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Extra info for Antisemitism and Modernity: Innovation and Continuity (Routledgecurzon Jewish Studies Series)

Sample text

Yet the doctrine contained some startling contradictions: one Spanish family was declared exempt from the stain of Jewish descent because it was thought that they were descended from the family of the Virgin Mary. The doctrine of blood-purity took particular hold in Spain because it was a country which was obsessed with the concept of aristocracy. The ordinary people had long felt oppressed by a sense of inferiority to the old aristocracy, who regarded themselves as having an inherent god-like status which exempted them from all toil or need to earn a living.

The Christians, recognizing this, eventually expelled from Spain all the Muslim ‘converts’ (known as ‘Moriscos’) in 1609. This was an essentially different expulsion from that of the Jews in 1492, when only non-converted Jews were expelled. The converted Jews, on the other hand, took their conversion seriously, and became practising Christians, if only (in many cases) as a form of emancipation and entry into the professions. Yet they remained under a cloud of suspicion. Many of them were dragged before the Inquisition on a charge of secretly continuing to practise Judaism, or at least minor Jewish customs.

His cynical opportunism foreshadowed the use of antisemitism by later politicians as the exploitation of an ever-present fund of popular hatred. 29 From 26 ANTISEMITISM Germany, racialist antisemitism spread to Central Europe and France. In Austria–Hungary, nationalist and racialist antisemitism developed under the influence of both Germany and Russia. The religious antisemites, with their organ the Vaterland joined the racialists in the Christian Socialist movement, which made great gains in the 1896 elections.

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