Chapter 8: Judaism (3 of 3)

Chapter 8: Judaism (3 of 3)


>>All right, Chapter 8, video number 3, we’re
still in the midst of the history of Judaism. We’ve got about 2,000 years to cover in 10
minutes, so we’ll see what we can get done here. I was saying that the Romans got tired of
the revolutions that they were fighting, the rebellions that they were putting
down in Judea so they renamed it and though it wasn’t truly illegal to be
Jewish in Palestine, this new province, this new Roman province they were prohibited
from being in their capital city of Jerusalem and so during this time it became very
practical for most Jewish people to move to get to other places and so you
see a large dispersion of the Jewish population
throughout Europe and the Near East and North Africa during this time period. And this sets the stage for the next;
oh I don’t know…thousand years, really fifteen hundred years or so of
Judaism and this time period is characterized by what we refer to as anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism just means
racism towards Jewish people. And during this time period there’s a
lot of really negative stuff going on, often profoundly negative stuff
going on regarding the Jewish people. One situation is the Jews who still have to live
under the Roman rule, the Romans are still going to be in charge for a good chunk…a good
chunk of the world for about, I don’t know, 350 more years or so and so during this time
period they…they…the Jews have a number of their rights significantly curtailed
and it gets worse when Christianity takes over for the Roman Empire because the Roman
dislike of Judaism is really a political one, they just see them as revolutionaries,
rebellious people, the Jews believe in one God and that’s relatively problematic
for the Romans and so forth. But when Christians take over the Empire they
have a very specifically negative relationship with Judaism in the ancient world and
in the modern world in some places. This idea that Jews are sort of
enemies of Christianity was very, very common throughout the middle ages, the Jews
are either literally devils that they are sent from hell to tempt Christians or to denounce
Christianity or that they are subhuman, they are animals in some way, it was
very, very common in the ancient world. The best case scenario generally was in
areas where Islam was the dominant religion and this didn’t come about until several hundred
years later than this whole process started but Islam generally had a pretty…pretty good
rules in terms of how Jews were to be treated, they were definitely second class citizens in
most situations but they were relatively safe from persecution, that’s not true all the time,
there were certainly some specific leaders who took after them pretty violently but we
see this play out throughout European history and it gets bizarre, there’s some very
common sorts of stuff that we might expect, Jews were expected to live
in certain neighborhoods, the word ghetto that we use today, we use
generally to mean kind of crappy neighborhoods but ghetto was a part of the city of Venice, was
a neighborhood in Venice where the Jews lived so ghetto for a long time just meant the
part of town where the Jews have to live. And unlike most modern ghettos,
all modern ghettos I think, the ghettos of medieval Europe had, you know
walls and gates that you could lock at night and things at night to keep the Jews inside
and so forth, not always but at times. And Jews were required to identify themselves
as Jewish so that people knew they were suppose to be treated badly and so forth
because you can’t tell who’s Jewish and who’s not unless somebody
points it out to you. And this got downright bizarre by the
time the middle ages were in full swing where Jews would be accused of killing
Christian babies in order to use their blood to bake bread, this didn’t happen literally,
there’s no evidence it ever happened because it’s crazy but it
was a way to kill Jews, you’d say hey you know I heard
somebody lost a kid, let’s kill a Jew, they probably stole that kid and took his blood. And there was also something called blood
liable…oh, I’m sorry that’s what was referred to as blood liable what I was just talking about
there but there was also something that we refer to as host abuse and this refers to a Christian
ritual where Christians have bread and wine, we’ll talk about it a little bit more next
chapter but the bread is referred to as the host and Christians understand it
to be in some way symbolic or representative of the
body of Christ, of Jesus. And during the middle ages…I mean into the last several hundred years people
would accuse Jews of breaking into churches and stealing this bread in order to be mean
to it, like to scab it or urinate on it, or spit on it or burn it in
order to do mean stuff to Jesus, so Jews would steal this to get back at Jesus. Again, this didn’t happen, I guarantee
you it didn’t happen because the only way that makes any sense at all is
if you believe the bread is Jesus and only Christians believe that, nobody else
thinks that’s true, so no Jew would do that, no Muslim would do that, no
Shinto practitioner would do that because it doesn’t make any
sense unless you’re a Christian. But again it was a way to say hey look I
saw some Jews hanging around the church, maybe we should go kill them and go
drive them out of town or whatever. This of course as any of you have even a
remote sense of history probably already know, this of course culminates in the 20th century
what the Holocaust, the German attempt, the Nazi attempt to exterminate the
Jews of Europe, to just kill them all. And there’s something that pretty important
to understand when we’ve been talking about the Holocaust because we’ve been dealing
with Judaism as a religion this whole time but the Holocaust was premised on the idea
that Judaism is also a racial quality, that you are born Jewish, if you
practice Christianity your whole life but you have Jewish blood in
you then you’re still Jewish from the point of view of the Nazi’s. The Nazi’s were very interested in race
and in racial purity and things like that and they saw the Jews as a
problematic race, a dangerous race, a race that would undermine
Europe and Germany specifically. So this incredibly intense and involved
process of trying to exterminate all of the Jews takes place and it started out very,
very simply, just people called actions groups, people in Germany, paid for, paid by
the government to just get in a truck, drive to a town, find the Jews, line them
up, shoot them in the head, bury them, drive to the next town, find
the Jews shoot them, bury them but the problems was it wasn’t
efficient enough you couldn’t kill Jews fast enough that way to make a dent and so that’s
where this final solution is developed, the death camps, the Nazi concentration
camps where you would basically, you would use the principles of mass
production and factory work to kill Jews. So you would gather the Jews at local
places, you’d put them on a train, send them to central processing areas, there
you would use them for medical experiments or use them for labor or anything you could
do to get value out of them but you don’t have to feed them, you don’t have to clothe them, you
don’t have do anything because you don’t care if they die and then you kill them
in the most efficient way possible, which in this time period was gas,
poison gas, you fill the room with Jews, fill with poison gas then you scoop them
into an incinerator and burn them all so you’re not burying them, you’re not
digging graves, not doing any of this and it is insanely successful,
it kills off two-thirds of all the Jews in Europe at the time. It kills off one-third of
all the Jews in the world, about 6 million Jews we believe
were killed during the Holocaust or at least that’s the number that most
historians think is accurate and it’s monstrous, it’s evil and it’s one of histories most
troubling events because it happened and a lot of people had to let it happen for it to
work and it wasn’t just one serial killer in a basement somewhere doing something
scary it was an institutionalized, institutionalized murder, right,
institutionalized destruction of a people. But, again I want to come back to the fact
that it’s only partially related to the idea of religion, it’s very much a product
of this weird pseudo scientific thing that the Nazi’s were doing about race and we
only have like a minute and ten seconds left but I also want to spin this into the
idea of the modern country of Israel, after the Holocaust a number of events conspired
to result in a new country being created for Jewish people, called
Israel but it was put in a place where there already was a country
called Palestine where a bunch of people were already living and
those people were forced to move and this has caused all sorts of grief as it
should ever since, it was a very difficult sort of thing historically but again when you hear
about Israel and conflict in Israel and people who hate Israel or people who support Israel
understand again that this is only sort of related to the idea of religion, it’s
way more related the ideas of politics, economics and social injustice and things like
that sort of associated with religion and sort of not so again can’t talk about Judaism
in any meaningful way in the 20th century without talking Holocaust and Israel but
keep in mind though they relate to a people who are unified in this religious
spectrum they’re not necessarily religious problems themselves. All right, well, there’s much more to talk
about with this tradition but I’m going to have to let you go I’ll see you at video
9 for Christianity, take care.

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