Clare McCullough


Religious Violence, Judaism

Religious Violence describes the occurrences in which religion is used to justify conflict to cause suffering and harm either for or against a certain (non)religious doctrine. [1] Two incidents in which Judaism was the target or the perpetrator of religious violence were the Holocaust and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

During the Holocaust, the Jewish people suffered and died because they believed in Judaism. During WWII, the Third Reich of Germany was a fatal shadow sweeping over Europe. Nazis started with registering all Jewish people that lived in any occupied territory that Germany had control over. The soldiers would kidnap Jewish people shove them in ghettos and then ship them to concentration and death camps. Their religion was the reason that all those people were taken. More than a million people were murdered because of their religion. [2]

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The Holocaust is an act of religious violence in that the Jewish people were targeted because of their religious beliefs and were treated as a pestilence that needed to be eradicated. The word “Holocaust” comes from the Greek word, “holos” meaning whole and “kaustos” which means burned. More than 10 million people in total died in death camps and according to the Telegraph, between five and six million Jews were killed[3]. They were targeted with violence because of their religion to Hitler, the Jewish people were an inferior race and a threat to German racial purity and community. As Germany expanded its control, it began mass transportations from the constructed ghettoes in Poland to concentration camps. Mass gassings were conducted in a large-scale industrial operation where thousands died of starvation and disease[4].

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On the other side of the question, the nationalism of Zionism and the illegal Jewish settlement of the west bank is the second incident I chose. In this circumstance, instead of being the victim of religious violence it wouldn’t be too far off to say that they were the aggressors. They colonized Palestine and the Zionism is defined as “the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. “[5] The Jewish people feel that they have a claim to their promised homeland and Israel is the accumulation of competing nationalism. Originally, Jerusalem was a place of peace between religion, it was a city of freedom. Jewish nationalism first started when the British promised a home for the Jewish people when Palestine was once under Ottoman rule. During WWII the Jewish population in Palestine rose since they were fleeing European persecution and the holocaust. The Israeli state starting accruing more power and the Palestinians and Zionists went to war. Palestinians lost this conflict and had to become refugees.  Jewish people settled in the west bank and west Jerusalem, and took over their land. The Palestinians started protesting and then Hamas became a large terrorist group. In response to growing tensions, Zionist Ariel Sharon marched on a very important Palestinian mosque with a thousand armed guards. The deaths were devastating. The Israelites made a wall claiming that they were protecting themselves but they put the wall through Palestinian territory. Religious war has continued over decades in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[6]

The Israeli occupation of Palestine is an act of religious violence because the Jewish population and the Palestinian population had been and are still fighting in many bloody battles in the war over obtaining a homeland for themselves based on a religious principle. The Holocaust was a horrible genocide in which killings were carried out with ugly industrial efficiency. These two incidents are the ones that stand out when investigating religious violence in regard to Judaism.

[1] 1 van Liere, Lucien. “Tell Us Our Story.” Exchange 43.2 (2014): 153-173. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.


[2] Knill, Iby. “A Holocaust Survivor.” Women’s History Review 25.6 (2016): 999-1005. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.




[5]  “Zionism: A Definition of Zionism.” A Definition of Zionism | Jewish Virtual Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.


[6] Hanauer, Laurence S. “The Path To Redemption: Fundamentalist Judaism, Territory, And Jewish Settler Violence In The West Bank.” Studies In Conflict & Terrorism 18.4 (1995): 245-270. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.


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