The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/p/parks.james/quote-out-of-context

From: "David S. Maddison" 
Subject: Analysis of another anti-Semitic quote
Newsgroups: soc.culture.jewish
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Date: 11 Nov 1999 14:29:26 +1100
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[NOTE: Not posted to those groups that need to see this most (in light of
the recent "complaint". Also apologies to the person who thinks scj is
"not interested in combatting anti-Semitism"].

"There is no doubt that the...Jews aided the Persians with all the men
they could muster, and that the help they gave was considerable. Once
Jerusalem was in Persian hands a terrible massacre of Christians took
place, and the Jews are accused of having taken the lead in this
massacre." (A History of Palestine from 135 A.D. to Modern Times, James
Parkes, p. 81; The Iron Curtain Over America,  John Beaty, p. 194).

The quote addressed is #039 from the anti-Semitic document "1000 Quotes by and about Jews". It is
available in similar form from many sources, but not necessarily with the
same number.

As with other quotes in this list, it shows evidence of selective citation
or "filleting". What is under discussion is the Persian invasion of
Palestine which was then under Roman administration (the Romans had
invaded in 70 CE). The Jews and other minorities had been cruelly treated
by the Byzantine emperors. Preceding the above quote at the top of page 81
the book states: 

"In any case their power (of the Jews and the Samaritans) was
substantially diminished; their political autonomy, their civil rights,
and even their religious freedom had all been reduced by the bullying
orthodoxy of the Byzantine emperors, and in particular by Justinian, who
added insult to injury by constantly empowering their chief enemies, the
orthodox bishops, to assist the civil government in the enforcement of the
humiliating burdens imposted upon them."

"The day of a brief relief and revenge was, however, approaching.
Justinian's grandoise dreams of imperial magnificence, and his passion for
building - including several churches in Palestine - had heavily
overstrained the empire's weak economic resources. His successors could
not possibly maintain what he had so rashly conquered; and the empire fell
a prey to disorder. Then occurred a repetition of the superstitious fears
which had led Valerian and Diocletian to persecute the Christians, only
this time the infidels who were said to be angering the Almighty were the
Jews. Phocas (602-610) and his successor Heraclius (610-641) were said to
have been warned that the empire was menaced by the "circumcised", and
both in consequence ordered the Jews of the empire to accept baptism. What
numbers submitted we have no means of knowing. In any case, their
submission was probably of short duration, for in 611 the Persians swept
through the eastern provinces, and in 614 they took Jerusalem after a
siege lasting only twenty days. There is no doubt that the Persians
received substantial help from the Jews of Galilee. One chronicler
mentions a figure of 20,000 Jewish soldiers, another 26,000. While the
actual figures are as unreliable as all ancient figures, there is no
reason to question the fact that the Jews aided the Persians with all the
men they could muster, and that the help they gave was considerable. Once
Jerusalem was in Persian hands a terrible massacre of Christians took
place, and the Jews are accused of having taken the lead in this massacre.
It would not be surprising if the accusation were true, even though the
fantastic stories told of Jewish revenge by Christian chroniclers are
certainly exaggerated."

>From "A History of Palestine from 135AD to Modern Times", James Parkes,
London, 1949, p.81:

Clearly, restoring the original context puts a different slant on this
quote. The Jews, being an oppressed group, sought liberation and they
thought they received it when the Persians invaded. At least, the Jews
thought that they would receive better treatment from the Persians than
they did from the Byzantines. The author also notes that the accounts from
Christian chroniclers are "certainly exaggerated".

As regards this exaggeration, it has been noted that in the Chronicon
Paschale, in Migne, Patrologia, series Graeca, 92, 988 that it describes
the death and destruction inflicted by the Persians, but no mention is
made of the alleged Jewish complicity in the massacre.

Antiochus Eustratios (Strategios), a monk, says that the some of the
city's Christians were murdered because they refused to accept Judaism.
Theophanes then repeats his remarks in his own words and adds an extra
story of his own. Other medieval accounts copied and embellished these,
such as the anonymous Syriac chronicle. It has been noted by Gil, in "A
History of Palestine, 634-1099", Cambridge Press, 1992, ISBN
0-521-40437-1, that those sources which are closest to the original time
and place of the conquest do not mention the Jews at all.

David S. Maddison (

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