Dennis Prager
On Jan. 21 in Paris, a gang of Muslims intent on kidnapping Jews kidnapped 23-year-old Ilan Halimi. Reciting verses from the Koran in phone conversations demanding money from the family, they ultimately rejected the money and tortured Halimi to death. They kept him naked for weeks while they cut him up and finally poured flammable liquid over his skin and burned him alive.

When Jews read this story, they see themselves as Halimi and think that such a thing could happen to them somewhere in the world today and somewhere in the world at any time in the past.

If you want to understand how Jews think and behave, you must first understand how large antisemitism and the Holocaust loom in the psyche, emotions and minds of the vast majority of Jews.

It could not be otherwise.

While ethnic, racial, religious and national hatreds are as old as mankind, none has been as universal and as deep as hatred of Jews.

Jew-hatred was given the name "anti-Semitism" only in 1879 by a German anti-Semite named Wilhelm Marr. The term is entirely misleading since it has nothing to do with "Semites." Jews may be Semites, but so are Arabs, and antisemitism never meant hatred of Arabs, only of Jews. That is why many contemporary writers, including my coauthor (Rabbi Joseph Telushkin) and I in our book "Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism," do not spell the word "anti-Semite," but rather as one word without a hyphen -- "antisemite."

Jew-hatred or antisemitism has been so deep that tens of millions of people have equated the Jews with the devil and many more have desired that the Jews be erased from the Earth. Such an attempt was made only one generation ago in what is called the Holocaust (or Shoah, the Hebrew term). This was the German Nazi attempt to murder every Jewish man, woman and child, which resulted in the murder of two out of every three Jews in Europe.

To give an idea of how many Jews have been murdered for being Jews, all one needs to do is look at population statistics. Scholars estimate the population of the Roman Empire at about 60 million at the time of Jesus. According to the dean of Jewish historians, Professor Salo Baron, at that time Jews comprised about 10 percent of the population. That means that 2,000 years ago there were about 6 million Jews. It is also estimated that at that time, the world's population was about 200 million.

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”

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