread by official propaganda. Antisemitism in the USSR reached new heights after 1948 during the campaign against the “rootless cosmopolitan” (euphemism for “Jew”) in which numerous Yiddish-language poets, writers, painters and sculptors were killed or arrested. This culminated in the so-called Doctors’ Plot (19521953). Similar antisemitic propaganda in Poland resulted in the flight of Polish Jewish survivors from the country.
After the war, the Kielce pogrom and “March 1968 events” in communist Poland represented further incidents of antisemitism in Europe. The anti-Jewish violence in postwar Poland has a common theme of blood-libel rumours.
In 1965 Pope Paul VI issued a papal decree disbanding the cult of Simon of Trent, the shrine erected to him was dismantled, and Simon was decanonized.
Robert Bernstein, founder of Human Rights Watch, says that antisemitism is “deeply ingrained and institutionalized” in “Arab nations in modern times.”
In a 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center, all of the Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries polled held strongly negative views of Jews. In the questionnaire, only 2% of Egyptians, 3% of Lebanese Muslims, and 2% of Jordanians reported having a positive view of Jews. Muslim-majority countries outside the Middle East held similarly negative views, with 4% of Turks and 9% of Indonesians viewing Jews favorably.
According to a 2011 exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, United States, some of the dialogue from Middle East media and commentators about Jews bear a striking resemblance to Nazi propaganda. According to Josef Joffe of Newsweek, “anti-Semitismthe real stuff, not just bad-mouthing particular Israeli policiesis as much part of Arab life today as the hijab or the hookah. Whereas this darkest of creeds is no longer tolerated in polite society in the West, in the Arab world, Jew hatred remains culturally endemic.”
Muslim clerics in the Middle East have frequently referred to Jews as descendants of apes and pigs, which are conventional epithets for Jews and Christians.
According to professor Robert Wistrich, director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA), the calls for the destruction of Israel by Iran or by Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, or the Muslim Brotherhood, represent a contemporary mode of genocidal antisemitism.
Dean Phillip Bell documents and enumerates a number of categories and causes for anti-Jewish sentiment. He describes political, social, and pseudo-scientific efforts to separate Jews from “civil” society and notes that antisemitism was part of a larger attempt to differentiate status based on racial background. Bell writes, “Socio-psychological explanations focus on concepts of projected guilt and displaced aggression, the search for a scapegoat. Ethnic explanations associated marginalization, or negative representation of the Other, with perceived ethnic differences. Xenophobia ascribes anti-Jewish sentiment to broader concern over minority groups within a national or regional identity.
There are a number of antisemitic canards which are used to fuel and justify antisemitic sentiment and activities. These include conspiracy theories and myths such as: that Jews killed Christ, poisoned wells, killed Christian children to use their blood for making matzos (the Blood libel), or “made up” the Holocaust, plot to control the world (the Protocols of the Elders of Zion), harvest organs, and other invented stories. A number of conspiracy theories also include accusations that Jews control the media or global financial institutions.
A March 2008 report by the U.S. State Department found that there was an increase in antisemitism across the world, and that both old and new expressions of antisemitism persist. A 2012 report by the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor also noted a continued global increase in antisemitism, and found that Holocaust denial and opposition to Israeli policy at times was used to promote or justify blatant antisemitism.
In Egypt, Dar al-Fadhilah published a translation of Henry Ford’s antisemitic treatise, The International Jew, complete with distinctly antisemitic imagery on the cover.
On 5 May 2001, after Shimon Peres visited Egypt, the Egyptian al-Akhbar internet paper said that “lies and deceit are not foreign to Jews[…]. For this reason, Allah changed their shape and made them into monkeys and pigs.”
In July 2012, Egypt’s Al Nahar channel fooled actors into thinking they were on an Israeli television show and filmed their reactions to being told it was an Israeli television show. In response, some of the actors launched into antisemitic rants or dialogue, and many became violent. Actress Mayer El Beblawi said that “Allah did not curse the worm and moth as much as he cursed the Jews” while actor Mahmoud Abdel Ghaffar launched into a violent rage and said, “You brought me someone who looks like a Jew… I hate the Jews to death” after finding out it was a prank.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former president of Iran, has frequently been accused of denying the Holocaust.
In July, the winner of Iran’s first annual International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival, jointly sponsored by the semi-state-run Iranian media outlet Fars News, was an antisemitic cartoon depicting Jews praying before the New York Stock Exchange, which is made to look like the Western Wall. Other cartoons in the contest were antisemitic as well. The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, condemned the cartoon, stating that “Here’s the anti-Semitic notion of Jews and their love for money, the canard that Jews ‘control’ Wall Street, and a cynical perversion of the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism,” and “Once again Iran takes the prize for promoting antisemitism.”
In 2004, Al-Manar, a media network affiliated with Hezbollah, aired a drama series, The Diaspora, which observers allege is based on historical antisemitic allegations. BBC correspondents who have watched the program says it quotes extensively from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Although Malaysia presently has no substantial Jewish population, the country has reportedly become an example of a phenomenon called “antisemitism without Jews.”
In his treatise on Malay identity, “The Malay Dilemma,” which was published in 1970, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad wrote: “The Jews are not only hooked-nosed… but understand money instinctively…. Jewish stinginess and financial wizardry gained them the economic control of Europe and provoked antisemitism which waxed and waned throughout Europe through the ages.”
The Malay-language Utusan Malaysia daily stated in an editorial that Malaysians “cannot allow anyone, especially the Jews, to interfere secretly in this country’s business… When the drums are pounded hard in the name of human rights, the pro-Jewish people will have their best opportunity to interfere in any Islamic country,” the newspaper said. “We might not realize that the enthusiasm to support actions such as demonstrations will cause us to help foreign groups succeed in their mission of controlling this country.” Prime Minister Najib Razak’s office subsequently issued a statement late Monday saying Utusan’s claim did “not reflect the views of the government.”
Antisemitism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jewish history (or the history of the Jewish people) is the history of the Jews, and their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Although Judaism as a religion first appears in Greek records during the Hellenistic period and the earliest mention of Israel is inscribed on the Merneptah Stele dated 12131203 BCE, religious literature tells the story of Israelites going back at least as far as c. 1500 BCE. The Jewish diaspora began with the Assyrian conquest and continued on a much larger scale with the Babylonian conquest. Jews were also widespread throughout the Roman Empire, and this carried on to a lesser extent in the period of Byzantine rule in the central and eastern Mediterranean. In 638 CE the Byzantine Empire lost control of the Levant. The Arab Islamic Empire under Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem and the lands of Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula. During that time, Jews were generally accepted in society and Jewish religious, cultural, and economic life blossomed.
During the Classical Ottoman period (13001600), the Jews, together with most other communities of the empire, enjoyed a certain level of prosperity. In the 17th century, there were many significant Jewish populations in Western Europe. During the period of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, significant changes occurred within the Jewish community. Jews began in the 18th century to campaign for emancipation from restrictive laws and integration into the wider European society. During the 1870s and 1880s the Jewish population in Europe began to more actively discuss immigration back to Israel and the re-establishment of the Jewish Nation in its national homeland. The Zionist movement was founded officially in 1884. Meanwhile, the Jews of Europe and the United States gained success in the fields of the science, culture and the economy. Among those generally considered the most famous were scientist Albert Einstein and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. A disproportionate number of Nobel Prize winners at this time were Jewish, as is still the case.
In 1933, with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party in Germany, the Jewish situation became more severe. Economic crises, racial anti-Semitic laws, and a fear of an upcoming war led many Jews to flee from Europe to Palestine, to the United States and to the Soviet Union. In 1939 World War II began and until 1941 Hitler occupied almost all of Europe, including Polandwhere millions of Jews were living at that timeand France. In 1941, following the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Final Solution began, an extensive organized operation on an unprecedented scale, aimed at the annihilation of the Jewish people, and resulting in the persecution and murder of Jews in political Europe, inclusive of European North Africa (pro-Nazi Vichy-North Africa and Italian Libya). This genocide, in which approximately six million Jews were murdered methodically and with horrifying cruelty, is known as The Holocaust or Shoah (Hebrew term). In Poland, three million Jews were murdered in gas chambers in all concentration camps combined, with one million at the Auschwitz concentration camp alone.
In 1945 the Jewish resistance organizations in Palestine unified and established the Jewish Resistance Movement. The movement began attacking the British authority. David Ben-Gurion proclaimed on May 14, 1948, the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel to be known as the State of Israel. Immediately afterwards all neighbouring Arab states attacked, yet the newly formed IDF resisted. In 1949 the war ended and the state of Israel started building the state and absorbing massive waves of hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the world. Today (2014), Israel is a parliamentary democracy with a population of over 8 million people, of whom about 6 million are Jewish. The largest Jewish communities are in Israel and the United States, with major communities in France, Argentina, Russia, England, and Canada. For statistics related to modern Jewish demographics see Jewish population.
The history of the Jews and Judaism can be divided into five periods: (1) ancient Israel before Judaism, from the beginnings to 586 BCE; (2) the beginning of Judaism in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE; (3) the formation of rabbinic Judaism after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE; (4) the age of rabbinic Judaism, from the ascension of Christianity to political power under the emperor Constantine the Great in 312 CE to the end of the political hegemony of Christianity in the 18th century; and (5), the age of diverse Judaisms, from the French and American Revolutions to the present.
The history of the early Jews, and their neighbors, is mainly that of the Fertile Crescent and east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It begins among those people who occupied the area lying between the Nile, Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. Surrounded by ancient seats of culture in Egypt and Babylonia, by the deserts of Arabia, and by the highlands of Asia Minor, the land of Canaan (roughly corresponding to modern Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Lebanon) was a meeting place of civilizations. The land was traversed by old-established trade routes and possessed important harbors on the Gulf of Aqaba and on the Mediterranean coast, the latter exposing it to the influence of other cultures of the Fertile Crescent.
According to the Jewish sacred writings, which became the Hebrew Bible, Jews are descended from the ancient people of Israel who settled in the land of Canaan between the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Ancient Hebrew writings describe the “Children of Israel” as descendants of common ancestors, including Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob. Religious literature suggests that the nomadic travels of the Hebrews centered around Hebron in the first centuries of the second millennium BCE, apparently leading to the establishment of the Cave of the Patriarchs as their burial site in Hebron. The Children of Israel consisted of twelve tribes, each descended from one of Jacob’s twelve sons, Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Yissachar, Zevulun, Dan, Gad, Naftali, Asher, Yosef, and Benyamin.
Religious texts tell the story of Jacob and his twelve sons, who left Canaan during a severe famine and settled in Goshen of northern Egypt. While in Egypt their descendants were said to be enslaved by the government led by the Egyptian Pharaoh, although there is no independent evidence of this having occurred. After some 400 years of slavery, YHWH, the God of Israel, sent the Hebrew prophet Moses of the tribe of Levi to release the Israelites from bondage. According to the Bible, the Hebrews miraculously emigrated out of Egypt (an event known as the Exodus), and returned to their ancestral homeland in Canaan. This event marks the formation of Israel as a political nation in Canaan, in 1400 BCE.
However, archaeology reveals a different story of the origins of the Jewish people: they did not necessarily leave the Levant. The archaeological evidence of the largely indigenous origins of Israel in Canaan, not Egypt, is “overwhelming” and leaves “no room for an Exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness”. Many archaeologists have abandoned the archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus as “a fruitless pursuit”. A century of research by archaeologists and Egyptologists has arguably found no evidence that can be directly related to the Exodus narrative of an Egyptian captivity and the escape and travels through the wilderness, leading to the suggestion that Iron Age Israelthe kingdoms of Judah and Israelhas its origins in Canaan, not Egypt: The culture of the earliest Israelite settlements is Canaanite, their cult-objects are those of the Canaanite god El, the pottery remains in the local Canaanite tradition, and the alphabet used is early Canaanite. Almost the sole marker distinguishing the “Israelite” villages from Canaanite sites is an absence of pig bones, although whether this can be taken as an ethnic marker or is due to other factors remains a matter of dispute.
According to the Bible, after their emancipation from Egyptian slavery, the people of Israel wandered around and lived in the Sinai desert for a span of forty years before conquering Canaan in 1400 BCE under the command of Joshua. While living in the desert, according to the Biblical writings, the nation of Israel received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai from YHWH, carried by Moses. This marked a beginning for normative Judaism, and contributed to the formation of the first Abrahamic religion. After entering Canaan, portions of the land were given to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. For several hundred years, the Land of Israel was organized into a confederacy of twelve tribes ruled by a series of Judges. After that, notes the Bible, came the Israelite monarchy. In 1000 BCE, the monarchy was established under Saul, and continued under King David and his son, Solomon. During the reign of David, the already existing city of Jerusalem became the national and spiritual capital of Israel. Solomon built the First Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. However, the tribes were fracturing politically. Upon his death, a civil war erupted between the ten northern Israelite tribes, and the tribes of Judah (Simeon was absorbed into Judah) and Benjamin in the south. The nation split into the Kingdom of Israel in the north, and the Kingdom of Judah in the south. Israel was conquered by the Assyrian ruler Tiglath-Pileser III in the 8th century BCE. There is no commonly accepted historical record of the fate of the ten northern tribes, sometimes referred to as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, although speculation abounds.
After revolting against the new dominant power and an ensuing siege, the Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonian army in 587 BCE and the First Temple was destroyed. The elite of the kingdom and many of their people were exiled to Babylon, where the religion developed outside their traditional temple. Others fled to Egypt. After the fall of Jerusalem, Babylonia (modern day Iraq), would become the focus of Judaism for more than a thousand years. The first Jewish communities in Babylonia started with the exile of the Tribe of Judah to Babylon by Jehoiachin in 597 BCE as well as after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE. Many more Jews migrated to Babylon in 135 CE after the Bar Kokhba revolt and in the centuries after. Babylonia, where some of the largest and most prominent Jewish cities and communities were established, became the center of Jewish life all the way up to the 13th century. By the first century, Babylonia already held a speedily growing population of an estimated 1,000,000 Jews, which increased to an estimated 2 million  between the years 200 CE – 500 CE, both by natural growth and by immigration of more Jews from the Land of Israel, making up about 1/6 of the world Jewish population at that era. It was there that they would write the Babylonian Talmud in the languages used by the Jews of ancient BabyloniaHebrew and Aramaic.
The Jews established Talmudic Academies in Babylonia, also known as the Geonic Academies, which became the center for Jewish scholarship and the development of Jewish law in Babylonia from roughly 500 CE to 1038 CE. The two most famous academies were the Pumbedita Academy and the Sura Academy. Major yeshivot were also located at Nehardea and Mahuza.
After a few generations and with the conquest of Babylonia in 540 BC by the Persian Empire, some adherents led by prophets Ezra and Nehemiah, returned to their homeland and traditional practices. Other Jews did not permanently return and remained in exile and developed somewhat independently outside of the Land of Israel, especially following the Muslim conquests of the Middle East in the 7th century CE.
Following their return to Jerusalem after the return from the exile (in the now commonly called post-exilic period) and with Persian approval and financing, construction of the Second Temple was completed in 516 BCE under the leadership of the last three Jewish Prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
Hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean world was, at the time, shifting to the classical civilizations and away from the Egyptians, Syrians, and Persians. Some Canaanites had already become Phoenicians and colonized areas of the southern Mediterranean, and they went on to found the Carthaginian Empire. Greeks, meanwhile, were beginning to probe eastwards.
After the death of the last Jewish prophet and while still under Persian rule, the leadership of the Jewish people passed into the hands of five successive generations of zugot (“pairs of”) leaders. They flourished first under the Persians and then under the Greeks. As a result, the Pharisees and Sadducees were formed. Under the Persians then under the Greeks, Jewish coins were minted in Judea as Yehud coinage.
In 332 BCE, the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great of Macedon. After his demise, and the division of Alexander’s empire among his generals, the Seleucid Kingdom was formed.
Greek culture was spread eastwards by the Alexandrian conquests. The Levant was not immune to this cultural spread. During this time, currents of Judaism were influenced by Hellenistic philosophy developed from the 3rd century BCE, notably the Jewish diaspora in Alexandria, culminating in the compilation of the Septuagint. An important advocate of the symbiosis of Jewish theology and Hellenistic thought is Philo.
A deterioration of relations between hellenized Jews and orthodox Jews led the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes to impose decrees banning certain Jewish religious rites and traditions. Consequently, the orthodox Jews revolted under the leadership of the Hasmonean family (also known as the Maccabees). This revolt eventually led to the formation of an independent Jewish kingdom, known as the Hasmonaean Dynasty, which lasted from 165 BCE to 63 BCE. The Hasmonean Dynasty eventually disintegrated as a result of civil war between the sons of Salome Alexandra, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II. The people, who did not want to be governed by a king but by theocratic clergy, made appeals in this spirit to the Roman authorities. A Roman campaign of conquest and annexation, led by Pompey, soon followed.
Judea had been an independent Jewish kingdom under the Hasmoneans, but was conquered by the Roman general Pompey in 63 BCE and reorganized as a client state. (Roman expansion was going on in other areas as well, and would continue for more than a hundred and fifty years.) Later, Herod the Great was appointed “King of the Jews” by the Roman Senate, supplanting the Hasmonean dynasty. Some of his offspring held various positions after him, known as the Herodian dynasty. Briefly, from 4 BCE to 6 CE, Herod Archelaus ruled the tetrarchy of Judea as ethnarch, the Romans denying him the title of King. After the Census of Quirinius in 6 CE, the Roman province of Judaea was formed as a satellite of Roman Syria under the rule of a prefect (as was Roman Egypt) until 41 CE, then procurators after 44 CE. The empire was often callous and brutal in its treatment of its Jewish subjects, see Anti-Judaism in the pre-Christian Roman Empire. In 66 CE, the Jews began to revolt against the Roman rulers of Judea. The revolt was defeated by the future Roman emperors Vespasian and Titus. In the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the Romans destroyed much of the Temple in Jerusalem and, according to some accounts, plundered artifacts from the temple, such as the Menorah. Jews continued to live in their land in significant numbers, the Kitos War of 115117 CE nothwithstanding, until Julius Severus ravaged Judea while putting down the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132136 CE. 985 villages were destroyed and most of the Jewish population of central Judaea was essentially wiped out, killed, sold into slavery, or forced to flee. Banished from Jerusalem, except for the day of Tisha B’Av, the Jewish population now centred on Galilee and initially in Yavne. Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina and Judea was renamed Syria Palestina, to spite the Jews by naming it after their ancient enemies, the Philistines. Jews were only allowed to visit Aelia Capitolina on the day of Tisha B’Av.
The Jewish diaspora began with the Assyrian conquest and continued on a much larger scale with the Babylonian conquest, in which the Tribe of Judah was exiled to Babylonia along with the dethroned King of Judah, Jehoiachin, in the 6th Century BCE, and was taken into captivity in 597 BCE. The exile continued after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE. Many more Jews migrated to Babylon in 135 CE after the Bar Kokhba revolt and in the centuries after.
Many of the Judaean Jews were sold into slavery while others became citizens of other parts of the Roman Empire. The book of Acts in the New Testament, as well as other Pauline texts, make frequent reference to the large populations of Hellenised Jews in the cities of the Roman world. These Hellenised Jews were affected by the diaspora only in its spiritual sense, absorbing the feeling of loss and homelessness that became a cornerstone of the Jewish creed, much supported by persecutions in various parts of the world. The policy encouraging proselytism and conversion to Judaism, which spread the Jewish religion throughout the Hellenistic civilization, seems to have subsided with the wars against the Romans.
Of critical importance to the reshaping of Jewish tradition from the Temple-based religion to the rabbinic traditions of the Diaspora, was the development of the interpretations of the Torah found in the Mishnah and Talmud.
In spite of the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt, a significant number of Jews remained in the Land of Israel. The Jews who remained there went through numerous experiences and armed conflicts against consecutive foreign occupiers. Some of the most famous and important Jewish texts were composed in Israeli cities at this time. The completion of the Mishnah, the system of niqqud, and the compilation of the Jerusalem Talmud are examples.
In this period the tannaim and amoraim were active, rabbis who organized and debated the Jewish oral law. The decisions and opinions of the tannaim are contained in the Mishnah, Beraita, Tosefta, and various Midrash compilations. The Mishnah was completed shortly after 200 CE, probably by Judah haNasi. The commentaries of the amoraim upon the Mishnah are compiled in the Jerusalem Talmud, which was completed around 400 CE, probably in Tiberias.
In 351 CE, the Jewish population in Sepphoris, under the leadership of Patricius, started a revolt against the rule of Constantius Gallus, brother-in-law of Emperor Constantius II. The revolt was eventually subdued by Gallus’ general, Ursicinus.
According to Jewish tradition, in 359 CE Hillel II created the Hebrew calendar based on the lunar year. Until then, the entire Jewish community outside the land of Israel depended on the calendar sanctioned by the Sanhedrin; this was necessary for the proper observance of the Jewish holy days. However, danger threatened the participants in that sanction and the messengers who communicated their decisions to distant communities. As the religious persecutions continued, Hillel determined to provide an authorized calendar for all time to come.
In 363, shortly before launching his campaign against the Sassanid Empire, Julian II, the last pagan Roman Emperor, allowed the Jews to return to “holy Jerusalem which you have for many years longed to see rebuilt” and to rebuild the Temple. But, Julian’s campaign against the Persians failed and he was killed in battle on June 26, 363. The Temple was not rebuilt.
After the fall of Jerusalem, Babylonia (modern day Iraq), would become the focus of Judaism for more than a thousand years. The first Jewish communities in Babylonia started with the exile of the Tribe of Judah to Babylon by Jehoiachin in 597 BCE as well as after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE. Many more Jews migrated to Babylon in 135 CE after the Bar Kokhba revolt and in the centuries after. Babylonia, where some of the largest and most prominent Jewish cities and communities were established, became the center of Jewish life all the way up to the 13th century. By the first century, Babylonia already held a speadily growing population of an estimated 1,000,000 Jews, which increased to an estimated 2 million between the years 200 CE and 500 CE, both by natural growth and by immigration of more Jews from the Land of Israel, making up about 1/6 of the world Jewish population at that era. It was there that they would write the Babylonian Talmud in the languages used by the Jews of ancient Babylonia: Hebrew and Aramaic. The Jews established Talmudic Academies in Babylonia, also known as the Geonic Academies (“Geonim” meaning “splendour” in Biblical Hebrew or “geniuses”), which became the center for Jewish scholarship and the development of Jewish law in Babylonia from roughly 500 CE to 1038 CE. The two most famous academies were the Pumbedita Academy and the Sura Academy. Major yeshivot were also located at Nehardea and Mahuza. The Talmudic Yeshiva Academies became a main part of Jewish culture and education, and Jews continued on establishing Yeshiva Academies in Western and Eastern Europe, North Africa, and in the centuries later on to America and other countries around the world where Jews lived in the Diaspora. Talmudic study in Yeshiva academies continue today with the establishment of a large number of Yeshiva academies, most of them located in The United States and Israel.
These Talmudic Yeshiva academies of Babylonia followed the era of the Amoraim (“expounders”)the sages of the Talmud who were active (both in the Land of Israel and in Babylon) during the end of the era of the sealing of the Mishnah and until the times of the sealing of the Talmud (220CE 500CE), and following the Savoraim (“reasoners”)the sages of Beth midrash (Torah study places) in Babylon from the end of the era of the Amoraim (5th century) and until the beginning of the era of the Geonim. The Geonim (Hebrew: ) were the presidents of the two great rabbinical colleges of Sura and Pumbedita, and were the generally accepted spiritual leaders of the worldwide Jewish community in the early medieval era, in contrast to the Resh Galuta (Exilarch) who wielded secular authority over the Jews in Islamic lands. According to traditions, the Resh Galuta were descendants of Judean kings, which is why the kings of Parthia would treat them with much honour.
For the Jews of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, the yeshivot of Babylonia served much the same function as the ancient Sanhedrin. That is, as a council of Jewish religious authorities. The academies were founded in pre-Islamic Babylonia under the Zoroastrian Sassanid dynasty and were located not far from the Sassanid capital of Ctesiphon, which at that time was the largest city in the world. After the conquest of Persia in the 7th Century, the academies subsequently operated for four hundred years under the Islamic caliphate. The first gaon of Sura, according to Sherira Gaon, was Mar bar Rab Chanan, who assumed office in 609. The last gaon of Sura was Samuel ben Hofni, who died in 1034; the last gaon of Pumbedita was Hezekiah Gaon, who was tortured to death in 1040; hence the activity of the Geonim covers a period of nearly 450 years.
One of principal seats of Babylonian Judaism was Nehardea, which was then a very large city made up mostly of Jews. A very ancient synagogue, built, it was believed, by King Jehoiachin, existed in Nehardea. At Huzal, near Nehardea, there was another synagogue, not far from which could be seen the ruins of Ezra’s academy. In the period before Hadrian, Akiba, on his arrival at Nehardea on a mission from the Sanhedrin, entered into a discussion with a resident scholar on a point of matrimonial law (Mishnah Yeb., end). At the same time there was at Nisibis (northern Mesopotamia), an excelling Jewish college, at the head of which stood Judah ben Bathyra, and in which many Judean scholars found refuge at the time of the persecutions. A certain temporary importance was also attained by a school at Nehar-Peod, founded by the Judean immigrant Hananiah, nephew of Joshua ben Hananiah, which school might have been the cause of a schism between the Jews of Babylonia and those of Judea-Israel, had not the Judean authorities promptly checked Hananiah’s ambition.
Jews were also widespread throughout the Roman Empire, and this carried on to a lesser extent in the period of Byzantine rule in the central and eastern Mediterranean. The militant and exclusive Christianity and caesaropapism of the Byzantine Empire did not treat Jews well, and the condition and influence of diaspora Jews in the Empire declined dramatically.
It was official Christian policy to convert Jews to Christianity, and the Christian leadership used the official power of Rome in their attempts. In 351 CE the Jews revolted against the added pressures of their Governor, Constantius Gallus. Gallus put down the revolt and destroyed the major cities in the Galilee area where the revolt had started. Tzippori and Lydda (site of two of the major legal academies) never recovered.
In this period, the Nasi in Tiberias, Hillel II, created an official calendar, which needed no monthly sightings of the moon. The months were set, and the calendar needed no further authority from Judea. At about the same time, the Jewish academy at Tiberius began to collate the combined Mishnah, braitot, explanations, and interpretations developed by generations of scholars who studied after the death of Judah HaNasi. The text was organized according to the order of the Mishna: each paragraph of Mishnah was followed by a compilation of all of the interpretations, stories, and responses associated with that Mishnah. This text is called the Jerusalem Talmud.
The Jews of Judea received a brief respite from official persecution during the rule of the Emperor Julian the Apostate. Julian’s policy was to return the kingdom to Hellenism and he encouraged the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem. As Julian’s rule lasted briefly from 361 to 363, the Jews could not rebuild sufficiently before Roman Christian rule was restored over the Empire. Beginning in 398 with the consecration of St. John Chrysostom as Patriarch, the Christian rhetoric against Jews continued to rise; he preached sermons with titles such as “Against the Jews” and “On the Statues, Homily 17,” in which John preaches against “the Jewish sickness”. Such heated language contributed to a climate of Christian distrust and hate toward the large Jewish settlements, such as those in Antioch and Constantinople.
In the beginning of the 5th century, the Emperor Theodosius issued a set of decrees establishing official persecution against Jews. Jews were not allowed to own slaves, build new synagogues, hold public office or try cases between a Jew and a non-Jew. Intermarriage between Jew and non-Jew was made a capital offense, as was a Christian converting to Judaism. Theodosius did away with the Sanhedrin and abolished the post of Nasi. Under the Emperor Justinian, the authorities further restricted the civil rights of Jews, and threatened their religious privileges. The emperor interfered in the internal affairs of the synagogue, and forbade, for instance, the use of the Hebrew language in divine worship. Those who disobeyed the restrictions were threatened with corporal penalties, exile, and loss of property. The Jews at Borium, not far from Syrtis Major, who resisted the Byzantine General Belisarius in his campaign against the Vandals, were forced to embrace Christianity, and their synagogue was converted to a church.
Justinian and his successors had concerns outside the province of Judea, and he had insufficient troops to enforce these regulations. As a result, the 5th century was a period when a wave of new synagogues were built, many with beautiful mosaic floors. Jews adopted the rich art forms of the Byzantine culture. Jewish mosaics of the period portray people, animals, menorahs, zodiacs, and Biblical characters. Excellent examples of these synagogue floors have been found at Beit Alpha (which includes the scene of Abraham sacrificing a ram instead of his son Isaac along with a zodiac), Tiberius, Beit Shean, and Tzippori.
The precarious existence of Jews under Byzantine rule did not long endure, largely for the explosion of the Muslim religion out of the remote Arabian peninsula (where large populations of Jews resided, see History of the Jews under Muslim Rule for more). The Muslim Caliphate ejected the Byzantines from the Holy Land (or the Levant, defined as modern Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) within a few years of their victory at the Battle of Yarmouk in 636. Numerous Jews fled the remaining Byzantine territories in favour of residence in the Caliphate over the subsequent centuries.
The size of the Jewish community in the Byzantine Empire was not affected by attempts by some emperors (most notably Justinian) to forcibly convert the Jews of Anatolia to Christianity, as these attempts met with very little success. Historians continue to research the status of the Jews in Asian Minor during the Byzantine rule. (for a sample of views, see, for instance, J. Starr The Jews in the Byzantine Empire, 6411204; S. Bowman, The Jews of Byzantium; R. Jenkins Byzantium; Averil Cameron, “Byzantines and Jews: Recent Work on Early Byzantium”, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 20 (1996)). No systematic persecution of the type endemic at that time in Western Europe (pogroms, the stake, mass expulsions, etc.) has been recorded in Byzantium. Much of the Jewish population of Constantinople remained in place after the conquest of the city by Mehmet II.
Sometime in the 7th or 8th century, the Khazars, a Turkic tribe (who for some three centuries [c. 650965] dominated the vast area extending from the Volga-Don steppe lands to the eastern Crimea and the northern Caucasus), seem to have converted to Judaism. The completeness of this conversion is unclear. There had been a Jewish population in the Crimea since the Hellenistic era, and the conversions may have been reinforced by Jewish migrants entering the region, who had emigrated from areas of Byzantine rule.
Perhaps in the 4th century, the Kingdom of Semien, a Jewish nation in modern Ethiopia was established, lasting until the 17th century.
In 638 CE the Byzantine Empire lost control of the Levant. The Arab Islamic Empire under Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem and the lands of Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. As a political system, Islam created radically new conditions for Jewish economic, social, and intellectual development.Caliph Omar permitted the Jews to reestablish their presence in Jerusalemafter a lapse of 500 years. Jewish tradition regards Caliph Omar as a benevolent ruler and the Midrash (Nistarot de-Rav Shimon bar Yoai) refers to him as a “friend of Israel.”
According to the Arab geographer Al-Muqaddasi, the Jews worked as “the assayers of coins, the dyers, the tanners and the bankers in the community”. During the Fatimid period, many Jewish officials served in the regime. Professor Moshe Gil documents that at the time of the Arab conquest in the 7th century CE, the majority of the population was Jewish.
During this time Jews were lived in thriving communities all across ancient Babylonia. In the Geonic period (6501250 CE), the Babylonian Yeshiva Academies were the chief centers of Jewish learning; the Geonim (meaning either “Splendor” or “Geniuses”) who were the heads of these schools, were recognized as the highest authorities in Jewish law.
The Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula. During that time, Jews were generally accepted in society and Jewish religious, cultural, and economic life blossomed.
A period of tolerance thus dawned for the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula, whose number was considerably augmented by immigration from Africa in the wake of the Muslim conquest. Especially after 912, during the reign of Abd-ar-Rahman III and his son, Al-Hakam II, the Jews prospered, devoting themselves to the service of the Caliphate of Cordoba, to the study of the sciences, and to commerce and industry, especially to trading in silk and slaves, in this way promoting the prosperity of the country. Jewish economic expansion was unparalleled. In Toledo, Jews were involved in translating Arabic texts to the Romance languages, as well as translating Greek and Hebrew texts into Arabic. Jews also contributed to botany, geography, medicine, mathematics, poetry and philosophy.
‘Abd al-Rahman’s court physician and minister was Hasdai ben Isaac ibn Shaprut, the patron of Menahem ben Saruq, Dunash ben Labrat, and other Jewish scholars and poets. Jewish thought during this period flourished under famous figures such as Samuel Ha-Nagid, Moses ibn Ezra, Solomon ibn Gabirol Judah Halevi and Moses Maimonides. During ‘Abd al-Rahman’s term of power, the scholar Moses ben Enoch was appointed rabbi of Crdoba, and as a consequence al-Andalus became the center of Talmudic study, and Crdoba the meeting-place of Jewish savants.
The Golden Age ended with the invasion of the Reconquista and the invasion of the Almohades. The major Jewish presence in Iberia continued until the Jews were forcibly expelled en masse due to the edict of expulsion by Christian Spain in 1492 and a similar decree by Christian Portugal in 1496.
In 1099, Jews helped the Arabs to defend Jerusalem against the Crusaders. When the city fell, the Crusaders gathered many Jews in a synagogue and set it on fire. In Haifa, the Jews almost single-handedly defended the town against the Crusaders, holding out for a month, (JuneJuly 1099). At this time there were Jewish communities scattered all over the country, including Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza. As Jews were not allowed to hold land during the Crusader period, they worked at trades and commerce in the coastal towns during times of quiescence. Most were artisans: glassblowers in Sidon, furriers and dyers in Jerusalem.
During this period, the Masoretes of Tiberias established the niqqud, a system of diacritical signs used to represent vowels or distinguish between alternative pronunciations of letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Numerous piyutim and midrashim were recorded in Palestine at this time.
Maimonides wrote that in 1165 he visited Jerusalem and went to the Temple Mount, where he prayed in the “great, holy house”. Maimonides established a yearly holiday for himself and his sons, the 6th of Cheshvan, commemorating the day he went up to pray on the Temple Mount, and another, the 9th of Cheshvan, commemorating the day he merited to pray at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
In 1141 Yehuda Halevi issued a call to Jews to emigrate to the land of Israel and took on the long journey himself. After a stormy passage from Crdoba, he arrived in Egyptian Alexandria, where he was enthusiastically greeted by friends and admirers. At Damietta, he had to struggle against his heart, and the pleadings of his friend alfon ha-Levi, that he remain in Egypt, where he would be free from intolerant oppression. He started on the rough route overland. He was met along the way by Jews in Tyre and Damascus. Jewish legend relates that as he came near Jerusalem, overpowered by the sight of the Holy City, he sang his most beautiful elegy, the celebrated “Zionide” (Zion ha-lo Tish’ali). At that instant, an Arab had galloped out of a gate and rode him down; he was killed in the accident.
In the years 12601516, the land of Israel was part of the Empire of the Mamluks, who ruled first from Turkey, then from Egypt. War, uprisings, bloodshed and destruction followed the Maimonides. Jews suffered persecution and humiliation, but the surviving records note at least 30 Jewish urban and rural communities at the opening of the 16th century.
Nahmanides is recorded as settling in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1267. He moved to Acre, where he was active in spreading Jewish learning, which was at that time neglected in the Holy Land. He gathered a circle of pupils around him, and people came in crowds, even from the district of the Euphrates, to hear him. Karaites were said to have attended his lectures, among them Aaron ben Joseph the Elder. He later became one of the greatest Karaite authorities. Shortly after Nahmanides’ arrival in Jerusalem, he addressed a letter to his son Nahman, in which he described the desolation of the Holy City. At the time, it had only two Jewish inhabitantstwo brothers, dyers by trade. In a later letter from Acre, Nahmanides counsels his son to cultivate humility, which he considers to be the first of virtues. In another, addressed to his second son, who occupied an official position at the Castilian court, Nahmanides recommends the recitation of the daily prayers and warns above all against immorality. Nahmanides died after reaching seventy-six, and his remains were interred at Haifa, by the grave of Yechiel of Paris.
Yechiel had emigrated to Acre in 1260, along with his son and a large group of followers. There he established the Tamudic academy Midrash haGadol d’Paris. He is believed to have died there between 1265 and 1268. In 1488 Obadiah ben Abraham, commentator on the Mishnah, arrived in Jerusalem; this marked a new period of return for the Jewish community in the land.
During the Middle Ages, Jews were generally better treated by Islamic rulers than Christian ones. Despite second-class citizenship, Jews played prominent roles in Muslim courts, and experienced a “Golden Age” in Moorish Spain about 9001100, though the situation deteriorated after that time. Riots resulting in the deaths of Jews did however occur in North Africa through the centuries and especially in Morocco, Libya and Algeria, where eventually Jews were forced to live in ghettos.
During the 11th century, Muslims in Spain conducted pogroms against the Jews; those occurred in Cordoba in 1011 and in Granada in 1066. During the Middle Ages, the governments of Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen enacted decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues. At certain times, Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in some parts of Yemen, Morocco and Baghdad. The Almohads, who had taken control of much of Islamic Iberia by 1172, surpassed the Almoravides in fundamentalist outlook. They treated the dhimmis harshly. They expelled both Jews and Christians from Morocco and Islamic Spain. Faced with the choice of death or conversion, many Jews emigrated. Some, such as the family of Maimonides, fled south and east to the more tolerant Muslim lands, while others went northward to settle in the growing Christian kingdoms.
According to the American writer James Carroll, “Jews accounted for 10% of the total population of the Roman Empire. By that ratio, if other factors had not intervened, there would be 200 million Jews in the world today, instead of something like 13 million.”
Jewish populations have existed in Europe, especially in the area of the former Roman Empire, from very early times. As Jewish males had emigrated, some sometimes took wives from local populations, as is shown by the various MtDNA, compared to Y-DNA among Jewish populations. These groups were joined by traders and later on by members of the diaspora. Records of Jewish communities in France (see History of the Jews in France) and Germany (see History of the Jews in Germany) date from the 4th century, and substantial Jewish communities in Spain were noted even earlier.
The historian Norman Cantor and other 20th-century scholars dispute the tradition that the Middle Ages was a uniformly difficult time for Jews. Before the Church became fully organized as an institution with an increasing array of rules, early medieval society was tolerant. Between 800 and 1100, an estimated 1.5 million Jews lived in Christian Europe. As they were not Christians, they were not included as a division of the feudal system of clergy, knights and serfs. This means that they did not have to satisfy the oppressive demands for labor and military conscription that Christian commoners suffered. In relations with the Christian society, the Jews were protected by kings, princes and bishops, because of the crucial services they provided in three areas: financial, administrative and medical.
Christian scholars interested in the Bible consulted with Talmudic rabbis. As the Roman Catholic Church strengthened as an institution, the Franciscan and Dominican preaching orders were founded, and there was a rise of competitive middle-class, town-dwelling Christians. By 1300, the friars and local priests staged the Passion Plays during Holy Week, which depicted Jews (in contemporary dress) killing Christ, according to Gospel accounts. From this period, persecution of Jews and deportations became endemic. Around 1500, Jews found relative security and a renewal of prosperity in present-day Poland.
After 1300, Jews suffered more discrimination and persecution in Christian Europe. As Catholics were forbidden by the church to loan money for interest, some Jews became prominent moneylenders. Christian rulers gradually saw the advantage of having such a class of people who could supply capital for their use without being liable to excommunication. As a result, the money trade of western Europe became a specialty of the Jews. But, in almost every instance when Jews acquired large amounts through banking transactions, during their lives or upon their deaths, the king would take it over.  Jews became imperial “servi camer”, the property of the King, who might present them and their possessions to princes or cities.
Jews were frequently massacred and exiled from various European countries. The persecution hit its first peak during the Crusades. In the First Crusade (1096) flourishing Jewish communities on the Rhine and the Danube were utterly destroyed; see German Crusade, 1096. In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in France were subject to frequent massacres. They were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds’ Crusades of 1251 and 1320. The Crusades were followed by massive expulsions, including (in 1290) the banishing of all English Jews; in 1396 100,000 Jews were expelled from France; and in 1421, thousands were expelled from Austria. Over this time many Jews in Europe, either fleeing or being expelled, migrated to Poland, where they prospered into another Golden Age.
Historians who study modern Jewry have identified four different paths by which European Jews were “modernized” and thus integrated into the mainstream of European society. A common approach has been to view the process through the lens of the European Enlightenment as Jews faced the promise and the challenges posed by political emancipation. Scholars that use this approach have focused on two social types as paradigms for the decline of Jewish tradition and as agents of the sea changes in Jewish culture that led to the collapse of the ghetto. The first of these two social types is the Court Jew who is portrayed as a forerunner of the modern Jew, having achieved integration with and participation in the proto-capitalist economy and court society of central European states such as the Habsburg Empire. In contrast to the cosmopolitan Court Jew, the second social type presented by historians of modern Jewry is the maskil, (learned person), a proponent of the Haskalah (Enlightenment). This narrative sees the maskil’s pursuit of secular scholarship and his rationalistic critiques of rabbinic tradition as laying a durable intellectual foundation for the secularization of Jewish society and culture. The established paradigm has been one in which Ashkenazic Jews entered modernity through a self-conscious process of westernization led by “highly atypical, Germanized Jewish intellectuals”. Haskalah gave birth to the Reform and Conservative movements and planted the seeds of Zionism while at the same time encouraging cultural assimilation into the countries in which Jews resided. At around the same time that Haskalah was developing, Hasidic Judaism was spreading as a movement that preached a world view almost opposed to the Haskalah.
In the 1990s, the concept of the “Port Jew” has been suggested as an “alternate path to modernity” that was distinct from the European Haskalah. In contrast to the focus on Ashkenazic Germanized Jews, the concept of the Port Jew focused on the Sephardi conversos who fled the Inquisition and resettled in European port towns on the coast of the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Eastern seaboard of the United States.
Court Jews were Jewish bankers or businessmen who lent money and handled the finances of some of the Christian European noble houses. A corresponding historical term is Jewish Bailiff. See also shtadlan.
Examples of what would be later called court Jews emerged when local rulers used services of Jewish bankers for short-term loans. They lent money to nobles and in the process gained social influence. Noble patrons of court Jews employed them as financiers, suppliers, diplomats and trade delegates. Court Jews could use their family connections, and connections between each other, to provision their sponsors with, among other things, food, arms, ammunition and precious metals. In return for their services, court Jews gained social privileges, including up to noble status for themselves, and could live outside the Jewish ghettos. Some nobles wanted to keep their bankers in their own courts. And because they were under noble protection, they were exempted from rabbinical jurisdiction.
From medieval times, court Jews could amass personal fortunes and gained political and social influence. Sometimes they were also prominent people in the local Jewish community and could use their influence to protect and influence their brethren. Sometimes they were the only Jews who could interact with the local high society and present petitions of the Jews to the ruler. However, the court Jew had social connections and influence in the Christian world mainly through his Christian patrons. Due to the precarious position of Jews, some nobles could just ignore their debts. If the sponsoring noble died, his Jewish financier could face exile or execution.
During the European Renaissance, the worst of the expulsions occurred following the reconquista of Andalus, as the Moorish or Arab Islamic government of Spain was known. With the ejection of the last Muslim rulers from Granada in 1492, the Spanish Inquisition followed and the entire Spanish population of around 200,000 Sephardic Jews were expelled. This was followed by expulsions in 1493 in Sicily (37,000 Jews) and Portugal in 1496. The expelled Spanish Jews fled mainly to the Ottoman Empire, Holland, and North Africa, others migrating to Southern Europe and the Middle East.
The Port Jew describes Jews who were involved in the seafaring and maritime economy of Europe, especially in the 17th and 18th centuries. Helen Fry suggests that they could be considered to have been “the earliest modern Jews”. According to Fry, Port Jews often arrived as “refugees from the Inquisition” and the expulsion of Jews from Iberia. They were allowed to settle in port cities as merchants granted permission to trade in ports such as Amsterdam, London, Trieste and Hamburg. Fry notes that their connections with the Jewish Diaspora and their expertise in maritime trade made them of particular interest to the mercantilist governments of Europe. Lois Dubin describes Port Jews as Jewish merchants who were “valued for their engagement in the international maritime trade upon which such cities thrived”. Sorkin and others have characterized the socio-cultural profile of these men as marked by a flexibility towards religion and a “reluctant cosmopolitanism that was alien to both traditional and ‘enlightened’ Jewish identities”.
During the Classical Ottoman period (13001600), the Jews, together with most other communities of the empire, enjoyed a certain level of prosperity. Compared with other Ottoman subjects, they were the predominant power in commerce and trade as well in diplomacy and other high offices. In the 16th century especially, the Jews were the most prominent under the millets, the apogee of Jewish influence could arguably be the appointment of Joseph Nasi to Sanjak-bey (governor, a rank usually only bestowed upon Muslims) of the island of Naxos.
At the time of the Battle of Yarmuk when the Levant passed under Muslim Rule, thirty Jewish communities existed in Haifa, Shchem, Hebron, Ramleh, Gaza, Jerusalem, and many in the north. Safed became a spiritual centre for the Jews and the Shulchan Aruch was compiled there as well as many Kabbalistic texts. The first Hebrew printing press, and the first printing in Western Asia began in 1577.
Jews lived in the geographic area of Asia Minor (modern Turkey, but more geographically either Anatolia or Asia Minor) for more than 2,400 years. Initial prosperity in Hellenistic times had faded under Christian Byzantine rule, but recovered somewhat under the rule of the various Muslim governments that displaced and succeeded rule from Constantinople. For much of the Ottoman period, Turkey was a safe haven for Jews fleeing persecution, and it continues to have a small Jewish population today. The situation where Jews both enjoyed cultural and economical prosperity at times but were widely persecuted at other times was summarised by G.E. Von Grunebaum:
It would not be difficult to put together the names of a very sizeable number of Jewish subjects or citizens of the Islamic area who have attained to high rank, to power, to great financial influence, to significant and recognized intellectual attainment; and the same could be done for Christians. But it would again not be difficult to compile a lengthy list of persecutions, arbitrary confiscations, attempted forced conversions, or pogroms.
In the 17th century, there were many significant Jewish populations in Western Europe. The relatively tolerant Poland had the largest Jewish population in Europe that dated back to 13th century and enjoyed relative prosperity and freedom for nearly four hundred years; however the calm situation there ended when Polish and Lithuanian Jews were slaughtered in the hundreds of thousands by the cossacks during Chmielnicki uprising (1648) and by the Swedish wars (1655). Driven by these and other persecutions, Jews moved back to Western Europe in the 17th century. The last ban on Jews (by the English) was revoked in 1654, but periodic expulsions from individual cities still occurred, and Jews were often restricted from land ownership, or forced to live in ghettos.
With the Partition of Poland in the late 18th century, the Jewish population was split between the Russian Empire, Austro-Hungary, and Prussia, which divided Poland for themselves.
During the period of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, significant changes occurred within the Jewish community. The Haskalah movement paralleled the wider Enlightenment, as Jews began in the 18th century to campaign for emancipation from restrictive laws and integration into the wider European society. Secular and scientific education was added to the traditional religious instruction received by students, and interest in a national Jewish identity, including a revival in the study of Jewish history and Hebrew, started to grow. Haskalah gave birth to the Reform and Conservative movements and planted the seeds of Zionism while at the same time encouraging cultural assimilation into the countries in which Jews resided. At around the same time another movement was born, one preaching almost the opposite of Haskalah, Hasidic Judaism. Hasidic Judaism began in the 18th century by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, and quickly gained a following with its more exuberant, mystical approach to religion. These two movements, and the traditional orthodox approach to Judaism from which they spring, formed the basis for the modern divisions within Jewish observance.
At the same time, the outside world was changing, and debates began over the potential emancipation of the Jews (granting them equal rights). The first country to do so was France, during the French Revolution in 1789. Even so, Jews were expected to integrate, not continue their traditions. This ambivalence is demonstrated in the famous speech of Clermont-Tonnerre before the National Assembly in 1789:
We must refuse everything to the Jews as a nation and accord everything to Jews as individuals. We must withdraw recognition from their judges; they should only have our judges. We must refuse legal protection to the maintenance of the so-called laws of their Judaic organization; they should not be allowed to form in the state either a political body or an order. They must be citizens individually. But, some will say to me, they do not want to be citizens. Well then! If they do not want to be citizens, they should say so, and then, we should banish them. It is repugnant to have in the state an association of non-citizens, and a nation within the nation…
Hasidic Judaism is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith. Hasidism comprises part of contemporary Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, alongside the previous Talmudic Lithuanian-Yeshiva approach and the Oriental Sephardi tradition.
It was founded in 18th-century Eastern Europe by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism. Opposite to this, Hasidic teachings cherished the sincerity and concealed holiness of the unlettered common folk, and their equality with the scholarly elite. The emphasis on the Immanent Divine presence in everything gave new value to prayer and deeds of kindness, alongside Rabbinic supremacy of study, and replaced historical mystical (kabbalistic) and ethical (musar) asceticism and admonishment with optimism, encouragement, and dailyfervour. This populist emotional revival accompanied the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of mystical thought. The adjustment of Jewish values sought to add to required standards of ritual observance, while relaxing others where inspiration predominated. Its communal gatherings celebrate soulful song and storytelling as forms of mystical devotion.
Though persecution still existed, emancipation spread throughout Europe in the 19th century. Napoleon invited Jews to leave the Jewish ghettos in Europe and seek refuge in the newly created tolerant political regimes that offered equality under Napoleonic Law (see Napoleon and the Jews). By 1871, with Germanys emancipation of Jews, every European country except Russia had emancipated its Jews.
Despite increasing integration of the Jews with secular society, a new form of anti-Semitism emerged, based on the ideas of race and nationhood rather than the religious hatred of the Middle Ages. This form of anti-Semitism held that Jews were a separate and inferior race from the Aryan people of Western Europe, and led to the emergence of political parties in France, Germany, and Austria-Hungary that campaigned on a platform of rolling back emancipation. This form of anti-Semitism emerged frequently in European culture, most famously in the Dreyfus Trial in France. These persecutions, along with state-sponsored pogroms in Russia in the late 19th century, led a number of Jews to believe that they would only be safe in their own nation. See Theodor Herzl and History of Zionism.
During this period, Jewish migration to the United States (see American Jews) created a large new community mostly freed of the restrictions of Europe. Over 2 million Jews arrived in the United States between 1890 and 1924, most from Russia and Eastern Europe. A similar case occurred in the southern tip of the continent, specifically in the countries of Argentina and Uruguay.
During the 1870s and 1880s the Jewish population in Europe began to more actively discuss immigration back to Israel and the re-establishment of the Jewish Nation in its national homeland, fulfilling the biblical prophecies relating to Shivat Tzion. In 1882 the first Zionist settlementRishon LeZionwas founded by immigrants who belonged to the “Hovevei Zion” movement. Later on, the “Bilu” movement established many other settlements in the land of Israel.
The Zionist movement was founded officially after the Kattowitz convention (1884) and the World Zionist Congress (1897), and it was Theodor Herzl who began the struggle to establish a state for the Jews.
After the First World War, it seemed that the conditions to establish such a state had arrived: The United Kingdom captured Palestine from the Ottoman Empire, and the Jews received the promise of a “National Home” from the British in the form of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, given to Chaim Weizmann.
In 1920 the British Mandate of Palestine began and the pro-Jewish Herbert Samuel was appointed High Commissioner in Palestine, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was established and several big Jewish immigration waves to Palestine occurred. The Arab co-inhabitants of Palestine were hostile to increasing Jewish immigration however, and began to oppose Jewish settlement and the pro-Jewish policy of the British government by violent means.
Arab gangs began performing violent acts and murders on convoys and on the Jewish population. After the 1920 Arab riots and 1921 Jaffa riots, the Jewish leadership in Palestine believed that the British had no desire to confront local Arab gangs over their attacks on Palestinian Jews. Believing that they could not rely on the British administration for protection from these gangs, the Jewish leadership created the Haganah organization to protect their farms and Kibbutzim.
Major riots occurred during the 1929 Palestine riots and the 19361939 Arab revolt in Palestine.
Due to the increasing violence the United Kingdom gradually started to backtrack from the original idea of a Jewish state and to speculate on a binational solution or an Arab state that would have a Jewish minority.
Meanwhile, the Jews of Europe and the United States gained success in the fields of the science, culture and the economy. Among those generally considered the most famous were scientist Albert Einstein and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. A disproportionate number of Nobel Prize winners at this time were Jewish, as is still the case. In Russia, many Jews were involved in the October Revolution and belonged to the Communist Party.
In 1933, with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party in Germany, the Jewish situation became more severe. Economic crises, racial anti-Semitic laws, and a fear of an upcoming war led many Jews to flee from Europe to Palestine, to the United States and to the Soviet Union.
In 1939 World War II began and until 1941 Hitler occupied almost all of Europe, including Polandwhere millions of Jews were living at that timeand France. In 1941, following the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Final Solution began, an extensive organized operation on an unprecedented scale, aimed at the annihilation of the Jewish people, and resulting in the persecution and murder of Jews in political Europe, inclusive of European North Africa (pro-Nazi Vichy-North Africa and Italian Libya). This genocide, in which approximately six million Jews were murdered methodically and with horrifying cruelty, is known as The Holocaust or Shoah (Hebrew term). In Poland, more than one million Jews were murdered in gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp alone.
The massive scale of the Holocaust, and the horrors that happened during it, heavily affected the Jewish nation and world public opinion, which only understood the dimensions of the Holocaust after the war. Efforts were then increased to establish a Jewish state in Palestine.
In 1945 the Jewish resistance organizations in Palestine unified and established the Jewish Resistance Movement. The movement began attacking the British authority. Following the King David Hotel bombing, Chaim Weizmann, president of the WZO appealed to the movement to cease all further military activity until a decision would be reached by the Jewish Agency. The Jewish Agency backed Weizmann’s recommendation to cease activities, a decision reluctantly accepted by the Haganah, but not by the Irgun and the Lehi. The JRM was dismantled and each of the founding groups continued operating according to their own policy.
The Jewish leadership decided to center the struggle in the illegal immigration to Palestine and began organizing massive amount of Jewish war refugees from Europe, without the approval of the British authorities. This immigration contributed a great deal to the Jewish settlements in Israel in the world public opinion and the British authorities decided to let the United Nations decide upon the fate of Palestine.
On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 181(II) recommending partitioning Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state and the City of Jerusalem. The Jewish leadership accepted the decision but the Arab League and the leadership of Palestinian Arabs opposed it. Following a period of civil war the 1948 ArabIsraeli War started.
In the middle of the war, after the last soldiers of the British mandate left Palestine, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed on May 14, 1948, the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel to be known as the State of Israel. In 1949 the war ended and the state of Israel started building the state and absorbing massive waves of hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the world.
Jewish history – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jewish History Genesis 3761 BCE
In the beginning God created the world and everything in it in six days. Man was created, only after everything else was ready, on the sixth day. Jewish years begin with the creation of the first man. The year 2012 CE corresponds to the Hebrew year 5772. Therefore Genesis, that is dated to the Hebrew year 0, is dated to the year 3761 BCE in the Gregorian Calendar.
On account of man’s wickedness, God resolved to destroy all mankind and animals by a flood. For his righteousness, only Noah and his family were excepted together with pairs of every living species.
As mankind tried to reach the sky God scattered it abroad upon the face of all the earth. The place where this took place in was named Babel, meaning confusion in Hebrew, since there God confounded the language of the earth.
God appeared to Abraham with a promise of offspring and their subsequent inheritance of the Land of Israel – between the river of Egypt and the Euphrates.
The greatest trial of the patriarch’s life came when God bade him offer up his only son as a burnt offering. Eventually, an angel of the Lord restrained him, once more delivering the prophecy that the patriarch’s seed should be as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore, and that in them all the nations of the earth should be blessed.
When the famine grew severe in Canaan, Jacob sent his sons into Egypt to buy corn, Later he went to Egypt with his eleven sons and their children, numbering altogether sixty-six, Joseph meeting him in Goshen.
The departure, under the leadership of Moses, of the Israelites from the land of Egypt. The Torah was given shortly after at Mount Sinai, by God revealing to all the Israelites, and not to a single prophet, as the case usually is in other religions.
David, desired to build a temple for God, but was not permitted to do so because he was engaged in wars. His son, King Solomon, built the First Temple.
King Solomon’s death led to the division of the kingdom into two: Judah and Israel (also named Samaria). The division led to political and spiritual deterioration. Wars and assimilation became common.
Around two hundred years after the division of the kingdom, the Assyrian Empire conquered the kingdom of Israel. The remaining population of the ten tribes of Israel either fled to Judah or were exiled to Assyria.
Babylonian conquest brings terrible devastation, destruction and exile. Those who remain are poor and incompetent. The day the Temple was burned, Tisha B’Av, was set to be a fast day.
Assassination of Gedalia, governor of Palestine. The Babylonian response was destructive. A fast day was set to commemorate the terrible event and its consequences.
Cyrus of Persia allows Jews to return to Eretz Yisrael. About 50,000 return led by Zerubbabel. Ezra and Nehemiah lead other Alyia waves and spiritual revival.
The event, told in the Book of Esther, is the source of Fast of Esther Day and Purim, celebrated since then on the fourteenth of Adar (and Shushan Purim on the 15th of Adar).
The Jews that returned to Zion finally succeeded in building the 2nd Temple on the ruins of the previous one. In the process they had to overcome many difficulties including violent opposition from the neighboring tribes.
Maccabbean Revolt rose against the Greek Empire, as its king Antiochus outlawed Jewish traditions and ordered a pagan altar to be set up in the Temple at Jerusalem. The revolt succeeded and the temple was dedicated. Hanukkah, celebrated during eight days from the twenty-fifth day of Kislew (December), chiefly as a festival of lights, was instituted by Judas Maccabeus, to be celebrated annually with mirth and joy as a memorial of the dedication of the altar.
Roman army led by Titus to suppress the Jewish Big Revolt did so brutally. The suffering in Jerusalem was terrible. According to Josephus, even before the siege was ended, 600,000 bodies had been thrown out of the gates. On the 17th of Tamuz the Romans entered Jerusalem. On the 9th of Av they destroyed the Temple. Both days were set to be fast days ever since. Many of the inhabitants were killed or carried off and sold as slaves in the Roman markets.
Roman anti-Jewish laws lead to the Bar-Kokhva Revolt. Although successful at first, the revolt was firmly suppressed after three years. As many as 580,000 Jews fell in battle, not including those who succumbed to hunger and pestilence. It was then when the Romans gave the name Palestine to the land of Israel so that the Jewish connection to the land would vanish. For the same reason Jews were not allowed into Jerusalem and Jewish traditions were outlawed.
Caliph Abd al-Malik completes the construction of the shrine Dome of the Rock on the Jewish Temple’s ruins in Jerusalem.
The Chazars’ King felt that God appeared to him in a dream and promised him might and glory. The King questioned the Mohammedans, the Christians and the Jews about their religions. Following his research he decided to adopt Judaism. Rabbi Yehuda Halevi uses this story as a platform to explain the Jewish Philosophy in his book the Kuzari.
The crusades were expeditions from western Europe to bring Jerusalem and the holy places back to the hands of Christians. The mobs accompanying the first three Crusades attacked the Jews in Europe and Israel, and put many of them to death. The Jews of Jerusalem, as in other places in Israel, were slaughtered as the first crusade conquered it in 1099.
Most countries in Central and Western Europe expelled their Jews between the 12th and the 15th centuries. England did so in 1290. The expulsions were generally accompanied by robbing their belongings and nationalizing their houses. Occasionally the Jews were allowed to come back and then robbed and expelled again after several years.
The Black-Death was a violent pestilence which ravaged Europe between 1348, and 1351, and is said to have carried off nearly half the population. A myth arose, especially in Germany, that the spread of the disease was due to a plot of the Jews to destroy Christians by poisoning the wells from which they obtained. All over Europe mobs against Jews arose and thousands of them were slain over these false accusations.
Casimir The Great, King of Poland grants rights to the Jews. Poland therefore attracts Jewish immigration from Germany and Russia and as a result becomes the most important Jewish center of Europe.
An edict of expulsion was issued against the Jews of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella (March 31, 1492). It ordered all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age to leave the kingdom in 4 months, leaving their houses, gold, silver, and money. Approximately 200 thousand fled Spain, 50,000 converted, and dozens of thousands were killed or died from diseases on the journey.
Moreinu ha-Rav Loew, the Maharal, establishes his academy in Prague and thus contributes to Jewish education and evolvement.
Led by Chmielnicki the Ukrainians slain between 100,000 to 300,000 Jews in less than 2 years. Terrible massacres spread over the course of the next ten years to Poland, Russia and Lithuania killing dozens to hundreds of thousands Jews.
Hasidism movement arose among the Polish Jews and won over nearly half of the Jewish masses there. It was founded by the Ba’al Shem Tov. His teachings assign the first place in religion not to religious dogma and ritual, but to the sentiment and the emotion of faith. This change gave rise to an opposition movement called the Mitnagdim led by the Vilna Ga’on, that most valued man’s Talmudic learning and traditional rituals and prayers.
Napoleon has published a proclamation in which he invites all the Jews of Asia and Africa to gather under his flag in order to re-establish the ancient Jerusalem.
Big changes in European society influenced its Jewish world. Emancipation, enlightenment, assimilation and the appearance of the Reform and the Orthodox movements are some of the main results.
Accusation of ritual murder brought against the Jews of Damascus in 1840. The affair shook the Jewish world.
Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army was falsely accused of spying, as an indirect result of antisemitism. The novelist Emile Zola published under the title J’Accuse, an open letter to the president of the republic, an eloquent philippic against the enemies of truth and justice.
The First Zionist Congress was held in Basel with the initiative and leadership of Herzl. The Congress was a Zionist parliament with Jews represented from all over the world. It was initiated in order to discuss and make decisions regarding the Jewish nation and the ways to achieve Jewish sovereignty and national aspirations.
Wave of pogroms in Russia, including the most known Kishinev pogrom, began in 1881 and continued for over 40 years. Dozens of thousands were murdered. The pogroms had great impact on migrations (more than – 2 million Jews migrated mainly to America) and the development of Zionism.
The Nazi criminals and their collaborators murdered 6 million Jews systematically and cold blooded, as they intended to perish the existence of Israel. In memory of the Holocaust victims, the State of Israel set a national memorial day on the 27th of Nisan.
The State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948 with the declaration of independence made by the Jewish People’s Council, led by David Ben Gurion.
Jacob and his sons were 70 people as they descended to Egypt, apart from their wives. We can assume that Jacob’s house-hold members also joined. It is told that Abraham had 318 men. Therefore, we can assume that Jacob and his sons also had several hundred Household Members – men, women and children.
After the exodus, in the year 1313 BCE the Israelites counted more than 600 thousand men over the age of 20. Therefore, having a population of around 2.5 million.
Around the year 1000 BCE, just before the monarchy began, Israel’s population is estimated to have been approximately 3.4 million.
Around the year 960 BCE, Israel’s population is estimated to have been approximately 5 million. This comes from King David’s census that counted a total 1.3 million adult males, indicating a total population of about 5 million people.
Around the year 720 BCE Israel’s population is estimated to have been approximately 1.3 million. The big drop in population was caused by wars and assimilation that came as a result of the kingdom’s split to Judah and Israel after King Solomon passed away.
Around the year 700 BCE Israel’s population is estimated to have been approximately 0.8 million. The drop in population was caused by the Assyrian conquest and exile of Israel’s 10 tribes.
Around the year 585 BCE, Israel’s population is estimated to have been approximately 0.3 million, most of which lived outside the land of Israel, as a result of the Babylonian conquest and exile.
Around the year 515 BCE, the total Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 0.3 million. Approximately half lived in Israel after the Return to Zion was allowed by the Persian Empire.
Around the year 65 CE, the Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 4.35 million. Approximately half living in the Land of Israel, and the other half outside of Israel, in its surrounding countries.
Around the year 70 CE, after the great revolt was brutally suppressed, the Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 2 million. The Romans killed many, and took many others as slaves. This gave birth to the European diaspora.
Around the year 135 CE, after the Bar-Kochva revolt was brutally suppressed, the Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 1.5 million. It was estimated that 580,000 Jews were killed during that war.
Around the year 1100 CE, the Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 1.0 million. Crusaders killed Jews on their way to the Land of Israel and in it.
Around the year 1351 CE, the Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 1.0 million. Thousands of Jews were murdered as christians in Europe blamed them for causing the black plague.
Around the year 1500 CE, the Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 1.0 million. That was a few years after the expulsion from Spain, which deported about 100,000 Jews to the Ottoman Empire, Asia and Africa. About 50,000 Jews were converted. Presumably, some tens of thousands were killed.
Around the year 1650 CE, the Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 1.0 million. As more than 100,000 Jews were slaughtered in Poland and Lithuania.
Around the year 1882 CE, the Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 7.8 million. Fast natural growth in European population. Pogroms in eastern Europe lead to casualties and immigration waves to America.
In the year 1939 CE, the Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 16.6 million. Fast natural growth in Europe and America.
In the year 1945 CE, the Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 11.4 million. The Nazi criminals and their collaborators murdered 6 million Jews systematically and cold blooded, in an attempt to demenish the existence of Israel.
In the year 2010 CE, the Jewish population is estimated to have been approximately 13.5 million. Today the State of Israel is the largest Jewish center in the world, with approximately 6 million Jews. It had less than a tenth of that number of Jews only 64 years ago when it was established.
During the Bronze Era, prior to the conquest of Israel by the Israelites, the Land of Israel was occupied by a number of small nations called the Canaanites. The Canaanites lived most of this period under Egyptian hegemony. Edited from Wikipedia.
After wondering 40 years in the desert, following the Exodus from Egypt, the people of Israel occupied the land of Israel under the leadership of Joshua (appointed by Moses before his death). The occupation was gradual and the Israeli tribes frequently suffered from wars with neighboring nations. Prosperity began as the tribes united to form the monarchy. Prosperity and peace peaked during the reigning of King Solomon. This enabled him to build the First Temple in Jerusalem. With his death the kingdom split.
After the death of Solomon, all the Israelite tribes except for Judah and Benjamin refused to accept Rehoboam, the son and successor of Solomon, as their king. The rebellion against Rehoboam arose after he refused to lighten the burden of taxation that his father had imposed on his subjects. Rehoboam fled to Jerusalem and Jeroboam was proclaimed king over all Israel at Shechem. The northern kingdom continued to be called the Kingdom of Israel or Israel, while the southern kingdom was called the kingdom of Judah. The split of the kingdom weakened both sides and led to internal and external wars as well as assimilation.
Assyria conquered Israel but not Judah. The remaining population of the ten conquered tribes either fled to Judah or were exiled.
Babylon conquered the Assyrian Empire and Judah. Doing so they exiled the Jews and destroyed the first Temple.
The Persian Empire conquered Babylon and replaced it as the region’s ruler and the world’s greatest empire yet. Cyrus the Great, the Persian king, permitted the Jews that were exiled by Babylon to return to their land and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
Greece, under the leadership of Alexander the Great, conquered Persia and took its place as the region’s empire. The relationships with the Jews were good at first but deteriorated after Alexander’s death.
Antiochus Epiphanes, King of the Greek-Seleucid Empire, outlawed the Jewish religious practices and desecrated the holy sites. These actions led to a national revolt led by the Maccabees. The revolt succeeded and the temple was dedicated. Hanukkah, was instituted by Judas Maccabeus, to be celebrated annually with mirth and joy as a memorial of the dedication of the altar. The Maccabees succeeded in gaining full independence a few years later, and that is how the Hasmonean State was born.
The Roman Empire easily swallowed the Hasmonean State. This huge empire was one of the cruelest and most devastating for the Jewish people. It destructed the Second Temple, and later on firmly suppressed the Bar-Kochva revolt. In each war the Romans massacred hundreds of thousands of Jews, exiled and enslaved many others. It was then when the Romans gave the name Palestine to the land of Israel so that the Jewish connection to the land would vanish. For the same reason Jews were not allowed into Jerusalem and Jewish traditions were outlawed.
The Roman Empire was split into Western Rome and Eastern Rome, which was later named Byzantine.
The Arabs fought Byzantine for a couple of years before they eventually won and took its place in the land of Israel and Syria.
The first Crusade started its journey to Israel in 1096. Its goal was to gain Christian rule over Jerusalem. Three years later it succeeded. The mobs accompanying the Crusades attacked the Jews in Europe and Israel, and put many of them to death. The Jews of Jerusalem, as in other places in Israel, were slaughtered as the first crusade conquered it in 1099. This was the end of a stable large Jewish community in Israel until the modern era.
The Mamluks were non-Arab Muslims, who were first slaves and later took over Egypt. As Egypt’s leaders they led a war and defeated the Mongolians and thus secured rule over Israel and Syria.
The Sultan Selim I led the Ottoman Empire to the east. In the year 1516 he defeated the Mamluk Sultanate and took over its dependencies including the land of Israel.
The Land of Israel was conquered during the First World War by Great Britain. A few years later, the League of Nations passed an instrument granting Britain a mandate over the area. The purpose of the Mandate, as defined by the League of Nations, was to prepare a national home for the Jewish people on that territory. The territory included the land that is occupied today by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. The British did not follow the Mandate they were given. Less than twenty years later Europe’s Jews (that did not have their own homeland) were killed by the Nazi criminals and their supporters.
The State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948 with the declaration of independence made by the Jewish People’s Council, led by David Ben Gurion. It is today the largest Jewish center in the world, with approximately 6 million Jews. It had less than a tenth of that number of Jews only 64 years ago when it was established.
The period between Abraham and Moses.
The period from the entrance of the Israelite tribes to the Land of Israel after the Exodus until the coronation of King Saul.
The period from the coronation of King Saul to Ezra the Scribe.
The period from Ezra the Scribe to the first Zugot.
The Zugot (couples in Hebrew) were the couples that stood at the head of the Sanhedrin. One as president and the other as father of the court. Jose ben Joezer, and Jose ben Johanan were the first couple (during the time of the Maccabees). Hillel and Shammai were the last and probably most known couple.
The Tannaim were the Rabbinic sages that came after Hillel and Shammai. Their main work and legacy was the Mishna, that was compiled by the last Ta’na Rabbi Judah HaNasi. His death signs the end of the Tannaim period.
The term Amora was applied to the teachers that flourished during a period of about three hundred years, from the time of the death of the patriarch R. Judah I. (about 210) to the completion of the Babylonian Talmud (about 500). The activity of the teachers during this period was devoted principally to expounding the Mishnah the compilation of the patriarch R. Judah which became the authoritative code of the oral law. This activity was developed as well in the academies of Tiberias, Sepphoris, Csarea, and others in Palestine, as in those of Nehardea, Sura, and later of Pumbedita, and in some other seats of learning in Babylonia. In these academies the main object of the lectures and discussions was to interpret the often very brief and concise expression of the Mishnah, to investigate its reasons and sources, to reconcile seeming contradictions, to compare its canons with those of the Baraitot, and to apply its decisions to, and establish principles for, new cases, both real and fictitious, not already provided for in the Mishnah. The Amoraim’s work finally became embodied in the Gemara (the Talmud). Credit note: the passage was taken from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia.
The principals and scholars of the Babylonian academies in the period immediately following that of the Amoraim. According to an old statement found in a gloss on a curious passage in the Talmud, Rabina, the principal of the Academy of Sura, was regarded as the end of the hora’ah,i.e., as the last Amora. The activity displayed by the Saboraim is described by Sherira, in the following terms: Afterward [i.e., after Rabina] there was probably no hora’ah [i.e., no independent decision], but there were scholars called Saboraim, who, rendered decisions similar to the hora’ah [i.e. the Talmud as left by the Amoraim], and who gave clear explanations of everything that had been left unsettled. Credit note: the passage was taken from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia.
The title of Gaon was given to the heads of the academies of Sura, Pumbedita and Israel. For while the Amoraim, through their interpretation of the Mishnah, gave rise to the Talmud, and while the Saboraim definitively edited it, the Geonim’s task was to interpret it; for them it became the subject of study and instruction, and they gave religio-legal decisions in agreement with its teachings. The last gaon was Hai Gaon, who died in 1038.
Rishonim are the Rabbinical authorities and scholars that came after the last Gaon (Hai Gaon) and before the period of the Spanish Inquisition and the compilation of the Shulchan Aruch. Amongst the most known Rishonim are Rashi, the Rambam and Ramban.
Achronim are the Rabbinical scholars from the time of the Spanish Inquisition to our days. During this period, the Shulchan Aruch was written, which still serves today as the main source for learning Halachic Laws.
The Neolithic Revolution transformed the small and mobile groups of hunter-gatherers that had hitherto dominated human historyinto sedentarysocietiesbased in built-upvillagesandtowns, which radically modified theirnatural environment These developments provided the basis for highpopulation densitysettlements, specialized and complexlabor diversification,trading economies, the development of non-portableart,architecture, and culture, centralized administrations and political structures, hierarchicalideologies, and depersonalized systems of knowledge (e.g.,property regimesandwriting). The first full-blown manifestation of the entireNeolithiccomplex is seen in theMiddle EasternSumeriancities (ca.3,500 BC), whose emergence also inaugurates the end of the prehistoric Neolithic period and the beginning of human society as we know it. Source: edited from Wikipedia (link below).
The coalescing of Egyptian civilization around 3100 BC under the firstpharaoh has a great significance as it was the first bureaucracy to control, tax and unite under a single ruler hundreds of thousands of individuals. This proves the existence of a sophisticated and professional bureaucracy that had the ability to take notes and manage huge and organized archives and data-bases.
True writing systems developed fromneolithicwriting in theEarly Bronze Age. TheSumerianarchaic writing and theEgyptian hieroglyphsare generally considered the earliest true writing systems, both emerging out of their ancestral proto-literate symbol systems from 34003200 BC with earliest coherent texts from about2600 BC. (Source: Wikipedia). Its significance comes from the ability to write down anything that can be expressed, which was impossible before that, since the written symbols was limited to numerous specific words.
TheCode of Hammurabiis a well-preservedBabylonianlaw code, dating back to about 1772 BC. It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king,Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stonesteleand various clay tablets. The Code consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments, adjusting an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth (lex talionis)as graded depending on social status, of slave versus free man. (Source: Wikipedia)
InGreek mythology, theTrojan Warwas waged against the city ofTroyby theGreeks afterParisof Troy tookHelenfrom her husbandking ofSparta. The war is one of the most important events in Greek mythology and has been narrated through many works ofGreek literature. The end of the war came with one final plan. Odysseus devised a giant hollow wooden horse, an animal that was sacred to the Trojans. The hollow horse was filled with soldiers. When the Trojans discovered that the Greeks were gone, believing the war was over, they joyfully dragged the horse inside the city. The soldiers from inside the horse emerged and killed the Trojan guards and opened the gates. The Greeks entered the city and killed the sleeping population. (Source of this passage: Wikipedia)
The first known coin was invented in the region of Turkey. Its value was set by the weight and value of the metals that composed it. It had the same value melted or in a different form since its value was the value of its materials. Today money has no material value and most of it is completely virtual on computers. Its value comes only from peoples belief in it.
Gautama Buddhawas aspiritualteacher from theIndian subcontinent,on whose teachingsBuddhismwas founded. His work was focused on decreasing human suffering through self help.
Chinese Monarchy, under the Qin dynasty, was the largest in population ever in history up-until then. The form of monarchy survived more than two-thousand years until the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912.
Christians hold Jesus to be the awaited Messiah of the Old Testament. Most Christians believe that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, performed miracles, founded the Church, died sacrificially by crucifixion to achieve atonement, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, from which he will return. The majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Today, Christianity is the largest religion in the world. (Source of this passage: Wikipedia)
Before the end of the 1st century, the Roman authorities recognized Christianity as a separate religion from Judaism. The distinction was given official status by the emperor Nerva around the year 98 by granting Christians exemption from paying the humiliating tax imposed by Rome only upon Jews. At first, Christians were persecuted for their belief and refusal to worship the Roman gods or to pay homage to the emperor as divine. Only in 313, Emperor Constantine granted Christians and others the right of open and free observance of their worship. By the end of that century Emperor Theodosius I established the Christianity as the official state religion, reserving for its followers the title of Catholic Christians and declaring that those who did not follow were to be called heretics. Pagan worship became formally forbidden. (Source: Wikipedia)
Muhammad was a religious, political, and military leader from Mecca, who unified Arabia into a single religious polity under Islam. He is believed by Muslims to be a messenger and prophet of God and, by most Muslims, the last and most important prophet sent by God for mankind. Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity.
Arabic numerals are the ten digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). They are descended from the Indian numeral system developed by Indian mathematicians. They were transmitted to Europe in the Middle Ages. The use of Arabic numerals spread around the world through European trade, books and colonialism. The system was revolutionary by including a zero and positional notation. It is considered an important milestone in the development of mathematics. Today they are the most common symbolic representation of numbers in the world. (Source of the passage: Wikipedia)
Printing was invented in China around the year 200 using wood blocks. The first printed book found in the world was printed in China around the year 868. The technology was brought to Europe but the fast global spread of the printing press began with the invention of movable type printing press by Gutenberg in Germany in the 15th century. This revolutionary invention had great effect on humanity as it led to the scientific and industrial revolutions.
TheHundred Years’ Warwas a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France and their various allies for control of the French throne. The war gave impetus to ideas of French and English nationalism. The first standing armies in Western Europe since the time of the Western Roman Empire were introduced for the war, thus changing the role of the peasantry. In France, civil wars, deadly epidemics, famines and bandit free companies of mercenaries reduced the population by about one-half. (Source: Wikipedia)
The Black Plague reduce Europe’s population by about one-third. Christians blamed the Jews for causing the plague (a common rumor was that the Jews poisoned water sources) and thus persecuted them. This led the Jews to flee Western Europe towards the East.
Europe discovered America and opened new frontiers and opportunities. From that point on European imperialism was to search, find, conquer and exploit most of the world.
The Scientific and Industrial Revolutions occurred in Europe and led to its meteoric development. These revolutions eventually enabled this small and insignificant (at that moment) continent to spread out and eventually take over the whole world.
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Ancient Palestine. Photo Credit: Perry Castaneda Historical Map Library
Patriarchal Period from c. 1800 B.C. to perhaps 1500 B.C.
This is the time from before the Hebrews went to Egypt. Technically, it is a period of pre-Jewish history, since the people involved were not yet Jewish.
A Semite from Ur in Mesopotamia (roughly, modern Iraq), Abram (later, Abraham), who was the husband of Sarai (later, Sarah), goes to Canaan and makes a covenant with God. This covenant includes the circumcision of males and the promise that Sarai would conceive.
God renames Abram Abraham and Sarah Sarai. After Sarah gives birth to Isaac, Abraham is told to sacrifice his son to his God. This story is like the one of Agamemnon’s sacrifice of Iphigenia to Artemis. In a Hebrew version as in some of the Greek, an animal is substituted at the last minute. In the case of Isaac, a ram. In exchange for Iphigenia, Agamemnon was to obtain favorable winds so he could sail for Troy at the start of the Trojan War. In exchange for Isaac, nothing was offered initially, but as a reward for the obedience of Abraham, he was promised prosperity and more offspring.
Abraham is patriarch of the Israelites and Arabs. His son by Sarah is Isaac. Earlier, Abraham had had a son named Ishmael by Sarai’s maid, Hagar, at Sarai’s connivance. The Arab line runs through Ishmael. Later, Abraham bears more sons, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah, to Keturah, whom he marries when Sarah dies. Abraham’s grandson Jacob is renamed Israel. Jacob’s sons are the fathers of the 12 Hebrew tribes.
There is no archaeological evidence to corroborate this. This fact is important in terms of the historicity of the period. There is no reference to the Hebrews in Egypt at this time. The first Egyptian reference to them comes from the next period, but by then they’re no longer in Egypt.
Some think that the Hebrews in Egypt were part of the Hyksos, who ruled in Egypt. The etymology of the names Hebrew and Moses are debated. Moses could be Semitic or Egyptian in origin.
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Ancient Eras of Ancient Jewish History
Judaism is the oldest of the monotheistic faiths. It affirms the existence of one God, Yahweh, who entered into covenant with the descendants of Abraham, God’s chosen people. Judaism’s holy writings reveal how God has been present with them throughout their history. These writings are known as the Torah, specifically the five books of Moses, but most broadly conceived as the Hebrew Scriptures (traditionally called the Old Testament by Christians) and the compilation of oral tradition known as the Talmud (which includes the Mishnah, the oral law).
According to Scripture, the Hebrew patriarch Abraham (20th century? B.C.) founded the faith that would become known as Judaism. He obeyed the call of God to depart northern Mesopotamia and travel to Canaan. God promised to bless his descendants if they remained faithful in worship. Abraham’s line descended through Isaac, then Jacob (also called Israel; his descendants came to be called Israelites). According to Scripture, 12 families that descended from Jacob migrated to Egypt, where they were enslaved. They were led out of bondage (13th century? B.C.) by Moses, who united them in the worship of Yahweh. The Hebrews returned to Canaan after a 40-year sojourn in the desert, conquering from the local peoples the promised land that God had provided for them.
The 12 tribes of Israel lived in a covenant association during the period of the judges (1200?1000? B.C.), leaders known for wisdom and heroism. Saul first established a monarchy (r. 1025?1005? B.C.); his successor, David (r. 1005?965? B.C.), unified the land of Israel and made Jerusalem its religious and political center. Under his son, Solomon (r. 968?928? B.C.), a golden era culminated in the building of a temple, replacing the portable sanctuary in use until that time. Following Solomon’s death, the kingdom was split into Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Political conflicts resulted in the conquest of Israel by Assyria (721 B.C.) and the defeat of Judah by Babylon (586 B.C.). Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed, and many Judeans were exiled to Babylon.
During the era of the kings, the prophets were active in Israel and Judah. Their writings emphasize faith in Yahweh as God of Israel and of the entire universe, and they warn of the dangers of worshiping other gods. They also cry out for social justice.
The Judeans were permitted to return in 539 B.C. to Judea, where they were ruled as a Persian province. Though temple and cult were restored in Jerusalem, during the exile a new class of religious leaders had emergedthe scribes. They became rivals to the temple hierarchy and would eventually evolve into the party known as the Pharisees.
Persian rule ended when Alexander the Great conquered Palestine in 332 B.C. After his death, rule of Judea alternated between Egypt and Syria. When the Syrian ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes tried to prevent the practice of Judaism, a revolt was led by the Maccabees (a Jewish family), winning Jewish independence in 128 B.C. The Romans conquered Jerusalem in 63 B.C.
During this period the Sadducees (temple priests) and the Pharisees (teachers of the law in the synagogues) offered different interpretations of Judaism. Smaller groups that emerged were the Essenes, a religious order; the Apocalyptists, who expected divine deliverance led by the Messiah; and the Zealots, who were prepared to fight for national independence. Hellenism also influenced Judaism at this time.
When the Zealots revolted, the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and its temple (A.D. 70). The Jews were scattered in the Diaspora (dispersion) and experienced much persecution. Rabbinic Judaism, developed according to Pharisaic practice and centered on Torah and synagogue, became the primary expression of faith. The Scriptures became codified, and the Talmud took shape. In the 12th century Maimonides formulated the influential 13 Articles of Faith, including belief in God, God’s oneness and lack of physical or other form, the changelessness of Torah, restoration of the monarchy under the Messiah, and resurrection of the dead.
Two branches of European Judaism developed during the Middle Ages: the Sephardic, based in Spain and with an affinity to Babylonian Jews; and the Ashkenazic, based in Franco-German lands and affiliated with Rome and Palestine. Two forms of Jewish mysticism also arose at this time: medieval Hasidism and attention to the Kabbalah (a mystical interpretation of Scripture).
After a respite during the 18th-century Enlightenment, anti-Semitism again plagued European Jews in the 19th century, sparking the Zionist movement that culminated in the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. The Holocaust of World War II took the lives of more than 6 million Jews.
Jews today continue synagogue worship, which includes readings from the Law and the Prophets and prayers, such as the Shema (Hear, O Israel) and the Amidah (the 18 Benedictions). Religious life is guided by the commandments of the Torah, which include the practice of circumcision and Sabbath observance.
Present-day Judaism has three main expressions: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Reform movements, resulting from the Haskala (Jewish Enlightenment) of the 18th century, began in western Europe but took root in North America. Reform Jews do not hold the oral law (Talmud) to be a divine revelation, and they emphasize ethical and moral teachings. Orthodox Jews follow the traditional faith and practice with great seriousness. They follow a strict kosher diet and keep the Sabbath with care. Conservative Judaism, which developed in the mid-18th century, holds the Talmud to be authoritative and follows most traditional practices, yet tries to make Judaism relevant for each generation, believing that change and tradition can complement each other. Because a Jewish identity is not dependent upon accepting the Torah, a strong secular movement also exists within Jewish life, including atheist and agnostic elements.
In general, Jews do not proselytize, but they do welcome newcomers to their faith.
See also Encyclopedia: Judaism.
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Judaism – Infoplease
Judaism was one of the first monotheistic religions, dating back to around 2000 BC. Judaism is the first Abrahamic faith, tracing its origins to Abraham, as can the religions of Christianity and Islam. The core of the Judaism as it exists today took shape from a later time period when Moses led the Hebrews from Egypt and climbed Mount Sinai, bringing back the Ten Commandments.
The five books of Mosesthe Torahin which the Mosaic Law is found, are generally considered to be the core of the Jewish Scripture, and are supplemented by the works of the prophets and other writings. The works of the prophets are grouped under Nevi’im, and the other writings are known as Ketuvim. The first letters of each part combined were used to create the name of the full Hebrew Bible: the Tanakh, which Christians call the Old Testament. The Talmud is another ancient Jewish writing considered by some Jews to contain traditions dating back to Moses himself, yet the Talmud also contains discussion by rabbis involving extensive disagreement and lively discussion, over interpretation of these traditions. The Talmud is not part of the Bible and the degree to which the Talmud itself is considered to be inspired varies across Judaism, with the Orthodox generally giving it the most weight. Most Muslims and Christians, including Messianic Jews, however, consider the theological findings and argumentation of the Talmud to be invalid after the advent of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Tikkun Olamto help “repair the world”is a Hebrew phrase originated in the early rabbinic period.
Many Jews observe a weekly day of rest (the Sabbath) that begins shortly before sundown on Friday and ends after sunset on Saturday. During this time no work may be done, business transactions are forbidden, and light switches are not to be turned on or off. Jews celebrate the Sabbath by lighting candles before the Sabbath, singing songs, going to synagogue, called shul, by some, and learning.
There are many different branches of Judaism. There are five large branches:
There has been much controversy as to whether Messianic Judaism is truly Judaism, or a branch of Christianity which respects and practises Jewish customs. However, Messianic Judaism celebrates traditional Jewish holidays and does not celebrate Christmas or Lent, as like Jehovah’s Witnesses they believe these holidays to be paganistic in origin. There are also certain theological differences between Messianic Judaism and traditional Christianity.
The traditional explanation, and the one given in the Torah, is that the Jews are a nation. The Hebrew word, believe it or not, is “goy.” The Torah and the rabbis used this term not in the modern sense meaning a territorial and political entity, but in the ancient sense meaning a group of people with a common history, a common destiny, and a sense that we are all connected to each other. 
“Diaspora” (Greek meaning “seeded throughout”) is the term used to refer to the various dispersions of the Jews throughout the world through the eras of history. Its Hebrew linguistic forerunner is “Galut” meaning the “uncovering”, betraying the understanding that being exiled from the Land of Israel is an exposing of Israel to vulnerability and danger. Some commonly known “Galuyot” (plural for Galut) are:
The term “Mizrachi” means “easterner” and it covers a number of eastern dispersions as opposed to the Ashkenazi who were westerners – from Europe. Coming into Israel during Ottoman Turk rule (1517-1917), many immigrating Jewish families who were not European were given the name Mizrahi by the Turkish immigration authorities as they were all “lumped together” as Easterners.
The Return of the Jews to Israel is seen as a fulfillment of the Scriptures and is called Kibbutz Galuyot, the ingathering of the Exiles. Here are some of the scriptures that both tell about the ingathering of the exiles and which have provided a major influence for the some of the dispersions to return to the Land of Israel:
” I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west, To the north I will say ‘Give them up’, and to the south, ‘Do not hold them’. Bring back my sons from far away, my daughters from the end of the earth. Isaiah 43: 5,6
“Those whom Adonai has redeemed return, they come to Zion shouting for joy. everlasting joy in their faces, joy and gladness go with them, sorrow and lament are ended.” Isaiah 51:11
“He who has scattered Israel, gathers him, He guards them as a shepherd guards his flock…they shall come back from the enemy country, There is hope for your descendants” Jeremiah 31: 10,16
“The Lord says this: ‘I am going to take the sons of Israel from the nations, where they have gone. I shall gather them together from everywhere and bring them home to their own soil. I shall make them into one nation and into My own land and on the mountains of Israel.'” . Exekiel 37:21,22
The Jewish calendar combines lunar and solar features. During Temple times, months began when the new moon was sighted in Jerusalem. An extra month was added when needed to keep the Pesach festival in the spring. Today a complex algorithm, over a thousand years old, is used to determine when months begin. As a result, the dates of the Jewish holidays in the civil calendar vary from year to year. A day on the Hebrew calendar lasts from one sundown to the next, so for purposes of religious observances a day begins at sundown of the preceding civil day.
Jewish Scripture consists of 24 books, broken down into three sections:
The Torah is divided into portions that are read during synagogue services over the course of the liturgical year. Jews refer to all 24 scrolls as the Tanakh, an acronym of the names of the three sections. The Old Testament is the Tanakh, except with some different naming and a different ordering than the Jewish version. Some Jews find the term Old Testament to be offensive, as its meaning can be interpreted to mean the covenant of God with the Jews has been superseded and no longer applies.
The most famous of the tribes of Israel is Judah. From this tribe came King David your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever 2 Samuel 7:16, Acts 13:34. No matter what tribe you originate from, all are considered Israeli.
Jacob, grandson of Abraham and son of Isaac, came to be known as the father of Israel, for it is written that God changed his name to Israel.  The descendants of these twelve ‘sons’ of Jacob became the twelve tribes of Israel.
In Northern Israel Gad, Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun and Joseph. In Southern Israel, the tribes Benjamin and Judah. The Levi were to serve as as the priests and their assistance for all tribes having their own levitical cities within the other tribes while having no land as inheritance for for themselves.
Each tribe was composed of a group of families, united by blood ties and constituting a social and political unit. As time went on, the stronger tribes tended to absorb the weaker ones.  After the death of King Solomon, and in the time of his son, Rehoboam, the twelve tribes divided into two camps. The south was known as Judah with Jerusalem as their capital, while the ten northern tribes made up the kingdom of Israel whose capital was Samaria. In 721/2 B.C. , the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered and the elite and powerful taken away by the Assyrians (leaving the weak and powerless) and resettled among various client kingdoms of their empire. The Assyrians, in like manner, settled other conquered peoples in various places of conquered Israel in order to dilute and weaken the population causing them to be compliant to the Assyrian overlords. This is how the “Samarians” were to arise, present in the time of Jesus and and present to this day – a mixed semi-Judaized population with their religious center on Mt. Gerizim in Samaria rivaling Jerusalem. The northern dispersion came to be called popularly “the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel”. But some of the “10 Lost Tribes” were not lost. At the time of Assyrian conquest of Israel, archaeology reveals, the city walls of the capitol city of the Southern Kingdom, Jerusalem, were suddenly and greatly expanded. This is because, it is thought, of the sudden influx to the southern brothers of the fleeing northerners. See also in the Diaspora section above, the Bnei Menashe, and see 
The Southern Kingdom was conquered by Babylonians in 586/7 B.C. with much population taken to Babylon, which was to become a center for Judaism (and the Babylonian Talmud) rivaling Jerusalem itself. Cyrus, Emperor of Persia was to allow the Jews to return to their ancestral homeland, but many Jews preferred to remain in Babylon (most of these “Iraqis” would return to Israel with the erection of the modern State of Israel).
Alexander the Great, 333 B.C. would wrest the Middle East, and “Judah” with it, from the hands of the Persians, and after him, at the breakup of his Empire into Seleucid (northern) and Ptolomaic (southern) parts, the Seleucids took control of the Judah and Galilee (bringing “Hellenism” – the amalgamation of Greek with local cultures), and the occasion for the the revolt of the Jews against Seleucid overlord Antiochus and the beginning of the celebration among the Jews of Hanukah – the remembrance of the successful revolt, the setting up once again of a Jewish Kingdom in the promised land, and the re-dedication (“Hanukah”) of the Temple (which had been desecrated). In 63 A.D., Pompey and the Roman rule would wrest power from the Hellenistic Greeks, and thus the Roman rule in the Land at the time of Jesus. The Kingdom of Judah, with its King Herod, was intended by Rome to be a buffer state between Rome and its hated adversary Kingdom – that of Persia. In this context there arose, another movement, followers of “the way” of Jesus, the forefront of another Kingdom, that was not of this world, the leading servants of which, would sit on the seats of the now 12 tribes of Israel, and knowing themselves, as the “Israel of God”.
Note: Among modern Jews, there is no knowledge of descent from any of the particular tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel, except Jews with the family name of Levi or Cohen (and a very few others). “Levi” is from the tribe of Levites and means “accompanier”, that is the ones who accompany the priest and offering assistance in the service of the Temple. “Cohen” means priest. With the last great dispersion from the Holy Land, that of 70 AD at the hands of the Romans, with its destruction of “the House” – the Temple of God, the levitical and priestly families, now exiled to Rome and Italy were careful to record and remember their genealogies back to the tribe of Levi, as it would be they who would once again be called to function when God when would make possible the return to the Land of Israel and the rebuilding of the Temple.
The Jewish canon of Scripture was defined at the Jamnia (Yavneh) on the Mediterranean coast of Israel at 90A.D., about two decades after the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans. Jews now also lived in great numbers outside of the Land of Israel, particularly in Mesopotamia (the Land between the Rivers of the Euphrates and the Tigris), and in Alexandria, Egypt. Mesopotamian Jewry, with its large core from the exile to Babylon continually added to, was mainly Aramaic speaking while Egyptian Jewry was Greek speaking. Aramaic Jewry began the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Aramaic, this came to be known as the Peshitta (“simple” or common). This development was accelerated particularly when the queen of Adiabene, Helena (Shlomzion HaMalka, converted with others to Judaism. The Old Testament Peshitta (there is also the New Testament Peshitta as believers in Jesus translated the Greek New Testament into Aramaic) contains influence from the Jewish literature known as the Targum. Queen Helena was buried in Jerusalem around 70 A.D.
The Alexandrian Jews also translated, even earlier, the Torah into their language, Greek. Later books were added to the Septuagint by anonymous translators. This is known as the Septuagint (translated by 70 or 72 Jewish scholars). The Septuagint was used by Greek speaking Jews and was naturally turned to by the Greek speaking believers in Jesus. Later Jewish scholars retranslated the Bible into Greek, as the Septuagint was seen as having issues in translations of words, these translations were done by Symmachus, Aquilas, and Theodotios, all converts to Judaism. Around the same time of this process, the Rabbinical School at Jamnia (Yavneh) under Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai, decided that what was canonical for Judaism was only those books which had already been accepted as Scripture and were found in the Hebrew language. This eliminated most of the Apocrypha which was found mostly in Greek and Latin (but the book of Ecclesiasticus – “Ben Sirach” – has now been found in Hebrew and considered canonical by the Dead Sea community of Jews) as well as elevating the Hebrew Scriptures over just the Scriptures of Israel no matter in which language. Eventually over time, not only did the Septuagint drop out of Jewish usage, but so did the other Greek translations.
They were replaced by various translations of the Bible into Aramaic, one of the best known of these was the translation by Onkelos, a convert to Judaism, although Jewish scholars still used the Hebrew translation of the Bible, the laity preferred the Aramaic translations because Hebrew became out of use expect for Jewish scholars.
Though the connection of Jamnia and Protestantism is little known, it is a real one and one that exerted much influence on the developing Protestant Church and its outlook. The Hebrew canon of Scripture with its emphasis on Hebrew language originals sanctioned at Jamnia, which would exclude the Jewish but Greek language books we now know as Intertestamental or Apocryphal, would be the basis of a continuing textual study and ammendation according to the passing on of readings and comments by succeeding Jewish authorities, scholars, and rabbis. This work would be carried on through the fifth century, the time of the Masoretes – the “tradition (of Scripture) bearers”. The receiving and handing on of how Scripture texts were to be read and sung, and what they meant.
When the Renaissance took hold in Europe, great interest was shown in the rediscovering both of the Greek classics, entailing the renewed study of Greek for this purpose, and the study of Hebrew language. Here now was the possibility for many scholars, and the emerging Protestant ones among them, to study the Hebrew Scriptures directly in the original language instead of the necessity of working through the Greek (Septuagint) and Latin (Vulgate) translations. But the Hebrew source resorted to by these scholars was the Masoretic text – following the School of Jamnia – without the Apocrypha. From then on, the heritage and perspective of the Protestant Reformation churches was that the Bible excluded the Apocrypha, though some of the churches would use the Apocrypha as “secondary” readings.
In Israel, there arose a literature, mainly in the common Hebrew of the day. It is known as the Mishna (“secondary”). This was primarily the recordings of discussions of Biblical laws with view to application to the present life and experience of Jews in Israel and in the diaspora. Changing conditions required more current applications. The Mishna developed over four centuries (200 B.C. to 200 A.D.) and is divided into 6 orders, numerous tractates, and smaller units (mishnayot). Most of the Mishna is comprised of “Halakha”- that is, legal discussions, decisions, having, in many cases, enforceable applications either by the Jewish community directly or by the Roman or otherwise authorities. The non legal aspects of the Mishna – the anecdotes, stories, remembrances of the rabbinic lives, etc. are called Aggadah (“the telling”).
The Palestinian Hebrew Mishna, having spread to Mesopotamia, came to be regulatory to the Babylonian Jews, and, as the Mishna had become a “commentary” on the Hebrew Bible, so the Babylonian Jews developed a commentary on the Mishna itself. This was called the Gemara (“completion”) and is in their own language, Aramaic. The formation of the Gemara took from 200 A.D. to 500 A.D. The whole Talmud then was a work of 700 years. The Mishna and the Gemara together is called the Talmud (“the Learning”). The Talmud then became regulatory until modern times for Jewish life elsewhere with but a few non-mainstream groups not accepting it.
The process of G-d sanctioned and ordained commentary (the Talmud) on the Scriptures is a legacy of the one movement that survived the first century Roman destruction of the temple and Jewish authority in Israel. The Saduccees disappeared as did the Essenes and the Herodians. But not so the Pharisees. The Pharisees believed that with the written Torah given to Moses on Sinai, there was also an Oral Torah given to him, by which the written was to be interpreted and applied. According to this tradition this Oral Torah was transmitted to others – Joshua, then the seventy, the prophets, and then to certain pairs (Zugot) finally finding its expression through the discussions and decisions embodied in the Talmudic literature. Through this the Jews created over 600 laws that they had to obey. Having a “portable” law and, so to speak, a “constitution” in the Talmud, Jews then were able to survive as Jews when they no longer had a land to live in and define them.
Observant Jews follow a strict and complex set of rules governing what they may eat and drink. Permissible foods are called kosher. Per Biblical commandments, only animals that chew their cud and have cloven hooves may be eaten and they must be properly slaughtered. Additionally, all birds other than “birds of prey” are kosher, so long as they are properly slaughtered. Anything which comes from the sea must have fins and scales. According to most traditions, dairy products cannot be mixed with meat from animals or birds. Vegetables must be checked for insects, as insects are considered “treyf,” meaning not kosher. Additional rules apply during Pesach.
Jewish boys are circumcised eight days after birth, in a ceremony called a bris where the circumcision is performed by a specially trained rabbi, termed a moyl. They become adults for religious purposes when they turn 13, an event marked by a ceremony called a Bar Mitzvah. Similar ceremonies for girls when they turn 12, called Bat Mitzvah, were introduced in in the 20th century.
Jewish law only recognizes marriages between Jews. Divorce is permitted, but there are exacting rules that must be followed for the divorce to be valid, including the husband presenting a bill of divorce (Get) to his wife.
Jewish law requires bodies to be buried promptly, preferably no later than the day after death. Cremation is not permitted. There are prescribed stages of mourning for the first year after the death of a close relative (parent, sibling, spouse of child). The anniversary of such a death is observed with gifts to charity and the recitation of a prayer, Kaddish, praising God’s name.
Definitions of Jewish identity have changed over the years, and among the various Jewish religious and cultural groupings. Whereas, the Old Testament, stresses the importance of the male side of the family for the most important aspects of cultural decision and prerogatives, thus furthering identity through the Father (male) and his clan, present Orthodox Jewish identity is defined as coming through the mother. If the mother is Jewish, regardless of the father’s religion, then the child is Jewish. Reformed Judaism disregards the Orthodox Jewish definition and stresses that Judaism is equally applicable as a religious designation whether through the mother or the father, in line with de-emphasizing the racial, cultural, and genetic background in favor of stressing the ethical content in Judaism. This is in line with Reform Judaism’s stress on equality between the sects even in the house of worship. The Orthodox Jewish emphasis on the parentage through the mother as constituting Jewish identity, has brought about paradox and contradiction with Judaism’s own sources. Whereas it is clear from Scripture that faith in the revealed will of God and His movement in History is what constituted the people, starting from Abraham, as a People, and then as a Nation and the formation, consequently, of identity, Orthodox Judaism recognizes as Jews those who are atheistic or agnostic, free thinkers, repudiators of all religous, and even those who have become members of other religions. These are considered still Jewish, howbeit, Jews who are not good Jews. The only exception possibly in the Jewish conception of acceptability under the definition of “Jewish” are Jews who have become Christians or members of Messianic Judaism. Yet, even these, though considered apostate, are considered Halakhically (according to Jewish orthodox religious law) as being Jewish. The modern state of Israel exhibits a contradiction in the question of Jewish identity. Orthodoxy is the accepted form of Judaism, and consequently, a non Jew having converted to Judaism under Reformed Jewish rite or Conservative Jewish rite are not considered Jewish for purposes of becoming citizens of Israel under Israel’s Right of Return law. But neither are Messianic Jews eligible (Israeli Supreme Court decision) for citizenship under the Law of Return, even if they be born to a Jewish mother. This is in violation of halakhic definition but is in accord with common Israeli sentiment. What is rapidly being destroyed in the modern state of Israel and which does hearken back to the predominant Biblical definition is the purely racial and cultural catagorizing as to who might be considered a Jew. This is because of the immensity and varliagation in the origins of new immigrants to Israel – Ethiopia (Falasha origin), Iraq (6th cent. exile from Jerusalem), Turkey and Greece (1492 expulsion from Spain origin), Argentinia, China, India (both the long known B’nei Israel and the recently emerged B’nei Menasha of the Northern Kingdom dispersion), the former Soviet Union, the United States, Yemen (Himyaritic Kingdom conversion origin), etc.
Jewish humor is first of all not jokes about Jews made by non-Jews, nor is it jokes about Jews made to ridicule, making parody of characteristics considered Jewish traits. Jewish humor is humor made by Jews sometimes using material from the Jewish life and experience to highlight Jewish fallibilities to show them either as means of overcoming or defense, or to show them as universals shared by all peoples. Jewish humor is appreciated by both Jews and non Jews, thereby showing the truth of the commonality of Jews with all peoples. Because Jewish humor often is gently self-deprecating or willing to expose the foibles of Jews themselves, which Jews understand intuitively, Jewish comedians succeed, without raising rancor, in finding the humorous situation of other nationalities, without raising rancor. An example is the Sid Caesar’s “German General” (below)
ex. 1. A man comes into the office of the Rabbi, while his wife waits her turn outside. Sitting next to the Rabbi is the Rebbitzen, his wife. The man comes in seats himself, and begins his tirade against his wife. She doesn’t cook well, always complains, talks too loud, hours on the phone with the girls, on and on. The rabbi listens carefully, and finally, slams his palm on the desk and says “You’re right!” The man goes out and in comes the wife, seats herself, and then begins on her husband, never at home, when he comes, takes off his shoes and his shirt and leaves them on the floor, burps in public, on and on. The Rabbi listens, gets illuminated, slams his palm on the table and says, “You’re right!” The wife leaves, and the Rebbitzen explodes and turning to him says, “How can they both be right, what kind of a counsel is that to say, Are you crazy?” The Rabbi, squints at her, slams his palm on the table and says, “You’re right!”
ex. 2. Moses Mendelssohn was the father of reform Judaism and a favorite at the court of Fredrick the Second. Fredrick would often make fun of the helpless Moses before the nobles of the Court. This day, Fredrick wrote a note which said “Moses Mendelssohn is the First Ass of the Kingdom”, and passed it around for all to see and snicker at. When it got to Moses, he read it, went into ecstasy with delight, holding it to his breast, finally saying to Fredrick, “O my lord, I have been so touched and honored by your note mentioning my name and I humbly ask of you that you sign it for my continual reverence.” Fredrick nodded, signed it handing it back to Moses, who immediately rose from his knees, held out the note, and read it in loud and emotion packed tone, “Moses Mendelssohn is the First Ass of the Kingdom, Fredrick the Second.”
ex. 3. The visual comedy of Jewish American comedian Sid Caesar  , 
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Judaism – Conservapedia
Diaspora,( Greek: Dispersion)Hebrew Galut (Exile), TorahBBC Hulton Picture Librarythe dispersion of Jews among the Gentiles after the Babylonian Exile; or the aggregate of Jews or Jewish communities scattered in exile outside Palestine or present-day Israel. Although the term refers to the physical dispersal of Jews throughout the world, it also carries religious, philosophical, political, and eschatological connotations, inasmuch as the Jews perceive a special relationship between the land of Israel and themselves. Interpretations of this relationship range from the messianic hope of traditional Judaism for the eventual ingathering of the exiles to the view of Reform Judaism that the dispersal of the Jews was providentially arranged by God to foster pure monotheism throughout the world.
The first significant Jewish Diaspora was the result of the Babylonian Exile of 586 bc. After the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah, part of the Jewish population was deported into slavery. Although Cyrus the Great, the Persian conqueror of Babylonia, permitted the Jews to return to their homeland in 538 bc, part of the Jewish community voluntarily remained behind.
The largest, most significant, and culturally most creative Jewish Diaspora in early Jewish history flourished in Alexandria, where, in the 1st century bc, 40 percent of the population was Jewish. Around the 1st century ad, an estimated 5,000,000 Jews lived outside Palestine, about four-fifths of them within the Roman Empire, but they looked to Palestine as the centre of their religious and cultural life. Diaspora Jews thus far outnumbered the Jews in Palestine even before the destruction of Jerusalem in ad 70. Thereafter, the chief centres of Judaism shifted from country to country (e.g., Babylonia, Persia, Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, and the United States), and Jewish communities gradually adopted distinctive languages, rituals, and cultures, some submerging themselves in non-Jewish environments more completely than others. While some lived in peace, others became victims of violent anti-Semitism.
Jews hold widely divergent views about the role of Diaspora Jewry and the desirability and significance of maintaining a national identity. While the vast majority of Orthodox Jews support the Zionist movement (the return of Jews to Israel), some Orthodox Jews go so far as to oppose the modern nation of Israel as a godless and secular state, defying Gods will to send his Messiah at the time he has preordained.
According to the theory of shelilat ha-galut (denial of the exile), espoused by many Israelis, Jewish life and culture are doomed in the Diaspora because of assimilation and acculturation, and only those Jews who migrate to Israel have hope for continued existence as Jews. It should be noted that neither this position nor any other favourable to Israel holds that Israel is the fulfillment of the biblical prophecy regarding the coming of the messianic era.
Although Reform Jews still commonly maintain that the Diaspora in the United States and elsewhere is a valid expression of Gods will, the Central Conference of American Rabbis in 1937 officially abrogated the Pittsburgh Platform of 1885, which declared that Jews should no longer look forward to a return to Israel. This new policy actively encouraged Jews to support the establishment of a Jewish homeland. On the other hand, the American Council for Judaism, founded in 1943 but now moribund, declared that Jews are Jews in a religious sense only and any support given to a Jewish homeland in Palestine would be an act of disloyalty to their countries of residence.
Support for a national Jewish state was notably greater after the wholesale annihilation of Jews during World War II. Of the estimated 14 million Jews in the world today, about 4 million reside in Israel, about 4.5 million in the United States, and about 2.2 million in Russia, Ukraine, and other republics formerly of the Soviet Union.
Diaspora | Judaism | Britannica.com
Palestine, region, Asia Palestine (pl`stn), historic region on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, at various times comprising parts of modern Israel, the West Bank and Gaza (recognized internationally by nations as independent Palestine), Jordan, and Egypt; also known as the Holy Land. The name is derived from a word meaning “land of the Philistines.” This article discusses mainly the geography and the history of Palestine until the United Nations took up the Palestine problem in 1947; for the economy and later history, see IsraelIsrael , officially State of Israel, republic (2005 est. pop. 6,277,000, including Israelis in occupied Arab territories), 7,992 sq mi (20,700 sq km), SW Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea. ….. Click the link for more information. , JordanJordan, officially Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, kingdom (2005 est. pop. 5,760,000), 35,637 sq mi (92,300 sq km), SW Asia. It borders on Israel and the West Bank in the west, on Syria in the north, on Iraq in the northeast, and on Saudi Arabia in the east and south. ….. Click the link for more information. , and Palestinian AuthorityPalestinian Authority (PA) or Palestinian National Authority, interim self-government body responsible for areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip under Palestinian control. ….. Click the link for more information. , West BankWest Bank, territory, formerly part of Palestine, after 1949 administered by Jordan, since 1967 largely occupied by Israel (2005 est. pop. 2,386,000), 2,165 sq mi (5,607 sq km), west of the Jordan River, incorporating the northwest quadrant of the Dead Sea. ….. Click the link for more information. , and Gaza StripGaza Strip , (2007 pop. 1,416,543) rectangular coastal area, c.140 sq mi (370 sq km), SW Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea adjoining Egypt and Israel, in what was formerly SW Palestine, now officially administered by the Palestinian Authority. ….. Click the link for more information. .
In the Bible, Palestine is called Canaan before the invasion of Joshua; the usual Hebrew name is Eretz Israel [land of Israel]. Palestine is the Holy Land of Jews, having been promised to them by God according to the Bible; of Christians because it was the scene of Jesus’ life; and of Muslims because they consider Islam to be the heir of Judaism and Christianity and because Jerusalem is the site, according to Muslim tradition, of Muhammad’s ascent to heaven. The Holy Land derives its special character from being a place of pilgrimage. Shrines, shared in common by several religions, cluster most numerously in and about Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Hebron.
Palestine’s boundaries, never constant, always included at least the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. So defined, the region is c.140 mi (225 km) long and c.30 to c.70 mi (50115 km) wide. Outside these bounds were such biblical lands as EdomEdom , Idumaea, or Idumea , mountainous country, called also Mt. Seir. According to the Book of Genesis, it was given to Esau, also called Edom, and his descendants. It extended along the eastern border of the Arabah valley, from the Dead Sea to Elat. ….. Click the link for more information. , GileadGilead , in the Bible.
1 Eponym of the Gileadites, grandson of Manasseh.
3 Jephthah’s father.
4 City near Mizpah, denounced by Hosea.
5 Fertile, mountainous region, NE of the Dead Sea. ….. Click the link for more information. , MoabMoab , ancient nation located in the uplands E of the Dead Sea, now part of Jordan. The area is unprotected from the east, hence its history is a chain of raids by the Bedouin. ….. Click the link for more information. , and Hauran. The British mandate of Palestine (192048) included also the Negev, a c.100-mile-long (160-km) desert stretching S to the Gulf of Aqaba.
From east to west, Palestine proper comprises three geographic zones: the depressionnorthernmost extension of the Great Rift Valleyin which lies the Jordan River, Lake Hula, the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias), the Dead Sea, and the Arabah, a dry valley S of the Dead Sea; a ridge rising steeply to the west of this cleft; and a coastal plain c.12 mi (20 km) wide. In N Palestine the ridge is interrupted by the Plain of Esdraelon (Jezreel) and the connecting valley of Bet Shean (Beisan), the most fertile part of the region. The highland area to the north is called GalileeGalilee , region, N Israel, roughly the portion north of the plain of Esdraelon. Galilee was the chief scene of the ministry of Jesus. The Sea of Galilee (see Galilee, Sea of), the countryside, and the townsCana, Capernaum, Tiberias, Nazarethare repeatedly referred ….. Click the link for more information. , its chief centers being ZefatZefat , town (1994 pop. 21,600), NE Israel. One of Israel’s four holy cities, it has a thriving artists’ colony and many museums and ancient synagogues. Ceramics, diamonds, and handicrafts are produced in the town, which has a large Orthodox Jewish population. Founded c.A.D. ….. Click the link for more information. and NazarethNazareth , town (1993 pop. 53,500), N Israel, in Galilee. As the home of Jesus, it is a great pilgrimage and tourist center. Nazareth is also the trade center for an agricultural region. The town’s manufactures include processed food, cigarettes, and pottery. ….. Click the link for more information. , near which rises Mt. Tabor. To the south of the Plain of Esdraelon the broad ridge stretches unbroken to the Negev. First there are the hills of SamariaSamaria , city, ancient Palestine, on a hill NW of modern-day Nablus (Shechem). The site is now occupied by a village, Sabastiyah (West Bank). Samaria (named for Shemer, who owned the land) was built by King Omri as the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel in the early 9th ….. Click the link for more information. , with northward prongs (to the east Gilboa and to the west Mt. Carmel) fronting on the Bay of Acre. The center of Samaria is NablusNablus , Heb. Shechem, city (2003 est. pop. 127,000), the West Bank. It is the market center for a region where wheat and olives are grown and sheep and goats are grazed. Manufactures include soap made from olive oil and colorful shepherds’ coats. ….. Click the link for more information. , which lies between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim. The mountains of JudaeaJudaea or Judea [Lat. from Judah], region, Greco-Roman name for S Palestine. It varied in size in different periods. In the time of Jesus it was both part of the province of Syria and a kingdom ruled by the Herods. ….. Click the link for more information. are W of the Dead Sea. In Judaea are JerusalemJerusalem , Heb. Yerushalayim, Arab. Al Quds, city (1994 pop. 578,800), capital of Israel. It is situated on a ridge 2,500 ft (760 m) high that lies west of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River. ….. Click the link for more information. , BethlehemBethlehem [Heb.,=house of bread or house of Lahm, a goddess], Arab. Bayt Lahm, town (2003 est. pop. 28,000), in the West Bank. It is traditionally considered the birthplace of Jesus and is one of the world’s great shrines. ….. Click the link for more information. , and HebronHebron, Arab. Al-Khalil, city (2003 est. pop. 155,000), the West Bank. Hebron is situated at an altitude of 3,000 ft (910 m) in a region where grapes, cereal grains, and vegetables are grown. ….. Click the link for more information. . Well to the south, in the Negev, lies BeershebaBeersheba [Heb.,=seven wells or well of the oath], city (1994 pop. 147,900), S Israel, principal city of the Negev Desert. It is the trade center for surrounding settlements and for Bedouins, who hold a weekly market in Beersheba. Construction is the city’s main industry. ….. Click the link for more information. .
The towns of the coastal plain are AkkoAkko or Acre , Fr. Saint-Jean d’Acre, Arab. Acca, city (1994 pop. 45,300), NW Israel, a port on the Bay of Haifa (an arm of the Mediterranean Sea). Its manufactures include iron and steel, chemicals, and textiles. The city was captured (A.D. ….. Click the link for more information. (Acre), HaifaHaifa , city (1994 pop. 246,700), NW Israel, a port on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of Mt. Carmel. Haifa is the chief city of N Israel and the country’s principal oil refining center. ….. Click the link for more information. , NetanyaNetanya , city (1994 pop. 144,900), W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea; also spelled Nathania. It is a beach resort and the trade center for agricultural settlements in the region. Diamond cutting and polishing and citrus packing are the chief industries. ….. Click the link for more information. , and the twin cities of Tel AvivTel Aviv , city (1994 pop. 355,200), W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. Oficially named Tel AvivJaffa, it is Israel’s commercial, financial, communications, and cultural center and the core of its largest metropolitan area. ….. Click the link for more information. and JaffaJaffa , Heb. Yafo, part of Tel Aviv, W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. Originally a Phoenician city, Jaffa has been historically important largely because of its port (which was closed in 1965, when the port of Ashdod was completed). ….. Click the link for more information. . Near Tel Aviv are Petah TiqwaPetah Tiqwa , town (1994 pop. 152,000), W central Israel. Its industries produce textiles, plastics, processed foods, tires and other rubber products, and soap. There are extensive citrus groves on the outskirts, and building stone is quarried nearby. ….. Click the link for more information. , LodLod , city (1994 pop. 51,200), central Israel. It is also known as Lydda. Its manufactures include paper products, chemicals, oil products, electronic equipment, processed food, and cigarettes. ….. Click the link for more information. , RamlaRamla or Ramleh [Arab.,=sand], town (1994 pop. 57,300), central Israel, in a farming area. Ramla may be the biblical Ramathaim-zophim, but more probably it was founded (c.716) by the Arabs. ….. Click the link for more information. , and RehovotRehovot or Rehoboth , town (1994 pop. 84,900), central Israel. It is the trade center for a large citrus-growing area, and its industries include fruit packing and the production of citrus concentrates. ….. Click the link for more information. . To the south is GazaGaza, Ghazzah , or Ghuzzeh , town (2003 est. pop. 380,000), principal city and administrative center of the Gaza Strip, SW Asia, on the Philistia plain between the Mediterranean Sea and W Israel. ….. Click the link for more information. . The various sections of the plain are named the Valley of Zebulun, or Plain of Acre, S of Akko; Sharon, S of Mt. Carmel; and the Shephelah, or Philistia, in the extreme south.
Agriculture in the Jordan valley centers around Lake Hula and the Sea of Galilee. The chief town is TiberiasTiberias , town (1994 pop. 36,400), NE Israel, on the Sea of Galilee, 682 ft (208 m) below sea level. It is one of the four holy cities of Judaism and a trade center for agricultural settlements. A resort town, Tiberias has hotels, a hot springs spa, and a lake port. ….. Click the link for more information. . Farther south the valley is too narrow to be of much use, except for providing water power, and there is only one city, JerichoJericho [Heb.,=fragrant, or city of the moon god], Arab. Ariha, town (2003 est. pop. 19,000), West Bank, in the Jordan valley N of the Dead Sea; nearby is the site of the ancient city of Jericho. ….. Click the link for more information. , E of Jerusalem. The surfacec.1,300 ft (400 m) below sea levelof the Dead Sea, into which the Jordan empties, is the lowest spot on the earth’s surface.
The earliest known inhabitants of Palestine were of the same group as the Neanderthal inhabitants of Europe. By the 4th millennium B.C. Palestine was inhabited by herders and farmers. It was in the 3d millennium that most of the towns known in historical times came into existence. They became centers of trade for Egyptian and Babylonian goods. During the 2d millennium, Palestine was ruled by the Hyksos and by the Egyptians. Toward the end of this period Moses led the Hebrew people (see JewsJews [from Judah], traditionally, descendants of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, whose tribe, with that of his half-brother Benjamin, made up the kingdom of Judah; historically, members of the worldwide community of adherents to Judaism. ….. Click the link for more information. ) out of Egypt, across the Sinai, and into Palestine.
Around 1200 B.C., the Philistines (“Sea Peoples”) invaded the southern coastland and established a powerful kingdom (see PhilistiaPhilistia , region of SW ancient Palestine, comprising a coastal strip along the Mediterranean and a portion of S Canaan. The chief cities of Philistia were Gaza, Ashqelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath; strategically located on the great commercial route from Egypt to Syria, they ….. Click the link for more information. ). The Hebrews were subject to the Philistines until c.1000 B.C., when an independent Hebrew kingdom was established under SaulSaul, first king of the ancient Hebrews. He was a Benjamite and anointed king by Samuel. Saul’s territory was probably limited to the hill country of Judah and the region to the north, and his proximity to the Philistines brought him into constant conflict with them. ….. Click the link for more information. , who was succeeded by DavidDavid, d. c.970 B.C., king of ancient Israel (c.1010970 B.C.), successor of Saul. The Book of First Samuel introduces him as the youngest of eight sons who is anointed king by Samuel to replace Saul, who had been deemed a failure. ….. Click the link for more information. and then by SolomonSolomon, d. c.930 B.C., king of the ancient Hebrews (c.970c.930 B.C.), son and successor of David. His mother was Bath-sheba. His accession has been dated to c.970 B.C. According to the Bible. ….. Click the link for more information. . After the expansionist reign of Solomon (c.950 B.C.), the kingdom broke up into two states, Israel, with its capital at Samaria, and Judah, under the house of David, with its capital at Jerusalem. The two kingdoms were later conquered by expanding Mesopotamian states, Israel by AssyriaAssyria , ancient empire of W Asia. It developed around the city of Ashur, or Assur, on the upper Tigris River and south of the later capital, Nineveh. Assyria’s Rise
The nucleus of a Semitic state was forming by the beginning of the 3d millennium B.C. ….. Click the link for more information. (c.720 B.C.) and Judah by BabyloniaBabylonia , ancient empire of Mesopotamia. The name is sometimes given to the whole civilization of S Mesopotamia, including the states established by the city rulers of Lagash, Akkad (or Agade), Uruk, and Ur in the 3d millennium B.C. ….. Click the link for more information. (586 B.C.).
In 539 B.C. the Persians conquered the Babylonians. The Jewish Temple, destroyed by the Babylonians, was rebuilt (516 B.C.). Under Persian rule Palestine enjoyed considerable autonomy. Alexander the Great of Macedon, conquered Palestine in 333 B.C. His successors, the Ptolemies and Seleucids, contested for Palestine. The attempt of the Seleucid Antiochus IVAntiochus IV (Antiochus Epiphanes) , d. 163 B.C., king of Syria (175 B.C.163 B.C.), son of Antiochus III and successor of his brother Seleucus IV. His nephew (later Demetrius I) was held as a hostage in Rome, although still claiming the throne. ….. Click the link for more information. (Antiochus Epiphanes) to impose Hellenism brought a Jewish revolt under the MaccabeesMaccabees or Machabees , Jewish family of the 2d and 1st cent. B.C. that brought about a restoration of Jewish political and religious life. They are also called Hasmoneans or Asmoneans after their ancestor, Hashmon. ….. Click the link for more information. , who set up a new Jewish state in 142 B.C. The state lasted until 63 B.C., when Pompey conquered Palestine for Rome.
Palestine at the time of Jesus was ruled by puppet kings of the Romans, the Herods (see HerodHerod, dynasty reigning in Palestine at the time of Jesus. As a dynasty the Herods depended largely on the power of Rome. They are usually blamed for the state of virtual anarchy in Palestine at the beginning of the Christian era.
Antipater (fl. c.65 B.C. ….. Click the link for more information. ). When the Jews revolted in A.D. 66, the Romans destroyed the Temple (A.D. 70). Another revolt between A.D. 132 and 135 was also suppressed (see Bar Kokba, SimonBar Kokba, Simon, or Simon Bar Cochba [Heb.,=son of the star], d. A.D. 135, Hebrew hero and leader of a major revolt against Rome under Hadrian (132135). He may have claimed to be a Messiah; the Talmud relates that Akiba ben Joseph credited him with this title. ….. Click the link for more information. ), Jericho and Bethlehem were destroyed, and the Jews were barred from Jerusalem. When Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity (312), Palestine became a center of Christian pilgrimage, and many Jews left the region. Palestine over the next few centuries generally enjoyed peace and prosperity until it was conquered in 614 by the Persians. It was recovered briefly by the Byzantine Romans, but fell to the Muslim Arabs under caliph Umar by the year 640.
At this time (during the Umayyad rule), the importance of Palestine as a holy place for Muslims was emphasized, and in 691 the Dome of the Rock was erected on the site of the Temple of Solomon, which is claimed by Muslims to have been the halting station of Muhammad on his journey to heaven. Close to the Dome, the Aqsa mosque was built. In 750, Palestine passed to the Abbasid caliphate, and this period was marked by unrest between factions that favored the Umayyads and those who preferred the new rulers.
In the 9th cent., Palestine was conquered by the Fatimid dynasty, which had risen to power in North Africa. The Fatimids had many enemiesthe Seljuks, Karmatians, Byzantines, and Bedouinsand Palestine became a battlefield. Under the Fatimid caliph al Hakim (9961021), the Christians and Jews were harshly suppressed, and many churches were destroyed. In 1099, Palestine was captured by the Crusaders (see CrusadesCrusades , series of wars undertaken by European Christians between the 11th and 14th cent. to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims. First Crusade Origins
In the 7th cent., Jerusalem was taken by the caliph Umar. ….. Click the link for more information. ), who established the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Crusaders were defeated by SaladinSaladin , Arabic Salah ad-Din, 1137?1193, Muslim warrior and Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, the great opponent of the Crusaders, b. Mesopotamia, of Kurdish descent. ….. Click the link for more information. at the battle of Hittin (1187), and the Latin Kingdom was ended; they were finally driven out of Palestine by the Mamluks in 1291. Under Mamluk rule Palestine declined.
In 1516 the Mamluks were defeated by the Ottoman Turks. The first three centuries of Ottoman rule isolated Palestine from outside influence. In 1831, Muhammad Ali, the Egyptian viceroy nominally subject to the Ottoman sultan, occupied Palestine. Under him and his son the region was opened to European influence. Ottoman control was reasserted in 1840, but Western influence continued. Among the many European settlements established, the most significant in the long run were those of Jews, Russian Jews being the first to come (1882).
In the late 19th cent. the Zionist movement was founded (see ZionismZionism, modern political movement for reconstituting a Jewish national state in Palestine. Early Years
The rise of the Zionist movement in the late 19th cent. ….. Click the link for more information. ) with the goal of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and dozens of Zionist colonies were founded there. At the start of the Zionist colonization of Palestine in the late 19th cent., the rural people were Arab peasants (fellahin). Most of the population were Muslims, but in the urban areas there were sizable groups of Arab Christians (at Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem) and of Jews (at Zefat, Tiberias, Jerusalem, Jericho, and Hebron).
At the same time Arab nationalism was developing in the Middle East in opposition to Turkish rule. In World War I the British, with Arab aid, gained control of Palestine. In the Balfour Declaration (1917) the British promised Zionist leaders to aid the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine, with due regard for the rights of non-Jewish Palestinians. However, the British had also promised Arab leaders to support the creation of independent Arab states. The Arabs believed Palestine was to be among these, an intention that the British later denied.
In 1919 there were about 568,000 Muslims, 74,000 Christians, and 58,000 Jews in Palestine. The first Arab anti-Zionist riots occurred in Palestine in 1920. The League of Nations approved the British mandate in 1922, although the actual administration of the area had begun in 1920. As part of the mandate Britain was given the responsibility for aiding the Jewish homeland and fostering Jewish immigration there. The British stressed that their policy to aid the homeland did not include making all Palestine the homeland, but rather that such a home should exist within Palestine and that there were economic limits on how many immigrants should be admitted (1922 White Paper).
In the 1920s, Jewish immigration was slight, but the Jewish communities made great economic progress. In 1929 there was serious Jewish-Arab violence occasioned by a clash at the Western, or Wailing, Wall in Jerusalem. A British report found that Arabs feared the economic and political consequences of continued Jewish immigration with its attendant land purchases. Zionists were angered when a new White Paper (1930) urged limiting immigration, but they were placated by Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald (1931).
The rise of Nazism in Europe during the 1930s led to a great increase in immigration. Whereas there were about 5,000 immigrants authorized in 1932, about 62,000 were authorized in 1935. Arabs conducted strikes and boycotts; a general strike in 1936, organized by Haj Amin al Husayni, mufti of Jerusalem, lasted six months. Some Arabs acquired weapons and formed a guerrilla force. The Peel commission (1937), finding British promises to Zionists and Arabs irreconcilable, declared the mandate unworkable and recommended the partition of Palestine into Jewish, Arab, and British (largely the holy places) mandatory states. The Zionists reluctantly approved partition, but the Arabs rejected it, objecting particularly to the proposal that the Arab population be forcibly transferred out of the proposed Jewish state.
The British dropped the partition idea and announced a new policy (1939 White Paper). Fifteen thousand Jews a year would be allowed to immigrate for the next five years, after which Jewish immigration would be subject to Arab acquiescence; Jewish land purchases were to be restricted; and within 10 years an independent, binational Palestine would be established. The Zionists were shocked by what they considered a betrayal of the Balfour Declaration. The Arabs also rejected the plan, demanding instead the immediate creation of an Arab Palestine, the prohibition of further immigration, and a review of the status of all Jewish immigrants since 1918.
The outbreak of World War II prevented the implementation of the plan, except for the restriction on land transfers. The Zionists and most Arabs supported Britain in the war (although Haj Amin al Husayni was in Germany and negotiated Palestine’s future with Hitler), but tension inside Palestine increased. The Haganah, a secret armed group organized by the Jewish Agency, and the Irgun and the Stern Gang, terrorist groups, were active. British officials were killed by the terrorists. The horrible plight of European Jewry led influential forces in the United States to lobby for support of an independent Jewish state, and President Truman requested that Britain permit the admission of 100,000 Jews. Illegal immigration, often involving survivors of Hitler’s death camps, took place on a large scale. The independent Arab states organized the Arab League to exert internationally what pressure they could against the Zionists.
An Anglo-American commission recommended (1946) that Britain continue administering Palestine, rescind the land-transfer restrictions, and admit 100,000 Jews, and that the underground Jewish armed groups be disbanded. A plan for autonomy for Jews and Arabs within Palestine was discussed at a London conference (1947) of British, Arabs, and Zionists, but no agreement could be reached. The British, declaring their mandate unworkable and despairing of finding a solution, turned the Palestine problem over to the United Nations (Feb., 1947). At that time there were about 1,091,000 Muslims, 614,000 Jews, and 146,000 Christians in Palestine.
The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine devised a plan to divide Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a small internationally administered zone including Jerusalem, and the General Assembly adopted the recommendations on Nov. 29, 1947. The Jews accepted the plan; the Arabs rejected it. As the British began to withdraw early in 1948, Arabs and Jews prepared for war (see Arab-Israeli WarsArab-Israeli Wars, conflicts in 194849, 1956, 1967, 197374, and 1982 between Israel and the Arab states. Tensions between Israel and the Arabs have been complicated and heightened by the political, strategic, and economic interests in the area of the great powers. ….. Click the link for more information. ).
See M. Avi-Yonah, A History of the Holy Land (tr. 1969); Esco Foundation for Palestine, Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab, and British Policies (2 vol., 1947, repr. 1970); J. C. Hurewitz, Struggle for Palestine (1950, repr. 1968); J. W. Parkes, The Emergence of the Jewish Problem, 18781939 (1946, repr. 1970) and Whose Lands? A History of the Peoples of Palestine (1971); A. Schalit, ed., The Hellenistic Age: Political History of Jewish Palestine from 332 B.C.E. to 67 B.C.E. (1972); M. Russell, Palestine (1985); J. Murphy-O’Connor, The Holy Land: An Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (1986); I. Abu-Lughod, ed., The Transformations of Palestine (2d ed. 1987); T. Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate (2000); B. Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 19471949 (1987) and The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited (2004); S. K. Farsoun, Culture and Customs of the Palestinians (2004); G. Krmer, A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel (2002, tr. 2008); R. Davis and M. Kirk, ed., Palestine and the Palestinians in the 21st Century (2013).
1.the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea in which most of the biblical narrative is located
2.the province of the Roman Empire in this region
3.the former British mandatory territory created by the League of Nations in 1922 (but effective from 1920), and including all of the present territories of Israel and Jordan between whom it was partitioned by the UN in 1948
a historical region in southwest Asia.
Historical sketch. Archaeological data indicate that Palestine was settled in the Paleolithic. The Mesolithic Natufian culture flourished here between the tenth and eighth millennia B.C. The area was settled by Canaanite tribes in the third millennium B.C. In the 18th century B.C., Palestine was conquered by the Hyksos, who in turn were defeated by the Egyptians in the 16th century B.C. While under Egyptian rule, the area was also influenced by the culture of Babylon.
The conquest of Palestine by ancient Hebrew tribes began in the 13th century B.C. In the 12th century the coast was conquered by the Philistines (Old Hebrew, Pelishtim), who gave their name to the entire region. In the 11th century B.C., ancient Hebrew tribes founded the Kingdom of Israel and Judah on the remaining territory; the kingdom was ruled first by Saul and later by David and Solomon. Around 928 B.C., the kingdom was divided into the Kingdom of Israel in the north, which lasted until 722 B.C., and the Kingdom of Judah in the south, which survived until 586 B.C. In 722 the Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrian king Sargon II, who destroyed its capital, Samaria, and exiled most of the population to remote provinces in Assyria. In 587586 B.C. the Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II and became the province of Judea. Jerusalem was burned, and many inhabitants were taken captive.
After the conquest of Babylon by the Persians in 539 B.C., Palestine became part of the Achaemenid state. In 332 B.C., it was incorporated into Alexander the Greats empire. In the third and second centuries, the area was ruled first by the Egyptian Ptolemies (from 301 B.C.) and later by the Syrian Seleucids (from 200 B.C.). In 167 B.C., Judas Maccabeus led a popular uprising in Judea against the political and religious oppression and heavy taxation of the Seleucids. The revolt resulted in the founding of the independent Hasmonean state in 142 B.C., named after the Hasmonean dynasty.
A Roman protectorate was established in 63 B.C., and in A.D. 6 the area became a Roman province ruled by a procurator. Several large, fierce popular revolts broke out against Roman rule: the Jewish War of 6673, Bar Kochbas Rebellion of 132135, and uprisings in the mid-second and third centuries.
In 395, Palestine became part of Byzantium. In 640 it was conquered by the Arabs, and under the Umayyads it was one of the more privileged provinces. During the disintegration of the Abbasid Caliphate, the area fell under the control of the Egyptian Tulunid, Ikhshidid, and Fatimid dynasties. During the First Crusade (109699), Palestine was conquered by the Crusaders, who founded the Kingdom of Jerusalem on the territory. In 1187, the Crusaders were expelled by the Egyptian sultan Salah-al-Din, and most of Palestine was annexed to Ayyubid, and later Mameluke, Egypt. Palestine remained under Mameluke control until the Turks conquered it in 1516. From 1750 until 1775 much of the area, under the rule of Sheikh Zahir Al-Umar, was virtually independent of the Ottoman Empire.
In the 19th century the anti-Turkish liberation movement in Palestine intensified, and uprisings broke out in Jerusalem, Nab-lus, and Bethlehem in 1825 and in Nablus and elsewhere in 1830. From 1832 until 1841, Palestine was ruled by the Egyptian pasha Muhammad Ali, who centralized the government, and curbed feudal lawlessness and Bedouin raids, all of which promoted economic development. However, oppressive taxation and the introduction of military conscription provoked anti-Egyptian revolts in 1834 and 184041.
In the mid-19th century, particularly after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the strategic and economic importance of Palestine increased, and the European powers competed for influence in the region. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the imperialist powers made use of Zionism, the reactionary chauvinistic ideology of the Jewish bourgeoisie, in their struggle for control over Palestine. One of Zionisms chief aims was the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, where Jews from various countries could resettle.
During World War I, British troops occupied Palestine. On Nov. 2, 1917, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, promising to promote the creation of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. At the San Remo Conference in April 1920, Great Britain received a mandate to govern Palestine, which was ratified by the League of Nations in July 1922. In September 1922, Great Britain created the mandate of Transjordan, out of part of Palestine. The Balfour Declaration did not extend to Transjordan.
After seizing key positions in the economy and political life of Palestine, Great Britain encouraged Jewish colonization and Zionist activity, as well as the influx of Jewish capital, linked with imperialist monopolies. To further its aims, Great Britain promoted Jewish immigration, and 452,000 Jewish immigrants arrived in Palestine between 1919 and May 1948. Under British protection, Zionist organizations received various concessions in Palestine and bought up the best land, forcibly driving away the Arab peasants (fellahin). All authority was concentrated in the hands of the British high commissioner, who headed the Palestinian government, consisting of British bureaucrats. Also operating in Palestine was the Jewish Agency, ostensibly an advisory body under the British high commissioner. In practice the agency exercised broad powers in matters of colonization and immigration and regulated the economic and political activity of the Jewish community. As the Zionist organizations grew stronger, they sought to free themselves from British supervision.
British colonial policy, resting on cooperation with the Zionists, caused growing discontent among the Arabs. Armed rebellions against the British colonialists and the Zionist colonization of Palestine broke out in 1920, 1929, 1933, and from 1936 to 1939. The Socialist Workers Party of Palestine was founded in 1919; two years later it was renamed the Palestine Communist Party. The party called for a joint struggle of the Jewish and Arab laboring masses against British imperialism and for the liberation of Palestine from British colonial domination, to be followed by the creation of an Arab-Jewish independent state.
Seeking to weaken the national liberation struggle of the Palestinian Arabs and to retain control over Zionist policies, Great Britain announced in the late 1930s that it would limit and then end Jewish immigration and would restrict the acquisition of land by Zionist organizations. Dissatisfied with British policy, the Zionists shifted their strategy toward an alliance with the USA by exploiting Anglo-American controversies and the American oil monopolies efforts to entrench themselves in the Near East.
After World War II, the struggle of the peoples of Palestine to abolish the British mandate intensified. In 1947 the British government was obliged to refer the question of Palestine to the UN. On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the abolition of the British mandate, the withdrawal of British troops from Palestine, and the creation of two independent states on its territoryone Arab and the other Jewisheconomically tied to each other. Jerusalem was designated an independent administrative unit with a special international government under UN direction. In view of the realities of the situation, the Soviet Union voted for the resolution.
On May 14, 1948, part of Palestine was proclaimed the state of Israel. The Arab people of Palestine, however, were unable to exercise their right to create an Arab state because the Zionists, Western imperialist circles, and reactionary forces in the Arab countries provoked the Arab-Israeli War of 194849. Boundary lines were established under the 1949 truce between Israel and the neighboring Arab states. As a result of the war, Israel seized more than half of the area that the UN General Assembly had designated for the creation of an Arab state (6,700 sq km), as well as the western part of Jerusalem. Eastern Palestinethe West Bank of the Jordan Riverand eastern Jerusalem were annexed by Jordan in 1950, and the Gaza Strip came under the control of Egypt. Israeli armed forces drove more than 900,000 Arabs from the conquered territory. The problem of the Palestinian refugees arose as one aspect of the Palestinian problem, which can only be resolved by guaranteeing the lawful national rights of all the Arab people of Palestine.
In June 1967, Israel committed another aggression against the neighboring Arab countries, occupying not only the entire territory of the former Palestine mandate but also the Sinai Peninsula, belonging to Egypt, and Syrias Golan Heights. The problem of the Palestinian refugees, numbering more than 1.5 million persons in 1974 according to UN sources, became more acute. Palestinian Arabs in the Palestinian resistance movement, directed by the Palestine Liberation Organization, are struggling to eliminate the consequences of the Israeli aggression of 1967 and to achieve a just solution to the Palestinian problem through a political resolution of the Near East crisis that would ensure the lawful rights of the Arab people of Palestine.
M. A. KOROSTOVTSEV (to the fourth century), I. M. SMILIANSKAIA (fourth century to 1914), and E. A. LEBEDEV (since 1914)
Architecture and fine and applied art. Palestinian art originated in the Mesolithic (Natufian culture). Art objects discovered in the ancient settlement of Jericho date from the pre-ceramic Neolithic period (seventh and sixth millennia B.C.). Pottery from the fifth millennium B.C. is adorned with engraved or painted geometrical designs.
The Chalcolithic age (fourth millennium B.C.) is represented by the ruins of fortified settlements at Beisan (Beth-Shean) and Megiddo, where the remains of apsidal dwellings have been discovered, as well as by subterranean dwellings near Beersheba. Painted and glazed red and gray pottery, ivory figurines, and jewelry have been found. Especially noteworthy are the wall paintings at Tulaylat al-Ghusul.
In the third and second millennia B.C., when Palestine was settled by the Canaanites, urban settlements developed, of which the most important were Jerusalem, Jericho, Beisan, Megiddo, and Lachish (Tell el-Duweir). These towns had fortifications of stone or adobe, stone temples similar in layout to Syrian and Phoenician temples, and water tunnels. Among art works discovered in the towns were reliefs, sculpture in the round similar to that of Syria, figurines, and ceramic vessels in the shape of birds and other animals. The most important structure at the time of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah (second half of the tenth to sixth century B.C.) was the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem (tenth century B.C.), known from descriptions in the Bible. Glyptics, seals with depictions of birds and beasts, were well developed.
Tombs with frescoes in the burial chambers, such as those at Mareshah, first appeared in the Hellenistic period and continued to be built until the fourth century A.D. The remains of temples (for example, the temple of Dionysus in Beisan), theaters (Beisan and Caesarea), aqueducts, and dwellings, often adorned with mosaics and sculpture, have survived from the Roman period. Marble sarcophagi with funeral busts and reliefs have also survived. Synagogues combining features of local, Roman, and Syrian architecture were built in the second to fourth centuries A.D. The best example of this style is the synagogue at Capernaum (Kefar-Nahum). Basilicas, monasteries, churches, and fortifications have survived from Byzantine times.
After conquering Palestine in the seventh century, the Arabs introduced mosques and madrasahs. Outstanding examples of Arab architecture and art are the mosques of Kubbet es-Sakhra and al-Aksa in Jerusalem and the palace of Khirbat al-Mafjar. The principal architectural works from the time of the Crusaders (11th to 13th centuries) are castles (Caesarea) and fortresses.
Outstanding architectural achievements from the period of Turkish rule, which lasted from the 16th to the early 20th century, are the synagogue in Safad (mid-16th century) and the mosque in Jaffa (1810). With the influx of Jewish immigrants into Palestine beginning in the late 19th century, the artistic traditions of various countries began to influence the indigenous culture. Initially, private and public buildings were built in the eclectic style, but later contemporary Western European architectural forms were adopted by such architects as E. Mendelsohn and R. Kaufman. A Jewish style, employing themes from Jewish history and literature, evolved in professional art. Gradually, the arrival of artists who had received their training in many different countries resulted in the coexistence of a variety of styles in the arts, ranging from academic realism to abstract art.
Palestine | Article about Palestine by The Free Dictionary