Racial antisemitism

Nazi racial theory on the origin of Jews.

Racial antisemitism is prejudice against Jews based on a belief or assertion that Jews constitute a distinct racial or ethnic group that has inherent traits or characteristics that are in some way abhorrent or inherently inferior or otherwise different to that of the rest of society. The abhorrence may be expressed in the form of stereotypes or caricatures. Racial antisemitism may present Jews, as a group, as being a threat in some way to the values or safety of society. Racial antisemitism could be seen as worse than religious antisemitism because for religious antisemites conversion was an option and once converted the 'Jew' was gone. With racial antisemitism a Jew could not get rid of their Jewishness.[1]

The premise of racial antisemitism is that Jews are a distinct racial or ethnic group, compared to religious antisemitism, which is prejudice against Jews and Judaism on the basis of their religion.[2] According to William Nichols, religious antisemitism may be distinguished from modern antisemitism based on racial or ethnic grounds. "The dividing line was the possibility of effective conversion ... a Jew ceased to be a Jew upon baptism." However, with racial antisemitism, "Now the assimilated Jew was still a Jew, even after baptism ... . From the Enlightenment onward, it is no longer possible to draw clear lines of distinction between religious and racial forms of hostility towards Jews... Once Jews have been emancipated and secular thinking makes its appearance, without leaving behind the old Christian hostility towards Jews, the new term antisemitism becomes almost unavoidable, even before explicitly racist doctrines appear."[3]

In the context of the Industrial Revolution, following the emancipation of the Jews and the Haskalah (the Jewish Enlightenment), many Jews rapidly urbanized and experienced a period of greater social mobility. With the decreasing role of religion in public life and the simultaneous tempering of religious antisemitism, a combination of growing nationalism, the rise of eugenics, resentment of the socio-economic success of the Jews, and the influx of Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, soon led to the newer, and often more virulent, racist antisemitism.[4][citation needed]

Scientific racism, the ideology that genetics played a role in group behavior and characteristics, was highly respected and accepted as fact between 1870 and 1940. It was not only antisemites who believed in race science but highly educated Jews, among others, as well. This acceptance of race science made it possible for antisemites to clothe their hatred of Jews in scientific theory.[5]

The logic of racial antisemitism was extended in Nazi Germany, where racial antisemitic ideas were turned into laws, which looked at the "blood" or ethnicity of people, rather than their current religious affiliations, and their subsequent fate would be determined purely on that basis. When added to its views on the Jewish racial traits which Nazi pseudoscience devised, the logic of racial antisemitism led to the Holocaust as a way to eradicate conjured up "Jewish traits" from the world.

Limpieza de sangre

Racial antisemitism has existed alongside religious antisemitism since at least the Middle Ages, and maybe longer. In Spain even before the Edict of Expulsion of 1492, Spanish Jews who converted to Catholicism (conversos in Spanish), and their descendants, were called New Christians. They were frequently accused of lapsing back to their former religious practices (being "Crypto-Jews"). To isolate conversos, the Spanish nobility developed an ideology called "cleanliness of blood". The conversos were called "New Christians" in order to indicate their inferior status within society. That ideology was a form of racism, because in the past, there were no grades of Christianity and converts to Christianity had equal standing with life-long Christians. Cleanliness of blood was an issue of ancestry, not an issue of personal religion. The first statute of purity of blood appeared in Toledo in 1449,[6] where an anti-converso riot lead to conversos being banned from most official positions. Initially these statutes were condemned by both the monarchy and the Church. However, the New Christians were later hounded and persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition after 1478, the Portuguese Inquisition after 1536, the Peruvian Inquisition after 1570 and the Mexican Inquisition after 1571, as well as the Inquisition in Colombia after 1610.