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Word Count: 718
A common assumption is that the forced conversion reflects the ideas of people back then But as I have said before and will say again one must be cautious in ascribing beliefs in general to any large group of people in any time Even in NAZI Germany where anti-semitism was state policy did everyone hate Jews Certainly not Nevertheless we can often discern large-scale trends in belief so long as we keep in mind that these trends are rarely if ever universal and often exist simultaneously with other strong contradictory trends This issue is complicated by one fact in particular it is not at all clear how many Jews even lived in England in Shakespeares time Jews as a group were expelled from England in the late middle ages and so it is quite likely that few practising Jews would have been left Shakespeare quite likely knew none and neither did the members of his audience There were at least a few people around who were converted Jews Jews who practiced Christianity The most famous of such people is Roderigo Lopez a Portuguese Jew who had converted to Christianity and had become by the early 1590s the most prominent physician in London for he was the royal physician who attended to Elizabeth But Lopez was implicated in a plot to murder the queen and was hanged for treason The Lopez case highlights one thing clearly It reminds us that the Elizabethans did not generally have the concept that we call racism The idea of inherent superiority of one distinct group from another based on ancestry is a relatively recent development in the history of ugly thought Thus Lopez a Jew by birth could rise quite literally to the top of his profession because he was a Christian and thus not really a Jew in any important sense In the same way Othello is generally accepted in the world of Venice despite
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