The Hebrew Bible tends to regard idol worship as the sin par excellence. To Scott Shay, there is an underlying connection between hatred of Jews and Judaism’s rejection of the idolatrous worldview, which, he argues, is not limited to ancient paganism:
Idolatry is the process of attributing superior and inexplicable power and authority to . . . people, animals, and natural processes. Since finite beings are limited by nature, . . . idolatry is by definition a falsehood. Yet this falsehood is the basis for much human injustice, just as the Bible explains. From Pharaoh in Egypt to Sennacherib in Assyria, idolaters built temples, ran pageants, and wrote poems and epics to extol their “supernatural” power and authority. These lies justified their selfish oppression of the masses and their greedy conquests of other peoples. Idolatry underpins all genuinely malevolent power. . . .
Anti-Semitism is the projection of idolatry onto Jews. Anti-Semites are not people who criticize or debate specific Jewish viewpoints or communal decisions in a spirit of mutual respect. They are people who themselves harbor projects of domination and exploitation, but who . . . project their own malevolent intentions onto Jews. In Charlottesville, anti-Semitic marchers who genuinely seek white supremacy shouted, “Jews won’t replace us.” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who wished to bring the entire world under Islamist control, regularly accused the Jews of seeking world domination. Hitler railed against a Jewish conspiracy to destroy Germany, when he wanted to destroy the Jews! . . .
It is not the Jews’ success, nor their actual power that is the source of anti-Semitism. . . . Rather, it is the Jews’ historic connection with monotheism that has made them the central target of this projected idolatry. This has been true even when many Jews have been neither religious nor conversant with the texts [of their faith]. By accusing Jews of malevolent and demonic control over organs of power (media, Congress, banks, etc.), true idolaters (whatever their specific ideology) project their own idolatry onto the Jews and thereby maintain their own delusions.