The subject of this article goes beyond the tragic events in Gaza and focuses on the subject of the historical relationship between Greeks and Jews. An American named Edward Flannery wrote a book entitled “The Anguish of the Jews- 2300 Years of Anti-Semitism” which holds an interesting passage on Jews in the Hellenistic period. To give some background, the author of the book is a Catholic priest in the United States, he served 10 years as chairman of Catholic-Jewish dialogue. The book is by no means “anti-semitic”, as its publishing and translation in Europe was thanks to a collaboration of the Christian Antiracist (?) Initiative, so if bias is to be taken into account, it would be in the direction opposite of the conclusions it implies.
Within the pages of this book there are extensive references to the relationship between the ancient Greek world and Jewry, which were rife with hostility and struggle. It is important to know that this poor relationship only began in the Hellenistic period solely due to the fact that until after the 5th century BC, Greeks were completely unaware of the existence of Jews. Evidence of this is revealed in the works of Herodotus, who wrote about the current territory of Israel, Palestine and Syria , yet does not mention a single word about Jews.
In the context of this topic, it is also important to differentiate between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism (or the extreme manifestation of Judaism: Zionism), because these two subjects differ in no small degree. To say the historical Greeks were “anti-Semitic” would be an understatement when looking at the fierce battles between the Greeks and the Phoenicians. The actual Semites made numerous attempts at expansion into the South Aegean and in Cyprus and Sicily, but were defeated and Greeks established themselves in these lands. Were it not for the ancient Greeks, the Mediterranean would’ve become an entirely Semitic sea. The definition of anti-Semitism has morphed in recent years to define anti-Judaism, mostly thanks to the alleged “Holocaust” and the political machinations of global capital. Real history and the actual definition of words have been muddled and their content has been replaced to suit immediate political goals of the financial, academic, media, and political entities engineering our society.
The history of the historical Greek-Jewish relationship begins with the Macedonian leader, Haman. In Flannery’s book, issued by anti-racist Christians, the traditional thesis on the beginning of “anti-Semitism” is reiterated by recounting the experience of Haman. In the Old Testament, specifically in the book of Esther, it is mentioned that Haman, the vizier of the Persian Emperor, was in fact a Greek from Macedonia. In the story, which is of course from the Jewish perspective only, Haman held the opinion that the Jewish population of Persia were working to sabotage the empire and approached Xerxes to take measures to stop them. When this became known to the Jews, the Jews sent one of their women to hide her ethnic identity and infiltrate herself as a concubine. After trusting the Jewess Esther, she misled him and along with her cousin Mordecai led Jews on a vicious orgy of ritual genocide where 75,800 Persians were killed. The pinnacle of the story occurs when Haman is hung alongside his 10 children (remind you of anything?), and the Jewish killers declare victory. After this event, Emperor Xerxes feared the brutality of the Jews. The Empire soon after fell into their hands, and perhaps by coincidence or not, the campaigns of the Persian Empire in Greece began. In commemoration of the massacre of Persians and the killing of the Greek Haman, the Jews have established an important religious celebration called “Purim”.
Every Greek in the modern era has heard the false Jewish history that claims Alexander the Great worshipped their rabbis and went to the Temple of Solomon when he entered the land of the Jews. The pseudo-historical origins of this myth have no basis on material history, they are mere Jewish legend. No actual historical source shows any relationship between the Macedonian commander and the Jews, and they not only fail to confirm it, there is not even a mention of this lie.
Inside the Hellenistic world, a picture is painted of violent conflict between Greeks and Jews. The conflict was mostly spiritual, but sometimes it was bloody. The irreconcilable differences between Greeks and Jews were most pronounced in the city of Alexandria, which was at the time the spiritual (due to the presence of Greeks and great knowledge) and economic capital (great stocks of wheat) of the then known world.
Numerous Greek writers of the era, along with historians and philosophers, devoted entire writing projects against Jewry. Some of these ancient Greek “anti-Semites” are : Chairemon, Lysimachus, Posidonius, Apollonius Molon, Apion, Manetho, and many more. The works of all of these men, except for a few passages, are ignored, and over the centuries much of it has been destroyed.
Returning to Flannery’s book, which we mentioned in the beginning of this article, the permanent conflict and irreconcilable worldviews of Greeks and Jews are rooted in antiquity. The Catholic Priest summarizes this as follows:
“To the proud heirs of Pericles, Aristotle and Homer, this aloofness was an insufferable arrogance. Convinced that all that was not Greek was barbarian, they resented rival claims to superiority or privilege on the part of the people they considered politically and culturally undistinguished. A collision between these two proud and dissimilar mentalities could only be a matter of time.”