EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Anti-Semitism is the most insidious hatred in history. Aversion to Jews has flourished under so many circumstances that it is hard to find a common denominator accounting for its manifold manifestations. However, there have been periods when non-Jews showed strong sympathy and solidarity towards Jews. Perhaps the best illustration of this friendship is modern America.
There are precedents showing that America’s willingness to befriend the Jews is not a unique case in history. Calvinist Holland and Puritan England also displayed friendship and solidarity towards Jews, a sympathy that was expressed by fervent Christians. The fervor of those Christians was as strong as that of Catholics who burned conversos at the stake and of Orthodox Christian clergymen who intimidated Jews throughout Eastern Europe.
The difference between Puritans and Catholic or Orthodox Christians towards Jews was not doctrinal. These streams of Christianity each embraced the replacement theology of Augustine, which viewed Christians as God’s new covenant partners. The difference is that Calvinists and Puritans embraced the Hebrew Bible, whereas Catholics, Lutherans, and Orthodox Christians tended to view the Torah as the obsolete relic of an irascible and vindictive Israelite deity.
Nowadays, many Jews are baffled that American Christians overwhelmingly embrace Jews and Israel, whereas those Jews’ forefathers from the “old country” had good reason to fear and resent Christianity. This paradox is accounted for by the contrasting attitudes of Christians in North America and in continental Europe towards the Hebrew Bible. American Christians are eager and sympathetic readers of the Old Testament. Historically, European Christians have disregarded the Torah.