Individuals, groups and communities, who enter the space-time of modernity from premodern state, experience a stressful and difficult struggle. The whole personal and societal stance, structure and way of life are subject to change. The concept of time in rural agrarian age was a homogeneous flow of events based on natural phenomena: day, night and seasons. In the urbanized, industrial, capitalist, secular world the tempo changes constantly in a non-linear, non-homogeneous manner. Similarly, existence in physical space, in kinship relations, in politics, in making a living and in every other social field changes dramatically. Furthermore, the number of social roles of individuals increases immensely in comparison to the few more or less constant and fixed he or she had in premodern society.
Jews in the Christian World posed a threat and challenge to Christianity. Jesus Christ and most of his early followers were Jews. The refusal of Jews themselves to accept the tenets of Christian religion constituted a question mark as to the validity of the of the new faith. The Christian response was that the attitude of the Jews stems from grave error for which they must pay by persecution and restrictions on residence and earning rights. The Jew became a pariah, subject to constant threat of deportation, of murder and conversion to Christianity by force. To survive Christian antisemitism, Jews had to be always ready to change their residence town, country or even continent. Many times such changes entailed learning new language, customs and way of life on very short notice, or no notice at all. Only few professions were open to them, trade, money lending and few others.
To keep their religion alive they had to maintain among themselves social solidarity and education system, which was based on their holy books. Most important among them was the Talmud. The Talmud is a compendium of legal opinions by Rabbis, one can consider them legal scholars, between 200 and 800 C.E. At the beginning of the first millennium commentaries by Rabbi Shlomo Ytshaki known as RASHI and his students, called the Masters of Additions (TOSAFOT) became for all practical purposes part of the Talmud. It is a very demanding text, which deals with torts, religious rituals, contracts, marriage and divorce laws, legal jurisprudence and almost every other aspect of Jewish life. To make it even more difficult, the language is mostly Aramaic. Pupils, later to become students, started to learn the Talmud at the age of nine for about ten hours a day and continued to do so all their life, becoming Rabbis, Judges and teachers of their community. Contrary to religious masterpieces of other religions, Talmud is a practical treatise. It does not discuss abstract terms like God, nature, justice and so on. It speaks, for instance, about prayers as something to be done so many times a day in particular sequence, how and when rather than about the proper intent and personal relation to God. Both the religious obligations and those between people are treated legally in the same manner.
All modern commerce relies on law for solving disputes that may arise between the parties. In this respect Jews enjoyed, long before judicial systems in the community of nations were perfected, a clear advantage. They had their own autonomous jurisprudence which they trusted. If a Jew from Poland had a dispute with his colleague, say in Morocco, he knew that the local Rabbi in Morocco will investigate the matter on similar principles that his Rabbi in Poland would have done. Knowledge of the law and Jewish courts all over the world were a key factor in promoting trade by and between Jews.
When modernity broke out many disadvantages that Jews had because of Christian antisemitism and persecution, suddenly became an entry card into the new era, as if they had a thousand years long apprenticeship for entering the highway to success. The intense practical scholarship became a staple too. Some Jews were better than non-Jews prepared for modern science. Even luminaries like Marx and Freud were distinguished by being, or at least trying to be practical. Das Kapital still today is a practical attempt to analyze capital in modern society, starting from facts and not from preconceived principles. Freud insisted all along on practical therapy and phenomena such as dreams and jokes, before providing general structures. His dispute with Carl Jung may be considered as an argument between a practitioner and a thinker who prefers to follow abstract generalities.
The sudden success of some, relatively many Jews, evoked feelings of anger and further enhanced the preexisting religious antisemitism, thus transforming it into a new modern variety. The rise of nationalistic and racial ideas made this state of affairs much worse. The terms nation and race are meaningless unless one has a dialectical non-nation or non-race. Nation and race need the other as a condition for their validity. Jews are a ready made other for validating them. In fact, there is no need for physical Jew for this purpose, a memory of Jews can do the same job, perhaps even perfect it. Memory is a figure of imagination, which can be easily mellowed into a shape, which is an improved fancy, in comparison with physical people, who may demand looking into facts and reality. Consequently, with practically no Jews in Poland and Germany today, antisemitism is flourishing among radical right wing groups.
Interestingly, the more Palestinians are building up their national narrative, the more frequent are antisemitic statements among them.
The story of the state of Israel, in certain sense, is also a reflection of the paradigm of hatred and success of the Jewish nation.