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Antisemitism (also spelled anti-Semitism or anti-semitism) is prejudice against, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as an ethnic, religious, or racial group. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is widely considered to be a form of racism.
The root word Semite gives the false impression that antisemitism is directed against all Semitic people. However, the compound word antisemite was popularized in Germany in 1879 as a scientific-sounding term for Judenhass (Jew-hatred), and that has been its common use since then.
Antisemitism may be manifested in many ways, ranging from expressions of hatred of or discrimination against individual Jews to organized violent attacks by mobs, state police, or even military attacks on entire Jewish communities. Although the term did not come into common usage until the 19th century, it is now also applied to historic anti-Jewish incidents. Notable instances of persecution include the pogroms which preceded the First Crusade in 1096, the expulsion from England in 1290, the massacres of Spanish Jews in 1391, the persecutions of the Spanish Inquisition, the expulsion from Spain in 1492, the Cossack massacres in Ukraine of 1648–1657, various pogroms in Imperial Russia between 1821 and 1906, the 1894–1906 Dreyfus affair in France, the Holocaust in German-occupied Europe, official Soviet anti-Jewish policies and Arab and Muslim involvement in the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries.
- 1 Origin and usage in the context of xenophobia
- 2 Manifestations
- 3 History
- 4 Causes
- 5 Current situation
- 5.1 Asia
- 5.2 Europe
- 5.3 North America
- 5.4 South America
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Origin and usage in the context of xenophobia
The origin of "antisemitic" terminologies is found in the responses of Moritz Steinschneider to the views of Ernest Renan. As Alex Bein writes: "The compound anti-Semitism appears to have been used first by Steinschneider, who challenged Renan on account of his 'anti-Semitic prejudices' [i.e., his derogation of the "Semites" as a race]." Avner Falk similarly writes: 'The German word antisemitisch was first used in 1860 by the Austrian Jewish scholar Moritz Steinschneider (1816-1907) in the phrase antisemitische Vorurteile (antisemitic prejudices). Steinschneider used this phrase to characterise the French philosopher Ernest Renan's false ideas about how "Semitic races" were inferior to "Aryan races"'.
Pseudoscientific theories concerning race, civilization, and "progress" had become quite widespread in Europe in the second half of the 19th century, especially as Prussian nationalistic historian Heinrich von Treitschke did much to promote this form of racism. He coined the phrase "the Jews are our misfortune" which would later be widely used by Nazis. According to Avner Falk, Treitschke uses the term "Semitic" almost synonymously with "Jewish", in contrast to Renan's use of it to refer to a whole range of peoples, based generally on linguistic criteria.
In 1879 German journalist Wilhelm Marr published a pamphlet, Der Sieg des Judenthums über das Germanenthum. Vom nicht confessionellen Standpunkt aus betrachtet (The Victory of the Jewish Spirit over the Germanic Spirit. Observed from a non-religious perspective.) in which he used the word Semitismus interchangeably with the word Judentum to denote both "Jewry" (the Jews as a collective) and "jewishness" (the quality of being Jewish, or the Jewish spirit).
This use of Semitismus was followed by a coining of "Antisemitismus" which was used to indicate opposition to the Jews as a people and opposition to the Jewish spirit, which Marr interpreted as infiltrating German culture. His next pamphlet, Der Weg zum Siege des Germanenthums über das Judenthum (The Way to Victory of the Germanic Spirit over the Jewish Spirit, 1880), presents a development of Marr's ideas further and may present the first published use of the German word Antisemitismus, "antisemitism".
The pamphlet became very popular, and in the same year he founded the Antisemiten-Liga (League of Antisemites), apparently named to follow the "Anti-Kanzler-Liga" (Anti-Chancellor League). The league was the first German organization committed specifically to combating the alleged threat to Germany and German culture posed by the Jews and their influence, and advocating their forced removal from the country.
So far as can be ascertained, the word was first widely printed in 1881, when Marr published Zwanglose Antisemitische Hefte, and Wilhelm Scherer used the term Antisemiten in the January issue of Neue Freie Presse.
The Jewish Encyclopedia reported: ‘In February 1881, a correspondent of the "Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums" speaks of "Anti-Semitism" as a designation which recently came into use ("Allg. Zeit. d. Jud." 1881, p. 138). On 19 July 1882, the editor says, "This quite recent Anti-Semitism is hardly three years old."’
The related term "philosemitism" was coined around 1885.
Within common usage, antisemitism has an accepted meaning to describe prejudice against Jews specifically. This is despite the fact that there are speakers of other Semitic languages (e.g. Arabs, Ethiopians, or Assyrians) and the fact that not all Jews speak a Semitic language, making the term a misnomer. Occasionally, antisemitism has been used to refer to bigotry against people who speak other Semitic languages, but the validity of such use has been challenged.
The term may be spelled with or without a hyphen (antisemitism or anti-Semitism). Some scholars favor the unhyphenated form because, "If you use the hyphenated form, you consider the words 'Semitism', 'Semite', 'Semitic' as meaningful" whereas "in antisemitic parlance, 'Semites' really stands for Jews, just that." For example, Emil Fackenheim supported the unhyphenated spelling, in order to "[dispel] the notion that there is an entity 'Semitism' which 'anti-Semitism' opposes." Others endorsing an unhyphenated term for the same reason include Padraic O'Hare, professor of Religious and Theological Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack College; Yehuda Bauer, professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and James Carroll, historian and novelist. According to Carroll, who first cites O'Hare and Bauer on "the existence of something called 'Semitism'", "the hyphenated word thus reflects the bipolarity that is at the heart of the problem of antisemitism".
Though the general definition of antisemitism is hostility or prejudice against Jews, and, according to Olaf Blaschke, has become an "umbrella term for negative stereotypes about Jews", a number of authorities have developed more formal definitions.
Holocaust scholar and City University of New York professor Helen Fein defines it as "a persisting latent structure of hostile beliefs towards Jews as a collective manifested in individuals as attitudes, and in culture as myth, ideology, folklore and imagery, and in actions—social or legal discrimination, political mobilization against the Jews, and collective or state violence—which results in and/or is designed to distance, displace, or destroy Jews as Jews."
Elaborating on Fein's definition, Dietz Bering of the University of Cologne writes that, to antisemites, "Jews are not only partially but totally bad by nature, that is, their bad traits are incorrigible. Because of this bad nature: (1) Jews have to be seen not as individuals but as a collective. (2) Jews remain essentially alien in the surrounding societies. (3) Jews bring disaster on their 'host societies' or on the whole world, they are doing it secretly, therefore the anti-Semites feel obliged to unmask the conspiratorial, bad Jewish character."
For Sonja Weinberg, as distinct from economic and religious anti-Judaism, antisemitism in its modern form shows conceptual innovation, a resort to 'science' to defend itself, new functional forms and organisational differences. It was anti-liberal, racialist and nationalist. It promoted the myth that Jews conspired to 'judaise' the world; it served to consolidate social identity; it channeled dissatisfactions among victims of the capitalist system; and it was used as a conservative cultural code to fight emancipation and liberalism.
Bernard Lewis defines antisemitism as a special case of prejudice, hatred, or persecution directed against people who are in some way different from the rest. According to Lewis, antisemitism is marked by two distinct features: Jews are judged according to a standard different from that applied to others, and they are accused of "cosmic evil." Thus, "it is perfectly possible to hate and even to persecute Jews without necessarily being anti-Semitic" unless this hatred or persecution displays one of the two features specific to antisemitism.
There have been a number of efforts by international and governmental bodies to define antisemitism formally. The U.S. Department of State states that "while there is no universally accepted definition, there is a generally clear understanding of what the term encompasses." For the purposes of its 2005 Report on Global Anti-Semitism, the term was considered to mean "hatred toward Jews—individually and as a group—that can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity."
In 2005, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (now Fundamental Rights Agency), then an agency of the European Union, developed a more detailed working definition, which states: "Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities." It also adds that "such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity," but that "criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic." It provides contemporary examples of ways in which antisemitism may manifest itself, including: promoting the harming of Jews in the name of an ideology or religion; promoting negative stereotypes of Jews; holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of an individual Jewish person or group; denying the Holocaust or accusing Jews or Israel of exaggerating it; and accusing Jews of dual loyalty or a greater allegiance to Israel than their own country. It also lists ways in which attacking Israel could be antisemitic, and states that denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor, can be a manifestation of antisemitism—as can applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, or holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel. Late in 2013, the definition was removed from the website of the Fundamental Rights Agency. A spokesperson said that it had never been regarded as official and that the agency did not intend to develop its own definition.
Evolution of usage
In 1879, Wilhelm Marr founded the Antisemiten-Liga (Anti-Semitic League). Identification with antisemitism and as an antisemite was politically advantageous in Europe in the latter 19th century. For example, Karl Lueger, the popular mayor of fin de siècle Vienna, skillfully exploited antisemitism as a way of channeling public discontent to his political advantage. In its 1910 obituary of Lueger, The New York Times notes that Lueger was "Chairman of the Christian Social Union of the Parliament and of the Anti-Semitic Union of the Diet of Lower Austria. In 1895 A. C. Cuza organized the Alliance Anti-semitique Universelle in Bucharest. In the period before World War II, when animosity towards Jews was far more commonplace, it was not uncommon for a person, organization, or political party to self-identify as an antisemite or antisemitic.
Judeophobia is a variety of demonopathy with the distinction that it is not peculiar to particular races but is common to the whole of mankind.'...'Judeophobia is a psychic aberration. As a psychic aberration it is hereditary, and as a disease transmitted for two thousand years it is incurable.'... 'In this way have Judaism and Anti-Semitism passed for centuries through history as inseparable companions.'......'Having analyzed Judeophobia as an hereditary form of demonopathy, peculiar to the human race, and having represented Anti-Semitism as proceeding from an inherited aberration of the human mind, we must draw the important conclusion that we must give' up contending against these hostile impulses as we must against every other inherited predisposition. (translation from German)
In the aftermath of the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, German propaganda minister Goebbels announced: "The German people is anti-Semitic. It has no desire to have its rights restricted or to be provoked in the future by parasites of the Jewish race."
After the 1945 victory of the Allies over Nazi Germany, and particularly after the extent of the Nazi genocide of Jews became known, the term "anti-Semitism" acquired pejorative connotations. This marked a full circle shift in usage, from an era just decades earlier when "Jew" was used as a pejorative term. Yehuda Bauer wrote in 1984: "There are no anti-Semites in the world... Nobody says, 'I am anti-Semitic.' You cannot, after Hitler. The word has gone out of fashion."
Antisemitism manifests itself in a variety of ways. René König mentions social antisemitism, economic antisemitism, religious antisemitism, and political antisemitism as examples. König points out that these different forms demonstrate that the "origins of anti-Semitic prejudices are rooted in different historical periods." König asserts that differences in the chronology of different antisemitic prejudices and the irregular distribution of such prejudices over different segments of the population create "serious difficulties in the definition of the different kinds of anti-Semitism." These difficulties may contribute to the existence of different taxonomies that have been developed to categorize the forms of antisemitism. The forms identified are substantially the same; it is primarily the number of forms and their definitions that differ. Bernard Lazare identifies three forms of antisemitism: Christian antisemitism, economic antisemitism, and ethnologic antisemitism. William Brustein names four categories: religious, racial, economic and political. The Roman Catholic historian Edward Flannery distinguished four varieties of antisemitism:
- political and economic antisemitism, giving as examples Cicero and Charles Lindbergh;
- theological or religious antisemitism, sometimes known as anti-Judaism;
- nationalistic antisemitism, citing Voltaire and other Enlightenment thinkers, who attacked Jews for supposedly having certain characteristics, such as greed and arrogance, and for observing customs such as kashrut and Shabbat;
- and racial antisemitism, with its extreme form resulting in the Holocaust by the Nazis.
Louis Harap separates "economic antisemitism" and merges "political" and "nationalistic" antisemitism into "ideological antisemitism". Harap also adds a category of "social antisemitism".
- religious (Jew as Christ-killer),
- economic (Jew as banker, usurer, money-obsessed),
- social (Jew as social inferior, "pushy," vulgar, therefore excluded from personal contact),
- racist (Jews as an inferior "race"),
- ideological (Jews regarded as subversive or revolutionary),
- cultural (Jews regarded as undermining the moral and structural fiber of civilization).
Gustavo Perednik has argued that what he terms "Judeophobia" has a number of unique traits which set it apart from other forms of racism, including permanence, depth, obsessiveness, irrationality, endurance, ubiquity, and danger. He also wrote in his book Spain Derailed that "The Jews were accused by the nationalists of being the creators of Communism; by the Communists of ruling Capitalism. If they live in non-Jewish countries, they are accused of double-loyalties; if they live in the Jewish country, of being racists. When they spend their money, they are reproached for being ostentatious; when they don't spend their money, of being avaricious. They are called rootless cosmopolitans or hardened chauvinists. If they assimilate, they are accused of fifth-columnists, if they don't, of shutting themselves away."
Louis Harap defines cultural antisemitism as "that species of anti-Semitism that charges the Jews with corrupting a given culture and attempting to supplant or succeeding in supplanting the preferred culture with a uniform, crude, "Jewish" culture. Similarly, Eric Kandel characterizes cultural antisemitism as being based on the idea of "Jewishness" as a "religious or cultural tradition that is acquired through learning, through distinctive traditions and education." According to Kandel, this form of antisemitism views Jews as possessing "unattractive psychological and social characteristics that are acquired through acculturation." Niewyk and Nicosia characterize cultural antisemitism as focusing on and condemning "the Jews' aloofness from the societies in which they live." An important feature of cultural antisemitism is that it considers the negative attributes of Judaism to be redeemable by education or religious conversion.
Religious antisemitism, also known as anti-Judaism, is antipathy towards Jews because of their perceived religious beliefs. In theory, antisemitism and attacks against individual Jews would stop if Jews stopped practicing Judaism or changed their public faith, especially by conversion to the official or right religion. However, in some cases discrimination continues after conversion, as in the case of Christianized Marranos or Iberian Jews in the late 15th century and 16th century who were suspected of secretly practising Judaism or Jewish customs.
Although the origins of antisemitism are rooted in the Judeo-Christian conflict, religious antisemitism, other forms of antisemitism have developed in modern times. Frederick Schweitzer asserts that, "most scholars ignore the Christian foundation on which the modern antisemitic edifice rests and invoke political antisemitism, cultural antisemitism, racism or racial antisemitism, economic antisemitism and the like." William Nichols draws a distinction between religious antisemitism and modern antisemitism based on racial or ethnic grounds: "The dividing line was the possibility of effective conversion... a Jew ceased to be a Jew upon baptism." From the perspective of racial antisemitism, however, "... the assimilated Jew was still a Jew, even after baptism.... From the Enlightenment onward, it is no longer possible to draw clear lines of distinction between religious and racial forms of hostility towards Jews... Once Jews have been emancipated and secular thinking makes its appearance, without leaving behind the old Christian hostility towards Jews, the new term antisemitism becomes almost unavoidable, even before explicitly racist doctrines appear."
Linking Jews and money underpins the most damaging and lasting Antisemitic canards. Antisemites claim that Jews control the world finances, a theory promoted in the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and later repeated by Henry Ford and his Dearborn Independent. In the modern era, such myths continue to be spread in books such as The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews published by the Nation of Islam, and on the internet. Derek Penslar writes that there are two components to the financial canards:
- a) Jews are savages that "are temperamentally incapable of performing honest labor"
- b) Jews are "leaders of a financial cabal seeking world domination"
Abraham Foxman describes six facets of the financial canards:
- All Jews are wealthy
- Jews are stingy and greedy
- Powerful Jews control the business world
- Jewish religion emphasizes profit and materialism
- It is okay for Jews to cheat non-Jews
- Jews use their power to benefit "their own kind"
Gerald Krefetz summarizes the myth as "[Jews] control the banks, the money supply, the economy, and businesses—of the community, of the country, of the world". Krefetz gives, as illustrations, many slurs and proverbs (in several different languages) which suggest that Jews are stingy, or greedy, or miserly, or aggressive bargainers. During the nineteenth century, Jews were described as "scurrilous, stupid, and tight-fisted", but after the Jewish Emancipation and the rise of Jews to the middle- or upper-class in Europe were portrayed as "clever, devious, and manipulative financiers out to dominate [world finances]".
Léon Poliakov asserts that economic antisemitism is not a distinct form of antisemitism, but merely a manifestation of theologic antisemitism (because, without the theological causes of the economic antisemitism, there would be no economic antisemitism). In opposition to this view, Derek Penslar contends that in the modern era, the economic antisemitism is "distinct and nearly constant" but theological antisemitism is "often subdued".
An academic study by Francesco D’Acunto, Marcel Prokopczuk, and Michael Weber showed that people who live in areas of Germany that contain the most brutal history of anti-Semitic persecution are more likely to be distrustful of finance in general. Therefore, they tended to invest less money in the stock market and make poor financial decisions. The study concluded "that the persecution of minorities reduces not only the long-term wealth of the persecuted, but of the persecutors as well."
Racial antisemitism is the idea that the Jews are a distinct and inferior race compared to their host nations. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, it gained mainstream acceptance as part of the eugenics movement, which categorized non-Europeans as inferior. It more specifically claimed that Northern Europeans, or "Aryans", were superior. Racial antisemites saw the Jews as part of a Semitic race and emphasized their non-European origins and culture. They saw Jews as beyond redemption even if they converted to the majority religion.
Racial antisemitism replaced the hatred of Judaism with the hatred of Jews as a group. In the context of the Industrial Revolution, following the Jewish Emancipation, Jews rapidly urbanized and experienced a period of greater social mobility. With the decreasing role of religion in public life tempering religious antisemitism, a combination of growing nationalism, the rise of eugenics, and resentment at the socio-economic success of the Jews led to the newer, and more virulent, racist antisemitism.
According to William Nichols, religious antisemitism may be distinguished from modern antisemitism based on racial or ethnic grounds. "The dividing line was the possibility of effective conversion... a Jew ceased to be a Jew upon baptism." However, with racial antisemitism, "Now the assimilated Jew was still a Jew, even after baptism.... From the Enlightenment onward, it is no longer possible to draw clear lines of distinction between religious and racial forms of hostility towards Jews... Once Jews have been emancipated and secular thinking makes its appearance, without leaving behind the old Christian hostility towards Jews, the new term antisemitism becomes almost unavoidable, even before explicitly racist doctrines appear."
In the early 19th century, a number of laws enabling emancipation of the Jews were enacted in Western European countries. The old laws restricting them to ghettos, as well as the many laws that limited their property rights, rights of worship and occupation, were rescinded. Despite this, traditional discrimination and hostility to Jews on religious grounds persisted and was supplemented by racial antisemitism, encouraged by the work of racial theorists such as Joseph Arthur de Gobineau and particularly his Essay on the Inequality of the Human Race of 1853–5. Nationalist agendas based on ethnicity, known as ethnonationalism, usually excluded the Jews from the national community as an alien race. Allied to this were theories of Social Darwinism, which stressed a putative conflict between higher and lower races of human beings. Such theories, usually posited by northern Europeans, advocated the superiority of white Aryans to Semitic Jews.
|"The whole problem of the Jews exists only in nation states, for here their energy and higher intelligence, their accumulated capital of spirit and will, gathered from generation to generation through a long schooling in suffering, must become so preponderant as to arouse mass envy and hatred. In almost all contemporary nations, therefore - in direct proportion to the degree to which they act up nationalistially - the literary obscenity of leading the Jews to slaughter as scapegoats of every conceivable public and internal misfortune is spreading."|
|— Friedrich Nietzsche, 1886, [MA 1 475]|
William Brustein defines political antisemitism as hostility toward Jews based on the belief that Jews seek national and/or world power." Yisrael Gutman characterizes political antisemitism as tending to "lay responsibility on the Jews for defeats and political economic crises" while seeking to "exploit opposition and resistance to Jewish influence as elements in political party platforms."
According to Viktor Karády, political antisemitism became widespread after the legal emancipation of the Jews and sought to reverse some of the consequences of that emancipation. 
Holocaust denial and Jewish conspiracy theories are also considered forms of antisemitism. Zoological conspiracy theories have been propagated by the Arab media and Arabic language websites, alleging a "Zionist plot" behind the use of animals to attack civilians or to conduct espionage.
Starting in the 1990s, some scholars have advanced the concept of new antisemitism, coming simultaneously from the left, the right, and radical Islam, which tends to focus on opposition to the creation of a Jewish homeland in the State of Israel, and they argue that the language of anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel are used to attack Jews more broadly. In this view, the proponents of the new concept believe that criticisms of Israel and Zionism are often disproportionate in degree and unique in kind, and they attribute this to antisemitism. Jewish scholar Gustavo Perednik has posited that anti-Zionism in itself represents a form of discrimination against Jews, in that it singles out Jewish national aspirations as an illegitimate and racist endeavor, and "proposes actions that would result in the death of millions of Jews". It is asserted that the new antisemitism deploys traditional antisemitic motifs, including older motifs such as the blood libel.
Critics of the concept view it as trivializing the meaning of antisemitism, and as exploiting antisemitism in order to silence debate and to deflect attention from legitimate criticism of the State of Israel, and, by associating anti-Zionism with antisemitism, misused to taint anyone opposed to Israeli actions and policies.
German indologists arbitrarily identified "layers" in the Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita with the objective of fueling European anti-Semitism via the Indo-Aryan migration theory. This identification required equating Brahmins with Jews, resulting in anti-Brahmanism.
Many authors see the roots of modern antisemitism in both pagan antiquity and early Christianity. Jerome Chanes identifies six stages in the historical development of antisemitism:
- Pre-Christian anti-Judaism in ancient Greece and Rome which was primarily ethnic in nature
- Christian antisemitism in antiquity and the Middle Ages which was religious in nature and has extended into modern times
- Traditional Muslim antisemitism which was—at least, in its classical form—nuanced in that Jews were a protected class
- Political, social and economic antisemitism of Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment Europe which laid the groundwork for racial antisemitism
- Racial antisemitism that arose in the 19th century and culminated in Nazism in the 20th century
- Contemporary antisemitism which has been labeled by some as the New Antisemitism
Chanes suggests that these six stages could be merged into three categories: "ancient antisemitism, which was primarily ethnic in nature; Christian antisemitism, which was religious; and the racial antisemitism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."
The first clear examples of anti-Jewish sentiment can be traced back to Alexandria in the 3rd century BCE. Alexandria was home to the largest Jewish diaspora community in the world at the time and the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, was produced there. Manetho, an Egyptian priest and historian of that era, wrote scathingly of the Jews. His themes are repeated in the works of Chaeremon, Lysimachus, Poseidonius, Apollonius Molon, and in Apion and Tacitus. Agatharchides of Cnidus ridiculed the practices of the Jews and the "absurdity of their Law", making a mocking reference to how Ptolemy Lagus was able to invade Jerusalem in 320 BCE because its inhabitants were observing the Shabbat. One of the earliest anti-Jewish edicts, promulgated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in about 170–167 BCE, sparked a revolt of the Maccabees in Judea.
In view of Manetho's anti-Jewish writings, antisemitism may have originated in Egypt and been spread by "the Greek retelling of Ancient Egyptian prejudices". The ancient Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria describes an attack on Jews in Alexandria in 38 CE in which thousands of Jews died. The violence in Alexandria may have been caused by the Jews being portrayed as misanthropes. Tcherikover argues that the reason for hatred of Jews in the Hellenistic period was their separateness in the Greek cities, the poleis. Bohak has argued, however, that early animosity against the Jews cannot be regarded as being anti-Judaic or antisemitic unless it arose from attitudes that were held against the Jews alone, and that many Greeks showed animosity toward any group they regarded as barbarians. Statements exhibiting prejudice against Jews and their religion can be found in the works of many pagan Greek and Roman writers. Edward Flannery writes that it was the Jews' refusal to accept Greek religious and social standards that marked them out. Hecataetus of Abdera, a Greek historian of the early third century BCE, wrote that Moses "in remembrance of the exile of his people, instituted for them a misanthropic and inhospitable way of life." Manetho, an Egyptian historian, wrote that the Jews were expelled Egyptian lepers who had been taught by Moses "not to adore the gods." Edward Flannery describes antisemitism in ancient times as essentially "cultural, taking the shape of a national xenophobia played out in political settings."
There are examples of Hellenistic rulers desecrating the Temple and banning Jewish religious practices, such as circumcision, Shabbat observance, study of Jewish religious books, etc. Examples may also be found in anti-Jewish riots in Alexandria in the 3rd century BCE.
Relationships between the Jewish people and the occupying Roman Empire were at times antagonistic and resulted in several rebellions. According to Suetonius, the emperor Tiberius expelled from Rome Jews who had gone to live there. The 18th-century English historian Edward Gibbon identified a more tolerant period in Roman-Jewish relations beginning in about 160 CE. However, when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, the state's attitude towards the Jews gradually worsened.
James Carroll asserted: "Jews accounted for 10% of the total population of the Roman Empire. By that ratio, if other factors such as pogroms and conversions had not intervened, there would be 200 million Jews in the world today, instead of something like 13 million."
Persecutions in the Middle Ages
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From the 9th century CE, the medieval Islamic world classified Jews (and Christians) as dhimmi, and allowed Jews to practice their religion more freely than they could do in medieval Christian Europe. Under Islamic rule, there was a Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain that lasted until at least the 11th century. It ended when several Muslim pogroms against Jews took place on the Iberian Peninsula, including those that occurred in Córdoba in 1011 and in Granada in 1066. Several decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were also enacted in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen from the 11th century. In addition, Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in some parts of Yemen, Morocco and Baghdad several times between the 12th and 18th centuries. The Almohads, who had taken control of the Almoravids' Maghribi and Andalusian territories by 1147, were far more fundamentalist in outlook compared to their predecessors, and they treated the dhimmis harshly. Faced with the choice of either death or conversion, many Jews and Christians emigrated. Some, such as the family of Maimonides, fled east to more tolerant Muslim lands, while some others went northward to settle in the growing Christian kingdoms.
During the Middle Ages in Europe there was persecution against Jews in many places, with blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and massacres. A main justification of prejudice against Jews in Europe was religious.
The persecution hit its first peak during the Crusades. In the First Crusade (1096) hundreds or even thousands of Jews were killed as the crusaders arrived. This was the first major outbreak of anti-Jewish violence Christian Europe outside Spain and was cited by Zionists in the 19th century as indicating the need for a state of Israel.
In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in Germany were subject to several massacres. The Jews were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds' Crusades of 1251 and 1320. The Crusades were followed by expulsions, including, in 1290, the banishing of all English Jews; in 1394, the expulsion of 100,000 Jews in France; and in 1421, the expulsion of thousands from Austria. Many of the expelled Jews fled to Poland. In medieval and Renaissance Europe, a major contributor to the deepening of antisemitic sentiment and legal action among the Christian populations was the popular preaching of the zealous reform religious orders, the Franciscans (especially Bernardino of Feltre) and Dominicans (especially Vincent Ferrer), who combed Europe and promoted antisemitism through their often fiery, emotional appeals.
As the Black Death epidemics devastated Europe in the mid-14th century, causing the death of a large part of the population, Jews were used as scapegoats. Rumors spread that they caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells. Hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed. Although Pope Clement VI tried to protect them by issuing two papal bulls in 1348, the first on 6 July and an additional one several months later, 900 Jews were burned alive in Strasbourg, where the plague had not yet affected the city.
During the mid-to-late 17th century the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was devastated by several conflicts, in which the Commonwealth lost over a third of its population (over 3 million people), and Jewish losses were counted in the hundreds of thousands. The first of these conflicts was the Khmelnytsky Uprising, when Bohdan Khmelnytsky's supporters massacred tens of thousands of Jews in the eastern and southern areas he controlled (today's Ukraine). The precise number of dead may never be known, but the decrease of the Jewish population during that period is estimated at 100,000 to 200,000, which also includes emigration, deaths from diseases and captivity in the Ottoman Empire, called jasyr.
European immigrants to the United States brought antisemitism to the country as early as the 17th century. Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch governor of New Amsterdam, implemented plans to prevent Jews from settling in the city. During the Colonial Era, the American government limited the political and economic rights of Jews. It was not until the Revolutionary War that Jews gained legal rights, including the right to vote. However, even at their peak, the restrictions on Jews in the United States were never as stringent as they had been in Europe.
In the Zaydi imamate of Yemen, Jews were also singled out for discrimination in the 17th century, which culminated in the general expulsion of all Jews from places in Yemen to the arid coastal plain of Tihamah and which became known as the Mawza Exile.
In 1744, Frederick II of Prussia limited the number of Jews allowed to live in Breslau to only ten so-called "protected" Jewish families and encouraged a similar practice in other Prussian cities. In 1750 he issued the Revidiertes General Privilegium und Reglement vor die Judenschaft: the "protected" Jews had an alternative to "either abstain from marriage or leave Berlin" (quoting Simon Dubnow). In the same year, Archduchess of Austria Maria Theresa ordered Jews out of Bohemia but soon reversed her position, on the condition that Jews pay for their readmission every ten years. This extortion was known as malke-geld (queen's money). In 1752 she introduced the law limiting each Jewish family to one son. In 1782, Joseph II abolished most of these persecution practices in his Toleranzpatent, on the condition that Yiddish and Hebrew were eliminated from public records and that judicial autonomy was annulled. Moses Mendelssohn wrote that "Such a tolerance... is even more dangerous play in tolerance than open persecution."
In 1772, the empress of Russia Catherine II forced the Jews of the Pale of Settlement to stay in their shtetls and forbade them from returning to the towns that they occupied before the partition of Poland.
According to Arnold Ages, Voltaire's "Lettres philosophiques, Dictionnaire philosophique, and Candide, to name but a few of his better known works, are saturated with comments on Jews and Judaism and the vast majority are negative". Paul H. Meyer adds: "There is no question but that Voltaire, particularly in his latter years, nursed a violent hatred of the Jews and it is equally certain that his animosity...did have a considerable impact on public opinion in France." Thirty of the 118 articles in Voltaire's Dictionnaire Philosophique concerned Jews and described them in consistently negative ways,
Islamic antisemitism in the 19th century
Historian Martin Gilbert writes that it was in the 19th century that the position of Jews worsened in Muslim countries. Benny Morris writes that one symbol of Jewish degradation was the phenomenon of stone-throwing at Jews by Muslim children. Morris quotes a 19th-century traveler: "I have seen a little fellow of six years old, with a troop of fat toddlers of only three and four, teaching [them] to throw stones at a Jew, and one little urchin would, with the greatest coolness, waddle up to the man and literally spit upon his Jewish gaberdine. To all this the Jew is obliged to submit; it would be more than his life was worth to offer to strike a Mahommedan."
In the middle of the 19th century, J. J. Benjamin wrote about the life of Persian Jews, describing conditions and beliefs that went back to the 16th century: "…they are obliged to live in a separate part of town… Under the pretext of their being unclean, they are treated with the greatest severity and should they enter a street, inhabited by Mussulmans, they are pelted by the boys and mobs with stones and dirt…."
Secular or racial antisemitism
In 1850 the German composer Richard Wagner – who has been called "the inventor of modern antisemitism" – published Das Judenthum in der Musik (roughly "Jewishness in Music") under a pseudonym in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. The essay began as an attack on Jewish composers, particularly Wagner's contemporaries, and rivals, Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer, but expanded to accuse Jews of being a harmful and alien element in German culture, who corrupted morals and were, in fact, parasites incapable of creating truly "German" art. The crux was, of course, the manipulation and control by the Jews of the money economy:
According to the present constitution of this world, the Jew in truth is already more than emancipated: he rules, and will rule, so long as Money remains the power before which all our doings and our dealings lose their force.
Although originally published anonymously, when the essay was republished 19 years later, in 1869, the concept of the corrupting Jew had become so widely held that Wagner's name was affixed to it.
Antisemitism can also be found in many of the Grimms' Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, published from 1812 to 1857. It is mainly characterized by Jews being the villain of a story, such as in "The Good Bargain" ("Der gute Handel") and "The Jew Among Thorns" ("Der Jude im Dorn").
The middle 19th century saw continued official harassment of the Jews, especially in Eastern Europe under Czarist influence. For example, in 1846, 80 Jews approached the governor in Warsaw to retain the right to wear their traditional dress, but were immediately rebuffed by having their hair and beards forcefully cut, at their own expense.
In America, even such influential figures as Walt Whitman tolerated bigotry toward the Jews. During his time as editor of the Brooklyn Eagle (1846-1848), the newspaper published historical sketches casting Jews in a bad light.
The Dreyfus Affair was an infamous antisemitic event of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery captain in the French Army, was accused in 1894 of passing secrets to the Germans. As a result of these charges, Dreyfus was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island. The actual spy, Marie Charles Esterhazy, was acquitted. The event caused great uproar among the French, with the public choosing sides on the issue of whether Dreyfus was actually guilty or not. Émile Zola accused the army of corrupting the French justice system. However, general consensus held that Dreyfus was guilty: 80% of the press in France condemned him. This attitude among the majority of the French population reveals the underlying antisemitism of the time period.
Adolf Stoecker (1835–1909), the Lutheran court chaplain to Kaiser Wilhelm I, founded in 1878 an antisemitic, anti-liberal political party called the Christian Social Party. This party always remained small, and its support dwindled after Stoecker's death, with most of its members eventually joining larger conservative groups such as the German National People's Party.
Some scholars view Karl Marx's essay On The Jewish Question as antisemitic, and argue that he often used antisemitic epithets in his published and private writings. These scholars argue that Marx equated Judaism with capitalism in his essay, helping to spread that idea. Some further argue that the essay influenced National Socialist, as well as Soviet and Arab antisemites. Marx himself had Jewish ancestry, and Albert Lindemann and Hyam Maccoby have suggested that he was embarrassed by it. Others argue that Marx consistently supported Prussian Jewish communities' struggles to achieve equal political rights. These scholars argue that "On the Jewish Question" is a critique of Bruno Bauer's arguments that Jews must convert to Christianity before being emancipated, and is more generally a critique of liberal rights discourses and capitalism. Iain Hamphsher-Monk wrote that "This work [On The Jewish Question] has been cited as evidence for Marx's supposed anti-semitism, but only the most superficial reading of it could sustain such an interpretation." David McLellan and Francis Wheen argue that readers should interpret On the Jewish Question in the deeper context of Marx's debates with Bruno Bauer, author of The Jewish Question, about Jewish emancipation in Germany. Wheen says that "Those critics, who see this as a foretaste of 'Mein Kampf', overlook one, essential point: in spite of the clumsy phraseology and crude stereotyping, the essay was actually written as a defense of the Jews. It was a retort to Bruno Bauer, who had argued that Jews should not be granted full civic rights and freedoms unless they were baptised as Christians". According to McLellan, Marx used the word Judentum colloquially, as meaning commerce, arguing that Germans must be emancipated from the capitalist mode of production not Judaism or Jews in particular. McLellan concludes that readers should interpret the essay's second half as "an extended pun at Bauer's expense".
Between 1900 and 1924, approximately 1.75 million Jews migrated to America, the bulk from Eastern Europe. Before 1900 American Jews had always amounted to less than 1% of America's total population, but by 1930 Jews formed about 3.5%. This increase, combined with the upward social mobility of some Jews, contributed to a resurgence of antisemitism. In the first half of the 20th century, in the USA, Jews were discriminated against in employment, access to residential and resort areas, membership in clubs and organizations, and in tightened quotas on Jewish enrolment and teaching positions in colleges and universities. The lynching of Leo Frank by a mob of prominent citizens in Marietta, Georgia in 1915 turned the spotlight on antisemitism in the United States. The case was also used to build support for the renewal of the Ku Klux Klan which had been inactive since 1870.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Beilis Trial in Russia represented incidents of blood-libel in Europe. Christians used allegations of Jews killing Christians as a justification for the killing of Jews.
Antisemitism in America reached its peak during the interwar period. The pioneer automobile manufacturer Henry Ford propagated antisemitic ideas in his newspaper The Dearborn Independent (published by Ford from 1919 to 1927). The radio speeches of Father Coughlin in the late 1930s attacked Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and promoted the notion of a Jewish financial conspiracy. Some prominent politicians shared such views: Louis T. McFadden, Chairman of the United States House Committee on Banking and Currency, blamed Jews for Roosevelt's decision to abandon the gold standard, and claimed that "in the United States today, the Gentiles have the slips of paper while the Jews have the lawful money".
In the early 1940s the aviator Charles Lindbergh and many prominent Americans led The America First Committee in opposing any involvement in the war against Fascism. During his July 1936 visit to Germany, Lindbergh wrote letters saying that there was "more intelligent leadership in Germany than is generally recognized". The German American Bund held parades in New York City during the late 1930s, where members wore Nazi uniforms and raised flags featuring swastikas alongside American flags. Sometimes race riots, as in Detroit in 1943, targeted Jewish businesses for looting and burning.
In Germany, Nazism led Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, who came to power on 30 January 1933 and instituted repressive legislation which denied the Jews basic civil rights. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws prohibited sexual relations and marriages between "Aryans" and Jews as Rassenschande ("race disgrace") and stripped all German Jews, even quarter- and half-Jews, of their citizenship, (their official title became "subjects of the state"). It instituted a pogrom on the night of 9–10 November 1938, dubbed Kristallnacht, in which Jews were killed, their property destroyed and their synagogues torched. Antisemitic laws, agitation and propaganda were extended to German-occupied Europe in the wake of conquest, often building on local antisemitic traditions. In the east the Third Reich forced Jews into ghettos in Warsaw, Kraków, Lvov, Lublin and Radom. After the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 a campaign of mass murder, conducted by the Einsatzgruppen, culminated from 1942 to 1945 in systematic genocide: the Holocaust. Eleven million Jews were targeted for extermination by the Nazis, and some six million were eventually killed.
Antisemitism was commonly used as an instrument for settling personal conflicts in the Soviet Union, starting with the conflict between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky and continuing through numerous conspiracy-theories spread by official propaganda. Antisemitism in the USSR reached new heights after 1948 during the campaign against the "rootless cosmopolitan" (euphemism for "Jew") in which numerous Yiddish-language poets, writers, painters and sculptors were killed or arrested. This culminated in the so-called Doctors' Plot (1952–1953). Similar antisemitic propaganda in Poland resulted in the flight of Polish Jewish survivors from the country.
After the war, the Kielce pogrom and the "March 1968 events" in communist Poland represented further incidents of antisemitism in Europe. The anti-Jewish violence in postwar Poland has a common theme of blood libel rumours.
21st-century European antisemitism
21st-century Arab antisemitism
In a 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center, all of the Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries polled held strongly negative views of Jews. In the questionnaire, only 2% of Egyptians, 3% of Lebanese Muslims, and 2% of Jordanians reported having a positive view of Jews. Muslim-majority countries outside the Middle East held similarly negative views, with 4% of Turks and 9% of Indonesians viewing Jews favorably.
According to a 2011 exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, United States, some of the dialogue from Middle East media and commentators about Jews bear a striking resemblance to Nazi propaganda. According to Josef Joffe of Newsweek, "anti-Semitism—the real stuff, not just bad-mouthing particular Israeli policies—is as much part of Arab life today as the hijab or the hookah. Whereas this darkest of creeds is no longer tolerated in polite society in the West, in the Arab world, Jew hatred remains culturally endemic."
According to professor Robert Wistrich, director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA), the calls for the destruction of Israel by Iran or by Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, or the Muslim Brotherhood, represent a contemporary mode of genocidal antisemitism.
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Dean Phillip Bell documents and enumerates a number of categories and causes for anti-Jewish sentiment. He describes political, social, and pseudo-scientific efforts to separate Jews from "civil" society and notes that antisemitism was part of a larger attempt to differentiate status based on racial background. Bell writes, "Socio-psychological explanations focus on concepts of projected guilt and displaced aggression, the search for a scapegoat. Ethnic explanations associated marginalization, or negative representation of the Other, with perceived ethnic differences. Xenophobia ascribes anti-Jewish sentiment to broader concern over minority groups within a national or regional identity.
There are a number of antisemitic canards which are used to fuel and justify antisemitic sentiment and activities. These include conspiracy theories and myths such as: that Jews killed Christ, poisoned wells, killed Christian children to use their blood for making matzos (the Blood libel), or "made up" the Holocaust, plot to control the world (the Protocols of the Elders of Zion), harvest organs, and other invented stories. A number of conspiracy theories also include accusations that Jews control the media or global financial institutions.
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A March 2008 report by the U.S. State Department found that there was an increase in antisemitism across the world, and that both old and new expressions of antisemitism persist. A 2012 report by the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor also noted a continued global increase in antisemitism, and found that Holocaust denial and opposition to Israeli policy at times was used to promote or justify blatant antisemitism.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former president of Iran, has frequently been accused of denying the Holocaust.
In July, the winner of Iran's first annual International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival, jointly sponsored by the semi-state-run Iranian media outlet Fars News, was an antisemitic cartoon depicting Jews praying before the New York Stock Exchange, which is made to look like the Western Wall. Other cartoons in the contest were antisemitic as well. The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, condemned the cartoon, stating that "Here's the anti-Semitic notion of Jews and their love for money, the canard that Jews 'control' Wall Street, and a cynical perversion of the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism," and "Once again Iran takes the prize for promoting antisemitism."
In 2004, Al-Manar, a media network affiliated with Hezbollah, aired a drama series, The Diaspora, which observers allege is based on historical antisemitic allegations. BBC correspondents who have watched the program says it quotes extensively from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
In his treatise on Malay identity, "The Malay Dilemma," which was published in 1970, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad wrote: "The Jews are not only hooked-nosed... but understand money instinctively.... Jewish stinginess and financial wizardry gained them the economic control of Europe and provoked antisemitism which waxed and waned throughout Europe through the ages."
The Malay-language Utusan Malaysia daily stated in an editorial that Malaysians "cannot allow anyone, especially the Jews, to interfere secretly in this country's business... When the drums are pounded hard in the name of human rights, the pro-Jewish people will have their best opportunity to interfere in any Islamic country," the newspaper said. "We might not realize that the enthusiasm to support actions such as demonstrations will cause us to help foreign groups succeed in their mission of controlling this country." Prime Minister Najib Razak's office subsequently issued a statement late Monday saying Utusan's claim did "not reflect the views of the government."
Mudar Zahran, a Palestinian, writing for the Gatestone Institute says that "the Palestinians have been used as fuel for the new form of anti-Semitism; this has hurt the Palestinians and exposed them to unprecedented and purposely media-ignored abuse by Arab governments, including some of those who claim love for the Palestinians, yet in fact only bare hatred to Jews. This has resulted in Palestinian cries for justice, equality, freedom and even basic human rights being ignored while the world getting consumed with delegitimizing Israel from either ignorance or malice."
In March 2011, the Israeli government issued a paper claiming that "Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic messages are heard regularly in the government and private media and in the mosques and are taught in school books," to the extent that they are "an integral part of the fabric of life inside the PA." In August 2012, Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry director-general Yossi Kuperwasser stated that Palestinian incitement to antisemitism is "going on all the time" and that it is "worrying and disturbing." At an institutional level, he said the PA has been promoting three key messages to the Palestinian people that constitute incitement: "that the Palestinians would eventually be the sole sovereign on all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea; that Jews, especially those who live in Israel, were not really human beings but rather 'the scum of mankind'; and that all tools were legitimate in the struggle against Israel and the Jews." In August 2014, the Hamas' spokesman in Doha said on live television that Jews use blood to make matzos.
The U.S. State Department's first Report on Global Anti-Semitism mentioned a strong feeling of antisemitism in Pakistan. In Pakistan, a country without Jewish communities, antisemitic sentiment fanned by antisemitic articles in the press is widespread.
In Pakistan, Jews are often regarded as miserly. After Israel's independence in 1948, violent incidents occurred against Pakistan's small Jewish community of about 2,000 Bene Israel Jews. The Magain Shalome Synagogue in Karachi was attacked, as were individual Jews. The persecution of Jews resulted in their exodus via India to Israel (see Pakistanis in Israel), the UK, Canada and other countries. The Peshawar Jewish community ceased to exist although a small community reportedly still exists in Karachi.
A substantial number of people in Pakistan believe that the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York were a secret Jewish conspiracy organized by Israel's MOSSAD, as were the 7 July 2005 London bombings, allegedly perpetrated by Jews in order to discredit Muslims. Such allegations echo traditional antisemitic theories. The Jewish religious movement of Chabad Lubavich had an mission house in Mumbai, India that was attacked in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, perpetrated by militants connected to Pakistan led by Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani national. Antisemitic intents were evident from the testimonies of Kasab following his arrest and trial.
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In recent decades, synagogues have been targeted in a number of terrorist attacks. In 2003, the Neve Shalom Synagogue was targeted in a car bombing, killing 21 Turkish Muslims and 6 Jews.
In June 2011, the Economist suggested that "The best way for Turks to promote democracy would be to vote against the ruling party". Not long after, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said that "The International media, as they are supported by Israel, would not be happy with the continuation of the AKP government". The Hurriyet Daily News quoted Erdoğan at the time as claiming "The Economist is part of an Israeli conspiracy that aims to topple the Turkish government". Moreover, during Erdogan's tenure, Hitler's Mein Kampf has once again become a best selling book in Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan called antisemitism a "crime against humanity." He also said that "as a minority, they're our citizens. Both their security and the right to observe their faith are under our guarantee."
According to a 2004 report from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, antisemitism had increased significantly in Europe since 2000, with significant increases in verbal attacks against Jews and vandalism such as graffiti, fire bombings of Jewish schools, desecration of synagogues and cemeteries. Germany, France, Britain, and Russia are the countries with the highest rate of antisemitic incidents in Europe. The Netherlands and Sweden have also consistently had high rates of antisemitic attacks since 2000.
Some claim that recent European antisemitic violence can actually be seen as a spillover from the long running Arab-Israeli conflict since the majority of the perpetrators are from the large Muslim immigrant communities in European cities. However, compared to France, the United Kingdom and much of the rest of Europe, in Germany Arab and pro-Palestinian groups are involved in only a small percentage of antisemitic incidents. According to The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, most of the more extreme attacks on Jewish sites and physical attacks on Jews in Europe come from militant Islamic and Muslim groups, and most Jews tend to be assaulted in countries where groups of young Muslim immigrants reside.
On 1 January 2006, Britain's chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, warned that what he called a "tsunami of antisemitism" was spreading globally. In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Sacks said: "A number of my rabbinical colleagues throughout Europe have been assaulted and attacked on the streets. We've had synagogues desecrated. We've had Jewish schools burnt to the ground—not here but in France. People are attempting to silence and even ban Jewish societies on campuses on the grounds that Jews must support the state of Israel, therefore they should be banned, which is quite extraordinary because... British Jews see themselves as British citizens. So it's that kind of feeling that you don't know what's going to happen next that's making... some European Jewish communities uncomfortable."
Following an escalation in antisemitism in 2012, which included the deadly shooting of three children at a Jewish school in France, the European Jewish Congress demanded in July a more proactive response. EJC President Moshe Kantor explained, "We call on authorities to take a more proactive approach so there would be no reason for statements of regret and denunciation. All these smaller attacks remind me of smaller tremors before a massive earthquake. The Jewish community cannot afford to be subject to an earthquake and the authorities cannot say that the writing was not on the wall." He added that European countries should take legislative efforts to ban any form of incitement, as well as to equip the authorities with the necessary tools to confront any attempt to expand terrorist and violent activities against Jewish communities in Europe.
France is home to the continent's largest Jewish community (about 600,000). Jewish leaders decry an intensifying antisemitism in France, mainly among Muslims of Arab or African heritage, but also growing among Caribbean islanders from former French colonies. Former Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy denounced the killing of Ilan Halimi on 13 February 2006 as an antisemitic crime.
Jewish philanthropist Baron Eric de Rothschild suggests that the extent of antisemitism in France has been exaggerated. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post he says that "the one thing you can't say is that France is an anti-Semitic country."
In August 2012, Abraham Cooper, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, met French Interior Minister Manuel Valls and reported that antisemitic attacks against French Jews increased by 40% since Merah's shooting spree in Toulouse. Cooper pressed Valls to take extra measures to secure the safety of French Jews, as well as to discuss strategies to foil an increasing trend of lone-wolf terrorists on the Internet.
The Interior Minister of Germany, Wolfgang Schäuble, points out the official policy of Germany: "We will not tolerate any form of extremism, xenophobia or anti-Semitism." Although the number of extreme right-wing groups and organisations grew from 141 (2001) to 182 (2006), especially in the formerly communist East Germany, Germany's measures against right-wing groups and antisemitism are effective, despite Germany having the highest rates of antisemitic acts in Europe. According to the annual reports of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution the overall number of far-right extremists in Germany dropped during the last years from 49,700 (2001), 45,000 (2002), 41,500 (2003), 40,700 (2004), 39,000 (2005), to 38,600 in 2006. Germany provided several million euros to fund "nationwide programs aimed at fighting far-right extremism, including teams of traveling consultants, and victims' groups."
In late August 2012, Berlin police investigated an attack on a 53-year-old rabbi and his 6-year-old daughter, allegedly by four Arab teens, after which the rabbi needed treatment for head wounds at a hospital. The police classified the attack as a hate crime. Jüdische Allgemeine reported that the rabbi was wearing a kippah and was approached by one of the teens, who asked the rabbi if he was Jewish. The teen then attacked the rabbi while yelling antisemitic comments, and threatened to kill the rabbi's daughter. Berlin’s mayor condemned the attack, saying that "Berlin is an international city in which intolerance, xenophobia and anti-Semitism are not being tolerated. Police will undertake all efforts to find and arrest the perpetrators."
In October 2012, various historians, including Dr. Julius H. Schoeps, a prominent German-Jewish historian and a member of the German Interior Ministry’s commission to combat antisemitism, charged the majority of Bundestag deputies with failing to understand antisemitism and the imperativeness of periodic legislative reports on German antisemitism. Schoeps cited various antisemitic statements by German parliament members as well. The report in question determined that 15% of Germans are antisemitic while over 20% espouse "latent anti-Semitism," but the report has been criticized for downplaying the sharpness of antisemitism in Germany, as well as for failing to examine anti-Israel media coverage in Germany.
In the 21st century, antisemitism in Hungary has evolved and received an institutional framework, while verbal and physical aggression against Jews has escalated, creating a great difference between its earlier manifestations in the 1990s and recent developments. One of the major representatives of this institutionalized antisemitic ideology is the popular Hungarian party Jobbik, which received 17 percent of the vote in the April 2010 national election. The far-right subculture, which ranges from nationalist shops to radical-nationalist and neo-Nazi festivals and events, plays a major role in the institutionalization of Hungarian antisemitism in the 21st century. The contemporary antisemitic rhetoric has been updated and expanded, but is still based on the old antisemitic notions. The traditional accusations and motifs include such phrases as Jewish occupation, international Jewish conspiracy, Jewish responsibility for the Treaty of Trianon, Judeo-Bolshevism, as well as blood libels against Jews. Nevertheless, in the past few years, this has been increased with the Palestinization of the Hungarian people, the reemergence of the blood libel and an increase in Holocaust relativization and denial, while the monetary crisis has revived references to the "Jewish banker class".
The Netherlands has the second highest incidence of antisemitic incidents in the European Union. However, it is difficult to obtain exact figures because the specific groups against whom attacks are made are not specifically identified in police reports, and analyses of police data for antisemitism therefore relies on key-word searches, e.g. "Jew" or "Israel". According to Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), a pro-Israel lobby group in the Netherlands, the number of antisemitic incidents reported in the whole of the Netherlands was 108 in 2008, 93 in 2009, and 124 in 2010. Some two thirds of this are acts of aggression. There are approximately 52 000 Dutch Jews. According to the NRC Handelsblad newspaper, the number of antisemitic incidents in Amsterdam was 14 in 2008 and 30 in 2009. In 2010, Raphaël Evers, an orthodox rabbi in Amsterdam, told the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that Jews can no longer be safe in the city anymore due to the risk of violent assaults. "We Jews no longer feel at home here in the Netherlands. Many people talk about moving to Israel," he said.
According to the Anne Frank Foundation, antisemitism in the Netherlands in 2011 was roughly at the same level as in 2010. Actual antisemitic incidents increased from 19 in 2010 to 30 in 2011. Verbal antisemitic incidents dropped slightly from 1173 in 2010 to 1098 in 2011. This accouns for 75%-80% of all verbal racist incidents in the Netherlands. antisemitism is more prevalent in the age group 23–27 years, which is a younger group than that of racist incidents in general.
In 2010, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation after one year of research, revealed that antisemitism was common among some 8th, 9th, and 10th graders in Oslo's schools. Teachers at schools with large numbers of Muslims revealed that Muslim students often "praise or admire Adolf Hitler for his killing of Jews", that "Jew-hate is legitimate within vast groups of Muslim students" and that "Muslims laugh or command [teachers] to stop when trying to educate about the Holocaust". Additionally, "while some students might protest when some express support for terrorism, none object when students express hate of Jews", saying that it says in "the Quran that you shall kill Jews, all true Muslims hate Jews". Most of these students were said to be born and raised in Norway. One Jewish father also stated that his child had been taken by a Muslim mob after school (though the child managed to escape), reportedly "to be taken out to the forest and hung because he was a Jew".
Norwegian Education Minister Kristin Halvorsen referred to the antisemitism reported in this study as being "completely unacceptable." The head of a local Islamic council joined Jewish leaders and Halvorsen in denouncing such antisemitism.
In October 2012, the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe issued a report regarding antisemitism in Norway, criticizing Norway for an increase in antisemitism in the country and blaming Norwegian officials for failing to address antisemitism."
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After Germany and Austria, Sweden has the highest rate of antisemitic incidents in Europe, though the Netherlands has reported a higher rate of antisemitism in some years. A government study in 2006 estimated that 15% of Swedes agree with the statement: "The Jews have too much influence in the world today". 5% of the total adult population and 39% of adult Muslims "harbour systematic antisemitic views". The former prime minister Göran Persson described these results as "surprising and terrifying". However, the rabbi of Stockholm's Orthodox Jewish community, Meir Horden, said that "It's not true to say that the Swedes are anti-Semitic. Some of them are hostile to Israel because they support the weak side, which they perceive the Palestinians to be."
In 2009, a synagogue that served the Jewish community in Malmö was set ablaze. Jewish cemeteries were repeatedly desecrated, worshippers were abused while returning home from prayer, and masked men mockingly chanted "Hitler" in the streets. As a result of security concerns, Malmö's synagogue has guards and rocket-proof glass in the windows, and the Jewish kindergarten can only be reached through thick steel security doors.
In early 2010, the Swedish publication The Local published series of articles about the growing antisemitism in Malmö, Sweden. In 2009, the Malmö police received reports of 79 antisemitic incidents, which was twice the number of the previous year (2008). Fredrik Sieradzki, spokesman for the Malmö Jewish community, estimated that the already small Jewish population is shrinking by 5% a year. "Malmö is a place to move away from," he said, citing antisemitism as the primary reason. In March 2010, Fredrik Sieradzk told Die Presse, an Austrian Internet publication, that Jews are being "harassed and physically attacked" by "people from the Middle East," although he added that only a small number of Malmö's 40,000 Muslims "exhibit hatred of Jews." In October 2010, The Forward reported on the current state of Jews and the level of antisemitism in Sweden. Henrik Bachner, a writer and professor of history at the University of Lund, claimed that members of the Swedish Parliament have attended anti-Israel rallies where the Israeli flag was burned while the flags of Hamas and Hezbollah were waved, and the rhetoric was often antisemitic—not just anti-Israel. Judith Popinski, an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor, stated that she is no longer invited to schools that have a large Muslim presence to tell her story of surviving the Holocaust. In December 2010, the Jewish human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a travel advisory concerning Sweden, advising Jews to express "extreme caution" when visiting the southern parts of the country due to an alleged increase in verbal and physical harassment of Jewish citizens in the city of Malmö. Ilmar Reepalu, the mayor of Malmö for over 15 years, has been accused of failing to protect the Jewish community in Malmö, causing 30 Jewish families to leave the city in 2010, and more preparing to leave, which has left the possibility that Malmö's Jewish community will disappear soon. Critics of Reepalu say that his statements, such as antisemitism in Malmö actually being an "understandable" consequence of Israeli policy in the Middle East, have encouraged young Muslims to abuse and harass the Jewish community. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph in February 2010, Reepalu said, "There haven't been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmö," which renewed concerns about Reepalu.
Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the far-right Svoboda party, whose members hold senior positions in Ukraine's government, urged his party to fight "the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine." The Algemeiner Journal reported: "Svoboda supporters include among their heroes leaders of pro-Nazi World War II organizations known for their atrocities against Jews and Poles, such as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), and the 14th Waffen-SS Galicia Division."
According to The Simon Wiesenthal Center (in January 2011) "Ukraine has, to the best of our knowledge, never conducted a single investigation of a local Nazi war criminal, let alone prosecuted a Holocaust perpetrator."
According to Der Spiegel, Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the far-right Right Sector, wrote: "I wonder how it came to pass that most of the billionaires in Ukraine are Jews?" Late February 2014 Yarosh pledged during a meeting with Israel’s ambassador in Kiev to fight all forms of racism. Right Sector's leader for West Ukraine, Oleksandr Muzychko, has talked about fighting "communists, Jews and Russians for as long as blood flows in my veins." Muzychko was shot dead on 24 March 2014. An official inquiry concluded he had shot himself in the heart at the end of a chase with the Ukrainian police.
In April 2014, Donetsk Chief Rabbi Pinchas Vishedski said that "Anti-Semitic incidents in the Russian-speaking east were rare, unlike in Kiev and western Ukraine." An April 2014 listing of anti-Jewish violence in Ukraine in Haaretz no incidents outside this "Russian-speaking east" were mentioned.
According to the Israel's Ambassador to Ukraine, the antisemitism occurs here much less frequently than in other European countries, and has more a hooligan's nature rather than a system.
In 2005, a group of British Members of Parliament set up an inquiry into antisemitism, which published its findings in 2006. Its report stated that "until recently, the prevailing opinion both within the Jewish community and beyond [had been] that antisemitism had receded to the point that it existed only on the margins of society." It found a reversal of this progress since 2000. In his oral evidence, the Chief Rabbi stated: "If you were to ask me is Britain an antisemitic society, the answer is manifestly and obviously no. It is one of the least antisemitic societies in the world." The inquiry set out to investigate the problem, identify the sources of contemporary antisemitism and make recommendations to improve the situation. It discussed the influence of the Israel-Palestine conflict and issues of anti-Israel sentiment versus antisemitism at length and noted "most of those who gave evidence were at pains to explain that criticism of Israel is not to be regarded in itself as antisemitic... The Israeli government itself may, at times, have mistakenly perceived criticism of its policies and actions to be motivated by antisemitism." In November 2010, the BBC's investigative program Panorama reported that Saudi national textbooks advocating antisemitism were being used in Islamic religious programs attended by 5,000 British schoolchildren in the United Kingdom. In the textbooks, Jews were described as looking like monkeys and pigs.
A report released in 2012 by the Community Security Trust, documenting antisemitic incidents from January–June 2012, revealed that the number of incidents rose in these months compared to incidents in 2011, with 299 cases deemed antisemitic. There was a significant rise in the number of antisemitic incidents in March 2012, apparently influenced by the antisemitic terrorist attack in Toulouse, France during that month by Mohammed Merah.
In the 21st century, the dominant source of contemporary antisemitism in the UK is the far right. Although in the aftermath of the Holocaust far right extremism became marginalised, Holocaust denial and Jewish conspiracy theories remain core elements of far right ideology. Nevertheless, contemporary antisemitism is to be found as well on the left of the political spectrum. Criticism of Israel, especially from the left, has been fueled further by the second Palestinian Intifada and by the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Although antisemitism in Canada is less prevalent than in many other countries, there have been recent incidents. For example, a 2004 study identified 24 incidents of antisemitism between 14 March and 14 July 2004 in Newfoundland, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and some smaller Ontario communities. The incidents included vandalism and other attacks on four synagogues, six cemeteries, four schools, and a number of businesses and private residences.
In November 2005, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights examined antisemitism on college campuses. It reported that "incidents of threatened bodily injury, physical intimidation or property damage are now rare", but antisemitism still occurs on many campuses and is a "serious problem." The Commission recommended that the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights protect college students from antisemitism through vigorous enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and further recommended that Congress clarify that Title VI applies to discrimination against Jewish students.
On 19 September 2006, Yale University founded the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA), the first North American university-based center for study of the subject, as part of its Institution for Social and Policy Studies. Director Charles Small of the Center cited the increase in antisemitism worldwide in recent years as generating a "need to understand the current manifestation of this disease". In June 2011, Yale voted to close this initiative. After carrying out a routine review, the faculty review committee said that the initiative had not met its research and teaching standards. Donald Green, then head of Yale’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies, the body under whose aegis the antisemitism initiative was run, said that it had not had many papers published in the relevant leading journals or attracted many students. As with other programs that had been in a similar situation, the initiative had therefore been cancelled. This decision has been criticized by figures such as former U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Staff Director Kenneth L. Marcus, who is now the director of the Initiative to Combat Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in America’s Educational Systems at the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, and Deborah Lipstadt, who described the decision as "weird" and "strange." Antony Lerman has supported Yale's decision, describing the YIISA as a politicized initiative that was devoted to the promotion of Israel rather than to serious research on antisemitism.
A 2007 survey by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) concluded that 15% of Americans hold antisemitic views, which was in-line with the average of the previous ten years, but a decline from the 29% of the early sixties. The survey concluded that education was a strong predictor, "with most educated Americans being remarkably free of prejudicial views." The belief that Jews have too much power was considered a common antisemitic view by the ADL. Other views indicating antisemitism, according to the survey, include the view that Jews are more loyal to Israel than America, and that they are responsible for the death of Jesus of Nazareth. The survey found that antisemitic Americans are likely to be intolerant generally, e.g. regarding immigration and free-speech. The 2007 survey also found that 29% of foreign-born Hispanics and 32% of African-Americans hold strong antisemitic beliefs, three times more than the 10% for whites.
A 2009 study published in Boston Review found that nearly 25% of non-Jewish Americans blamed Jews for the financial crisis of 2008–2009, with a higher percentage among Democrats than Republicans. 32% of Democrats blamed Jews for the financial crisis, versus 18% for Republicans.
In August 2012, the California state assembly approved a non-binding resolution that "encourages university leaders to combat a wide array of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel actions," although the resolution "is purely symbolic and does not carry policy implications."
In a 2009 news story, Michael Rowan and Douglas E. Schoen wrote, "In an infamous Christmas Eve speech several years ago, Chávez said the Jews killed Christ and have been gobbling up wealth and causing poverty and injustice worldwide ever since." Hugo Chávez stated that "[t]he world is for all of us, then, but it so happens that a minority, the descendants of the same ones that crucified Christ, the descendants of the same ones that kicked Bolívar out of here and also crucified him in their own way over there in Santa Marta, in Colombia. A minority has taken possession of all of the wealth of the world."
In February 2012, opposition candidate for the 2012 Venezuelan presidential election Henrique Capriles was subject to what foreign journalists characterized as vicious attacks by state-run media sources. The Wall Street Journal said that Capriles "was vilified in a campaign in Venezuela's state-run media, which insinuated he was, among other things, a homosexual and a Zionist agent". A 13 February 2012 opinion article in the state-owned Radio Nacional de Venezuela, titled "The Enemy is Zionism" attacked Capriles' Jewish ancestry and linked him with Jewish national groups because of a meeting he had held with local Jewish leaders, saying, "This is our enemy, the Zionism that Capriles today represents... Zionism, along with capitalism, are responsible for 90% of world poverty and imperialist wars."
- 1968 Polish political crisis
- Antisemitism around the world
- Antisemitism in the anti-globalization movement
- Anti-Jewish violence in Eastern Europe, 1944–1946
- Anti-Jewish violence in Poland, 1944–1946
- Criticism of Judaism
- Host desecration
- Jacob Barnet affair
- Judeo-Masonic conspiracy theory
- May Laws
- Persecution of Jews
- Racial policy of Nazi Germany
- Rootless cosmopolitan
- Secondary antisemitism
- Stab-in-the-back legend
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- Antisemitism is more commonly used than "religious antisemitism" or "anti-Judaism." The Encyclopædia Britannica, for example, defines "antisemitism" to include religious antisemitism: "hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group." ("Anti-Semitism", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006.) Also see "Anti-Semitism", Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
- United Nations General Assembly Session 53 Resolution 133. Measures to combat contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance A/RES/53/133 page 4. 1 March 1999.
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The term “anti-Semitism” was unsuitable from the beginning for the real essence of Jew-hatred, which remained anchored, more or less, in the Christian tradition even when it moved via the natural sciences, into racism. It is doubtful whether the term which was first publicizes in an institutional context (the Anti-Semitic League) would have appeared at all if the “Anti-Chancellor League," which fought Bismarck’s policy, had not been in existence since 1875. The founders of the new Organization adopted the elements of “anti” and “league," and searched for the proper term: Marr exchanged the term “Jew” for “Semite” which he already favored. It is possible that the shortened form “Sem” is used with such frequency and ease by Marr (and in his writings) due to its literary advantage and because it reminded Marr of Sem Biedermann, his Jewish employer from the Vienna period.
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It has long been realised that there are objections to the term anti-Semitism and therefore an endeavour has been made to find a word which better interprets the meaning intended. Already in 1936 Bolkestein, for example, wrote an article on Het “antisemietisme” in de oudheid (Anti-Semitism in the ancient world) in which the word was placed between quotation marks and a preference was expressed for the term hatred of the Jews… Nowadays the term anti-Judaism is often preferred. It certainly expresses better than anti-Semitism the fact that it concerns the attitude to the Jews and avoids any suggestion of racial distinction, which was not or hardly, a factor of any significance in ancient times. For this reason Leipoldt preferred to speak of anti-Judaism when writing his Antisemitsmus in der alien Welt (l933). Bonsirven also preferred this word to Anti-Semitism, “mot moderne qui implique une théorie des races”.
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Hitler simply copied Marx's own anti-Semitism.
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- Antisemitism in modern Ukraine
- Antisemitism and Special Relativity
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- The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism
- H-Antisemitism, H-Net discussion list for scholars and advanced students
- H-HOLOCAUST, H-Net discussion list for scholars and advanced students
- Aish Why the Jews? Real Causes or mere excuses?
- Yad Vashem Antisemitism: About the Holocaust
- Anti-Defamation League Report on International Anti-Semitism
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Special Focus: Antisemitism; Encyclopedia 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; Voices on Antisemitism Podcast Series
- Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism
- International Institute for Education and Research on Antisemitism (Berlin/London)
- Anti-semitism: A Growing Threat to All Faiths: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, First Session, February 27, 2013
- The United nations and Anti-Semitism