Antisemitic boycotts

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Antisemitic boycotts are organized boycotts directed against Jewish people to exclude them economic, political or cultural life.[1]


The Age of Enlightenment brought with it notions of legal equality in Europe that led to Jewish citizens being granted equal rights, first in France, following the French Revolution and then over the course of the Nineteenth Century, across Western Europe. This process was opposed by antisemites, often led by extremist Christian religious groups and movements, who regarded Jewish people as morally inferior or were threatened by their supposed acumen. There were a variety of movements calling for boycotts of Jews and discrimination based round universities (often in the form of Jewish educational quotas and Numerus clausus) was particularly prevalent. In almost every country in Europe, boycotts ultimately led to the revocation of civil rights, murder and systematic extermination.

In Hungary, agitation for boycotts began in 1867 when Jews received equal rights. From the 1880s there were calls in some of the Catholic press for Jews to be boycotted.[2] The government passed laws limiting Jewish economic activity from 1938 onwards.[3]

In Romania, the constitution was amended in 1866 to explicitly exclude Jews from ever receiving citizenship. In 1893, Jews were excluded from the use of publicly funded primary schools, in 1898 this was extended to Secondary Schools and Universities. Until 1904 Jewish testimony could not be used as evidence against a Christian. Romanian Jews were granted citizenship in 1923, however in 1937 Jews were removed from professional organizations and steps begun to remove them from citizenship. By 1940 Jews were non-citizens and inter-marriage was banned.

In Poland, the antisemitic magazine Rola campaigned for Jewish businesses to be boycotted from 1885.[4] The head of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Hlond called for a boycott of Jews in the 1930s,[5] and the Endeks (founded by Roman Dmowski) organized boycotts of Jewish businesses across the country.[6] The government stopped hiring Jews and promoted a boycott of Jewish businesses from 1935.[7] Kosher slaughter was banned in Poland in 1936 (in Germany it was banned from 1930).[8]

In Russia the government sought to compel Jews to leave the country or to convert and towards that end in 1880 they were forbidden from purchasing land or taking mortgages (see the May Laws). Quotas limited Jewish access to educational institutions and from 1892 they were banned from participation in local elections and could hold no more than 10% of the shares in businesses.[9]

Nazi Stormtroopers outside Israel's Department Store in Berlin, holding signs saying: "Germans! Defend yourselves! Don't buy from Jews"

In 19th Century Austria, Karl Lueger, an antisemitic mayor of Vienna who inspired Hitler, campaigned for a boycott of Jewish Businesses. Jews were only allowed to live in Vienna from 1840. An organization called the Antisemitenbund campaigned against Jewish civil rights since 1919. Austrian campaigns tended to heighten around Christmas and became effective from 1932.[10]

The USSR, in addition to boycotting Israel, Rabbinical training and the teaching of Hebrew were banned. No Yiddish books were printed after 1948. Most synagogues were seized by the state and in many cases, there was a denial that the Nazis had targeted Jews. Publication of Hebrew Bibles was banned.[11] In the 1950s Krukhshev established quotas for Jews in Soviet Universities and the civil service.[12] although these were frequently not publicized, quotas for Jews were reported until the fall of the USSR.

In Ireland, Father John Creagh in Limerick campaigned against the town's small Jewish community in 1904, leading to a boycott of Jewish businesses and the departure of the Jewish population from the town.[13]

In the Ukraine, there was a boycott of Jews in Galicia, alleging Jewish support for Poland, while Poles in Galicia boycotted Jews for supporting Ukraine.[1] After the First World War the decline in Liberal values led to many boycotts being adopted. In 1921, the German student union, the Deutschen Hochschulring, barred Jews from membership. Since the bar was racial, it included Jews who had converted to Christianity.[14] The bar was challenged by the government leading to a referendum in which 76% of students voted for the exclusion.[14]

The Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in Germany took place on 1 April 1933 as a response to the Jewish boycott of German goods which had started soon after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor on 30 January 1933.[15]

It was the first of many measures against the Jews of Germany, which ultimately culminated in the "Final Solution". It was a state-managed campaign of ever-increasing harassment, arrests, systematic pillaging, forced transfer of ownership to Nazi party activists (managed by the Chamber of Commerce), and ultimately murder of owners defined as "Jews". In Berlin alone, there were 50,000 Jewish owned businesses.[16] By 1945 they all had Aryan owners.

In Palestine, the Arab leadership organized boycotts of Jewish businesses from 1929 onwards, with violence often directed at Arabs who did business with Jews.[17] The boycotts were publicized through anti-Semitic language and were accompanied by riots that the British authorities described as "clearly anti-Jewish."[18]

In Quebec, French-Canadian nationalists organized boycotts of Jews in the thirties.[19]

In the USA, Nazi supporters, such as Father Charles Coughlin (an Irish immigrant), agitated for a boycott of Jewish businesses. Coughlin's radio show attracted tens of millions of listeners and his supporters organized "Buy Christian" campaigns and attacked Jews.[20] Ivy League Universities restricted the numbers of Jews allowed admission.[21]

In the 2000s, the BDS movement, which advocates for a total boycott of Israeli products, was regarded by some prominent individuals, organizations (such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center), and scholars as antisemitic and driven by antisemitism.[22][23][24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Anti-Semitism: Anti-Jewish Boycotts". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Szabó, Miloslav. ""Because words are not deeds." Antisemitic Practice and Nationality Policies in Upper Hungary around 1900". Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  3. ^ L. Braham, Randolph. "The Christian Churches of Hungary and the Holocaust" (PDF). Yad Vashem. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Moszyński, Maciej. ""A quarter of a century of struggle" of the Rola Weekly. "The great alliance" against the Jews.". Fondazione Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "Chronology of Jewish Persecution: 1936". Jewish Virtual Library. 
  6. ^ Cang, Joel (1939). "The Opposition Parties in Poland and Their Attitude towards the Jews and the Jewish Question". Jewish Social Studies 1 (2): 241–256. 
  7. ^ "Here and Now: The Vision of the Jewish Labor Bund in Interwar Poland". Institute for Jewish Research. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Bauer, Yehuda (1974). "Prelude of the Holocaust". My Brother's Keeper – A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America. [...] Polish laws against ritual slaughter (shehita) enacted in April 1936 and, in a final and drastic form, in March 1939. 
  9. ^ "MAY LAWS". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  10. ^ From Prejudice to Persecution: A History of Austrian Anti-Semitism By Bruce F. Pauley page 201 North Carolina 1992
  11. ^
  12. ^ The Soviet Jewish Americans by Annelise Orleck, pp 40, Brandeis 1999
  13. ^ Jews in Twentieth Century Ireland by Dermot Keogh, Chapter 2
  14. ^ a b Rubenstein, Richard L.; Roth, John K. (2003). "5. Rational Antisemitism". Approaches to Auschwitz: the Holocaust and its legacy (2nd ed.). Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 123–124. ISBN 978-0664223533. 
  15. ^ Berel Lang, Philosophical Witnessing: The Holocaust as Presence, p.132
  16. ^ Kreutzmüller, Christoph (2012). Final Sale – The Destruction of Jewish Owned Businesses in Nazi Berlin 1930–1945. Metropol-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-86331-080-6. 
  17. ^ Feiler, Gil (1998). From Boycott to Economic Cooperation: The Political Economy of the Arab Boycott of Israel. Routledge. ISBN 978-0714644233. 
  18. ^ Julius, Anthony (25 February 2010). Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England (illustrated, reprint ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 481. ISBN 9780199297054. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  19. ^ Abella, Irving; Bialystok, Franklin (1996). "Canada: Before the Holocaust". In Wyman, David S.; Rosenzveig, Charles H. The World Reacts to the Holocaust. The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 751–753. ISBN 978-0801849695. 
  20. ^ "CHARLES E. COUGHLIN". USHMM. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  21. ^ Betty Friedan and the Making of The Feminine Mystique: The American Left By Daniel Horowitz page 25 1998, Jerome Karabel, The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
  22. ^ "Simon Wiesenthal Center Report: BDS 'a Thinly-Veiled, Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic "Poison Pill."' The Algemeiner. 19 March 2013. 7 June 2013.
  23. ^ "Anti-Israel groups push product, performers boycott." USA Today. 17 March 2013. 8 June 2013.
  24. ^ "Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Resource Page." NGO Monitor. 14 July 2011. 1 June 2013.