Sunday, July 11, 2010

Truth May, Eventually, be Recognized

Benzion Netanyahu's book The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain has been on my reading list for awhile now - not that that means I'll read it anytime soon. Maybe this article will move it up a few notches. Jason Epstein, who edited the book, sums up its thesis: for the first 509 years after the expulsion of the Jews of Spain in 1492, the version of the persecutors for its origin was accepted by all: they, meaning the Inquisition, had merely been trying to combat the phenomenon of descendants of Jews who had been forced to convert returning to Judaism. Not that the original forced conversions had been excusable, but at least there was a coherence to the policy. Once you're Christian you've got to live as one, and you're subordinate to the decrees of the Inquisition.

In 2001 Netanyahu published his magnum opus proving that it hadn't been like that at all. Most of the converts lived as Christians; freed from religious restrictions they had shot to the upper echelons of Spanish society, where their over-representation caused envy, and the envy caused racism. This was about 400 years before the invention of modern racism - or perhaps we need to re-write the books about racism and recognize it was there the whole time, directed at the usual suspects but masquerading as something else.

Interestingly, while the truth took five centuries to be uncovered, it took Netanyau 90 years to publish his research. There was quite a bit of patience going on in this story.


NormanF said...

Benzion Netanyahu showed us superbly in his book what motivated the Spanish to act as they did was a massive fear of Jews: the same massive fear that drove the Nazis. In five centuries, human nature as changed very little.

And the lethality of anti-Semitism is one that needs no introduction and no involved explanation.

Anonymous said...

hopefully another truth will get a chance of getting recognized. Here is a profile of the new CentCom Commander, the replacement for Petraeus at the post. Hopefully he'll stand by this when it comes to Israel.

"Every Attempt To Make War Easy and Safe Will Result in Humiliation and Disaster"

here is the piece concerning his appointment by the same author:
which includes these quotes:
"I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."


AKUS said...

Racism in the form of fear, envy or hatred of "the other" seems to be part of human nature and has always been there, from tribes to nation states.

We are now in a unique period of new development - where one nation, Israel, is being treated the way individuals were. Israel is Europe's Jew.

Gentile Zionist said...

Former priest James Carroll (in Constantine's Sword) and historian Paul Johnson (in his History of the Jews) have pointed out that racial anti-Semitism began not with Drumont or the NSDAP, but centuries earlier with the Spanish.

Anonymous said...

It's on my bookshelf (1364 pages long). I have not read it all. There was a parallel with Nazi Germany in that there was the persecution of a group of people who were devout Christians who just happened to have had Jewish ancestry (the Inquiaition referred to sangria - blood), like the loyal Germans of similar ancestry. I think the analysis in the book refers to more than envy. The New Christians and their descendants represented real economic and political competition to the established elites and in their minds the threat had to be removed.

Anonymous said...

there is another parallel which I don't know if the time line would synch. But Jews got a head start in Prussia when Baron von Stein abolished Leibeigenschaft (slavery) for peasants and in consequence thereof needed scribes. The only minority able to supply those in sufficient numbers at the time seem to have been Jews.

as three generations make a lady so three or more generations make a bureaucratic career

(look into any big corporation for evidence - once you are in your are in - Jews in all likelihood were slowed down due to their being Jews but eventually it helped and emphatically NOT due to patronage but predominantly due to knowledge of how such systems function internally i.e. in the same way artists' kids have a head start as artists i.e. there are some hurdles they know how to take because it was part of dinner table talk - if you come from a family with an uncle who can tell anecdotes about university life the prospect of entering it makes it a task a lot less daunting and come to think of it, didn't newcomers to any country always hire scouts? - btw it also applies to lower class people entering the job market. If you have a skill that's scarce "they" let you advance more willingly or rather less grudgingly than "they" would be willing otherwise.)