What follows is an extract of the book “Anti-Semitism, It’s History and Causes” by Bernard Lazare, a Jewish French literary critic, scholar, political journalist, anarchist, Zionist and polemicist.
To make the history of antisemitism complete, omitting none of the manifestations of this sentiment and following its diverse phases and modifications, it is necessary to go into the history of Israel since its dispersion, or, more properly speaking, since the beginning of its expansion beyond the boundaries of Palestine.
Wherever the Jews settled after ceasing to be a nation ready to defend its liberty and independence, one observes the development of antisemitism, or rather anti-Judaism; for antisemitism is an ill chosen word, which has its raison d’être only in our day, when it is sought to broaden this strife between the Jew and the Christians by supplying it with a philosophy and a metaphysical, rather than a material reason. If this hostility, this repugnance had been shown towards the Jews at one time or in one country only, it would be easy to account for the local causes of this sentiment. But this race has been the object of hatred with all the nations amidst whom it ever settled.
Inasmuch as the enemies of the Jews belonged to divers races, as they dwelled far apart from one another, were ruled by different laws and governed by opposite principles; as they had not the same customs and differed in spirit from one another, so that they could not possibly judge alike of any subject, it must needs be that the general causes of antisemitism have always resided in Israel itself, and not in those who antagonized it.
This does not mean that justice was always on the side of Israel’s persecutors, or that they did not indulge in all the extremes born of hatred; it is merely asserted that the Jews were themselves, in part, at least, the cause of their own ills.
Considering the unanimity of antisemitic manifestations, it can hardly be admitted, as had too willingly been done, that they were merely due to a religious war, and one must not view the strife against the Jews as a struggle of polytheism against monotheism, or that of the Trinity against Jehovah. The polytheistic, as well as the Christian nations combated not the doctrine of one sole God, but the Jew.
Which virtues or which vices have earned for the Jew this universal enmity? Why was he ill-treated and hated alike and in turn by the Alexandrians and the Romans, by the Persians and the Arabs, by the Turks and the Christian nations? Because, everywhere up to our own days the Jew was an unsociable being.
As a Jewish intellectual, Bernard Lazare, in his book ‘Anti-Semitism, its Causes and History’, makes the rare attempt, to analyze and evaluate racism and hatred directed against Jews, from an impartial, and neutral world lens. Like a true, and uncommon scholar, Bernard Lazare emotionally separates himself as a Jew, from this highly contentious, emotional, and dogmatic topic known as Anti-Semitism. Bernard Lazare in the search for truth, and attempting with an unbiased approach to study, understand and explain some of the real and actual causes of anti-Semitism, not the reactionary and emotional reasons, often underlying the causes of anti-Semitism, and anti-Judaism throughout the centuries. As a result of this impartial inquiry, Bernard Lazare comes to some controversial conclusions, which cause discomfort for the organized Jewish community and Jewish activists, contradicting the widely perpetuated stereotype of Jews as eternally persecuted and guiltless victims.
The predominant Jewish position and view within the historical body of Jewish authored literature, is that anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic behavior stems primarily from an inexplicable blind hatred, primitive xenophobia and irrational malicious behavior from non-Jews, whereas Bernard Lazare attempts to approach the subject with a more balanced, and unbiased historiography, one that is almost entirely non-existent or rare amongst Jews, which is that Jewish people individually and collectively may be partially to blame for the anti-Semitism and racism directed against them historically.
As a result of Bernard’s conclusions, many non-Jews consider him to be a rare Jew, willing to tell it like it is, because he is opening up a taboo and dogmatic subject, to debate and dialogue, whereas many Jews have dismissed him an Anti-Semite self-hating Jew, going against the grain of Jewish authors.
On the other end of the extreme, completely opposite from the predominant Jewish position that anti-Semitism is rooted in blind irrational hatred and baseless selfishness of non-Jews, some have misused the book as a tool of proof and evidence, to make the claim, and take the position, that Jews, despite their generally high intelligence and positive contributions they have made to society throughout the ages, are ultimately more dangerous and treacherous than they are worth. Moreover, anti-Semites perceive Jews as a self-aware parasitic or virus-like people, maniacally egotistical, neurotic, dysfunctional, self-deceiving, myopic, close minded and abnormally narcissistic, that have always and will always, be a great misfortune, to the nations and world societies they inhabit outside of Israel. Lastly, that Jews are unable to self-reflect and self-evaluate their own parasitically destructive behavior and evaluate how their dysfunctional behavior, negatively affects and impacts non-Jewish people of the world. Many people believe that Jewish behavior is actually the only real source, cause, reason and instigation of anti-Semitism historically – an unfair position in its black and white judgment.
‘Anti-Semitism, its History and Causes’, takes the more balanced and fair position of these two extremes and is well worth the read and study. This rare and insightful book is excellent reading, download the full PDF and decide for yourself.
Anti-Semitism, It’s History and Causes – By Bernard Lazare (15 June 1865 – September 1903)