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.)


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 Commented Aug 16, 2012 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. Commented Aug 17, 2012 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? Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 17:54
  • @MonikaMichael basically it is a decree from heaven!
    – Yehuda
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 17:56
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    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
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 17:56
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    @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
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 18:00
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    @DoubleAA I take Halacha to mean 'the will of God' in this context.
    – Yehuda
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 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)


This is a great thread; I say that as a Jew.

This is more of an answer than a comment, but a few thoughts regarding, what I feel are, distinctly Jewish traits.

Jews tend to question things and don’t necessarily bow to authority. There is subtlety and nuance to this (of course) but it tends to color Jews as headstrong and insolent in different, non-Judaic, cultures. So we are often seen as troublemakers and uncontrollable.

And in a predominantly Christian and Muslim world where submission and non-questioning of authority hold sway, we are outcasts.

There is a lot that could be added to this, but at its core I think these are key Jewish traits that tend to rub people the wrong way.

PS: Here is a breakdown of the number of Christians, Muslims and Jews across the world. Data from the Pew Research Center from the 2012 report on The Global Religious Landscape:

  • Christians: 2.2 billion
  • Muslims: 1.6 billion
  • Jews: 14 million

We are a relatively small group but as the root of Christianity and Islam we hold outsized sway; without us Christians and Muslims wouldn’t exist.

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