Several years ago in Australia, anti-Jewish fliers were distributed.

One of the claims that appears on the fliers is:

Jews have been kicked out of countries 109 times in history.

I've seen this same claim be mentioned at various times (sometimes as 109 countries, sometimes as 109 times).

The frequent implication is that the Jewish people themselves are to blame for any poor treatment. It's pretty easy to poke holes in that reasoning, but I'm more interested whether the claim itself is factual.

Have Jews been evicted from host countries 109 times throughout history?

EDIT: This question has received several downvotes, which is disappointing since this to be well-phrased and appropriate question about an (apparently?) unusual political phenomenon.

The claim was framed in one context, but it could just as easily be reframed in an opposite argument....assuming, of course, the facts themselves were true.

The role of Skeptics is often to prove or disprove elements of propaganda, regardless of users' own positions.

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    I would be interested to know if they were ever expelled from ancient Palestine/Israel. Are you including that in "host countries" ? – Keith McClary Mar 1 at 2:02
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    Meh. 'Various anti-Semites have compiled lists of alleged Jewish “expulsions” ranging from 100 to more than 1,000 in number, but the figure of 109 is the most commonly cited and probably originates with a list of “109 locations” appearing on a longstanding Australian anti-Semitic website.' - Anti Defamation League. I can't see this leading anywhere good... – Laurel Mar 1 at 2:06
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    @Colin biblebelievers.org.au is an antisemitic hate site, so I wouldn't take that link as fact, but only as a more in-depth version of the original claim. – tim Mar 1 at 9:51
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    Oh, the irony of Australians talking about other people being kicked out of their countries :) – default locale Mar 3 at 11:25
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    As a rule of thumb, 97.01% of claims that use weirdly specific numbers are made up. – Eike Pierstorff Mar 3 at 17:40

Yes. But a lot of context is needed to understand that list and the list makers intentions, methods and intellectual capabilities.

Imprecise. Very imprecise, but yes, if it is meant as "locations", not countries. And if given an actual list of places where this is said to have happened, it is quite an anachronistic or more often ahistorical compilation of internet copypasta. Most importantly the list attempts to 'prove' that 'Jews were expelled so often, there must be something to it.' That is true, but certainly not in the way the list makers want to imply. Quite the absolute contrary:

  1. The 'places' are usually not "countries", but often cities, regions, principalities. This proves the list makers do not really know or care for actual history or precision. In case of the leaflet shown that prompted this question: while they don't not even cite their 'sources', they use the number 109, when the claim with '109' most often appears as "locations" is quite telling for the level of quality to expect.

  2. Some data are just a bit incorrect, example is listed below for Clermont and Carthage. Conflation rules the day. Again to the detriment of the list makers' abilities.

  3. Looking at all these incidents listed, the causes for these incidents, that did happen, they do not have that much in common. Except for looking at a pogrom situation where the target of violence or the listed "expulsion" was the Jewish population. Sometimes a reason may be given that seems somehow 'understandable' today, like "a Jew actually murdered someone", then the whole Jewish community was punished for that. That has at least an unjust but somehow connected 'reason'. Most often the actual reason is simply 'justified' by one observable attribute: accusations were often made up, but one fact remained always — that the people scapegoated were Jews.

  4. There is nothing in these lists to suggest that 'all' of them had that one thing in common that the pamphlet wants to insinuate: that Jews are somehow guilty and thus deservedly condemned, beaten, murdered and expelled. Sometimes to the very contrary: all incidences that relate to religious madness during the crusades just show how Christians lost their minds and behaved quite jihadi irrational.

  5. Equally, all incidences related to the black death or other plagues during the High Middle Ages are not based on any factual connection of blaming Jews 'rightfully' for introducing the illness by poisoning wells or 'provoking the wrath of god'. At least as far as we know now, the contemporary Jews were as clueless as their fellow Christians neighbours about the existence of Yersinia pestis and thus it would have been impossible for them to maliciously cause the death of Christians with this black magic we now call 'bacteria'. Consequently Jews weren't spared from the epidemic and also died from the plague.

  6. Listing individual places with the attribute of "at some time in history, all Jews were expelled", including 'places' down to the geographical level of cities, the list is considerably longer than "109".
    But during the Middle Ages we see more Antijudaism than Antisemitism: if Jews converted to Christianity, the problem was usually 'solved'. But if 'blind Synagogie refused to see beautiful and superior Ecclesia' there was no limits to the carnage. This transformed more into what the pamphleteers now do with their list: the hate of difference became essentialised. Now Jews became the universal target for all problems ever to be identified and the 'fault of being Jew' was made heritable: even after conversion 'Jews will be Jews', or 'good news everyone, we found a way to blame away all our problems onto a never seizing pool of scapegoats'

  7. Since most, if not all, incidences listed show irrational hatred to be the motivation for expulsion, it achieves quite the opposite of what the pamphlet propagandists want to achieve. That someone has hated before does not prove that her hatred is now better justified in any way. Just that the hatred is indeed 'traditional'. And why not? We made an error before, lets make this error again, and again. We should never question tradition, no matter how stupid or criminal?

Simple facts about the first four examples

As long as the base for this claim is for example found on Bibleblievers 109 Locations whence Jews have been Expelled since AD250, we can observe a lot

Problems for this and variations from it (going usually further back into 'biblical times') are a completely ahistorical treatment of geographical and political entities.

The list just referenced usually starts with for example

  • 250 Jews expelled from Carthage

A very strange date to choose. For that year Jewish history usually lists nothing like an 'expulsion'. Christians in that area had some issues because they saw Judaism as a bit too popular, an unwanted and just a bit too similar competitor.

What we have to know for that year 250 is that Christianity was not yet powerful enough to really control such things. In fact 250 is the year that emperor Decius issued an edict that enabled mass persecution of Christians. Everyone was required to sacrifice for the emperor. Something Jews in Palestine had zero problem with in the late phase of the Second Temple period before 66. And the Roman emperor even made an exemption for the Jews then, so that the Decian edict didn't even apply to them, only their new-fangled sectarian descendants were by then seen as different enough to require special attention for their disruptiveness of social life: Christians seeing themselves as 'the chosen people'…

But for Christians that was a no-go, leading to the Decian persecutions, of Christians:

Anyone, including Christian followers, who refused to offer a sacrifice for the Emperor and the Empire's well-being by a specified date risked torture and execution. A number of prominent Christians did, in fact, refuse to make a sacrifice and were killed in the process, including Pope Fabian himself in 250, and "anti-Christian feeling[s] led to killings at Carthage and Alexandria." In reality, however, towards the end of the second year of Decius' reign, "the ferocity of the [anti-Christian] persecution had eased off, and the earlier tradition of tolerance had begun to reassert itself." Despite no indication in the surviving texts that the edict targeted any particular group, Christians bore the brunt of the persecution and never forgot the reign of Decius; whom they remembered as "that fierce tyrant".

At this time, there was a second outbreak of the Antonine Plague, which at its height from 251 to 266, took the lives of 5,000 daily in Rome. This outbreak is referred to as the "Plague of Cyprian" (Cyprian was the bishop of Carthage, where both the plague and the persecution of Christians were especially severe). Cyprian's biographer Pontius gave a vivid picture of the demoralizing effects of the plague and Cyprian moralized the event in his essay De mortalitate. In Carthage, the "Decian persecution", unleashed at the onset of the plague, sought out Christian scapegoats. Decius' edicts were renewed under Valerian in 253 and repealed under his son, Gallienus, in 260–261.

  • 415 Alexandria

    Which is correct in that an anti-Jewish event took place then and there. But surely, Alexandria was not "a country". This was instigated in the Roman Empire, under auspices of Cyril of Alexandria:

Theodosius II, the Roman Emperor, condemned him for behaving like a "proud pharaoh", and the Nestorian bishops at the Council of Ephesus declared him a heretic, labelling him as a "monster, born and educated for the destruction of the church."

But why did they have 'a situation' there and then?

In 414/15 there was widespread rioting in Alexandria. The heritage of emperor Julian the Apostate was alive and well enough for making trouble. Widespread riots took place between 'classical pagans', Jews, and Christians. And bishop Cyril took sides, quite predictably, with his fellow worshippers of Jesus. Cf — Edward Jay Watts: "Riot in Alexandria: Tradition and Group Dynamics in Late Antique Pagan and Christian Communities", Transformation of the classical heritage, 46, University of California Press, 2010.

As we have already seen, an Egyptian tradition developed that extended Theophilus’s innate anti-pagan powers to his sister, the mother of Cyril. Theophilus’s example influenced more than just the rhetoric used by Cyril and his supporters, however. Although he had been groomed by his uncle to take power upon his death, Cyril had not yet been officially named when Theophilus died (apparently unexpectedly) in 412. Instead of assuming power peacefully, Cyril was forced to battle a rival for the patriarchal throne. For three days partisans of the two sides contested with one another in the streets of Alexandria before Cyril finally took control of the city’s churches. He then began a series of actions that resembled those through which Theophilus remade Alexandrian religious life. As soon as he took power, Cyril punished the Novatians (a Christian sect that had supported his rival) by confiscating their property and churches. Then, in 414, he took action against the large population of Alexandrian Jews. After a series of small but increasingly violent disputes, Cyril ordered his supporters to seize synagogues in the city and drive Jews from their homes. This brought Cyril into conflict with Orestes, the prefect of Egypt, who sent a report of the event to the emperor. His report fueled more explosive anger among Cyril’s supporters and resulted in a riot in which Orestes was nearly killed. In response, Orestes arrested Ammonius, a monastic supporter of Cyril, who died under questioning. Cyril promptly had Ammonius declared a martyr, before backing down in the face of opposition from Alexandria’s Christian elite. After a brief detente, the anger of Cyril’s supporters turned against the philosopher Hypatia, a prominent member of the Alexandrian elite who had been working with Orestes to manage the conflict. Seizing Hypatia, Cyril’s supporters murdered and dismembered her before incinerating her remains.
— Edward J. Watts: "Riot in Alexandria. Tradition and Group Dynamics in Late Antique Pagan and Christian Communities", University of California Press: Berkeley, Los Angeles, 2010.

The very next entries in that list then read

554 — Diocèse of Clermont (France)
561 — Diocèse of Uzès (France)

Clearly showing much smaller units than a whole country, plus using a quite anachronistic geographic designation of "France". At that time, what we know as 'France' was mainly und er Merovingian Frankish control and looked roughly like this for political division:

enter image description here

And in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Clermont in modern Clermont-Ferrand bishop Cautinus (551–571) was the exact opposite here of what was claimed: Cautinus being condemned by for example Gregory of Tours for being too tolerant to Jews! (Plus a lot of other things, Gregory and Cautinus weren't friends)

But Gregory was partic­ularly critical of Bishop Cautinus and accused him of public drunkenness, a lack of education, dependence on the flattery of Jews, and greediness so excessive that he even tried to confiscate one man’s property by burying him alive.
— Raymond van Dam: "Saints and their miracle in Late Antique Gaul", Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1993.

Cautinus is also denigrated for his friendship and business dealings with the Jews of Clermont.

When Cautinus dies ignominiously from the plague and factional fighting breaks out over the succession, it is significant that Gregory defames the priest Eufrasius, one of the many contenders for the cathedra, by linking him in a similar way to the Jews of the town.
— Brian Brennan: "The Conversion of the Jews of Clermont in AD 576", The Journal of Theological Studies, New Series, Vol. 36, No. 2, 1985, pp. 321–337.

Of the Latin writers on this pandemic, Gregory of Tours (539– 594) had the most to say. A native of Clermont and descendant of a Gallo-Roman family proud of its senatorial rank, he served as bishop of Tours from 573 to 594. In his History of the Franks and also in his Lives of the Fathers, he gives testimony to the first appearance of the plague in Gaul, which took place in the Rhone Valley in 543. The context was his telling of the saintly life of his uncle, Bishop Gallus of Clermont, in whose time, he says, “that illness called inguinal raged in many regions and most notably it depopulated the province of Arles.” Gallus prayed that his diocese be spared and the Angel of the Lord came to him in a vision to assure him that his prayers would protect his people. Thus assured, Gallus led his people in various forms of devotion and indeed not a single one of them at Clermont died of the plague.

Things went differently at Clermont in 571 under Bishop Cautinus, who scurried from one place to another to avoid the plague. “So many people were killed off in the whole region and the dead bodies were so numerous that it was not even possible to count them. There was such a shortage of coffins and tombstones that ten or more bodies were buried in the same grave. In St. Peter’s church alone on a single Sunday three hundred dead bodies were counted.” Gregory describes the sore “like a snake’s bite” that appeared in a victim’s groin or armpit, leading to death a few days later. He finishes off the paragraph by saying that Bishop Cautinus came back to Clermont, got the infection, and died on Good Friday, “on the same day and at the same hour as his cousin Tetradus.
— Lester K. Little: "Plague and the End of Antiquity. The Pandemic of 541–750", Oxford University Press: Oxford, new York,

So, after Cautinus death of the Plague, his successor Avitus then forced the Jews into either conversion or expulsion.

Why then the year given as 554?

A description of the forced conversion of Jews is the incident involving bishop Avitus of Clermont. At Easter, a Jew wishing to convert to Christianity was accosted by a fellow Jew who poured rancid oil on him. The bishop managed to keep the people from attacking the Jews, but they destroyed the synagogue ten days later. Afterwards, the bishop gave the Jews an ultimatum: convert to Christianity or leave Clermont. A large group (‘more than 500’) converted at Pentecost; those who didn’t leeft for Marseille. (V.11)
— F.J.E. Boddens Hosang: "Establishing Boundaries. Christian-Jewish Relations in Early Council Texts and the Writings of Church Fathers", Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series 19, Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2010.

That can't be it, since the year of expulsion from Clermont is widely documented as being 576. Did anything else happen in 554?

Indeed, the Merovingian king Childebert I of Paris, not a clerical powerholder, and in another secular district, as evident from the map above, issued

Letter to clergy and people. Jews not allowed in street between Holy Thursday and Easter. Childebert, c. 554

As their mere presence would be an insult to pious Christians:

554 Childebert had piously decreed that they were not even to be allowed in the streets between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday. Indeed, it became usual throughout Europe that any Jew who was found abroad during this sacrosanct period was assaulted with stones, 'because they stoned Jesus'; and presumably as an extension of this the custom arose that the houses of the Jews were similarly stoned by the populace on Good Friday. This curious abuse can be traced in the Middle Ages in Spain, France, Italy, Sicily and the Byzantine Empire, continuing indeed in this part of the world until the nineteenth century.
— Cecil Roth: "European Jewry in the Dark Ages: A Revised Picture", Hebrew Union College Annual, Vol. 23, No. 2, Hebrew Union College Seventy-fifth Anniversary Publication 1875-1950 (1950-1951), pp. 151-169.

It takes a bit too much space on StackExchange to look into all the items in that infamous list of 109. For an example to look into more points, reddit has one attempt of debunking I'd like to refer to. Just with one caveat. I explicitly only refer to those incidents which are explained and contextualised there. For each item where reddit says: "probably never happened" I recommend reading it as 'redditor just didn't find it quickly on Google'

Two examples, also used here:

  • 1820 Bremen

1820 - Bremen - Expelled Most likely didn't happen

Well, unfortunately, that did happen as well. A process that began in 1820, targeting mostly those Jews that settled in the city under Napoleonic rules. Not all were really 'expelled', some remained as 'protected Jews' (Schutzjuden).
— Cf Jeanette Jakubowski: "Geschichte des jüdischen Friedhofs in Bremen", disserta Verlag, 2017. (example p 160). Also the (note the date) — Max Markreich: "Die Beziehungen der Juden zur Freien Hansestadt Bremen von 1065 bis 1848. Erweitert nach einem Vortrag in der Festsitzung des Vorstands und Gemeinderats der Israelitischen Gemeinde zu Bremen am Sonntag, 5. September 1926, anläßlich des 50 jährigen Synagogen-Jubiläums", Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, Jahrg. 71 (N. F. 35), H. 11/12 (November/Dezember 1927), pp. 444-461.

  • 1514 Strasbourg

Expelled Most likely didn't happen

Well, did it happen, then and there? Not as most would understand it. But one might also argue yes. Every day it happened, in fact, in 1514. As after a mass murder and expulsion long ago no Jews at all were allowed to even live in the city. They were allowed to enter, with a chaperone and marked with a yellow star. To stay for the day. Then at the sound of a signal from a horn ("Judenblos") at night, 2000 or 2100 depending on season, they had to leave again; or were expelled? (One especially important man managed to stay for 3 whole days. In 1515. A 'tradition' that was kept around until 1791 when "Friends of the Constitution" argued that that might be a bit of human rights violation, an invention the French then recently declared to be universal.

The assertion that the Talmudist Jochanan ben Aaron Luria, who led a yeshiva in Alsace in the 1470s, was also allowed to live and teach in Strasbourg at the end of the 15th century is absurd. On the other hand, the Jew Siesmann (probably identical with the influential Süßmann from Upper Alsace) came to Strasbourg with an imperial escort in 1515. As in olden times, he was provided with a "servant", but after three days Süßmann also had to leave the city.
— Gerd Mentgen: "Studien zur Geschichte der Juden im mittelalterlichen Elsaß", Verlag Hahnsehe Buchhandlung: Hannover, 1995.

In Alsace alone, the number of expulsions (and recalls) of Jews out of cities (and back in) is easily approaching the '109' number. If we really concentrate on country level expulsions, like France, England, Spain Portugal, the numbers are of course different. But as the list-makers can't be bothered to care, focusing on cities most of the time, that number also has been looked into a few times. Most notably in one attempt to distill the data available in the 36 volume Encyclopedia Judaica for
— Warren Anderson, Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama: "Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks: 1100-1800", GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 13-06, 2013.

For Europe, using even a restricted set of definitions, between 1200 and 1800 this is visualised as

enter image description here

Data on Persecutions
There are 1,366 persecutions in our full database: 785 expulsions and 614 pogroms.
We have omitted all instances of persecution that cannot be dated. But we have included the cities in question in the sample if they had a documented Jewish population. The direction of this measurement error biases our coefficients downwards.
For example, Bonn is in our database as it had a Jewish community prior to 1100. This community was expelled and massacred in 1348 but is recorded as having returned to the city by 1381. There was also an expulsion in the fifteenth century that we omit because it is not dated.

So, what does this list say?

It is really a good mirror.

It proves not much more than that antisemitism is an old phenomenon, and that history, rationality and logic has not much to do with it. That indeed these qualities are also quite alien to the list makers, trying to justify their hate, they produce just enough rope for judging their own capacities…

Q Have Jews been kicked out of countries 109 times?

The actual number of '109' is a bogus internet rumour. If lists are found that actually state the antisemitic events that should make up this list, it is a curious conglomerate of events, not always telling even the basic facts right. If one just takes the incomplete list Wikipedia makes for Expulsions and Exoduses of Jews, we see that it's a number approaching easily the '109' marker. And exceeds it. The timeline of antisemitism on Wikipedia, just for the pre-modern era, printed to default settings is 54 A4 pages long, with extra pages of lists for each 19th, 20th and 21st century. The actual number of 109 proves nothing else than those using it copying it without verification from bogus internet sources of hate.

More instructive it is to answer the very next question on the handed out pamphlet:

"Is this anti semetism???" (sic!)

Without a shred of a doubt, it is!

Sources to read instead of this pamphlet:
— Albert S. Lindemann & Richard S. Levy: "Antisemitism: A History", Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 2010.
— Phyllis Goldstein: "A Convenient Hatred: The History of Antisemitism", Facing History: Brookline, 2012.

| improve this answer | |

According to the ADL, the likely source of the number is an Australian antisemitic website.

The source in question is likely this page on the antisemitic website Bible Believers, which in turn uses the antisemitic sunray22b.net as source (the page is currently offline). The most recent version circularly uses the Bible Believers page as source, but also has legitimate sources.

A cursory reading of the list will show that it contains not only countries but also cities, and that a high number of cases are marked as "unconfirmed". sunray22b.net also notes that it is an incomplete list.

Given the above, I think it's fair to say that the exact 109 number circulated by antisemites is highly questionable. On the other hand, Jews have been persecuted and expulsed to a high degree throughout history because of antisemitic ideologies.

| improve this answer | |
  • You do not understand. The leaflet is an unsourced antisemitic pamphlet bbelievers is the source for the meat in using that number, in giving specifics, still antisemitic. Numbers such as these (incl "at time or another, all countries…") circulate. What bothers me is how we should check such a list: numbers vary, a list of 109 places in this case will not please adhSE readers allergic to >2min reads here. Facts like 'the locations'/'dates' usually check out. What we need is a complete analysis of motivations, as the list compiles guilt-reversal for prior antijudaism/antisemitism. – LangLаngС Mar 1 at 16:41
  • The sunray22b eg is a bit lazy. The Clermont issue for example is easily digged into: not in "France", but bishop Cautinus invovled in that. What's more, Childebert of Paris declaring mere presence of Jews an insult to pious Christians, quasi as state reason, the same year… The list is sloppy without end, doubling entries and using pogroms as justification for pogroms? Odium se ipse alet? – LangLаngС Mar 1 at 16:47
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    @LаngLаngС I largely agree that analyzing motivations would be more useful, and that the question about the specific 109 cases isn't that interesting. But skeptics.SE and this question specifically don't seem like the right place for analyzing antisemitic thought processes. I went as far as I thought appropriate in rejecting the guilt-reversal in my last sentence. I do think that showing that antisemites use legitimate sources and facts which they then twist and distort to fit their ideology may have some value. – tim Mar 1 at 16:48
  • Yup. That's a real poblem here. According to the rules as I read them, we do not allow ourselves to destroy that pamphlet and reveal those who are using it, although that can be done, but the tools needed aren't approved here and the tools available make a too long answer? But unless someone has a better idea for our format, this might indeed need a detour into basic argument pattern for this: 'number can be even much higher, if using 'location' instead of 'country', but that doesn't prove anything the pamphlet wants to achieve?' (Have you found a quote for this non sequitur logical gap?) – LangLаngС Mar 1 at 16:59
  • Am a bit lost with this ,expecting audience preferences, site rules etc. But how should we tackle this: 1, the number given 109 is 'too low* for "places" 2. the 'debunking' attempts fixate on their insufficient historical prowess abilities to show the people 'lying' — but the lie is not in 'those events', or the sheer number of them3. Just showing that the info is from a poisoned well isn't enough for a SkepticsSe answer. Any ideas? – LangLаngС Mar 2 at 18:29

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