Hamas supporters hold Koran
Hamas supporters hold KoranFlash 90

Attempts to explain and describe the difference between Jews and non-Jews have mostly been empirical, yet shallow, as most academic writing about the subject, or obscure and metaphysical as are mystical approaches to the issue. These two approaches are reconciled when we understand the far-reaching consequences of belief in the devil.

Judaism and the Jewish people do not believe in the devil. Satan as understood by Rabbis since Talmudic times is merely an accuser or prosecutor who imputes evil motivations to people, prodding G-d to test them. This is the Satan we know from the Book of Job.

The Satan or Shaitan of Christianity and Islam is a completely different creature. And its influence in the worldview and attitudes of Christians and Muslims is hard to overestimate.

Satan/Shaitan is the embodiment and personification of evil. As such it is autonomous, pervasive, insidious, and enjoys a real presence in reality. Evil in Judaism lacks such concreteness. Jews certainly believe that evil is real and absolute, nevertheless Jews tend to believe that evil is merely the absence of goodness. And that just like shadow vanishes when light shines, so, according to Jews, does evil vanish whenever humans are exposed to truth, love, and kindness. Even Jewish belief in Amalek does not negate this truth: Amalek is just the origin of hatred for Jews, not the origin of all evil in the universe.

That is the reason Jews tend to believe that antisemitism is primarily caused by ignorance, and that if enough retreats for Jewish and Arab children were arranged, and if enough Israeli aid reached earthquake victims around the world, everyone would eventually understand that you are good and mean well.

The absence of an Islamic-Christian devil in Jewish culture is also the reason most Israeli analysts project Jewish cognitive and ethical canons on non-Jews, and believe that people are either intelligent and rational or unintelligent and irrational.

Many anti-Semites and Israel-haters are both intelligent and irrational. Belief in the devil accounts for these contradictory traits. Hitler, for example, was highly intelligent, and that is the reason popular culture readily chalks up his fanatical hatred of Jews to insanity. Nevertheless, when one reads Hitler’s thoughts about Jews, it is evident that his pseudoscientific racist rationalizations for hating Jews, betray a traditional Christian worldview: The “Aryan race” was the divine angelic force threatened by Jewish demons, and destroying Jews and Judaism was essential to save humanity.

In Islamic discourse, Zionism plays a similar role: From Morocco to Indonesia hundreds of millions of Muslims believe that Zionists are behind every mischief and misery that afflicts the Ummah. That is the reason that over three generations of Muslims have readily traded progress for hostility toward Israel and everything it represents: freedom, reason, prosperity, and democracy.

When one understands the real and corporal nature of evil in Christianity and Islam, one also understands the power and pervasiveness of antisemitism. As Marjorie Taylor Greene kindly reminded us, "Jews killed Jesus". And since Jesus was the “Son of God” and (presumably) god can only be slain by demons, Jews must be demons. In Islam, a Jewish woman named Zaynab bint al-Harith supposedly tried to poison Mohammed. And who else but the daughter of a demonic nation would try to murder the "pinnacle" of human virtue and perfection ?

When Ayatollah Khomeini labelled Israel “little Satan” he was not waxing poetically. He literally believed that the Jewish State is a demonic force that needs to be defeated and destroyed at any cost. The fact that despite its tremendous economic and social problems, Iran prioritizes funding anti-Israel movements and leaders throughout the Middle East, and is ready to suffer diplomatic and economic isolation in order to develop a nuclear arsenal, should alert Israelis to the supreme value that clerics in Qom and Tehran place on erasing Israel from the pages of history.

Belief in the devil’s existence is so deeply ingrained in Christian and Islamic culture, that even avowed atheists have assimilated the Manicheism it fosters. The obsession with “old white men” and “white supremacy” as the root cause of all evils in the world that countless academics, activists, and pundits peddle in America and Europe, is symptomatic of a cultural and psychological predisposition to seek, identify, and punish one group as the root cause of all evil in the world.

Doing so is called scapegoating. Nevertheless, scapegoating is only sustainable and systematic in cultures which personify evil. And this personification is the collateral effect of centuries of faith in a Satan/Shaitan. The college students and third-rate academics who rail against Zionism on college campuses are the descendants of Christians and Muslims brainwashed during centuries in churches and mosques to fear, hate, and fight the devil.

But why are Zionism and Jews so readily seen as evil and demonic?

The first explanation is that Zionism plays an analogous role to that of Islamism. Just like the term “Islamism” distinguishes a supposedly peaceful and benevolent Islam from its violent, aggressive and intolerant manifestations, so does “Zionism” embody traits and flaws traditionally attributed to Judaism: rapacity, aggressiveness, ethnocentrism, murder, treachery, manipulation, and sinister and omnipresent influence.

And why are Jews so easily mistaken for the devil?

Well, because Jews and the devil of popular lore are similar: They are both visible and invisible, powerful and vulnerable, local and global, alien and seductive, close to G-d and hateful to Him.

The Jewish people after the Holocaust attempted to eradicate this nonsense by educating the masses about the Holocaust and its tragic consequences. The world’s reaction after October 7th suggest that a very tangible effect of Holocaust education is making millions of people upset that Jews are fighting back rather than humbly walking naked into the gas chambers. This disgraceful outcome could have been averted if the Jewish world had not projected its values and worldview on the Gentile world, and had lucidly understood what really stirs and genuinely moves most non-Jews.

Australia is the sole country with a large Jewish population that lacks an influential homegrown antisemitic tradition (it now has an imported Muslim one, ed.). This extraordinary situation is largely the merit of one Jew: General John Monash, the Commander of Australian troops deployed in Europe during World War I. General Monash earned universal admiration and gratitude for his military leadership and concern for the welfare of troops serving under his command.

The reason General Monash inoculated most Australians against antisemitism is his status as a war hero. Had a hundred Jews served Australia no less than a General Monash as philanthropists, scientists, and inventors as has been the case in Germany, France, Russia, Great Britain, and the USA, homegrown antisemitism would now be more influential down under. The reason for this is that the non-Jewish world respects and reveres war heroes more than anyone else. We see this by noticing the simple fact that the most important streets and squares in the Gentile world honor kings, soldiers, and statesmen who won wars and battles. Even nonconformist youths who would never wear an army uniform, proudly flaunt Che Guevara T-shirts and wear keffiyehs, well aware that both symbolize and celebrate violence and bloodshed.

If Jewish Diaspora communities had built museums showcasing and celebrating Jewish war heroes, the world would respect and admire the heroism of Jews just like ordinary Australians respect and admire the heroism of General Monash. This intuition is corroborated by the profound admiration and gratitude felt by hundreds of millions of Hindus toward the Indian-Jewish General JFR Jacob who defeated the Pakistani Army in 1971 and liberated Bangladesh.

More Americans and Europeans need to be aware of the service and heroism of Jewish soldiers. This awareness-raising would raise the status and prestige of Jewish communities more than any additional Jewish Nobel Prize winners. In addition, such awareness-raising will make it more self-evident that if Jews fought and died to defend their Diaspora homelands, they also have the right to fight and die for their ancestors’ homeland in the Land of Israel.

Even more importantly, while hundreds of millions of Gentiles are ready to believe that lawyers, bankers, and Hollywood moguls wearing Prada are devils, even more believe that soldiers who fought, died, and led their nations to victory in the battlefield are angels.

Rafael Castrograduated from Yale and Hebrew University. A Noahide by choice, Rafael can be reached at [email protected]