Rationales for Antisemitism

by Mark Oshman


Antisemitism, defined as anti-Jewish sentiment, dates to biblical times. This article presents several rationales that people have advanced as a basis for their anti-Jewish behavior. It will also provide a underlying reason why some adhere to such anti-Jewish sentiment.

Jews Perceive Themselves as a “Chosen” People

Some people might interpret the expression “chosen people” to imply that Jews regard themselves as superior to others. God did inform the Israelites, “…the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6). The import of this verse centers around the meaning of the word bachar rendered as “chosen.”

Bachar came from a Hebrew word that meant, “tested.” God used this term in that sense when He informed the Jewish people that “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10). God’s choice of the Jews involved purifying them through trials, as a refiner extracted precious metals from ore by burning the source materials in a heated oven and sifting out the resulting impurities.

God also selected the Jews to serve as instruments of His will. Moses informed the Israelites, “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:7, 8).

Jews Control the World through Their Cumulative Wealth and Influence

The belief that Jews control the world through their cumulative wealth and influence dates back for centuries. For instance, an early twentieth-century book entitled, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion purported to contain a record of Jewish leaders secretly planning world domination. Such theories have no basis in truth.

Note that the Bible did not censure affluence, in and of itself. Job (for example) possessed abundant wealth, yet he still “feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1). God granted Solomon riches and honor, in addition to wisdom, as recorded in I Kings chapter three. King Jehoshaphat of Judah, a godly man, “had riches and honour in abundance” (II Chronicles 17:5; 18:1).

The Bible does warn those who devote their lives only to the acquisition and retention of wealth. Paul labeled the love of money as “the root of all evil” (I Timothy 6:10). The Bible also notes that “he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent” (Proverbs 28:20).

Jews Have Caused or Exacerbated Every Nation’s Problems

Throughout the ages, the Jewish people have been used as “scapegoats;” that is, the object upon which others affixed blame for their culture’s ills. In medieval Europe, for example, the non-Jewish populace accused the Jews of poisoning a city’s wells, resulting in the spread of plagues.

Paul reminded the Galatian believers that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Put another way, every person bears the responsibility for his or her own life outcomes, and so does every nation.

Blaming the Jews for problems caused by others does nothing to help a civilization resolve its own issues. It merely postpones any ultimate “day of reckoning” for that society.

The Jews Killed Jesus Christ

Various Christian authors have accused the Jewish people of being “Christ-killers.” Martin Luther, in his 1543 book entitled, On The Jews and Their Lies, blamed the Jewish people for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Who killed Jesus Christ? The Lord said, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again” (John 10:17).  He reiterated, “No man taketh it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18).

No one, neither Jew nor Imperial Rome, possessed the power or authority to kill the Son of God. He willingly laid down His own life.

However, the Bible is also quite clear that both Gentiles and Jews were complicit in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou has annointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together” (Acts 4:27). Therefore, it is wrong to single out the Jewish people as the sole responsible party in the death of the Messiah.

Jews are Too Clannish

People sometimes find fault with Jewish people for wanting to keep themselves from assimilating with Gentile people in their culture. However, the desire to associate with “your own kind” constitutes a natural inclination among different groups.

With European Jews, however, such segregation constituted an imposed way of life. The non-Jewish populations of medieval cities often compelled Jews to live in restricted enclaves, known as “ghettos.” The existence of these districts limited any Jewish attempts to assimilate with their Gentile compatriots. Such people thus have no right to accuse Jews of being too clannish.

The Jews are an Inferior People

Those who perceive Jews as mentally inferior and spiritually bankrupt reveal their ignorance of secular and sacred history. Jewish achievements have benefitted all of humanity.

Comprising less than one percent of the world’s population, Jewish people have won forty-one Nobel Prizes in fields such as economics, physics, chemistry, and literature. Jews have won nine percent of all Nobel Peace Prizes. If the Jews are an inferior race of people, how have members of that group managed to accomplish so much?

Jews have also received certain spiritual gifts from God. Paul described these blessings as “the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises” (Romans 9:4).

Much of the Old Testament dealt with how God interacted with the Jewish people. Compared to the Jews, according to Isaiah, “the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance” (Isaiah 40:15). To label the Jews as an “inferior” people disparages God, Who chose to reveal Himself to them and through them.

Jews are More Loyal to Israel than to Their Own Countries

In recent years, another phenomenon provided a rationale for antisemitism: the rise of Zionism. The term “Zionism” defines a political movement of Jewish people who desire a homeland.

However, Zionism is a form of nationalism: a phenomenon that prevails among many ethnic factions throughout the world. Every group wants their own homeland. Why single out the Jews for hatred on that account?

Jews are Occupiers of the Palestinians’ Land

Since October 7, 2023, the cry has come from pro-Palestinian individuals and groups around the world to “end the occupation.” If Israel can be labeled as occupiers, then any actions against Jewish people (whether in Israel or not) seem justified — even the brutal and barbaric attacks by Hamas.

Many who support such an idea seem to forget that Palestinians are not a nation or a distinct ethnic group. They are primarily of Arabic descent from various nations surrounding Israel. Despite that fact, they were offered a “two state solution” on at least three separate occasions beginning in 1947. All these offers were roundly rejected by the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization).

Without even arguing the biblical truth that Israel is just a small portion of God’s Promised Land to His people (Genesis 13:15-17; 15:18), we can note the fact that Israel has won the right to live in their land through at least three major wars (1948, 1967, 1973), all instigated by the surrounding Arab nations. Then large portions of their land (including the Gaza Strip) were given back to their enemies in various “Land for Peace” deals.

Those who label Israel as occupiers ignore or are ignorant of the fact that at least two million Arab Muslims live in peace and safety in Israel with Israeli passports!


Despite various rationales offered by their proponents, those who adhere to anti-Jewish beliefs resent the Jews for one underlying reason. The existence of the Jewish people demonstrates God’s existence and His faithfulness.

God made certain pledges to Abraham and his descendants. Among these was this promise: “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Genesis 12:3).

God has prospered nations (such as the United States) who have blessed and protected the Jews. He has also destroyed those nations (such as Nazi Germany) who turned against the Jews.

Moreover, God has preserved the Jewish nation. While other national powers have vanished into the dustbin of history, the Jews continue to exist and maintain their distinct identity as a people.


Mark Oshman serves at IBJM as the Bible teacher for the Everlasting Nation Broadcast.