Anti-Semitism is ideologically motivated hostility toward Jews, Jewish individuals or Jewish culture as Jews. Different sources offer a number of definitions of the term. For example, Charles Glock and Rodney Stark define anti-Semitism as:
"The hatred and persecution of Jews as a group; not the hatred of persons who happen to be Jews, but rather the hatred of persons because they are Jews." [Christian Beliefs & Anti-Semitism]

David Berger, professor of history at Brooklyn College, writes that:
"Essentially, anti-Semitism means either of the following: (1) hostility to Jews as a group which results from no legitimate cause or greatly exceeds any reasonable, ethical response to genuine provocation; or (2) a pejorative perception of Jewish physical or moral traits which is either utterly groundless or a result of irrational generalization and exaggeration"

Anti-Semitism may be considered distinct from anti-Zionism. However, some forms of anti-Zionism may have anti-Semitic elements.

Table of contents
1 Etymology and usage
2 Roots of anti-Semitism
3 Early forms of anti-Semitism
4 Anti-Judaism originated from the New Testament
5 Anti-Semitism in the Koran
6 Medieval anti-Semitism, blood libels, the Black Death, and the Crusades
7 The Expulsion from England, France, Spain, Germany, and Spain
8 The Chmielnicki Massacres
9 Anti-Judaism and Reformation (incl. Martin Luther, Ghettoes, etc.)
10 The Enlightenment and the rise of racial anti-Semitism
11 The Pale of Settlement, pogroms, and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion
12 Dreyfus and the New Anti-Semitism
13 The Holocaust
14 Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism
15 Modern anti-Semitism in America and Western Europe
16 Anti-Semitism in Poland
17 Anti-Semitism in Russia and the Soviet Union
18 Anti-Semitism and Islam
19 Anti-Semitism in the Arab World
20 Holocaust revisionism
21 Disputes over modern manifestations of anti-Semitism
22 Organizations dedicated to combatting anti-Semitism
23 References
24 External links

Etymology and usage

Wilhelm Marr is credited with coining the German word Antisemitismus in 1873, at a time when racial science was fashionable in Germany but religious hatred wasn't. So far as can be ascertained, the word was first printed in 1880. In that year Marr published "Zwanglose Antisemitische Hefte," and Wilhelm Scherer used the term "Antisemiten" in the "Neue Freie Presse" of January. The related word semitism was coined around 1885.

Roots of anti-Semitism

There have been a number of motivating factors that spurred anti-Semitism, including social, economic, national, political, racial, and religious factors and any number of combinations of the above. In the twentieth century, the most visible forms of anti-Semitism were:

  • Racist anti-Semitism, the kind of xenophoby. Some people perceive Jews as people of a racially distinct origin from other peoples, and claim that discrimination on the basis of such distinctness is valid.
  • Religious anti-Judaism. Like other religions, Judaism has faced discrimination and violence from people of competing faiths and in countries that practice state atheism. Unlike anti-Semitism in general, this form of hatred is directed at the religion itself, and so does not affect those of Jewish ancestry who have converted to another religion. Nevertheless, there have been instances, such as in Spain during the Inquisition, in which Jews who had converted were suspected of practicing Judaism in secret.

Dennis Prager believes that the root cause of anti-Semitism is that Jews are socially and culturally different from the societies that they live in; in most eras Jews have not let themselves become assimilated into the majority culture. This led to belief that the Jews believed themselves superior to others, resulting in hatred towards Jews. Such phenomenon existed in ancient Egypt, ancient Persia, and in the ancient Roman Empire. While other conquered peoples assimilated and joined the religion of the majority, Jews did not.

In consequence of their alien status, Jews were often excluded socially and politically from the societies in which they lived, or alternately, were forced to enter professions that were considered socially inferior (tax- and rent-collectors, money-lenders, etc.) Over time, these professions engendered animosity among the people who came into contact with Jews--peasants, who were forced to pay their taxes to Jews could personify Jews as the people taking their earnings, while remaining loyal to the lords on whose behalf the Jews worked.

Early forms of anti-Semitism

Disdain of Jews can be traced back to the Graeco-Roman period and the rise of Hellenistic culture. Most Jews rejected efforts to assimilate them into the dominant Greek (and later Roman) culture, and their religious practices, which conflicted with established norms, were perceived as being backward and primitive. Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, for example, writes disparagingly of many real and imagined practices of the Jews, while there are numerous accounts of circumcision being described as barbarous.

Furthermore, throughout the Diaspora, Jews tended to live in separate communities, in which they could practice their religion. This led to charges of elitism, as appear in the writings of Cicero. As an ethnic minority, Jews were also dependent on the goodwill of the ruling imperial power, though this was considered irksome to the indigenous population, which regarded any vestiges of autonomy among the local Jewish communities as reminders of their subject status to a foreign empire. Nevertheless, this did not always mean that opposition to Jewish involvement in local affairs was anti-Semitic. In 411 A.D. an Egyptian mob destroyed the Jewish temple at Elephantine in Egypt, but many historians argue that this was provoked by anti-Persian sentiment, rather than by anti-Semitism per se--the Jews, who were protected by the imperial power, were perceived as being its representatives.

The enormous and influential Jewish community in the ancient Egyptian port city of Alexandria saw manifestations of an unusual brand of anti-Semitism in which the local pagan populace rejected the biblical narrative of the Exodus as being anti-Egyptian. In response, a number of works were produced to provide an "Egyptian version" of what "really happened": the Jews were a group of sickly lepers that was expelled from Egypt. This was also used to account for Jewish practices--they were so sickly that they could not even wander in the desert for more than six days at a time, requiring a seventh day to rest, hence the origin of the Sabbath. It was these charges that led to Philo's apologetic account of Judaism and Jewish history, which was so influential in the development of early church doctrine.

Judaic traditions extend at least a thousand years BCE (before the common era), and are the historical predecessor for the religions of Christianity and Islam, both of whom hold some Judaic traditions and texts as sacred, though differ in aspects that are central to each distinct branch of religion.

Hence Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, each took different course in terms of beliefs, as well as traditional customs; each creating a separate and distinct culture, from the parent Judaism. Those who held to traditional Judaic belief were considered "deniers" of the newer beliefs and traditions, in much the same way that every religion considers people of other religions to be denying the truth.

While many more subtle manifestations of Church anti-Semitism can be traced to anti-Jewish sentiment in Egypt, these more blatant early accusations of Theological anti-Semitism has been particularly prevalent in Christianity. Until 1965, for instance, the Catholic Church preached that "the wicked Jews", as a people, were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. This doctrine was repudiated as part of Vatican II. A small number of Protestant sects still teach it. A number of Christian preachers, particularly in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, additionally taught that religious Jews choose to follow a faith that they actually know is false out of a desire to offend God. Christian theological anti-Semitism was created by the New Testament's replacement theology, or supersessionism, which taught that with the coming of Jesus a new covenant has rendered obsolete and has superseded the religion of Judaism. anti-Egyptian sentiment and the rejection of the Exodus mythology were not coopted by the Church since they countered Christian doctrine.

Anti-Judaism originated from the New Testament

Christian theological anti-Judaism was originated in the New Testament's replacement theology, or supersessionism, which taught that with the coming of Jesus a new covenant has rendered obsolete and has superseded the religion of Judaism. It was believed that "the wicked Jews", as a people, were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. A number of Christian preachers, particularly in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, additionally taught that religious Jews choose to follow a faith that they actually know is false out of a desire to offend God.

The Catholic Church followed the theology until 1965. This doctrine was repudiated as part of Vatican II. A small number of Protestant sects still teach it.

Anti-Semitism in the Koran

See Islam and anti-Semitism

Medieval anti-Semitism, blood libels, the Black Death, and the Crusades

From around the 12th century through the 20th there were Christians who believed that some (or all) Jews possessed magical powers; some believed that they had gained these magical powers from making a deal with the devil.

This was also often accompanied by beliefs that Jewish religious practice entailed devil worship, or "Satanic" actions, such as drinking the blood of Christian children in mockery of the Christian Eucharist; this belief is known as the blood libel (the history of which is described in more detail in that article). Jews were also falsely accused of torturing consecrated host wafers in a re-enactment of the Crucifixion; this accusation was known as host desecration.

The Expulsion from England, France, Spain, Germany, and Spain

(to be written)

The Chmielnicki Massacres

See Bohdan Chmielnicki

Anti-Judaism and Reformation (incl. Martin Luther, Ghettoes, etc.)

Main article: Christianity and anti-Semitism (to be written)

The Enlightenment and the rise of racial anti-Semitism

Racial anti-Semitism, the most modern form of anti-Semitism, is a type of racism mixed with religious persecution. Racial anti-Semites believe erroneously that the Jewish people are a distinct race. They also believe that Jews are inherently inferior to people of other races.

Modern European anti-Semitism has its origin in the ethnological theory that the Jewish people are a sub-group of Semitic peoples; Semitic people were thought by many Europeans to be entirely different from the Aryan, or Indo-European, populations, and that they can never be amalgamated with them. In this view, Jews are not opposed on account of their religion, but on account of their supposed racial characteristics. As such are mentioned: greed, a special aptitude for money-making, aversion to hard work, clannishness and obtrusiveness, lack of social tact, and especially of patriotism.

The Pale of Settlement, pogroms, and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

One of the most damaging anti-Semitic tractates published is the infamous Russian literary hoax, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

See Pale of Settlement, Pogrom

Dreyfus and the New Anti-Semitism

See Alfred Dreyfus, Dreyfus affair

The Holocaust

Holocaust, Warsaw Ghetto, An Anti-semite that oppose the holocaust Protest of Zofia Kossak-Szczucka etc...

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism

Main article: Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism

Modern anti-Semitism in America and Western Europe

Passion plays, dramatic stagings representing the trial and death of Jesus, have been accused by some of being used in some Christian communities to arouse hatred of local Jews; the plays usually depict the entire Jewish people as condemning Jesus to crucifixion and being collectively guilty of deicide, murdering God. (Some critics have compared Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ to these kinds of passion plays, but this characterization is hotly disputed). There is a widely held opinion that an accurate reading of the new testement by its very message inspires a certain amount of anti-semitism in the reader. Christ clearly rejected many aspects of Judaism, and even today is viewed in a less than favorable light by Jews as a false messiah.

  • In the years leading up to America's entry into World War II, Father Charles Coughlin, an anti-Semitic radio preacher, as well as many other prominent public figures, condemned "the Jews" because they were leading America into war. While most Jews in America supported the interventionist camp, not all did.
  • Jews were condemned by populist politicians for their left-wing politics at the turn of the century.
  • Jews are condemned for their high level of participation in the slave trade.

Anti-Semitism in Poland

Since the reign of the Casimir the Great, 1343, Poland was the safe asylum for Jews. Jewish population of Poland played very important role, their position was only comparable with the status of nobles. After partitions of Poland, and the final defeat of January Uprising 1864 the ways of Polish nationalists and Jews began to split.

Main article: History of the Jews in Poland See also Jacob Frank.

Anti-Semitism in Russia and the Soviet Union

Main article: History of the Jews in Russia and Soviet Union

Anti-Semitism and Islam

Main article:
Islam and anti-Semitism

Islam in and of itself is not Anti-Semitic, although the Qur'an criticizes both the Hebrew Bible for allegedly being corrupted, and the Jews for allegedly not adhering to what was revealed to Moses. Islam is similar to Judaism, in that both see themselves as both spiritual descendants of Abraham and followers of the same prophets. Islamic scholars are quick to point out that Islam encourages toleration and respect for Jews, as well as Christians, as both are considered "People of the Book", meaning they share common scriptures and prophets. Many people have produced hadith concerning Muhammad that showed how he did business with the Jewish tribes of his city and how he ordered Muslims to share food with their Jewish neighbors.

Historically there has not been as much anti-Semitism in Muslim lands as in Christian lands, up until the Twentieth century. While many Jews were persecuted in Europe, they enjoyed relative political and religious freedom in Islamic societies. Most of Spain was governed by Muslims throughout the Middle Ages (and parts remained under Muslim control until the completion of the Reconquista in 1492); during that time, Jewish citizens had rights nearly equal to those of American citizens today. Jewish historians refer to that time period as "The Golden Age of Judaism."

Jews, and their Rabbis, gained prominence in the courts of Baghdad, Cairo, and Istanbul, performing the duties of palace physicians, finance officers, and even government ministers known as "viziers.' As a minority, Jews exempt from Islamic law (Sharia), and the governments allowed them a degree of self-rule by appointing Jewish leaders to implement Jewish law for their communities. Important synagogues dot the major cities of the Middle East, and relations between Muslims and Jews have been relatively calm for over a thousand years.

Anti-Semitism in the Muslim world increaseed greatly in the twentieth century. This can be traced to various sources; some of it can be traced to long-held prejudices and historical misunderstandings. The main reason for the rise of anti-Semitism in the past century may be due to the poor state of relations between Israel, a Jewish-majority state, and the isolation enforced by the neighboring Arab countries. Criticism of Israeli policy has resulting in a marked rise in distrust of Jews and anti-Semitism at the popular level.

Anti-Semitism in the Arab World

Main article: Arabs and anti-Semitism

Holocaust revisionism

Holocaust revisionists often claim that "the Jews" or a "Zionist conspiracy" is responsible for the exaggeration or wholesale fabrication of the events of the Holocaust. Critics of such revisionism point to an overwhelming amount of physical and historical evidence that supports the mainstream historical view of the Holocaust. It should be noted that most academics also agree that there is no creditable evidence for any such conspiracy.

Disputes over modern manifestations of anti-Semitism

In recent years some Jewish groups have noticed what they are describing as "the new anti-Semitism". The old term is used to describe new forms of anti-Semitism that had not previously existed. Concern exists over anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the anti-globalization movement, among many in the political left-wing, and among those who consider themselves anti-colonialist.

A recent survey in Europe entitled Iraq and Peace in the World revealed that sixty percent of Europeans most often selected Israel as the nation that “presents a threat to peace in the world”. Palestine was not listed (as one of the 14 countries together with the EU from which a selection was to be made) because, the EU says, it is not a country.[1] Jewish groups expressed shock and regret at these results, likening them to views that were held by Germans before the Holocaust. Rabbi Marvin Hier, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, stated that these “shocking results defy logic and [are] a racist flight of fancy that only shows that anti-Semitism is deeply embedded within European society.” The poll did not provide respondents the option of selecting any nation involved in the Middle East conflict other than Israel and 78 (pdf page 82)

The list of 15 countries that might be a threat to peace was put together by a low-level EU unit in concert with Belgian members of EOS Gallup Europe. It was not cleared by foreign policy experts working for Chris Patten, the external relations commissioner. [1]

The president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi stated that the poll results “point to the continued existence of a bias that must be condemned out of hand. To the extent that this may indicate a deeper, more general prejudice against the Jewish world, our repugnance is even more radical.” Prodi further said that the poll “ "reflected neither the ideas nor the policies of the commission,"; and discounted public opinion as a factor in the formation of European policy.” [1]

Others, however, deny that criticism of Israel necessarily represents anti-Semitism. According to this view, when criticism of Israel is purely political in nature, it does not condemn the Jews. According to these Israel critics, the overreaction of some Jewish groups means the dilution and abuse of the term anti-Semitism, that should be attributed only to hatred of Jews and dangerous and criminal acts, not to opinions about a nation's politics. This is a serious problem: the possibility exists that by labelling any critics on Israel as anti-Semitic, these people may indeed develop an anti-Semitic view in respone.

This view is at odds with the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) report on anti-Semitism in Europe commissioned by the EU. The EUMC tasked Berlin's Center for Research on Anti-Semitism (CRA) with researching and writing the report.

Organizations dedicated to combatting anti-Semitism

Anti-Defamation League


External links