JEWISH-AMERICAN HALL OF FAME • JEWISH MUSEUM IN CYBERSPACE
ANTI-SEMITIC BIGOTRY AS CHRONICLED BY HISTORICAL MEDALS


 

PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS

One must keep in mind that persecution of Jews because of their religion in not unique to them alone. Religious differences are the common cause of many past wars and atrocities. Historians can easily count them by the score, but we just have to recall: the Muslim conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries; the Crusades waged by the Roman Catholic Church, which lasted for centuries during the middle ages and which are still celebrated in more modern times by the issuance of medals (see, for example, figure 51); the religious wars carried on in Europe for over one hundred years in the 16th and 17th centuries, from 1524 to 1648, following the onset of the Protestant Reformation; the French Wars of Religion in the 16th century between the French Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots) in which between two and four million people perished; the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions issued in 1492 and 1501, ordering Jews and Muslims to convert to Catholicism or leave their homeland.

In more recent history, one can cite the massacre of over one million Christian Armenians by the Muslim Turks during World War I and the murder of millions of innocent civilians, Jew and Christian alike, by the Nazis during the Second World War. Still more recently, one can remember the long-standing war between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, wars that had their origin from the time of Henry VIII and which were the cause of the so-called Glorious Revolution (for medals related to these events, see Weiss, 2014); the brutal war in the Central African Republic between Muslims and Christians; the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-1970 waged between Islam and Christianity, in which between one and three million persons perished; and the Second Sudanese War (1983-2005).

Likewise between Muslims and Christians, in which up to two million people died; in India in the mid-1900s, the epic battle between the Hindu majority, the Sikhs, and the Muslim minority, leading ultimately to its partition and formation of the new state of Pakistan, with the subsequent religious wars between India and Pakistan resulting in up to one million casualties; the current wars in the Middle East fought largely between Muslims, Christians and Jews; and wars between Sunni and Shia Muslims -- hostilities that can be traced to the epic schism of Islam in the 7th century when the Islamic Prophet Muhammad died, leading to a dispute over who is the rightful successor to Muhammad as a caliph of the Islamic community. These latter religious disagreements caused the loss of countless thousands of lives and are still going on. If not the justification for these conflicts, religion was and often is used as its excuse. As Seneca has said, “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”

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