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JB“Anti-Semitism has no historical, political and certainly no philosophical origins. Anti-Semitism is a disease.” ― Daniel Barenboim 


Roman Empire & the Jews

Relations between the Jews in Palestine and the occupying Roman Empire were antagonistic from the very start and resulted in several rebellions.

Several ancient historians report that in 19 CE the Roman emperor Tiberius expelled Jews from Rome. According to the Roman historian Suetonius, Tiberius tried to suppress all foreign religions. In the case of Jews, he sent young Jewish men, under the pretense of military service, to provinces noted for their unhealthy climate. He dismissed all other Jews from the city, under threat of life slavery for non-compliance. Josephus, in his Jewish Antiquities, confirms that Tiberius ordered all Jews to be banished from Rome. Four thousand were sent to Sardinia but more, who were unwilling to become soldiers, were punished. Cassius Dio reports that Tiberius banished most of the Jews, who had been attempting to convert Romans to their religion. Philo of Alexandria reported that Sejanus, one of Tiberius's lieutenants, may have been a prime mover in the persecution of the Jews.

The Romans refused to permit Jews to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem after its destruction by Titus in 70 CE, imposed a tax on Jews (Fiscus Judaicus) at the same time, ostensibly to finance the Temple of Jupiter in Rome, and renamed Judaea as Syria Palestina. The Jerusalem Talmud relates that, following Bar Kokhba's revolt (132–6 CE), the Romans destroyed very many Jews, "killing until their horses were submerged in blood to their nostrils." However, some historians argue that Rome suppressed revolts in all its conquered territories and point out that Tiberius expelled all foreign religions from Rome, not just the Jews.