i have read, with interest, your reply to a query about
the jews in egypt and anti semitism. i would like, in
the following, to outline what i believe happened. "the
jews" i believe, entered egypt as part of the hyksos
invasion and occupation of the nile delta which lasted
for some two centuries, when they were driven out by the
pharaoh ahmose. during the period of occupation, a large
number of the semites were integrated into egyptian society
and remained there. they then supported, or maybe even
gave rise to, the monotheistic reforms of ikanaton. when
this pharaoh was unseated by a revolt of the priests of
amon,his followers were expelled, and this may have been
the "exodus". we are told that when jacob died,
his body was mummified and escorted to hebron for burial
by a cortege of egyptian nobility. this appears to indicate
that the whole of that area was under the control of the
same semitic tribes, and jacob was held in high esteem
by the authorities in power in egypt at that time.
as for anti-semitism, it is the outcome of several events
that transpired in the first century of the common era.
the jews were persona non grata in the roman world because
of their constant rebellion against the romans. the church
fathers, especially st. paul, took advantage of the situation
by shifting the blame for the crucifixion to the jews
away from the romans whom they were trying to convert.
pontius pilate who was, by all historical accounts, corrupt
and indecently cruel, is painted in the gospels as a sensitive
man who tried to save jesus. the jews became the christ
killers and thus the scapegoat for the christian masses.
this lasted some twenty centuries and is still with us.
in catholic countries the jews were afraid to leave their
homes on good friday because the sermons in the churches
villified them and often led the congregants to attack
jews when they could. one good example is the attack on
the jews in seville in 1392 on such a good friday, which
led many jews to convert and others to leave the city.
this was the beginning of the end of the glorious jewish
community of spain. i recall that on a good friday in
the fifties i attended a church service here in montreal
with a catholic friend. the sermon was so rabidly anti
jewish that it could have led to some sort of a riot.
i was so angry that i wrote to the pope and was asked
to have a meeting with a church official who assured me
that all the vitriol was not meant to hurt the jews but
was only a statement of historical events that actually
took place. he obviously believed what he said. mel gibson's
film "the passion" will probably give rise to
some additional anti jewish vitriol. gibson is obviously
intent of undoing the good work of the late pope john
incidentally i would like to mention that a similar event
to the exodus took place in spain. when grenada fell in
1492, most of the moslems were forced into catholicism,
however they continued to help moslem raiders from north
africa until the catholic authorities expelled them in
the 1600s. as the french say "plus ca change, plus
c'est la meme chose".
thank you for your attention,
naim s. mahlab, montreal.