Anti-Semitism Is Deeply Woven into the European Fabric

Feb 16, 2019 by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

European culture developed in a dominating, hostile Christian environment over more than a millennium.

Saying that anti-Semitism is integral to European culture does not make one popular in Europe. This does not change even if one clarifies that this is not the same as saying that most Europeans are anti-Semites.

Yet the claim is not difficult to prove. European culture developed in a dominating, hostile Christian environment over more than a millennium. Major incitement against Jews initially stemmed from the Catholic Church. Later, several Protestant churches, including Lutherans, promoted Jew-hatred.

If powerful institutions and elites promote hatred over a very long period, that hatred comes to permeate the culture. In the 1960s, Christian historian and clergyman James Parkes analyzed the conflict between Christians and Jews during the first eight centuries of the Christian era. Concerning that period he concluded, “There was far more reason for the Jew to hate the Christian than for the Christian to hate the Jew – and this on the evidence of Christian sources alone.”

Parkes held that the Christian theological concept of the first three centuries created the foundations for the hatred of Jews, on which an “awful superstructure” was built. The first stones for this were laid at “the very moment the Church had the power to do so, in the legislation of Constantine and his successors.” Parkes attributed full responsibility for modern anti-Semitism to those who prepared the soil and made the lies credible.