Aug 5, 2014

Inconvenient History | A Quarterly Journal for Free Historical Inquiry

Inconvenient History | A Quarterly Journal for Free Historical Inquiry

Historical Context

Have Jews played a disproportionate role in war and social conflict—a role typically not of peacemakers and reconcilers, but of instigators and profiteers? Let us very briefly review some historical evidence to answer this charge; it provides relevant insight into Jewish influences during both world wars.

As far back as the Book of Genesis, we find stories such as that of Joseph, son of Jacob, sold into slavery in Egypt.  Joseph earns the favor of the Pharaoh and is elevated to a position of power.  When a famine strikes, Joseph develops and implements a brutal policy of exploitation, leading Egyptian farmers to sell their land, animals, and ultimately themselves in exchange for food.  Joseph himself survives unscathed, living out his days in “the land of Goshen,” with a life of luxury and ease—evidently as repayment for a job well done.1 

Over time, Jews continued to build a reputation as rabble-rousers and exploiters. In 41 AD, Roman Emperor Claudius issued his Third Edict, condemning the Jews of Alexandria for abuse of privilege and sowing discord; he charged them with “fomenting a general plague which infests the whole world.”  Eight years later he expelled them from Rome.  As a result, the Jews revolted in Jerusalem in the years 66-70, and again in 115 and 132.  Of that final uprising, Cassius Dio made the following observation—the first clear indication of Jews causing a major war:

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