40 Questions, 40 Answers
According to Jewish tradition, a child born of a Jewish mother is Jewish, as well as anyone who converts to Judaism following strict rules and rituals. A person can be Jewish, but at the same time not religious. Non-religious Jews are referred to as secular Jews. Jewish religious tradition includes different movements, from the strict Orthodox tradition to conservative and Liberal Judaism.
Approximately thirteen million Jews live throughout the world, a tiny fraction of the total world population of 6.6 billion. About half of them live in Israel, while the United States, Russia and France also have sizeable Jewish populations. In the past thirty years the Jewish population in the world has only grown by two percent, in contrast to a 60 percent increase in the total world population.
No. In terms of biology, there is only one race: the human race. But in the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, some influential European scientists were interested in proving the superiority of their own race - the "white race". Their ideas were used by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s to distinguish the Aryans from other races. The Nazis devised a "race ladder" which put the Aryans at the top and the "Semitic race" at the bottom. Modern science and genetic studies have conclusively disproved the notion of race classifications.
Anti-Semitism is a synonym for the hatred of Jews and anti-Semitic means anti-Jewish. The word anti-Semitism became popular around 1880 because of articles and pamphlets written by Wilhelm Marr, a German journalist who came to be known as the "father of anti-Semitism". While political anti-Semitism arose in the nineteenth century, religious anti-Semitism (also known as anti-Judaism) began in ancient times and continued into the Middle Ages, particularly within the Christian Church. The legitimacy of religious anti-Judaism was based on the accusation that the Jews incited the Romans to murder Jesus Christ, a Jewish preacher who the Jews did not recognize as the Biblical Messiah.
While hatred of Jews goes back a long time in history, the idea that Jews are out to dominate the world gained currency in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This myth, which played an important part in Nazi propaganda in Germany, was revitalized at the beginning of the twentieth century in Russia with the release of the book, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This book was produced by the Tsarist regime in Russia to divert public opinion from the country's severe crises and blame the Jews for the plight of the Russian people. The Protocols provide an alleged account of twenty-four secret gatherings of the so-called Elders of Zion, a fictitious group of rich Jews. These men gather to discuss the question of how they can destroy the Christian community and establish a Jewish world order. The Protocols were first published in a newspaper in St. Petersburg in 1903 and other releases quickly followed - versions often differing extensively.
Sadly, the Arabic and Persian versions of the Protocols are widely distributed in the Muslim world, and Muslims are being misled by this forgery. In 2002, Egyptian television launched a major soap opera series based on the Protocols. The series, entitled Horseman Without a Horse, has been broadcast in a number of Arab countries, continuing to propagate this myth.
Political lobbying is institutionalized in the U.S. and organized groups who want to promote certain interests are officially registered and are required to work in a transparent manner. There are pro-Arab and pro-Iranian lobbying groups, as there are Jewish lobbyists. It is more accurate to speak of a pro-Israel lobby instead of a Jewish lobby. Interestingly, evangelical Christians play a very prominent role in the pro-Israel lobby in the States. There are about seven million Jews in America, making up 2.5% of the population. The Jews in America form a vastly diverse and often divided community.
The influence of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington on America's Middle East policies is often exaggerated. An extensive survey of hundreds of cases of policymaking related to the Middle East showed that in situations where the viewpoints of the American president and the main pro-Israel lobby in the United States, AIPAC, clashed, Congress sided with AIPAC in only 27 percent of all cases.