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I don't know if this is off topic but a similar question is here at Christianity SE and I thought it would be interesting to ask the corresponding one here.

It intrigues me how people from other cultures like Hinduism, Confucianism, Buddhism or any of the isms are more readily accepted anywhere than the Jewish people.

What makes it all the more intriguing is the scope and age of the phenomenon. If it were an isolated thing confined to a single time and location, one could discount it as hand of fate or randomness of nature.

However to my knowledge it is much more pervasive than that. It seems to be present from the times of Haman and Mordecai to right until the present times in different parts of the world.

Is there a reason behind this? (Both religious and non-religious perspectives welcome.)

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You might be interested in this (Aruch HaShulchan 1:10, or English) –  b a Aug 16 '12 at 17:55
@ba Aruch Hashulchan in English! Cool! –  Double AA Aug 16 '12 at 17:58
aish.com/sem/wtj/82875402.html –  Seth J Aug 16 '12 at 19:44

5 Answers 5

Hatred has many sources. And sometimes it seems to have none.

One could attribute it to a divine decree, or to biblical stories which pit people against people. Or you could look at historical or sociological trends. Here is a random selection of "reasons":

Jews are separate and distinct. When any group defies the will of the masses or the powerful, it is resented. The refusal to assimilate or convert hasn't sat well with others.

Jewish practice is different and rituals set us apart, sometimes to the exclusion of others who resent it.

Judaism often invokes language like "chosen" -- regardless of its real meaning or intent, words that can be inferred to mean "superior" tend to make others resent the implication of their inferiority.

Historical events haven't helped (the gospel's accounts of the Jewish responsibility for the crucifiction, later passion plays, Jews being allowed to be only tax collectors or money lenders, the fewer Jewish victims of plagues due to hygiene laws etc).

The notion of the state of Israel and the Zionist dream.

There are many "reasons" why people hate, but some would say that each is simply an excuse to rationalize the divinely decreed hate which was already there.

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not sure why someone downvoted this. +1 –  Charles Koppelman Aug 16 '12 at 19:00

This amounts to a non-religious perspective that is informed by a deep personal familiarity with the history and beliefs of Christianity, and by having several close Jewish friends, one a rabbi, with whom I've had many delightful conversations.

I would first note that on a personal level, antisemitism baffles me in a way that makes me wonder if I missed the memo, so to speak. Judaism is the very source and origin of both Christianity and Islam. How then can anyone from those faiths disrespect that which gave birth to most of what they believe about the very nature of the universe and their roles within it? I just don't get it, either intellectually and most certainly not emotionally.

Yet at another more abstract level, I think I do understand part of what is going on. Most of us go through our lives feeling like we have been cheated in some way, perhaps by our situation, or perhaps by those who raised us, or just by people in general. Not many of us get to have such perfect and gilded lives that we never have the desire to think "why did this happen to me? why is my life so unhappy?"

Once such questions arise, everyone is forced to deal with them one way or another. Unfortunately, even within religious faiths that teach many aspects of how people should treat one another, the incredible importance of how we deal with our own perception of unfairness is often simply overlooked. We choose without realizing it, often simply by imitating those around us.

One choice is to realize others are suffering also, and then asking, "I wonder if there is some way I can help others?"

At the other end of possible responses is this question: "I wonder who is to blame for my troubles?"

These are both answers that are self-reinforcing. If you try to help others and succeed, most people find it an experience that is astonishingly rewarding, often in spite of all expectations to the contrary.

If you choose instead to look for the real source of your troubles, you always will. And the strange thing is, when you find it, it will always look like some kind of strangely distorted reflection of yourself. Everything you don't like about yourself somehow becomes a part of this thing that you have chosen as the source of your problems. The more that happens, the more certain and firm you become in your belief that "There is the source of all my woes! There is the reason why I am so cruel to others, so hateful to my own children, so prone to failure in all that I do! If only that was not around, I would be so much happier with myself, and so much less miserable!" The blurrier the vision of that, the less understood and familiar it is, the easier it becomes to project all of your own failures into it.

"That" doesn't even have to be a person. But of course, too often... it is.

Why are Jewish people so often selected in the Western world to become sources and even the very incarnations of their woes, the sources of everything they see as wrong in the world around them? Because Judaism is the oh-so-close yet strangely baffling relative that most people have never really met and certainly don't understand. They are not strangers from afar, like Buddhists or Confucians or Zoroastrians, who seem so different that they are more like plants and scenery viewed while passing through a garden. They go their way, and you go yours, and you seldom stop to think about it.

But the Jewish people are the tenders of the garden. They are there, they are known, and they are deeply a part of it. But they do not look quite the same, act quite the same, talk quite the same. They there and yet they are apart, and the very joy that many of them have in that separateness can be baffling to others traveling through that garden.

If you have chosen a path of saying "how can I help?", meeting the gardeners and getting to know them better becomes a great joy to you also.

But if instead someone has chosen one of the many, many paths of searching for who is to blame?, then all to often they end up searching for someone enough like themselves to project all the evils they have perceived onto them, yet different enough that they never know them as personal friends or people with which they share a meal, a joke, a laugh.

And in choosing such a path, sadly, I think lies much of the reason for the deep and terrible evil -- it is just that, make no mistake and call it nothing less -- that has expressed itself with such particular persistence over the centuries in the treatment of Jewish people.

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Terry, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for this thoughtful answer. I hope you'll continue to participate. –  Monica Cellio Aug 17 '12 at 2:35

Rashi Genesis 33:4 says the Halacha is Esau hates Yaacov. This can be understood that this is Halacha and not dependent on external factors.

The Gemoro also says

Rav Chisda and Rabbah the son of Rav Huna both said: Why is it called "Sinai"? Because it is the mountain from which hatred (Hebrew: sinah) came down to the Nations-of-the-World ... (Shabbos 89a)

so again it seems that it is not dependent on the happenings or the cultures of the world.

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Since I'm not Jewish it is hard for me to understand the Jewish terminology. Could you expand on it a bit? –  Monika Michael Aug 16 '12 at 17:54
@MonikaMichael basically it is a decree from heaven! –  Yehuda Aug 16 '12 at 17:56
What could it possibly mean that it is a Halacha? Is it one of the 7 Noahide Laws? Would one incur a punishment for not keeping it? –  Double AA Aug 16 '12 at 17:56
@DoubleAA The Netziv (Haamek Davar, Bereishis 1:1) says that "din" can mean a rule of nature; maybe the same is true here –  b a Aug 16 '12 at 18:00
@DoubleAA I take Halacha to mean 'the will of God' in this context. –  Yehuda Aug 16 '12 at 18:02

According to Jewish philosophy and mysticism, man is a dual creature, combining both a noble, divine, altruistic drive as well as a base, selfish, physical one. The Jewish people were chosen to be a "light onto the nations" to guide them toward the subservience of the base drives to to divine ones. As such, men who chose to guide themselves by their base, corporeal drives resent and hate the Jews and what they represent. ("Conscience is a Jewish invention, it is a blemish like circumcision." - Rauschning, Hitler Speaks, p. 220)

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Jews are special in many ways. Winning nobel prices is one of them.

However, fortunately, having large number of people hating them is not one of their special trait.


  1. http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=61f_1297089677
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1998_riots_of_Indonesia
  4. http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/middle-east-and-asia/2007/12/20/massacre-at-mamilla.php
  5. Typical millionaires are taxed more than jews. So money, rather than race is a more significant factor when it comes to hatred.
  6. Pimps, whores, porn stars, and ganja distributors also face more tax and prosecution than jews even though they do no harm to nobody. All they do are just fascilitating trades and give people what they want. Prejudices are far better predictors of hatred than jewishness.

Many are just misunderstanding. Hatred is something in someone's head. Quite often, people just want to get rid competitors or rob our money. Nothing personal.

Properly handled and understood, we can channel those hatred so that they screw over someone else instead and that someone else could be someone that's on our way. That'll be a win win win solution because we win thrice.

The muslims, for example, murder far more muslims than jews. So who are they really hating? Their own kind of course, which they directly compete with for mates, food, and jobs. It's happen in all societies. Number 1 chinese mass murderers are chinese. More americans die in the hand of americans than by terrorists, etc...

A wise politician will simply nurture those hatred by creating minimum wage, for example, to ensure that some will always be jobless. Then they laugh seeing how people kill each other. People being angry then kill each other (or some minorities), instead of their own corrupt but wise politicians.

Perhaps it's easier to scan for hostilities. But then again it's tricky.

One way to scan hostilities is to scan for privileges and oppression. Again we got huge misunderstanding here.

People often think that the privileged are rich businessmen. The truth is the opposite. Rather than asking why jews, chinese, whites, hindus, scottish, or some X minority earn more money, we should ask, why the dumb and lazy among jews, chinese, whites, and hindus fail to reproduce? Here, the richest minorities are usually the most oppressed ones.

Being in business is actually a sign of oppression rather than privilege. Being a businessman is the occupation most relatively free from government intervention and hence, from all bigotry. Oppressed minorities often end up becoming businessmen to avoid discrimination. Hence, we can measure how oppressed a minority group is by counting the percentage of businessmen among those minorities. Chinese overseas in Indonesia, for example, are almost always businessmen. The fact that many jews can become scientists lawyers and politicians show that anti semitism is mostly history.

The most privileged groups are of course, the majestic welfare queens and kings that are so rich they can afford infinite numbers of children without working. However, people perceive them as oppressed instead of privileged.

This cause even more confusion in perceived hatred or care.

Further muddling the perception is illusion of morality. When I commit evil against someone, it'll be toward my best interest to come up with a more politically correct justification. That is usually justice. That means the target of my hatred will be shown to be full of "evil".

However, hatred has little to do with the target being wrong.

The japs, for example, have a proverb that the nail standing up got hammered down. Stupid culture, I know. But the proverb is a realistic one for most societies. The japs are simply good at admitting it. Jews being prominent, often stand up, and hence got hammered down.

My uncle taught me that if you're good, people will find reason that you're evil so they can rob you. When you're evil, people out of fear will want to be your friend so they're not targeted. Then they'll say you're good.

Quite often, this illusion of justice causes even bigger illusion. The object of hatred, not understanding why people think he is evil, then think that they are hatred out of meta physical reasons, like chosenness, etc. A more natural explanation is that the "evilness" is simply illusion used to justify hatred by any bigot that mastered bigotry 101.

If we study chimps we will see that for primates, hatred is actually natural. It's what we do against anyone that get in the way of our reproductive success. It's very understandable.

Prohibition of all victimless crimes (such as being jewish, or smoking dope) in our species are based on simple hatred, which is masked under 1001 pretexts. Some of those pretext is often "love" of the victim, which is utter BS.

That's because unlike chimps, our species count on BS to gain political power rather than mere muscles. We evolve to embrace BS that fit our political agenda. We BS so well, we truly believe our BS and don't know it's BS. Most people don't know except evolutionary psychologists and even they tend to stay away from politically incorrect topics that would unmask the most sacredly held BS.

For anti semitism we have

  1. Envy
  2. Jewish lack of power and political cloud (in the past). Yap anti semitic claims are simply false. If jews were that powerful they wouldn't get screwed over so many times. If I am going to go postal on somebody I would be better off picking easy target right? The natural way to persuade others to join and condone me is to portray the target as something powerful.
  3. Fear and lack of choices. Put your self in the shoe of lebanese christians that have no grudge against jews and was once jews' ally. Or what about palestinians that don't mind selling their land to jews and move on. Many just want to leave for nothing just to avoid conflict. Neither jewish' military or their enemies are nice to the moderates. This is the most regrettable because it can be fixed. But those who have little choices have little power and what they wish matter little. So no body bother fixing it.
  4. Proximity... People tend to hate those that leave near them. Attacking far away land is expensive. This is the strategy that the Qin used to unite china -200BC. Usually humans, following their feeling, would act exactly like the smartest political analyst. It's not a coincidence that those who are friendly to jews are those who live far away from them, like Indians, Chinese, Japanese.
  5. Trade restrictions. Gaza blockades. Prohibition against selling land to jews. So things that could have been resolved peacefully through cash end up becoming political issues. I think this is the biggest one for all hatred in the world.
  6. Hatred factor combo. Some are of different race. Some are richer. Some have different faith. Jews are often all 3.
  7. Unusual aggression combo. Some countries seize land. Some country kick people out. Some country do that based on race. However a country that seize some land and then kick the population out of that land based on their race and religion is very few since 20th century. We got turkey kicking armenian, german and israel. This is blown out of proportion like shooting of mere 20 children in gun free zone, but well, that's how the world works.
  8. Tight control of media by everyone else. In Indonesia, I can't access many sites without changing name servers. Anti semitism is common in countries whose government interfere in information trade.
  9. Bad PR. Most people in muslim countries do not know that jews are also refuges in war with Arabs and that the real estate in dispute is really small. Jews never make a big point out of this, which is a very important point for most people when deciding who are the asshole in Arab Israel conflicts.

I think I'll explain the #1. That's because anti semitism is simply not common anymore and hence anti antisemitism is simply a past thing. In the past, #1 is the reason. Very few people hate jews nowadays except those that's actually in war against them and hence don't have much choices.

I look around for many explanations.

The best I can find is the book by Matt Ridley, "The Red Queen". You can also try Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.

The idea is that life is a race. Certain resources, like university seats, women, etc. are limited. Winner takes all.

Capitalism has brought wealth and hence wealth is no longer a limited resources. Now socialists no longer bitch about they're getting poorer. They bitch about disparity of wealth. Effectively, they complain that the rich are getting richer.

But why do they complaint? Because happiness does not come from mere personal success. Happiness come from RELATIVE success.

In other word, happiness come from:

  1. Your success
  2. Unhappiness of others

Beautiful girls, for example, do not pick the rich, they pick the rich*est*.

Hence most males evolve huge preference to get rid richer smarter males out of mating market.

Antisemitism is just a dot in a string of other bizarre customs all over the world.

  1. Monks in china and europe don't get married (monks are smarter, smarter people out of marriage market)
  2. Alimony laws. This ensure that the richest males go bankcrupt every time they attract another girl.
  3. Trade restriction on sex to prevent rich male from "just paying". Many beautiful girls prefer richer males that pay more than a poor males that offers a life time commitment.
  4. Killing the rich or minority groups that are richer.
  5. Anti polygamy laws in most democratic cultures. The single males simply vote to ensure that women can only pick singles.
  6. In poor muslim countries, sex outside marriage is illegal, and women can only pick muslim men.
  7. In US, prostitution is comprehensively defined as all sex for cash or other consideration. Now what kind of sex doesn't have consideration anyway? Curiously if you have only 1 sugar baby, somehow it's okay. Start collecting a few more and poof.
  8. Income tax punish the smart, diligent and productive.
  9. Child support laws are set to be proportional to men's income. Hence, higher income males cannot support many children.
  10. Pogrom and genocide often target intellectuals or more successful minorities.
  11. Laws prohibiting IQ tests for determining job and college admission.

In other word, if you are going to be successful but weak, you might as well put a sign "kill me and get good drops."

Basically all those bizarre customs have one pattern in common. They all reduce gene pool survival of the smart and productive.

Jews are not unique in this regard. Armenian in Otoman, Borgueis in mainland china, indian in africa, white males in US, are getting the same hatred.

As Chinese oversea that live in Indonesia, we too used to get the same treatment.

  1. We're accused of both being capitalistic and socialist at the same time (go figure)
  2. The accusation is somewhat correct because capitalism is the most pro worker economic system in the world as Mark Zukenberg have clearly shown.
  3. Without quota system chinese would fill most seats in Indonesian university. In fact, at one year, this is tried once. We got like 90% of the seats despite a mere 2% of the population. Jews would too to a lesser extend.
  4. They told us to "assimilate".
  5. Globalization effectively put an end to this. When people can easily move to other country when prosecution is too tough they do. When those people are actually productive their country start missing them. So now we got chinese vice governor in Indonesian capital. We got chinese new year as national holiday. Bigots pick other minority target (Ahmadiyah). The same way jews too get well accepted now in US society.
  6. Chinese won't get welfare no matter how poor they are. Poor chinese do not get married. So, the only chinese that survive in the gene pool is the rich, reinforcing the stereotype. Jews too faced the same thing I've heard.

All 6 things happen to jews too. Some are too obviously. In US, being jewish/white/asians means affirmative action will prevent you from getting to college, for example.

So many jews in Europe, or chinese in Indonesia, align themselves with leftist liberal because conservative is even worst.

Of course, all those hatred are explained, often by both the bigots and their victims, by things that do not make sense. The limit is just creativity of story teller I suppose.

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I put answers too on christian counterpart. Wanna downvote that one too? –  Jim Thio Jan 7 '13 at 0:06
Would anyone tell me where it is wrong? We're dealing with real hatred here that actually happened here. You have other scientific explanation? –  Jim Thio Jan 7 '13 at 0:16
I think this answer is the most balance here. I really just want to be objective. That Esau hate Jakob explanation totally doesn't make sense. They're both death for 4k years. –  Jim Thio Jan 7 '13 at 0:26
Is there a reason you are ignoring the two answers with the most upvotes? –  Double AA Jan 7 '13 at 0:33
@JimThio your premise is wrong, hatred of Jews is quite different than any other kind of hatred ever, see the series of articles that sethj linked judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/18553/… –  Izzy Jan 7 '13 at 2:09

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