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Introduction - Prejudice Toward European Jews Prejudice against Jews known as anti-Semitism had a long history in many parts of Europe During the Middle Ages many people had believed and spread incredible tales about the Jews At the time of the Black Death Jews were accused of poisoning wells to kill Christians Over the centuries mobs humiliated tortured and massacred Jews In some lands rulers forced Jews to convert to Christianity Barred from owning land and from belonging to craft guilds many medieval Jews became merchants and moneylenders In some countries Jews were forced by law to live in ghettos Though today the word ghetto describes a city slum a ghetto at that time was a part of town set aside for Jews The ghetto was separated from the other parts of town by walls and gates At night and during Christian celebrations Jews were forbidden to leave the ghetto In the 1800s the ideals of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution resulted in legal equality for Jews in most of Western Europe They could move out of the ghettos and take part in many activities that had been closed to them With this new freedom some Jews became successful in business science the arts and in a few countries government Yet most Jews remained poor Despite legal changes anti-Semitism remained widespread in nineteenth-century Europe Small shopkeepers and artisans resented competition from Jewish merchants Peasants did not like dealing with Jewish moneylenders In some countries extreme nationalists charged that Jews were a threat to the state Anti-Semitic political parties sprang up and slurs against Jews were common in newspapers magazines and books Emperor Hadrian In AD 132-135 Hadrian Trajans successor defeated a second Jewish revolt in Judaea and harshly punished the rebels The Romans renamed the province Syria Palestina Palestine and encouraged non-Jews to settle there Jews were allowed to enter Jerusalem only once a year Most of the
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