This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian
They were accused of taking the life of Christ and rejecting salvation. They were accused of being behind regular ritual killings on Christian children and quenching the thirst with Christian blood. They were accused of starting plague epidemics and poisoning wells. They were called traitors, criminals, poison snakes and devil angels. They were cursed for being behind capitalism, liberalism and communism, and for being the origin of Christianity. They were trampled on because they were poor and smelly, and they were trampled on because they were rich and powerful, because they could not integrate, and because they allowed themselves to integrate.
Some have said they want to take over the world, others that they already control it – and that they have done so for a long time. Over the centuries, their books, shops, farms, and houses of worship have been burned, and they have also been burned to death. During World War II, six million were taken by day.
The history of the Jews in Europe is the story of the constant strangers. It is about nightly prejudice, fear, abuse, and a people who are often either homeless or feel homeless where they are, if they are not on the run. This story is the book Hate of jews and the authors, historian Einhart Lorenz and idea historians Trond Berg Eriksen and Håkon Harket, reproduce over 600 pages, from antiquity to the present day.
The original form
- Theodor Adorno called anti-Semitism the mobile prejudice. Depending on the need, it has been possible to distort the picture of what the Jews stand for. Some of the tremor one experiences by going into such material and writing a book like this is where the whole of European cultural history is permeated by these inverted images. We are talking about the very original form of xenophobia in Europe, says Harket.
- The Jews have always been the others?
- Correct. Not only because they belonged to a foreign religion, but also because they were a nationless nation, and the fact that for so many centuries they have managed to retain a core of their uniqueness has been perceived as a threat. Thus, it has always been easy to mobilize them as an enemy image and object of hatred.
- The book's title is short and brutal?
- It is of course debatable. As Trond Berg Eriksen mentioned during the launch, it is not exhaustive of everything the book deals with. Not everything that generates anti-Semitism is motivated by hatred in the genuine sense. But it is part of the environment and conditions of hatred. At the same time, I think it is a correct title also seen in an ideological-historical context, since anti-Semitism is only one of many forms of anti-Semitism, and does not appear as a concept until around 1870 with an anchoring in pseudo-scientific racial theories. Hatred is much older.
Anti-Judaism and Zionism
- You divide the history of anti-Semitism into four parts. Can you say a little about what characterizes the different ones?
- First you have the religiously motivated hatred, what we can call anti-Judaism, which we find in Christian circles in antiquity and the Middle Ages. It thus begins as a religious rivalry between the two monotheistic religions. Here you will find all the arguments that they took the life of Christ and refused to accept salvation. But in anti-Judaism lies more than a religious dispute: Already there are introduced the social prejudices associated with the alleged nature of the Jews. Roughly speaking, you can say that this form of anti-Semitism holds up to modern times, where it is replaced, or supplemented, by anti-Semitism. It is concerned with putting religious prejudices behind it, and laying a modern and scientific foundation for prejudices. Then comes a phase called secondary anti-Semitism. It is anti-Semitism without Jews, and arises after the Holocaust, where after killing the Jews, you must also take death from them by denying genocide. As a fourth step, you have anti-Semitism – a complex phenomenon and demanding topic to get into. At the same time, you will not get around to talking about anti-Semitism today.
- Because then we are talking about Israel?
- We do, and thus you mix in something that is a real ideological and political conflict about real interests, while most of the anti-Semitism you had before was based on pure fantasy fetuses. Now there is at least one state that has a military system, and then one can have critical views on how this state behaves or manages its responsibilities towards minorities. One just has to be aware of how one chooses to present this critique. Where the stumbling blocks lie. There is something we hope to illustrate with this book.
- What else is the purpose?
- It is important just to be told this story. That there is a work on the subject in Norwegian. Everyone knows for a while what anti-Semitism is, as it has been treated to such an extent after the Holocaust. At the same time, it is striking how little we really know. I myself have learned an enormous amount from working on this project, how big, rich and terrible the story is, how far back it goes and changes along the way – even though the basic structures are always the same.
- One of the most fascinating things is to read about how an Enlightenment philosopher like Voltaire modernizes anti-Semitism.
At Voltaire, hatred of the Jews is linked to hatred of Christianity. Earlier, the Jews had been blamed for taking the life of Christ – now they were blamed for laying the foundations of Christian civilization. The Jews were the main suppliers of religious superstition in history, wholesalers of religious madness. Why did they insist on their distinctive identity while Christianity was giving way to the clear light of reason? At the same time, it is striking how Voltaire himself entered the role of dark man. He was obsessed with the Christian myths about human sacrifice, greed, hatred and superstition among the Jews, and referred to them as the most abominable people on earth. Voltaire's attacks were so extensive and uninhibited that they could be collected and used as basic texts among French fascists almost 200 years later.
- How he had used ancient texts?
- Yes, including the Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote some derogatory remarks about Jews, and such became important as a pure source of anti-Semitism, because they were not soiled by Christianity. These made the continuation of hatred possible. It is striking: when one then took a stand against Christianity and its myths, one did not include those who dealt with Judaism. On the contrary, they took it quite raw, and not even in a particularly subtle way. It is so clear that this was something you wanted to take with you further. All that was needed was a new strategy. One had to detach it from religion.
Nation and Church
- And then comes secular and scientific anti-Semitism?
- Yes, that transition takes place in the 100 years between the end of the 1700th century and the end of the 1800th century. For the Romantics, the Jews come across the idea of the peculiar spirit of nations and peoples manifesting themselves in language and culture. This gives you an anti-Semitism with national romantic undertones. The theory of a people's blood community paves the way for the biologically based racism that comes around 1850. But what happens when the new anti-Semitism comes is not that the old, religiously conditioned one disappears. If you look at the fate of the Jews during the war, the ecclesiastical prejudices appear in several places that are good enough reasons to take their lives.
- You have previously said that your interest in the Jews is connected with your Christian view of life. Still, does the church come out remarkably poorly in this book?
- Now a book can be written about philosemitism as well, where parts of the church will have a much nicer location, but now it is the antipathies we are writing about, and then there is no doubt that the church has played a terrible role. It is not the story of the church as a mass murderer in the service of racism, but rather what I would call the will to powerlessness. I think that is the most correct description. There is no problem in finding both heroes and active killers in the ranks of the churches, but if you are to tell the principled story of the church in the time of the fate of the Jews, it is very much about turning your back on it.
- At the same time, you get to see how purely financial motives have often been given a religious disguise.
- There is a lot of pragmatic Jew-hatred throughout history, so to speak. What can you say? It's the story of people. We ourselves live in a society where there are other rules at the moment, but what happens when they change and all these old prejudices overturn? Jo Benkow has told of something he said to his parents while reading Aftenposten during the war: "Had I not known you, mother and father, I would have been anti-Semitic too." Europe's people have been wading in this for millennia. Anti-Semitism has not been the subtext – it has been the text itself.
Norway and the Jews
- Also in our own constitution.
- It's very interesting. Why did they do that? Here they make a constitution that is among the most modern in Europe, but which at this point represents the pure, sharp, black reaction. If you read the minutes from the debate, you discover that the religious prejudices are difficult to distinguish from the social ones, and even if they have a national expression, they are anything but nationally conditioned. In a country where there were no Jews, there must have been handed down prejudices from the religious tradition, combined with reading fruits from the recent anti-Semitic literature. This can be seen, among other things, in the priest Nicolai Wergeland: admitted among the Citizens. "
- So it is his son who is with and gets it removed?
- Yes, but then it is put back in by Quisling, and then he can do it with all the weight that the fathers of the constitution guarantee. It is a new example of how things that are said in a given context can have a new and even more terrible effect long afterwards.
- How else has the relationship been between Norway and the Jews?
- The degree of passivity that characterized Norwegian society in relation to what happened to the Jews during the war is probably significant. Below, there must have been a quiet contempt that made the actions possible. Again: The hero stories exist, as well as the actively participating police, but the willingness to buy the Jews' furniture cheaply at auction afterwards is not possible without a hint of anti-Semitism. What is strange is the Norwegian academy's lack of interest in this part of history. Only now, for example, have people begun to take an interest in what Norwegian volunteers did on the eastern front. They may have been involved in genocide.
- Many of us may be used to thinking of the Nazi regime as a historical exception. In this book, it seems like a logical consequence of centuries of anti-Semitism.
- I somewhat agree with that description. Then, of course, there is a danger that one reads the whole prehistory with the knowledge we now have about how far it went, and thus imagines that this was the only way it could go. This is not the book we wanted to write. At the same time, it is important to see that this goes deep into our culture – that a crazy dictator with a unique idea did not come out of nowhere. Therefore, it is important to go back to the time before the catastrophe that was so great that reason only has to report passports, because now we are again in a time similar to that, where you will find the common prejudices and what Theodor Herzl referred to as the decent anti-Semitism has returned. How do you identify those forms of hatred? Then one must not look for men with small, black mustaches.
- Nazis are easy to recognize.
- Right. This is not to say that they are in any way harmless, or that they do not want to recruit new generations of old-fashioned Nazis. But what is more demanding is to find the other forms that dress in, or sneak into, the cloaks of legitimate criticism. Here one often has to go into the specific cases. If you choose to boycott Jewish-owned stores because you are against Israel – and not because you hate Jews – then you should know that it is a strong part of anti-Semitic history, and that you manage to communicate it as something else. That is why it is important to know this story. One can easily play on old prejudices without being aware of it.
- What do you think about the Norwegian left's attitude to Israel today?
- I hope it can be more complex again. It has been so, in that Israel was by far a workers' state when it was founded. This ideological community disappeared from view after 1967. I think it is important to recognize the right of the Jews to a nation-state as a foundation for the debate. Here I seem to have noticed a slippage in recent years, a subtext that claims that Israel was a moral mistake that in short is about the Arabs being bled for the abuse of Europeans by giving the Jews a land that is not theirs. I think that is a rough historical record.
Trond Berg Eriksen, Håkon Harket and Einhart Lorenz
"Hate of jews. History of anti-Semitism from antiquity to the present »