Jul 10, 2024

On Antisemitism – Pope Benedict XVI Indicated That, by Trying to Wipe out the Jews, Antisemites Show Their Desire to Kill the God Who Entrusted the Jews with the Ten Commandments

On 3 July 2024, the Swiss journalist and writer Giuseppe Gracia published on the titled subject the following assay in Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

Antisemitism has existed since ancient times. What is the root of hatred of Jews? The “envy theory” and other explanatory models only offer incomplete explanations for antisemitism. Perhaps the cause lies deeper: the desire to wipe out the Jews is related to the desire to wipe out the God of the Bible, who made the Jews the chosen people.

Never in human history have the Jews been anything other than a minority among the peoples, a dwarf in the shadow of passing empires and great powers. The Jews never acquired a world empire like the Persians, Greeks and Romans, like the Mongols or the British. Even compared to the current power of the USA, the Chinese or the Arab world, no one must fear of being overrun and conquered by Jews. Nevertheless, there is no people who have been so hated for thousands of years. Across the ages, millions of antisemites continually wish the Jews to be exterminated. How is it possible to explain this phenomenon? In any case, it cannot be reduced to “anti-Judaism”, namely to the hostility of Christian groups against the Jews with reference to their alleged guilt in the crucifixion of Jesus. This form of antisemitism in the name of the gospel has caused great damage and must not be trivialized, but antisemitism existed even before Christianity. It dates back to ancient times and culminated during the Roman Empire. After the emergence of Islam in the 7th century, Islamic antisemitism spread without relying on Christianity or the European Middle Ages to justify its hostility to Jews. In modern times, antisemitic narratives about an allegedly hidden world domination by the Jews became socially acceptable in Europe, through texts such as the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” or via respected thinkers such as Voltaire and Hegel, who accused the Jews of inventing monotheism – the alleged cause of existing world problems. In one writing, Voltaire addressed the Jews: “You surpass all nations with your outrageous fairy tales, your bad behavior and your barbarism. You deserve to be punished, and the punishment is your fate."

Ferocious antisemitism was not rare in the Age of Enlightenment and paved the way for the later Nazis. However, antisemitism also came from the left, as the history of the early socialists, of the European workers' movement in the 19th and 20th centuries, and of the Marxist classics show. In Russia, great pogroms started in 1880; after the Second World War, there came show trials and Stalinist campaigns “against Zionism and cosmopolitanism”. Before his death, Stalin had planned to deport all Jews to the autonomous region of Birobidzhan and kill a third of them along the way. Even decades after the Holocaust and communist persecution, antisemitism is not a marginal phenomenon in Europe. On the contrary, it is sharply increasing, be it through migration from Islamic countries, through neo-fascist circles, or via post-colonial wokeism that dominates large parts of Western education and culture and that courts Islamism under the label of anti-colonialism and criticism of Israel. The relativization of the Holocaust is combined with Islamic hatred of Israel and left-green representations of the country as a white colonial project. At the same time, the UN abuses its resolutions for anti-Israel propaganda year after year. If you add up all the resolutions against China, North Korea, Syria, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and terrorist organizations like Hamas, Israel still appears as the most inhumane of all places. Systematically applying double standards is supported by many media outlets.

Antisemitism obviously does not need a Roman Empire, Christian fanaticism, Islamic terror or left-wing or right-wing ideology to survive the centuries. It spans temporal and political-religious boundaries. And that is exactly a fact that is regularly overlooked. This is currently evident in discussions about Israel and Palestine, being dominated by the narrative of the territorial conflict. It leads to the assumption that the conflict can be solved by redistributing the territories. This reading remains on the surface, without sensing the root of the problem. Regardless Israel, Islamist hatred of Jews has raged for centuries and would continue to exist even if the Middle East belonged entirely to the Arabs. It is a hatred with the declared goal of exterminating all Jews worldwide. Furthermore, Islamism is not a reaction to the imperialism of the USA, it is itself imperialist and existed long before the USA was founded. When answering the question of why hatred of Jews continues to resurface across centuries and cultures, antisemitism research relies, among other things, on the “envy theory”. The above-average level of education of Jews and their success in the economic, scientific or moral field are supposed to arouse the envy of non-Jews. In the words of the famous author H. G. Wells in a 1936 essay: “The Jew grabs property, he secures his position. The non-Jew feels that all this nimbleness is cheating him of his chances. He is taken aback and finally gets angry.” However, since there have always been antisemites who, although being successful and respected, did not hate Jews any less, there must be deeper causes. These could touch on the anti-Semite's fundamental relationship with God.

The God of the Bible declared the Jews a chosen people and entrusted them with the Ten Commandments, which are among the foundations of Christianity and Western civilization. In 2010, on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Pope Benedict XVI said: "… by wiping out this people, deep down they wanted to kill the God who called Abraham, who spoke on Sinai and laid down principles to serve as a guide for mankind, principles that are eternally valid. If this people, by its very existence, was a witness to the God who spoke to humanity and took us to himself, then that God finally had to die and power had to belong to man alone – to those men, who thought that by force they had made themselves masters of the world." The fact that humans desire not to be creatures but to be creators is as well-known as the story of Adam and Eve. Judaism can be understood as a testimony against this wish, as a sign that God sets the rules of life, and that the Jews, as a priesthood among the nations, are, as the Bible says, particularly called to remind the world of these rules. This is an annoyance for all other religions, as well as for atheists and technology-believing groups that oppose seeing life as something that owes itself to a God whom one should love and whose commandments one should keep. A nuisance for everyone who wants to sit in the executive chair of existence. By eliminating Judaism, one wants to eliminate this nuisance. People want to forget that no human beings have control over their birth, the gift of love and freedom, their biological gender or the ultimate meaning of life. And people want to forget that Judaism, along with Christianity, is the soul of the free world.

In this sense, anti-Semitism contains the desire for civilizational patricide. Hatred of Jews becomes hatred of the West. The West must disappear because it is not seen as an achievement. Left-wing and Islamist circles see it as a racist-imperial cancer of the world, neo-fascist circles see it as a haven of decadence and degeneration to be corrected only by a nation of the strong and pure. However, if Western civilization as we know it today, despite all its weaknesses, represents the best of all possible foundations for a life of freedom and dignity, for human rights and the rule of law, then its disappearance would be a catastrophe. Then antisemitism is a danger to liberalism. Then in the end it is not friends and enemies of Judaism who face each other, but rather friends and enemies of freedom. Friends and enemies of a wisdom that reminds us that God is not an invention of man, but that man is an invention of God. So, antisemitism remains a warning against the arrogance of forgetting this fact and relying solely on secular ideologies and technologies in the belief in self-optimization and self-redemption. Anyone who fights against antisemitism also fights against this destructive illusion. He fights for a civilization that knows about human limitations and is therefore able to protect and guarantee the dignity of the individual. 


Translated by Thomas Guttmann

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