History shows how angry words by Christians led to violence against Jews

By Sara Lipton

No historian can claim to have insight into the motives of living individuals. But history does show that a heightening of rhetoric against a certain group can incite violence against that group, even when no violence is called for. The experience of Jews in medieval Europe offers a sobering example. In the decades around 1100, a shift in the focus of Christian veneration brought Jews to the fore. Ferocious anti-Jewish rhetoric began to permeate sermons, plays and polemical texts. The first records of large-scale anti-Jewish violence coincide with this rhetorical shift. [link]