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Book presentation with Tilman Tarach


"Devilish Omnipotence. On the Denied Christian Roots of Modern Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism."


Time: Tuesday, September 20, 2022 | 7:30 p.m.
Location: Bajszel, Emser Str. 8/9, Berlin-Neukölln

When antisemitism is critically discussed in this country, the focus is regularly on ethnic-identitarian or Islamic antisemitism. In doing so, one often refers to "our" supposedly tolerant "culture of the Christian-Jewish Occident". The lecture will correct this historical misrepresentation and show that hatred of Jews is a constant in Christian history - from the first synagogues burned down by Christians shortly after the new doctrine became the state religion, to the ritual murder and well poisoning legends, to the anti-Zionist commitment of the churches of the present day. Christian founding myths thereby laid the foundation for the idea of the Jew as an insidious, powerful string-puller and for the hallucination of a "Jewish danger" threatening one's own collective. Indeed, the idea of a Jewish threat, rooted in Christianity, was also a necessary - though not a sufficient - condition for the Nazi extermination of Jews.

The widely made distinction between Christian "anti-Judaism" and modern völkisch "antisemitism" follows a strategy of exoneration. The former is to be considered overcome today, while the latter is to appear as a completely new chapter in history. In this way, the moral salvation of one's own identity-forming collective succeeds, which is still perceived as Christian - or as Christian-influenced. In fact, however, the old Christian hatred of Jews already had ethnic characteristics related to descent and "Jewish blood," as shown, for example, by the Spanish "blood purity laws" of the late Middle Ages against Jews who had converted to Christianity and their descendants. Conversely, fragments of Christian anti-Judaism found their way into the world of thought of modern antisemites and National Socialists. Hitler already referred to the Gospels in Mein Kampf; finally, in 1938, he linked the idea of the extermination of the Jews to the 'blood curse' from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 27:25). Leading National Socialists - and Germans as a whole - were deeply socialized as Christians and thus conditioned, as it were, to reflexively perceive Jews as aggressors. At the same time, the churches collaborated with the Nazi regime from the very beginning, viewing it as competition at best.

Even if in the course of history a few Christian dignitaries came to the defense of the Jews, and in völkisch circles sometimes even the Vatican itself becomes an object of conspiracy legends, the Christian image of a "diabolical omnipotence" of the Jews has nevertheless become an unconscious but fixed part of Western culture. Anti-Jewish agitation, the disenfranchisement, expulsion and murder of Jews by Christians were the result. Even the elements of modern hatred of Jews, including hatred of Israel, must be understood as echoes of Christian founding myths hostile to Jews.

In Islam, the Christian image of the Jews was adopted in a modified form as a legacy. In fact, Palestinian, Syrian and Iranian anti-Zionist propaganda often bears the hallmarks of this Christian heritage. The lecture will therefore also briefly discuss the dynamics of Islamic antisemitism, which has become considerably more strident since the 20th century. 

Dr. Tilman Tarach lives in Berlin and Istanbul. In early 2022, his book "Teuflische Allmacht. On the Denied Christian Roots of Modern Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism" was published. His first book, published in an updated edition in 2016, deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: "The Eternal Scapegoat. Israel, Holy War, and the 'Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion': On the Hypocrisy of the Traditional Image of the Middle East Conflict."