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Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four
THE ROOTS OF ANTI-SEMITISM go back into ancient times when the religion of the Jews first began setting them off from their neighbors. While the other peoples of the ancient Near East worshipped many gods, the Jews (first called Hebrews, then Israelites) had only one god: an invisible deity who delivered them from Egyptian slavery, gave them their land, and created the laws by which they lived. So holy did the Jews regard their god that they made neither statues nor images of his likeness, nor did they utter his name.
Under the kings David and Solomon, ancient Israel was united and strong. Later, however, the land was divided into two kingdoms - Israel in the north and Judah in the south. When both were crushed by the invasions of powerful empires from the north, prophets blamed the disaster on the Jews themselves. They said that because the Jews had turned to other gods and had neglected their own ancient laws, their god had punished them. The ten tribes of the northern kingdom - now called the "lost tribes" - did not survive. However, the people of the southern kingdom did survive and came to be known as "Jews." Sent to Babylon as captives in 587 B.C. they were able to stick together and preserve their customs. They collected and preserved their sacred writings, honored their sabbath day, ate their food according to ancient practice, and circumcised their newly born males. By the time they were permitted to return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. and to rebuild their temple, the religion that would carry them through the centuries - Judaism - had taken its basic shape.
Dr. Charles Patterson has a Ph.D. in Religion from Columbia University.
He is the author of:
Anti-Semitism: The Road to the Holocaust and Beyond
Excerpt - Chapter One
Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust
Excerpt from Chapter Three
From Buchenwald to Carnegie Hall (co-author).
Read more about Dr. Charles Patterson