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Satanizing of the Jews

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The literature about anti-Semitism is vast. However, much of what has been written about it takes the existence of this phenomenon for granted, giving us a history of anti-Semitism without explaining what it really is. Carmichael’s treatise is different. It is not primarily a history of atrocities–it goes to the roots, thus clearing the confusion about the distinction between mystical anti-Semitism and other forms of racism. Mystical anti-Semitism is a singular idea which culminated in the Holocaust and is still alive today. Carmichael contends that it has nothing to do with a personal hatred of the Jews. He argues that the view of anti-Semitism as being directed against real-life Jews has in fact helped objectify the irrational hatred that is at its core. Anti-Semitism received its mystical element when the Church Fathers transformed historical theory into theology. St. Paul believed in the imminence of the Kingdom of God which would be the end of history and reverse the injustice done to the Jews. To him, God’s reentering history was delayed only until the God-forces in this world had finally defeated the Devil-forces. Yet the world did not end, and in the wake of Rome’s crushing victory over Judea in the Roman-Jewish War, the idea of the Kingdom of God was postponed indefinitely. Instead, the Universal Church took over God’s place in the world, and the Devil’s role was assigned to those who rejected Jesus and have since been blamed for his death: the Jews. The rise of Christianity established anti-Semitism politically; it finally gained a broad, popular basis during the Crusades, eventually leading to international prosecutions. Ghettoes were established as a consequence of theReformation. Carmichael describes the waning of theology’s influence during the 18th century, which only caused the concepts of “Jew” and “Jewish” to become abstract and ultimately being equated with Pure Evil; the development of the concept of race in the 19th century, which turned anti-Semitism from a theological notion into a biological one, as exemplified most radically and horribly by Hitler; and Communism’s contribution to the perseverance of anti-Semitism. In an epilogue Carmichael distinguishes mystical anti-Semitism from the Arab opposition to the State of Israel, and examines what the future has in store for the Jews.

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