Bernard Lazare.

Antisemitism, its history and causes online

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essary to prove the superiority of the Jewish religion to
those who were establishing, irrefutably, the superiority
of the Christian religion, and this was easy for both
sides, as each drew from the Bible what suited it. The
Talmudists made use of the New Testament even to con-
firm their Judaic dogmas. This was done by Moses
Tohen de Tordesillas, in his Support of the Faith., while
Shem-Tob ben Isaac Shaprut resumed, in the form of a
dialogue between a Unitarian and a Trinitarian, the
ideas propounded by Jacob ben Euben. 1

The polemic literature was greatly developed in Spain

1 It would be necessary to devote a whole chapter to the anti-
Christian literature, which I cannot possibly do here, where
anti-Judaism is the main question, and I shall simply indicate
the Jewish reaction. The Jewish endeavor against "Christian
idolatry" was great indeed. To get some idea of it, it will suf-
fice t'o glance over the Bibliotheca Judaica antichristiana of J.
B. Rossi (Parma, 1800). Besides, the catalogue compiled by
Rossi is not perfectly exact ; still it enables one to gauge the
polemic activity of the Jews, which finds its equal only in that
of the Christians (Cf. also Wolf and Wagenseil, loc. cit.)

1 Loeb, Revue des Etudes Juives, v. XVIII

1 Shem-Tob ben Isaac Shaprut, The Touchstone (Loeb, loc.


in the fifteenth century. The time was a hard one
for the Jews of the Peninsula. The Church doubled its
efforts to convert them; disputes, pamphlets, treatises
increased in numbers. The Jews fought against prose-
lytism resorting to it under the last extremity, and later
on, at the moment of the final banishement, the greatest
part of them chose exile without the hope of return,
rather than conversion. While the monks sought in the
Pentateuch and the Prophets arguments in support of
the Christian symbols, the Jews endeavored to lay plain
the differences which divide the two creeds, and were
fighting Catholicism in order to confirm the faith in the
soul of those who vacillated. Like Chasdai Crescas they
studied their opponents' theology. Thus armed, Jacob
ibn Shem Tob wrote the Objections to the Christian Re-
ligion, 1 Simon ben Zemach Duran published a Philo-
sophical Examination of Judaism, a special chapter of
which, entitled "Bow and Shield," contained a critique
of Christianity.

In imitation of the ecclesiastical writers and inquis-
itors, the rabbis wrote books for the use of those who
were challenged in disputes. A kind of vade mecum,
these books pointed out the vulnerable sides of the Chris-
tian dogmas ; and if, on the one hand, there were publi-
cations like "Judaism Defeated with Its Own Weapons,"
on the other hand were composed works like "Christian-
ity Defeated with Its Own Arms," t. e., with those found
in the New Testament. In anti-Christian literature the
Gospels played the part of the Talmud in anti-Jewish

Cf. Graetz, v. IV.


literature. Beginning with the eleventh or twelfth cen-
tury they were often assailed, and numerous discussions
took place between rabbanites and theologians. These
discussions were sometimes gathered in collections, where
they were presented in a light favorable to Jewish dia-
lectics. Presently these collections came to be used as
manuals; among them were the ancient Nizzachon (Vic-
tory) of Eabbi Mattathiah; the Nizzachdn of Lipman
de Miilhausen ; tne one by Joseph Kimhi ; the Strength-
ening of the Faith, by Isaac Troki, 2 and the Book of
Joseph the Zealot. 1 Still this was not sufficient for the
fervor of the Jews. Having prepared the minds for
future debates, having assailed the Catholic doctrines,
not in oratorical tournaments only, but in apologies as
well, they wrote abusive pamphlets, like that famous
Toldot Jeslio, the life of the Galilean which goes back
to the second or third century, and which Celsius possi-
bly was acquainted with. 2 This Toldot Jesho was pub-
lished by Eaymund Martin, Luther translated it into
German; Wagenseil and the Dutchman Huldrich also
published it. It contained the story of Pantherus the
soldier and the legends representing Jesus as a magician.
After defending the Bible and Monotheism the Jews
turned upon those who were their most dangerous ene-
mies the converted. If they had refuted Eaymund

2 Wagenseil in his Tela ignea Satanae (Altdorf, 1681), repro-
duces all these treatises in print.

1 Zadoc Kahn, The Boole of Joseph the Zealot (Revue des
Etudes Juives,, vols. I and III).

* For the Toldot Jesho, cf. Tela ignea Satanae, Wagenseil, v.
II, 5, 189, and B. de Rossi, Biblotheca Judaica antichristiana
(Parma, 1800), p. 117.


Martin 3 and Nicholas de Lyra 4 , they refuted with still
greater energy Jerome de Santa Fe, the Santa Fe whom
his former coreligionists called Megaddef, i. e., blas-
phemer. At Jerome they were incensed. Don Vidal
ibn Labi, Isaac ben Nathan Kalonymos, 5 Solomon
Duran, 1 several others, wrote to give the lie to the "cal-
umniator." The same was done by Isaac Pulgar against
Alfonso of Valladolid, 2 by Joshua ben Joseph Lorqui
and Profiat Duran. 3 The apostates of the Middle Ages
were not treated perceptibly better than of yore, in the
first century of the Christian era, when a curse that was
to smite them was added to the daily prayers ; from the
tenth till the sixteenth or seventeenth century, they
repeated against them what the Talmud said of the Min-
cans, the ancient Judeo-Christians and the Ebionites.
Of course, all these Jewish books were not accepted with-
out protests ; they also called forth numerous refutations,
which in turn gave rise to replies.

In the seventeenth century anti-Judaism took on an-
other form. The theologians were succeeded by erudites,
scholars, exegetes. Anti-Judaism became milder and
more scientific; it was represented by hebraizers, often
of great attainments, like Wagenseil, 4 Bartolocci, 5 Voe-

4 Wagenseil, loc. cit.

*Magna Biblothica Ralbinica (Rome, 1693-95).

8 Solomon ben Adret, of Barcelona, refuted the Pugio Fidel.

4 Chayimibn Musa refuted Nicholas de Lyra in his Shield
<md Sicord (Graetz, loc. cit.)

1 Letter of Combat (Graetz, loc. cit., and Rossi, Bibloth. anti-
christ, (p. 100).

1 Dialogue against the Apostates (Loeb, loc. cit.)

1 Alteca Botcca (Loeb. loc. cit.) De Rossi, Dizionario degli
autori Ebrci (Parma, 1802^, p. 89.


this, 6 Joseph de Voisin, 7 etc. These men studied Jewish
literature and manners in a more serious way. Thus
Wagenseil denied ritual murder; 1 though saying that
the Talmud contained "blasphemies, impostures and
absurdities," Buxtorf declared that it also contained
things of value for the historian and philosopher. 2 Yet
the same ideas persisted which had inspired the authors
of the preceding centuries. The object was always to
prove the truth of the Christian faith and dogmas on
the basis of the Old Testament; the anxiety to convert
the Jews ever haunted the souls, the recall of Israel was
spoken of, means of bringing them back were proposed ; 3
the apostates invoked the Zohar and Mishna in favor of
Jesus, 4 and the polemic literature was still in bloom
under Eisenmenger, whose Judaism Unveiled 5 has in-
spired many contemporary antisemites; under Schudt, 6
later under Voltaire. It is true that literary anti-Juda-
ism, particularly that of combative tendencies and pam-

Disputationcs Selectae (Utrecht, 1663).

T Theologia Judaeorum (1G47).

1 Benaohriohtung wegen cinigcr die Judenschaft angehenden
Sachen (Altdorf, 1709).

3 Dictionn. chaldeo-talmudico-ralliniquc (Basiliae, 1639) and
ftynagoga Judaica (Hanau, 1G04).

s Pean de la Croullardiere, Methode facile pour convaincrc les
heretigues (Paris, 1667), which contains a "method of assailing
ad converting the Jews" ; Thomas Bell' Hader, Dottrina facile
e breve per reduire I'Hebreo al conoscimento del vero Messia e
Salvator del Hondo (Venetia 1608).

4 Conrad Otton, Oali Razia (Secrets unveiled), (Nurenberg,

6 Judaism Unveiled '(Frankfort, 1700).

"Compendium Historiae Judaicae (Frankfort, 1700) and Ju-
daeus Christicida gravissime peccans et vapulans (1760).


phleteers, is varied but little. Most of the anti-Jewish
writers imitate one another, without scruple; they pla-
giarize without even taking the trouble to verify the as-
sertions of their predecessors. One book of the kind is
responsible for similar others: Alonzo da Spina draws
his inspiration from Batallas de Dios, by Alfonso of
Valladolid; Porchet Salvaticus, Pietro Galatini, Pierre
de Barcelona republish, under different names, Raymund
Martin's Sword of the Faith; Paul Fagius and Sebastian
Miinster 1 help themselves to the Book of the Faith.

In spite of this, and independently of the dissimilar-
ities I have noted, anti-Judaism, from the seventeenth
century on, is in all respects quite different from the
anti-Judaism of the preceding centuries. The social side
gets gradually the upperhand of the religious side,
though this latter continues to exist. The question is
asked, not whether the Jews are wrong in being usurers,
or merchants, or deicides, but whether, as Schudt 2 says,
the Jews ought to be tolerated in a State or not, whether
it is lawful to admit Jews into a Christian common-
wealth, as John Dury 3 inquires, about 1655, in a pam-
phlet directed against Cromwell's protege, Menasseh ben
Israel. This is the social standpoint which we shall see
developing henceforth in literary anti- Judaism ; a part
of modern antisemitism will rest on the theory of a
Christian State and its integrity, and in this wise it will
be connected with the ancient anti-Judaism. In the
course of this book we shall have to examine more closely

1 Revue des Etudes juives, v. V, p 57.

* Loc. tit.

* A Case of Conscience (London, 1655).


the affinities and differences which unite and ^eparate
these two kinds of anti-Judaism.



Emancipated Judaism. The Position of the Jews in
Society. Usury and the Affairs in Alsace. Napo-
leon and the Administrative Organization of the
Jewish Religion. The Great Sanhedrin. The Re-
strictive Laws and the Progressive Liberation in
France. The Emancipation in the Netherlands.
Emancipation in Italy and Germany. The Anti-
Napoleonic Reaction and the Jews. The Revival of
Anti-Jewish Legislation. Popular Movements.
Emancipation in England. In Austria. The Rev-
olution of 1848 and the Jews. The End of Legal
Anti- Judaism in the West. Eastern Anti- Judaism.
The Jews in Roumania. The Russian Jews.
The Persecutions. The Social Question and the
Religious Question.

After preliminary discussions, as a result of which
any decision on the emancipation of the Jews was ad-
journed, the Constituent Assembly voted, on September
27, 1791, on a motion by Duport, and thanks to Regnault
de Saint-Jean-d'Angely's intervention, the admission of
the Jews to the rank of citizens. This decree had been


ready for a long time, prepared as it was through the
work of the commission assembled by Louis XVI, with
Malesherbes in the chair; prepared by the writings of
Lessing and Dohm, of Mirabeau and Gregoire. It was
the logical outcome of the efforts made for some time by
the Jews and the philosophers; in Germany Mendels-
sohn had been its promoter and most active advocate,
and in Berlin Mirabeau drew his inspiration at the side
of Dohm in the salons of Henriette de Lemos.

A certain class of Jews had, however, already been
emancipated. In Germany the court Jews (Hofjuden)
had obtained commercial privileges ; even titles of nobil-
ity were being conferred upon them for money. In
France the Portuguese Marranos returned to Judaism,
enjoyed great liberties and prospered under the super-
vision of their syndics at Bordeaux, very indifferent
nevertheless to the fate of their unfortunate brethren,
though very influential: one of them, Gradis, failed to
secure a nomination as deputy to the States-General. In
Alsace even, several Jews obtained important favors, as,
e. g., Cerf Berr, purveyor to the armies of Louis XV,
who granted him naturalization and the title of Marquis
de Tombelaine.

Thanks to all these privileges, there sprang into exist-
ence a class of rich Jews which came into contact with
the Christian society; open-minded, subtle, intelligent,
refined, of extreme intellectualism, it had given up, like
so many Christians, the letter of religion or of the faith
even, and retained nothing but a mystic idealism which,
for good or ill, went hand in hand with a liberal ration-
alism. The fusion between this group of Jews and the


elite led by Lessing, was brought about above all in Ber-
lin, a young city and centre of a kingdom which was
rising to fame, an easy-going city, with little tradition.
Young Germany gathered at the houses of Henrietta de
Lemos and Eachel von Yarnhagen; with the Jews, Ger-
man Komanticism ended in impregnating itself with
Spinozaism; Schleiermacher and Humboldt were seen
visiting there, and it may be said that if the Constituent
Assembly decreed the emancipation of the Jews, it was
in Germany that it had been prepared.

At any rate, the number of these Jews qualified to
mingle with the nations, was extremely limited, the more
so because the majority of them like Mendelsson's
daughters, like Boerne and Heine later on ended by
converting, and thus no longer existed as Israelites. As
for the mass of Jew,, it was in quite different circum-

The decree of 1791 freed these pariahs from a secular
servitude; it broke the fetters with which the laws had
bound them; it wrested them from all kinds of ghettos
where they had been imprisoned ; from, as it were, cattle
it made them human beings. But if it was within its
power to restore them to liberty, if it was possible for it
to undo within one day the legislative work of centuries,
it could not annul their moral effect, and it was espec-
ially impotent to break the chains which the Jews had
forged themselves. The Jews were emancipated legally,
but not so morally; they kept their manners, customs
and prejudices prejudices which their fellow citizens
of other confessions kept, too. They were happy at hav-
ing escaped their humiliation, but they looked around


with diffidence and suspected even their liberators.

For centuries they had looked with disgust and terror
at this world which was rejecting them; they had suf-
fered from it, but they still more feared to lose their
personality and faith from contact with it. More than
one old Jew must have looked with anxiety at the new
existence which opened before him ; I should not even be
surprised if there were some in whose eyes the liberation
appeared a misfortune or abomination. Many of these
miserable beings cherished their humiliation, their seclu-
"sion which kept them far from sin and contamination,
and the efforts of the majority were bent on remaining
what they were, among strangers in whose midst they
were caet. The enlightened, intelligent part of the
Jews, the reformers, who suffered from their inferior
position and from the degradation of their coreligionists
these worked for emancipation, but even they could
not at once transform those . for whom they had re-
claimed the right of being human creatures.

As the decree of emancipation did not change the
Judaic self, the way in which this self manifested itself
was not changed either. Economically the Jews re-
mained what they were be it understood that I speak
of the majority unproductive, i. e., brokers, money-
lenders, usurers, and they could not be otherwise, given
their habits and conditions under which they had lived.
With the exception of an insignificant minority among
them, they had no other aptitudes, and even nowadays a
great many Jews are in the same plight. They did not
fail to apply these aptitudes, and during this period of
unrest and disorder they found occasion to apply them


more than ever. In France they availed themselves of
events, and the events were favorable for them. In
Alsace, for instance, they acted as auxiliaries to the
peasants, whom they lent the funds necessary for the
purchase of national property. Already before the revo-
lution they were the home-bred usurers in this province,
and the objects of hatred and contempt ; x after the Revo-
lution, the very peasants who had erstwhile forged quit-
tances 2 to escape from the clutches of their creditors,
now appealed to them. Thanks to the Alsatian Jews, the
new ownership continued, but they meant to draw profit
from it with a plentiful, usurious hand. The debtors
raised a protest ; they pretended they would be ruined if
no aid were forthcoming, and in this they exaggerated,
as they, who previous to 1795 had nothing, had eighteen
years later acquired 60,000,000 francs' worth of estates
on which they owed the Jews 9,500,000 francs. Never-
theless, Napoleon lent ear to them, and suspended, dur-
ing one year, judicial decisions in behalf of the Jewish
usurers of the Upper Rhine, the Lower Rhine, and the
Rhine provinces. His work did not stop at that. In
the preambles of the decree of suspension of May 30,
1806, he showed that he did not consider the repressive

1 Mention must be made that, as in the Middle ages, the Alsa-
tian Jews were the "dummies" and intermediaries of the Chris-
tian usurers, (Cf. Halphen, Rccueil dcs 7ots et dccrets concer-
nant les Israelites, (Paris, 1851). and the Petition des Juifa
ctablis en France addressee a I'Assemblee nationale le 28 Janvier

2 On the Alsatian Jews before and after the Revolution, con-
sult : Gregoire, Essai sur la Regeneration dcs Juifs; Dohm, De
la Reforme politique dcs Juifs; Paul Fauchille, La Question
Juivc en France Sous le premier Empire (Paris, 1884).


measures sufficient, but wanted the source of the evil
done away with.

"These circumstances," said he, "caused us at the
same time to consider how urgent it was to revive among
those subjects of our country who profess the Jewish
religion, the sentiments of civic morals, which have un-
fortunately been deadened with a great number of them
through the state of humiliation in which they have
languished too long, and which is not our intention to
maintain and renew."

To revive or rather to give birth to these sentiments,
he wanted to bend the Jewish religion to suit his dis-
cipline, to hierarchize it as he had hierarchized the rest
of the nation, to make it conform to the general plan.
When first consul he had neglected to take up the ques-
tion of the Jewish religion, and so he wanted to make
amends for this failure by convoking an Assembly of
Notable Jews for the purpose of "considering the means
of improving the condition of the Jewish nation and
spreading the taste for the useful arts and professions
among its members," and of organizing Judaism admin-
istratively. A list of questions was sent out among
prominent Jews and when the answers had come in, the
Emperor called together a Great Sanhedrin vested with
the power of bestowing a religious authority upon the
responses of the first assembly. The Sanhedrin declared
that the Mosaic law contained obligatory religious pro-
visions, and political provisions; the latter concerned
the' people of Israel when an autonomous nation, and
had, therefore, lost their meaning since the Jews had
scattered among the nations; it also forbade to make,


in the future, any distinctions between Jews and Chris-
tians in the matter of loans, and entirely prohibited

These declarations showed that the prominent Jews
belonging for the most part to the minority I have
mentioned, knew to adapt themselves to the new state
of affairs, but could in no way make any presumption
upon the dispositions of the mass. Therein Napoleon
deceived himself; his fondness for order, regulation and
law, his faith in their efficiency played him false. He
doubtless imagined that a Sanhedrin was a council, but
it was nothing of the kind. The Sanhedrin decisions
had absolutely no import except as personal opinions,
they were in no way binding upon the Jews, they car-
ried no authority, and there were no sanctions to en-
force them. The only piece of work of this assembly was
administrative that of organizing consistories; as for
the moral work it was naught, and the men assembled
were incapable of changing manners. They knew it too
well themselves, however, and they simply recorded what
was common property; thus they abolished polygamy
which had been out of use for centuries. It required the
candor of Napoleon the legist to believe that a synod
could enjoin love for the neighbor, or forbid usury
which the social conditions facilitated. The imperial
prohibition for Jews against providing substitutes for
military service this for the purpose of making them
better realize the grandeur of their civic duties was
bound to have the same effect as the prescriptions of
the synod. 1 The case was the same with the decree of

1 Halphen, Recueil des lois et decreta.


March 17, 1808, forbidding the Jews to engage in com-
merce without a personal license issued by the prefect,
or to take mortgages without authorization; besides,
Jews were forbidden to settle in Alsace and the Rhine
provinces, and the Alsacian Jews were forbidden to enter
other departments unless to engage in agriculture, 2
These decrees issued for ten years, did not turn one Jew
into an agriculturer, and if any of them became chauvin-
ists, the obligation of serving in the army had something
to do with it. These were the last restrictive laws in
France; the legal assimilation was consummated in
1830, when Lafitte had the Jewish creed incorporated in
the budget. This meant the final downfall of the "Chris-
tian State," though the lay state was not, as yet, com-
pletely established. The last trace of the ancient distinc-
tions between Jews and Christians disappeared with the
abolition of the oath More Judaico, in 1839. Nor was
the moral assimilation complete.

So far we have been speaking of the emancipation of
the French Jews, it remains to examine the influence
it had on the Jews of Europe. 1 From the moment of the

* Halphen, loc. cit.

1 In this book I shall not speak of the modern Jews of the
Mohammedan countries, Turkey, Asia_JMinor, Trigpli, Persia.
It is quite evident that the enmity there rests on quite different
causes from those in Christian lands, and quite different princi-
ples, or at least notions and instincts, guide the Mohammedans.
In the contemporary meaning of the word, antisemitism does not
exist in any of these countries, nevertheless the hostility to Jews,'
especially popular hositility, is very great there. To determine
the causes thereof it would require a special study, which I
shall undertake later on ; in this study I shall take up the Tun-
isian and Algerian Jews, with the understanding that I shall not


foundation of the Batavian Eepublic, in 1796, the Na-
tional Assembly gave the Jews in the Netherlands the
rights of citizenship, and their position regulated later
by Louis Bonaparte was settled in a decisive way by
William I, in 1815. As a matter of fact, the Dutch
Jews enjoyed important privileges and quite a deal of
liberty since the sixteenth century: the Revolution was
but the decisive cause of their total liberation. In Italy
and Germany emancipation was brought to the Jews by
the armies of the Republic and the Empire. Napoleon
became the hero and god of Israel, the awaited liberator,
he whose mighty hand was breaking the barriers of the
Ghetto. He entered all cities greeted by the acclamations
of the Jews witness the way in which Heinrich Heine
extolled him who felt that their cause was linked with
the triumph of the eagles. And for this reason the Jews
were the first to fe^el the effects of the Napoleonic reac-
tion. A return to anti-Judaism went hand in hand with
the exaltation of patriotism. The emancipation was a
French act ; it was, therefore, necessary to prove it bad,
besides, it was a revolutionary act, and there was a re-
action against the Revolution and the ideas of equalit} 7 '.
While the Christian State was being re-established, the
Jews were being banished. In Germany in particular
this antique religious conception of the State again came
to life with a new splendor, and in Germany, especially,

deal with the grievances of the French antisemites against them,
grievances similar to those which we are about to treat here,
although some of them, as, for instance, the national grievance,
are hardly tenable. I shall simply deal with the more interest-
ing aspects and the causes of hatred between Arabs and Jews.

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