The myth of 109 countries expelled Jews

The assertion that Jews have been expelled from 109 locations is a pernicious myth perpetuated by antisemites, notably neo-Nazis, to support the baseless narrative that Jews are inherently problematic. This specific number is traced back to the Holocaust-denying Bible Believer’s Church in Australia. Their calculation to reach the figure 109 is misleading; it includes not only countries but also cities, regions, and ecclesiastical jurisdictions, with some areas counted multiple times. Additionally, instances of persecution that did not result in expulsion and entirely fabricated events are also added to inflate their figure.

The use of “109” has become a coded message among white supremacists, promoting an antisemitic claim without basis in historical fact. Throughout history, Jews, like many other minority groups, have faced exile and persecution, often as scapegoats for broader societal issues. The Roman Empire, for example, exiled Jews and other indigenous peoples from the Middle East, leading to their widespread presence in Medieval Europe—a time marked by intense religious persecution.

One of the darkest periods of such persecution was the Spanish Inquisition, where Jews faced massacres, forced conversions, torture, and expulsion, a pattern that began as early as the fifth century with Christians forcibly converting Jews.

Economic factors also played a role in these expulsions. In the Middle Ages, Jews, along with Cahorsins and Lombards, were often restricted to certain professions, such as banking. These groups became targets of persecution when sovereign states were unable to repay debts, leading to expulsions as a form of scapegoating.

A notable example of this was in 1290, when King Edward I of England, burdened by war debts, negotiated with Parliament to expel the remaining Jewish population in exchange for a substantial tax levy, marking one of the largest single taxes of the Middle Ages.

This historical misuse of power highlights the complex interplay of financial, political, and religious motivations behind the expulsions, challenging the simplistic and unfounded “109 expulsions” claim.

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