Anti-Semitism, which is most clearly defined as hatred or opposition towards Jews, has been present in human civilization ever since the time of the Roman Empire, having come to its peak with the beginning of Christianity and the crucifixion of Jesus. Wars were fought in the name of anti-Semitism (WWII) and wars are being fought at this moment to prevent it (The Israel-Palestine conflict). If we stop and consider the world that we are living in today, where everyone is boasting of how civilized we have become, conflicts and hatred based on different races and religions should be a part of the past. But is that so? As Melissa Eddy of The New York Times (2014) writes, Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe with the recent increase of number of attacks on synagogues and individuals. She continues to claim that more and more Jews are leaving their home countries because of the increasing hatred towards them. A question remains floating in the air – What are the reasons behind it? More obvious, practical ones, like money, economy and job scarcity? The everlasting ideology of the preservation of the purity and perfection of the white, Christian man? Or is it emotional corruption caused by crooked moral values, the poisonous influence of the surrounding and the prejudices instilled deep into human culture? It is certainly not something that is black and white, but take for an example the movie The Believer – A Jewish student, called Daniel Balint, develops anti-Semitic beliefs led by the inability to identify himself with the core values of Judaism and the general depiction of Jews. Soon, he becomes a man torn between his hatred towards Jews on one side and his heritage on the other, which he has not been able to free himself from completely. The Believer has certainly scratched the surface of the problem, inspected it from different angles and standpoints and, if nothing else, incited a thought in its viewers’ minds, which is a beginning.
“People hate Jews… The very word makes their skin crawl… It’s like the way you feel when a rat runs across the floor… And you do not even know why, it is like a physical reaction and everyone feels it,” claims the main protagonist of The Believer, Daniel Balint, whose character is based upon a real person, Daniel Burros, who was a Jew and a member of a Neo-Nazi organization. While, to a regular person, the possibility that words like these could be uttered by a human being probably seems exaggerated and actually makes their skin crawl, it is, unfortunately, not hard to come to a conclusion that this is not altogether a part of over dramatization. According to an article from The Wall Street Journal, written in August, 2014, a Belgian doctor refused to treat an elderly Jewish woman with a fractured rib, giving her son advice to “Send her to Gaza for a few hours and she’ll get rid of the pain,” and afterwards justifying his decision by saying that he had had an “emotional reaction.” Incidents like these are ever-present and one of the reasons that incite them is the fear of losing national identity, whose one force of cohesion is religion. This insecurity has been further ignited by the various exemptions concerning travelling and possibilities to work abroad, which has allowed people from all around the world to mingle together. At the very beginning of the movie, we can hear a radio spokesperson who says that, “It will no longer be possible to say that the country has a unified set of core beliefs. At that point we will cease to be a nation in the traditional sense, and will become instead a confederation of specific interest groups.” Dr. Milton Bennett, in his Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), describes this phenomenon as Defense. Which is one of the stages of the DMIS scale, which argues that people who are in this stage believe that their own culture is the only viable one and that it is the most evolved form of civilization. Basically, their world is organized into “us and them.” So, they despise minorities because they are afraid for their national heritage, for their tradition and they are petrified of assimilation. Daniel gives his opinion on this by saying that “the Jew is a wanderer, he is a nomad, and he has no soil of his own.” Daniel feels as if the Jews are trespassing into his country, on his property and, as he says, “They undermine traditional life and deracinate society.” This claim is further backed up by Curtis, one of the founders of the Neo-Nazi organization, who recalls his memories from the past when all the people from his quart knew each other and could rely on each other, but now it is different. No one knows anyone anymore, no one trusts anyone, and there is no sense of community. The society has turned from collectivism towards Individualism. According to Daniel, this is the guilt of the Jews, who keep to themselves and don’t belong anywhere. He believes that they are a sickness and that the modern world is their disease.
Another reason that leads to hatred against the Jews is their depiction throughout the history. This phenomenon can be illustrated using the scapegoat theory, which is a social-psychological term that relates to prejudice (http://www.alleydog.com/glossary/definition.php?term=Scapegoat%20Theory.)
According to this theory, people use a group (or an individual) they dislike as a target to alleviate all of their accumulated anger. This is exactly what has happened to Jews. They have always been presented as the victims, they have been oppressed and molested, killed and prosecuted. Even their God is shown as a bully who almost makes a Jewish man kill his own son just to prove his faith. This example is actually one of the reasons which make Daniel turn into a Nazi. The Believer shows him several times arguing with the Rabi in his school, claiming that God only wanted to show his superiority and power over the Jews and that they did nothing against it, instead they simply obeyed. While examples of injustices like these would most often spring feelings of compassion in people, there are many of those who cannot relate to such problems and who look at them from a different perspective. Most often Christians and Muslims see Jews as a burden, they want to believe that they like and accept the role of the victims because they feel special because of it. The Believer begins with a scene in which Daniel beats up a young Jewish boy and shouts, “Hit me! Hit me!” at him, but the boy does nothing to defend himself. Later in the movie, he claims that the only reason the Jews believe that they are ‘God’s people’ is because of the injustices that have been committed against them and that they wouldn’t stand up for themselves even if they could, because that would make them blend in. Another one of Daniel’s odd theories states that “a Jew is essentially a female,” because he cannot ascertain himself, even in sex. Allegedly, penetration is seen as dominion and Jews cannot identify with it. Using his theory, penetrating a female body can be compared to a spear penetrating human flesh in battle, and Daniel simply cannot see Jews taking up this role. Even Ahmed Yassin, one of the founders of Hamas, a Palestinian military organization dedicated to destroying Israel and Jews, says: “I believe that Israel will think one thousand times before invading us.” That’s why Daniel ascertains his position not of a Jew, but more of a God. When he is given the opportunity to become a spokesman for the organization, he despises it, he even runs out of the room and pukes, because he links the act of talking to Jews. As he says, “These people will say anything, it’s all narrative.” Furthermore, he has been complimented a couple of times as being ‘Articulate’, which clearly shows his Jewish side, but towards the end of the movie he says, “I have to kill some Jews, it’s all I ever talk about.” Another example can be seen in Drake, who is also a member of the neo-Nazi organization. Namely, he has a Swastika tattooed on his mouth, one part of it on each of the lips and he stays silent almost during the whole movie. Talking and arguing would make him separate his lips, thus tearing apart the Swastika and the whole ideology – instead, he acts.
The third reason stands behind something that we are all witnesses of. The economy world-wide is crashing, the job opportunities are becoming scarce and people are more and more becoming slaves to bankers and their credit rates. As Daniel believes, and as it has been believed throughout the modern history, “The Jew controls the media and the banks.” It is well known that the Jews have always been linked to money, even Wikipedia lists Greed as one of the main stereotypes of Jews. Furthermore, the main character in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Shylock, is a Jewish merchant and a moneylender. Handling money was at that time seen as disgraceful by Christians, so the only reasonable thing for them to do was to pass it on to Jews and then prejudice them as greedy. Moreover, a business and finance related website ynetnews asks, “How did American Jews get so rich?” and claims that they have become the richest religious group in American society. So, the modern man is clearly affected by this fact and he blames the Jews for his financial adversity. Daniel says that Jews have no soil, they cannot hammer a nail, they cannot plow a field, and thus they cannot contribute in any way to the wellbeing of the society. Instead, he says that the only thing successful Jews like Karl Marx, Freud and Einstein have given us are Communism, infantile sexuality and the atom bomb. Curtis, from The Believer, recalls the good old times when a man would get a job as soon as he would finish education, earn $16 per hour and have a family and a stable life. He adds that now, that same kid has no opportunities and no hope. The only jobs that are left are the set-asides, which are basically jobs that depend on the funds which are reserved for the members of the minority groups. Therefore, apart from blaming the immigrants in general for the lack of job opportunities and the overall bad economic conditions, people blame the Jews as well, and according to a popular Israel newspaper, Haaretz, “The idea of leaving Israel is present at every family dinner… ” amid the safety situation in Israel, so we can easily assume that this attitude towards the Jewish community as the convenient scapegoats would only further deteriorate.
As we can conclude, anti-Semitism has been present in our culture since as far as the very beginning of Judaism and there are, unfortunately, no prospects that it will cease to exist. On the contrary, all of the facts that we can observe around us show us that these examples of injustices could only become worse. Jewish people have, since the beginning of the Israel-Palestine conflict, started feeling insecure in their own homes and the only solution for them would be to seek refuge in other countries. However, the situation around the world, even in those countries which are highly developed, such as the USA, Germany, France, Italy, etc… is not much better. The Believer gives us a clear image of the situation in the modern world and in a brutal way shows to us what goes on in the minds of many people. The man of today is baffled by fears and insecurity and his surrounding offers no refuge, so the only thing left for him is to find the perpetrator and the one who is guilty for all of his adversities. The world is becoming a ‘global village’, virtual communication and travel have become available to everyone which means that people can now interact more easily than ever. These circumstances, apart from other things, have made both Christians and Muslims fear for their heritage and once again see Judaism as a possible threat. We can see that the Jews have once again been turned into scapegoats. The old prejudices of greedy Jews live on, while the victims of these prejudices are justified by saying that that is natural, that that is the way things are supposed to be. As Daniel says, “There is no reason, and if there were, some smartass kike would try and come up with an argument, try and prove us wrong, which would only make us hate them even more.”Get a free .com.ng domain name and 2GB Space + 8GB Bandwidth + Free SSL Cert for N5,000 Only!