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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 6-Aug-2014
6-Aug-14 World View -- Cyclic anti-Semitism surges in Europe

Web Log - August, 2014

6-Aug-14 World View -- Cyclic anti-Semitism surges in Europe

The Jews and the Spanish Inquisition

This morning's key headlines from

Anti-Semitic mobs surface in European countries

Number of anti-Semitic attacks since the 1980s (Kantor Center, Tel-Aviv University)
Number of anti-Semitic attacks since the 1980s (Kantor Center, Tel-Aviv University)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been scathing in his recent criticism of Israel, but at the same time he's taken note recent spike in anti-Semitic incidents, especially in Europe. According to a statement from Ban:

"[Ban] deplores the recent upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks, particularly in Europe, in connection with protests concerning the escalation of violence in Gaza.

The Secretary-General emphasizes that the conflict in the Middle East must not constitute a pretext for prejudice that could affect social peace and harmony anywhere."

In Paris, a pro-Palestinian protest turned ugly when several Jewish shops were burned, and demonstrators chanted, "Death to Jews" and "Gas the Jews" and "Hitler was right!" 1930s attitudes are returning in Germany. An analysis of anti-Jew hate mail in Germany found that most of it originated with "well-educated Germans, including university professors." In Europe, violent mobs are attacking synagogues, painting swastikas on Jewish buildings, and chanting anti-Jewish slogans is becoming increasingly common. Occasionally, an activist will make a distinction between being anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish, but there's little doubt that many of the mobs today are anti-Jewish.

The figures show that there was a big spike in anti-Semitism during the 2009 war between Israel and Gaza, and a new spike today with the Gaza war. But prior to the 1990s, there were relatively few anti-Semitic attacks, but the number has been growing steadily since then, and accelerated after the year 2000.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is no surprise at all. The people in the Silent Generation, who grew up during World War II, were in charge through the 1980s. The Boomers, who grew up after the war, starting taking charge in the 1990s, and Generation-X rose to leadership positions in the 2000s. The Silents well remember the lessons of World War II, and the incredible horrors that followed from the Holocaust. But the Silents are almost gone now, and the Boomers and Gen-Xers are far removed from WW II, knowing little about it except that their grandfathers went off to war somewhere in Europe or Asia. and Israel National News and Globe and Mail

The cyclic resurgence of anti-Semitism

Much anti-Semitic material appears in Spanish newspapers such as El Mundo, and I'd like to quote an anti-Semitic rant called "The Chosen Ones?" by a Antonio Gala, a Spanish novelist:

"The Hebrew people, tested since antiquity by ups and downs and the intimate dealings with their God, could have done much good for humanity: due to their prudence, their wisdom and endurance, their apparent religious fidelity and their proven administration of money.

What is happening is that suddenly humanity is sick and tired of them: a phenomenon that has been repeated throughout their history, as if they were not made to coexist with others.

This is how it is and will remain, as it always has been. No matter what the Jews call their civil or military leaders, they end up creating problems for everyone: it is ancient history. Now you must suffer their abuses in Gaza, and review it all with an apparent injustice. They are never clear."

There is, in fact, a grain of truth in this excerpt: Jews are the targets of anti-Semitic attacks on a cyclic basis, and have been for centuries.

There's a tendency to look for reasons why the Jews are unique in this regard. Perhaps it's because the Jews always cluster together in the same neighborhoods, even when they aren't forced into ghettos. Or perhaps it's because the Jewish religion has been designed, over the millennia, to be able to survive with no homeland, even though they've had a homeland for a few brief decades since 1948. Or perhaps it's because people consider them to be snooty for referring to themselves as "The Chosen Ones," as if God cares about no one but them.

But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, they aren't unique. The Holocaust was a unique event, to be sure, but that was just one component of World War II. If you look at the years from 1914 to 1945, then you have Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians slaughtering each other in the most brutal, bloody, and horrific massacres possible, so Christians are by no means excused. In fact, even the 1994 Rwanda genocide was Christian versus Christian.

Since the 1980s, it's been mostly the Muslims' turn at slaughter, and it's been getting worse every year. Today you have bloody massacres of Muslims killing each other in many countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Yemen, Libya, Bangladesh, Indonesia, China's Xinjiang province. The mutual genocide is highly racist and secular, as Sunnis kill Shias, Shias kill Sunnis, and Sunnis kill Sufis. The growing mutual slaughter of the Muslims is clearly headed for a massive, bloody crisis that will be devastating for everyone.

A few days ago, I was watching some of the commemorations being held on the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. I heard one politician intone, "Thank God we've solved all the problems of the world wars, and we understand what to do. Today, a war in Europe is completely unthinkable, and we owe that to the lessons that we've learned."

Well, this politician's slogan should be, "Don't know much about history." War was completely unthinkable prior to World War I as well. That was the time of "La Belle Époque," when everything was beautiful. War was not only unthinkable, it was thought to be impossible. In fact, many wars are unthinkable until they start, and then they suddenly become "thinkable." (For more on why World War I was unthinkable, see "The gathering storm in the Caucasus." from 2008.)

The growing anti-Semitism in Europe is more than just a simple social phenomenon. It's a sign that the old WW II fault lines are splitting open again. Another sign is the growing tensions in Ukraine, and the tensions between Greece and Germany during the financial crisis, which is far from over. Gatestone and El Mundo

The Jews and the Spanish Inquisition

I want to illustrate the cyclical nature of anti-Semitic attacks by returning to a Generational Dynamics analysis I've written about before, covering medieval Spain from the 1390s to 1492.

The 1390s civil war in Spain was marked by especially violent anti-Jewish pogroms that were triggered by a serious financial crisis for which the wealthy Jews were blamed. Almost every crisis war ends with some sort of imposed compromise that unravels some 80 years later, leading to the next crisis war.

The compromise that ended the 1390s civil war was an interesting one: The Jews would convert to Catholicism, or else would be expelled. During the next few decades, over half of the 200,000 Jews on the peninsula formally converted to Catholicism.

Compromises of this sort only work for so long, but the failure of this compromise was especially ironic. The Conversos, as the converted Jews were called, were now officially Christian, bringing them further wealth and status. A large part of the Castilian upper class consisted of Jews and Conversos, naturally generating a great deal of class jealousy among the lower classes. It's typical for riots and demonstrations to occur during a generational Awakening era, midway between two crisis wars, and that's what happened here. The riots against the Conversos began in 1449, and became increasingly worse as the old compromise began to unravel. Thus, an old fault line between the Catholics and the Jews was replaced by a new fault line between the old line Catholics and the Converso Catholics.

Those who remember America's most recent Awakening era in the 1960s and 70s will remember the fiery rhetoric that demonstrators used in the antiwar movement at that time. Johns Hopkins University professor David Nirenberg found that the "anti-Converso movement" rhetoric of 1449 and beyond was just as heated: "The converts and their descendants were now seen as insincere Christians, as clandestine Jews, or even as hybrid monsters, neither Jew nor Christian. They had converted merely to gain power over Christians. Their secret desire was to degrade, even poison, Christian men and to have sex with Christian women: daughters, wives, even nuns."

This is exactly what Generational Dynamics is all about. The generation of kids who grew up during the 1390s pogroms became risk-averse adults who were willing to look for compromises to avoid new bloody violence. Thus, there were anti-Converso riots during the 1450s and after, but that risk averse generation that grew up in the 1390s were still around to contain the problem, and look for compromises, to keep things from getting too far out of hand, despite the heated rhetoric. When that generation died, no one was left to look for compromises, and new pogroms began in the 1480s.

As the old compromise unraveled completely, the riots against the Conversos got worse, and a common charge against the Conversos was that they were "false Christians." The most common charge against Conversos was that of "Judaizing," that is, of falsely pretending conversion and secretly practicing Jewish rites.

This is what gave rise to the Spanish Inquisition. The idea was to have an official body empowered to determine whether those who had claimed to convert to Catholicism had really converted. As new pogroms began in the 1470s and 1480s, the Inquisition was particularly targeted to find the "Judaizers." At first, the Inquisition was directed specifically at Conversos, but later was extended to unconverted Jews. Thousands of Conversos and Jews were executed under the Inquisition, and entire Jewish communities were eliminated.

The new crisis war reached its climax in the year 1492, when three different things happened that affected Spain for the next century:

With regard to the last point, Muslims had crossed over to southern Spain from Africa as early as the 700s, and had conquered almost all of Spain. The Catholics had dreamed of reconquering Spain from the Muslims for centuries. The Reconquest was finally completed in 1492.

To summarize: The great compromise that settled the Spanish pogroms of the 1390s was that the Jews would convert to Catholicism. That compromise worked fine for a while, then began to unravel, and eventually became one of the issues in the next great crisis war.

The great compromise that settled the Holocaust of World War II was the creation of the state of Israel, which was supposed to settle the Jewish problem once and for all. That compromise worked fine for a while, but in the decades that followed, it began to unravel. What the next world war will do to Israel can't be predicted, but what can be predicted is that Israel will be a major issue in that war. (Two paragraphs added. 6-Aug)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Aug-14 World View -- Cyclic anti-Semitism surges in Europe thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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