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Philo-Semitism (also spelled philosemitism) or Judeophilia is an interest in, respect for, and appreciation of the Jewish people, their historical significance, and the positive impacts of Judaism on the world, particularly on the part of a gentile. It is distinct from but embodied in Christian Zionism.
Within the Jewish community philo-Semitism includes the significance of Jewish culture and the love of everything Jewish.
The concept of philo-Semitism is not new, avowed by such thinkers as 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who described himself as a "anti-anti-Semite". Enjoying a recent surge, it is characterized by an interest in Jewish culture and history and manifested in increasing university enrollment by non-Jews in courses such as Judaism, Hebrew, and Jewish languages.
Philo-Semitism has been met by a mixed response among the Jewish community. Some warmly welcome it and argue it must lead Jews to reconsider their identity. Others,[who?] citing the special status it implicitly gives to Jews even as its apparent opposite anti-Semitism does, reject it as running contrary to the Zionist goal of making Jewry "a nation among nations."
Philo-Semitism is an expression of the larger phenomenon of Allophilia, admiration of foreign cultures as embodied in the more widely known Anglophilia and Francophilia. Harvard scholar and author of the controversial Hitler's Willing Executioners Daniel Goldhagen argues philo-semites are often closet anti-Semites who feel a need to talk about Jews; in an era where anti-Semitism is no longer socially acceptable they make exaggerated positive statements instead. His detractor Norman Finkelstein agrees.
The rise of philo-Semitism has also prompted some to reconsider Jewish history, who argue that while anti-Semitism must be acknowledged it is wrong to reduce the history of the Jewish people to one merely of suffering (as has been fostered by well-meaning gentile philo-Semites).
- The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 4 by Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley
- The Forward, (Editorial, 10 November 2000)
- Alan Edelstein. An Unacknowledged Harmony: Philo-Semitism and the Survival of European Jewry. (Contributions in Ethnic Studies). ISBN 0-313-22754-3
- David S. Katz. Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England, 1603-1655. ISBN 0-19-821885-0
- Hilary L. Rubinstein & William D. Rubinstein. Philosemitism: Admiration and Support in the English-Speaking World for Jews, 1840-1939. (Studies in Modern History). ISBN 0-312-22205-X
- Frank Stern. The Whitewashing of the Yellow Badge: Antisemitism and Philosemitism in Postwar Germany. (Studies in Antisemitism) ISBN 0-08-040653-X
- Marion Mushkat. Philo-Semitic and Anti-Jewish Attitudes in Post-Holocaust Poland. (Symposium Series, Vol 33). ISBN 0-7734-9176-7
- Frank Stern. Im Anfang war Auschwitz : Antisemitismus und Philosemitismus im deutschen Nachkrieg. ISBN 3-88350-459-9
- Gertrude Himmelfarb. The People of the Book: Philosemitism in England, From Cromwell to Churchill. ISBN 1-59403-570-9
- Washington Post, January 8, 2006; page A01.
- "On Philo-Semitism",[dead link] by Jacques Berlinerblau, Georgetown University's Program for Jewish Civilization.