I’ve been looking at those trains passing through Hungary, carrying refugees from further east, and seeing the Hungarian police offer them food and water, which they throw on the ground in contempt. And I’m reminded of other trains travelling the same route, 72 years ago, also en route to a place that in those days was in Germany. Those passengers, when the train stopped at a station, offered gold and jewellery for the privilege of a mug of water. But this was denied them. They arrived in a Germany, all right, but there were no lines of happy faces carrying placards saying ‘Welcome’. Just soldiers, dogs and whips. And a chimney.
The way the world is at the moment, now is as good a time as any to try out my theory of why anti-Semitism exists and persists.
Leaving aside Bible stories, hatred of Jews has been recorded in history at least from the 3rd century BCE. Jews have been hated for killing Christ and giving rise to Christianity; for being alien and for trying to blend in; for being rich and being poor; for being dirty and for washing too much; for being capitalists and being communists; for leaving Israel for Europe and for leaving Europe for Israel.
I believe that the main reason that hatred for Jews has thrived for so long is that the story of the Jewish people is a standing counter-example to the narrative of both Western civilisation and the two faiths that could be called heresies of Judaism.
The success of the Jewish people shows that you need neither Socrates nor Cicero nor Jesus nor Muhammad nor Marx in order to lead a rich and fulfilled life. In particular, Christianity, Islam and Communism are universalist faiths: each say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The Jewish people, and Judaism, shows that there’s another way, just as good. And the authorities, from Hadrian to Khamenei, see that as an existential threat.
And because, while Christianity, Islam and Communism are desperate to convert everybody, Judaism puts up barriers to conversion and only accepts the sincere, this drives them mad: because they don’t understand how we can be so weak, so few, and yet so indestructible.
And it also drives Christians & Muslims mad that, while they live in fear of God, every Jew has a personal relationship with Him. Even when He gets angry with us, it’s just dear old Dad losing His rag: we are confident that He loves us, and His wrath will blow over after a bit. They are in awe of God: but we’re His best mate. We see Him on his day off, and go out for a drink with Him. The Tanach and Mishnah are full of stories of us having blazing rows with Him, but He just laughs it off.
No wonder they want to kill us.