Anti-Jewish measures through the ages

2 December 2016

Christian antisemitism, fuelled by the Church Fathers with the so-called replacement theology, led to many anti-Jewish measures in early Europe. These measures aimed to make the practice of Judaism impossible and paved the way for the open persecution of the Jews.

Replacement theology

In the first few centuries after Christ, the Church Fathers became convinced that the Christians were the new chosen people of God. They accused the Jews of murdering Jesus. In their view, God had turned his back on the Jewish people and the Church was the new Israel.

This so-called replacement theology gave rise to a large number of anti-Jewish measures. Jewish customs, such as keeping the Shabbat or celebrating Jewish festivals, were labeled as crimes. The practice of these rituals was therefore severely punished. To avoid these punishments, the Jews had to repent.

Anti-Jewish measures through the ages

Anti-Jewish measures Netherlands

From November 1940, the Nazis introduced several anti-Jewish measures in the occupied Netherlands. Through them, they banned Jews from social life. This is a historical ‘Forbidden For Jews’-sign displayed at the Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Jews have been persecuted and murdered by Christians for centuries. In the Middle Ages, for example, the Crusades took place. Christian crusaders left for the Middle East to liberate Jerusalem from the Islamic rulers. On the way, Jews were often locked up and burned alive. Sometime later, the Inquisition took place. More than 350,000 Jews were tortured or murdered for refusing to convert to Christianity.

There have also been anti-Jewish measures in more recent history. During the Second World War, these kinds of measures were the starting point for the systematic Jewish genocide. In the Holocaust, six million Jews were murdered under the leadership of the Nazi regime.


Antisemitism is also a topical issue today. Due to Facebook and Twitter, for example, antisemitic expressions are increasingly common. Many European Jews flee the growing threat and emigrate to Israel.

Antisemitism often manifests itself in the form of verbal abuse or threats. Fortunately, forms of physical violence against Jews are less common. What is striking is that the situation in Israel has a direct consequence for Jews in the Netherlands: if the situation in the Middle East is restless, the manifestations of hatred of Jews in the Netherlands increase.