In order to discuss this topic we must first define what a gentile is. Leo Rosten in his book "The Joys of Yiddish" States gentile as such " Anyone who is not a Jew. (This covers a lot of ground)" So for the purposes of this essay I would like to trim the definition down to only those non Jews of the western world and even more so to those of common Christendom.
Being in Utah I have had the fortune of seeing even another use of the term gentile, for the members of the LDS/Mormon faith have adopted it as a term meaning anyone who is not a Mormon. As Joseph Silverstein, conductor of the Utah Symphony for many years once put it, "Utah is the only place I can go and be a Goy (Goy being a Yiddish alternative for gentile). I have yet to meet a Jew yet who knew exactly how to deal with this penominum.
So what about Judaism is so bothersome to the Christian? To be frank, no one is sure, but I hope within this I can share with you a few of the incites that I have had in this: one of the longest wars of all time , the Jews against the gentiles.
When I was in Jr. High my uncle told me an old saying that he had learned to be true. Sitting me down in an oversized leather couch he told me "Paul you should never lend money to friends because it will cause the friendships downfall". The origin of this saying was unknown to him, but years later I found it in a queer place. Deep within the 1596 Shakespearean work "The merchant of Venice." Antonio tries to convince Shylock how it is better to lend money to him then to a friend with the line "If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not as to thy friends, for when did friendship take a breed for barren metal of his friend? But lend it rather to thine enemy, who if he break, thou mayest with better face exact the penalty." and also from the same work "never a lender nor a borrower be."
In lending you are left in worry. Will my lent possession be well kept? Will it be returned in kind condition? And will I have it in my possession when I need it? The borrower is originally grateful but then learns a dislike for owing, especially if he chooses not to give back the item, or if giving it back would be difficult.
None of us likes to be in debt, no one like to have the burden of owing someone gratitude. And the love for writing thank you notes is an acquired taste.
This brings us to one of the first clashes between the Jew and the gentile. (It's sick I use Shylock to exemplify this) No I'm not stereo -typing the Jew as the moneylender and having that be our race relations primary conflict, rather instead of the Christian owing us a debt of moneys, he owes us a debt of his religions very beginnings. The writings of the bible pre Christendom were primarily Jewish, The idea of the Sabbath, the ten commandments, and even eating of bread and wine within the service were borrowed by the original Christians from the Jew. In early Christianity one must first convert to Judaism before one could be baptized as a Christian. The early Christian, pre Paul, was circomsized and followed of the customs prescribed within the bible as are still prevalent within the Hebrew culture and religion.
So when did this break of brotherhood take place? Years later as the Christians tried to separate themselves more and more from the Jew a new Sabbath was created based around the date of the reappearance of Jesus from the cave. Many of the old customs were seen as unneeded and were removed. The ideas of eating kosher, circumcision and writing the "Shama" on ones door post are just a few of these deletions. And as Christendom's missionaries spread throughout the world those they prostlitised would bring their own culture into the faith. The Christmas tree, Santa Clause and the Easter bunny are some examples of these. Sadly in the interest of time and staying on topic I chose not to expand on their origins.
As more and more Romans became Christians within the first part of the common era (I will be using Common Era C.E. and Before Common Era B.C.E. rather than B.C. and A.D.) there was an overwhelming guilt at the fact that they were the murderers of their lord (paraphrased from a translation of Pope John Paul of the Roman Catholic Church) So instead of taking the blame for it there was a need to find a "scape goat" and this poor beast was the Jewish population. So rather than sending jewishness a thank you for their basic Christian values, beliefs and ceremonies. Gentiles acted like collage students rebelling against their parents be screaming how terrible their childhood was , how poor their parents values were and trying to separate themselves as much as possible and prove how different they could become.
So through a hatred for owing a debt and a need for a feeling of redemption (scape goat) the first front of the Anti Semite war was begun.
A wise man once said Knowledge is power. One of the cultural traits of the Jewish tradition has been a quest and appreciation for knowledge. As artists, appraisers, doctors, lawyers, writers, money lenders and educators through the ages the Jews haven't always been the richest, but have been in very pubic environments. There is also a cultural decision that has been made in many places throughout the Jewish communities, that they help each other - if possible they would work with, trade with and share with those like them first, and through this keeping to themselves they have separated their being from the world much more then others ghettoizing them ever could. The Jew through the ages has tried to work through the prejudice laws put upon him and survive at all costs. When in the middle ages the Jew was not allowed to own property, keep shops, farm or hold a license to work in the towns, many Jews found their niche in money lending. In many communities in Christendom it was against the faith to lend money for a profit but there was no law preventing borrowing at a cost from a non Christian. This opened an occupation of banker to the Jew but also created a stereo type and causes a hatred again for the debt. We never blame ourselves for not being able to pay the debt, its always the "damned" collector who won't leave us alone.
From early days in Egypt to the roman rule of Palestine and jesus , though the 300 years of Spanish inquisition and the holocaust fifty years ago to today this hatred ( on different levels and for different reasons) has continued. Some of the first images of the Jew that jump into the mind of the gentile are of the Shylock, someone "Jewing you down", the image of the original Grimm Fairy Tale "The Jew Among the Thorns" who would steal children and most importantly that of Judas. Each written in a different time but with the same message: A Jew is not one of us, he is very different and not only different but evil. The conspiring Jew against the Christian has not to my knowledge existed as strong in any real sense as it has in the literary works by the Christian. So as in my examples the gentiles are taught this hatred first in fairy tale , then in art and culture and throughout in faith.
I remember as a youth of eight I was asked by a friend to speak at his ward about Hanukah. As I left and the door fell behind me I heard the teacher say "Remember that's one of the Jews who killed Christ. "I saw that I was personally responsible. Then on my first day of High School in Choir a boy asked me my religion and when I replied Jewish he quipped with a Quick "I'm sorry" stood up and moved to another seat. As the National Conference for community and Justice's banner states "Nobodies Born a Bigot." These things are taught.
Now in this the last section of my essay I would like to put one of my findings as a question to you. My findings have shown that the world loves a dead Jew. The Klu Klux Klan has no problem with Abraham, Issac, or Jacob. they like King David and Solomon and all of the gentiles I have ever met loved Moses and try and follow the ten commandments (not everyone knows their not multiple choice - myself included). The Holocaust Museum embellishes upon all of those that are dead and little time was spent in Shindlers List talking of the survivors. But the most popular Dead Jews of all were of course The Virgin Mary and Jesus. It sometimes leaves me to wonder what the Anti Semite gentile population of today think about when they read the first five books of Moses and when they pray to Mary. Not to say that all gentiles are anti Semites. My best friend who I have known since I was in second grade is a Muslim and his father was born and raised in Iran, and out of the 30 attendants of my birthday party this last October only one was Jewish.
Maybe because the first five books of Moses and psalms state the Jews as the chosen people and Christendom books profess that those that are the followers of christ are the new chosen people. The Jews current existence makes them worry about the validity of their own. If the Jews were all dead/converted it would be perfectly fine to love them and say that they were the chosen people but now Christendom holds the title. Yet since we didn't all die or convert with the coming to Jesus it (according to several of my Mormon and catholic friends) leads them to wonder.
So In conclusion as said by Edmund Burke "I venture to say no war can be long carried on against the will of the people." I cannot blame World War II on Hitler or on Germany without the whole world community it never could have happened. George Bernard Shaw goes on to say "There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it." we all believe in the golden rule in some way or another we all believe in a goodness and a hope for a better humanity. Again I would like to re emphasize that Not every gentile is an anti Semite and not every Jew is full of purity and virtue. All I ask is that we don't close our eyes to the origins of our bigotry and that we understand that prejudice is learned and it can be unlearned.
Paul W. Draper