Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Social psychology: Altruism · Attribution · Attitudes · Conformity · Discrimination · Groups · Interpersonal relations · Obedience · Prejudice · Norms · Perception · Index · Outline

This article needs rewriting to enhance its relevance to psychologists..
Please help to improve this page yourself if you can..

File:Der ewige jude.jpg

Der ewige Jude - The Eternal Jew: 1937 German poster with a Soviet Union map. In his hands are "Zuckerbrot und Peitsche", or "cookies and knout", an allusion to a saying similar to that of "carrot and stick".

Anti-Semitism (alternatively spelled antisemitism) is hostility toward or prejudice against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group, which can range from individual hatred to institutionalized, violent persecution. The highly explicit ideology of Adolf Hitler's Nazism was the most extreme example of this phenomenon, leading to a genocide of the European Jewry. Anti-Semitism takes different forms:

  • Religious anti-Semitism, or anti-Judaism. Before the 19th century, most anti-Semitism was primarily religious in nature, based on Christian or Islamic interactions with and interpretations of Judaism. Since Judaism was generally the largest minority religion in Christian Europe and much of the Islamic world, Jews were often the primary targets of religiously-motivated violence and persecution from Christian and, to a lesser degree, Islamic rulers. Unlike anti-Semitism in general, this form of prejudice is directed at the religion itself, and so generally does not affect those of Jewish ancestry who have converted to another religion, although the case of Conversos in Spain was a notable exception. Laws banning Jewish religious practices may be rooted in religious anti-Semitism, as were the expulsions of Jews that happened throughout the Middle Ages.
  • Racial anti-Semitism. With its origins in the early and popularly misunderstood evolutionary ideas of race that started during the Enlightenment, racial anti-Semitism became the dominant form of anti-Semitism from the late 19th century through today. Racial anti-Semitism replaced the hatred of Judaism as a religion with the idea that the Jews themselves were a racially distinct group, regardless of their religious practice, and that they were inferior or worthy of animosity. With the rise of racial anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories about Jewish plots in which Jews were somehow acting in concert to dominate the world became a popular form of anti-Semitic expression.
  • New anti-Semitism. Many analysts and Jewish groups believe there is a distinctly new form of late 20th century anti-Semitism, called the New anti-Semitism, which is associated with the Left, rather than the Right, borrowing language and concepts from anti-Zionism.[1] [2] [3] [4] Some of these analysts identify anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, arguing that anti-Zionism "advocates denial of the right to self-determination of the Jewish people."[5]
  1. REDIRECT Template:Jews and Judaism

Etymology and usage

Cover page of Marr's The Way to Victory of Germanicism over Judaism, 1880 edition

The word antisemitic (antisemitisch in German) was probably first used in 1860 by the Jewish scholar Moritz Steinschneider in the phrase "antisemitic prejudices" (German: "antisemitische Vorurteile"

). Steinschneider used this phrase to characterize Ernest Renan's ideas about how "Semitic races" were inferior to "Aryan races." These pseudo-scientific 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. In Treitschke's writings Semitic was practically synonymous with Jewish, in contrast to its usage by Renan and others.

German political agitator Wilhelm Marr coined the related German word Antisemitismus in his book "The Way to Victory of Germanicism over Judaism" in 1879. Marr used the phrase to mean Jew-hatred or Judenhass, and he used the new word antisemitism to make hatred of the Jews seem rational and sanctioned by scientific knowledge. Marr's book became very popular, and in the same year he founded the "League of Anti-Semites" ("Antisemiten-Liga"), the first German organization committed specifically to combatting the alleged threat to Germany posed by the Jews, 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 "Neue Freie Presse" of January. The related word semitism was coined around 1885. See also the coinage of the term "Palestinian" by Germans to refer to the nation or people known as Jews, as distinct from the religion of Judaism.

Despite the use of the prefix "anti," the terms Semitic and Anti-Semitic are not antonyms. To avoid the confusion of the misnomer, many scholars on the subject (such as Emil Fackenheim of the Hebrew University) now favor the unhyphenated term antisemitism. Yehuda Bauer articulated this view in his writings and lectures: (the term) "Antisemitism, especially in its hyphenated spelling, is inane nonsense, because there is no Semitism that you can be anti to.")[6][7]

The term anti-Semitism has historically referred to prejudice towards Jews alone, and this was the only use of this word for more than a century. It does not traditionally refer to prejudice toward other people who speak Semitic languages (e.g. Arabs or Assyrians). Bernard Lewis, Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emeritus at Princeton University, says that "Anti-Semitism has never anywhere been concerned with anyone but Jews."[8]

In recent decades some groups have argued that the term should be extended to include prejudice against Arabs, Anti-Arabism, in the context of accusations of Arab anti-Semitism; further, some, including the Islamic Association of Palestine, have argued that this implies that Arabs can not, by definition, be anti-Semitic, despite the acknowledged high level of Arab anti-Semitism. The argument for such extension comes out of the claim that since the Semitic language family includes Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic languages, and the historical term "Semite" refers to all those who consider themselves descendants of the Biblical Shem, anti-Semitism should be likewise inclusive. This usage is not generally accepted.

Definitions of the term

Anti-semitic caricature (France, 1898)

Though the general definition of anti-Semitism is hostility or prejudice towards Jews, a number of authorities have developed more formal definitions. Holocaust scholar and City University of New York professor Helen Fein's definition has been particularly influential. She defines anti-Semitism 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 mobilisation against the Jews, and collective or state violence – which results in and/or is designed to distance, displace, or destroy Jews as Jews."

Professor Dietz Bering of the University of Cologne further expanded on Professor Fein's definition by describing the structure of anti-Semitic beliefs. To anti-Semites, "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."

There have been a number of efforts by international and governmental bodies to formally define anti-Semitism. The United States Department of State defines anti-Semitism in its 2005 Report on Global Anti-Semitism as "hatred toward Jews — individually and as a group — that can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity."[9]

In 2005, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), a body of the European Union, developed a more detailed working definition: "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. In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for 'why things go wrong'."

The EUMC then listed "contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere." These included: Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews; accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group; denying the Holocaust; and accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations. The EUMC also discussed ways in which attacking Israel could be anti-Semitic, depending on the context (see anti-Zionism below).[10]

Racial anti-Semitism

Racial anti-Semitism replaced the hatred of Judaism with the hatred of Jews as a group. In the context of the Industrial Revolution, following the emancipation of the Jews, Jews rapidly urbanized and experienced a period of greater social mobility. With the decreasing role of religion in public life tempering religious anti-Semitism, 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 anti-Semitism.

Nationalism and anti-Semitism

Racial anti-Semitism was preceded, especially in Germany, by anti-Semitism arising from Romantic nationalism. As racial theories developed, especially from the mid nineteenth-century onwards, these nationalist ideas were subsumed within them. But their origins were quite distinct from racialism. On the one hand they derived from an exclusivist interpretation of the 'Volk' ideas of Johann Gottfried Herder. This led to anti-Semitic writing and journalism in the second quarter of the 19th century of which Richard Wagner's Das Judentum in der Musik (Jewry in Music) is perhaps the most notorious example. On the other hand, radical socialists such as Karl Marx identified Jews as being both victims and enforced perpetrators of the Capitalist system - e.g. in his article 'On the Jewish Question'. From sources such as these, and encouraged by the broad acceptance of racial theories as the century continued, anti-Semitism entered the vocabularies and policies of both the right and the left in political thought.

The rise of racial anti-Semitism

Image of Jesus as an icon of Nordic "racial purity" from the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer; he is glaring at unacceptably "racially alien" Jewish converts to Christianity.

Modern European anti-Semitism has its origin in 19th century pseudo-scientific theories that the Jewish people are a sub-group of Semitic peoples; Semitic people were thought by many Europeans to be entirely different from the Aryan, or Indo-European, populations, and that they can never be amalgamated with them. In this view, Jews are not opposed on account of their religion, but on account of their supposed hereditary or genetic racial characteristics: greed, a special aptitude for money-making, aversion to hard work, clannishness and obtrusiveness, lack of social tact, low cunning, and especially lack of patriotism.

While enlightened European intellectual society of that period viewed prejudice against people on account of their religion to be declassé and a sign of ignorance, because of this supposed 'scientific' connection to genetics they felt fully justified in prejudice based on nationality or 'race'. In order to differentiate between the two practices, the term anti-Semitism was developed to refer to this 'acceptable' bias against Jews as a nationality, as distinct from the 'undesirable' prejudice against Judaism as a religion. Concurrently with this usage, some authors in Germany began to use the term 'Palestinians' when referring to Jews as a people, rather than as a religious group.

As further proof of its pseudo-scientific nature, it is questionable whether Jews in general looked significantly different from the populations conducting "racial" anti-Semitism. This was especially true in places like Germany, France and Austria where the Jewish population tended to be more secular (or at least less Orthodox) than that of Eastern Europe, and did not wear clothing (such as a yarmulke) that would particularly distinguish their appearance from the non-Jewish population. Many anthropologists of the time such as Franz Boas tried to use complex physical measurements like the cephalic index and visual surveys of hair/eye color and skin tone of Jewish vs. non-Jewish European populations to prove that the notion of a separate "Jewish race" was a myth. The 19th and early 20th century view of race should be distinguished from the efforts of modern population genetics to trace the ancestry of various Jewish groups, see Y-chromosomal Aaron.

The advent of racial anti-Semitism was also linked to the growing sense of nationalism in many countries. The nationalist context viewed Jews as a separate and often "alien" nation within the countries in which Jews resided, a prejudice exploited by the elites of many governments.

Elites and the use of anti-Semitism

1889 Paris, France elections poster for self-described "candidat antisémite" Adolphe Willette: "The Jews are a different race, hostile to our own... Judaism, there is the enemy!"

Many analysts of modern anti-Semitism have pointed out that its essence is scapegoating: features of modernity felt by some group to be undesirable (e.g. materialism, the power of money, economic fluctuations, war, secularism, socialism, Communism, movements for racial equality, social welfare policies, etc.) are believed to be caused by the machinations of a conspiratorial people whose full loyalties are not to the national group. Traditionalists anguished at the supposedly decadent or defective nature of the modern world have sometimes been inclined to embrace such views. Some are of the opinion that many of the conservative members of the WASP establishment of the United States as well as other comparable Western elites (e.g. the British Foreign Office) have harbored such attitudes, and in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, some anti-Semites have imagined world Communism to be a Jewish conspiracy.[11]

The modern form of anti-Semitism is identified in the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica as a conspiracy theory serving the self-understanding of the European aristocracy, whose social power waned with the rise of bourgeois society. The Jews of Europe, then recently emancipated, were relatively literate, entrepreneurial and unentangled in aristocratic patronage systems, and were therefore disproportionately represented in the ascendant bourgeois class. As the aristocracy (and its hangers-on) lost out to this new center of power in society, they found their scapegoat - exemplified in the work of Arthur de Gobineau. That the Jews were singled out to embody the 'problem' was, by this theory, no more than a symptom of the nobility's own prejudices concerning the importance of breeding (on which its own legitimacy was founded).


The victims, mostly Jewish children, of a 1905 pogrom in Dnipropetrovsk.

Pogroms were a form of race riots, most commonly Russia and Eastern Europe, aimed specifically at Jews and often government sponsored. Pogroms became endemic during a large-scale wave of anti-Jewish riots that swept southern Russia in 1881, after Jews were wrongly blamed for the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. In the 1881 outbreak, thousands of Jewish homes were destroyed, many families reduced to extremes of poverty; women sexually assaulted, and large numbers of men, women, and children killed or injured in 166 Russian towns. The new tzar, Alexander III, blamed the Jews for the riots and issued a series of harsh restrictions on Jews. Large numbers of pogroms continued until 1884, with at least tacit inactivity by the authorities. An even bloodier wave of pogroms broke out in 1903-1906, leaving an estimated 2,000 Jews dead, and many more wounded. A final large wave of 887 pogroms in Russia and Ukraine occurred during the Russian Revolution of 1917, in which between 70,000 to 250,000 civilian Jews were killed by riots led by various sides.

During the early to mid-1900s, pogroms also occurred in Poland, Argentina, and throughout the Arab world. Extremely deadly pogroms also occurred during World War II, including the Romanian Iaşi pogrom in which 14,000 Jews were killed, and the Jedwabne massacre in Poland which killed between 380 and 1,600 Jews. The last mass pogrom in Europe was the post-war Kielce pogrom of 1946.

The Holocaust and Holocaust denial

Main article: Holocaust

Racial anti-Semitism reached its most horrific manifestation in the Holocaust during World War II, in which about 6 million European Jews, 1.5 million of them children, were systematically murdered.

Holocaust deniers often claim that "the Jews" or "Zionist conspiracy" are responsible for the exaggeration or wholesale fabrication of the events of the Holocaust. Critics of such revisionism point to an overwhelming amount of physical and historical evidence that supports the mainstream historical view of the Holocaust. Almost all academics agree that there is no evidence for any such conspiracy.

Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories

2005 Syrian edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion includes a "historical and contemporary investigative study" that repeats the blood libel and other anti-Semitic accusations, and argues that the Torah and Talmud encourage Jews "to commit treason and to conspire, dominate, be arrogant and exploit other countries".

The rise of views of the Jews as a malevolent "race" generated anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that the Jews, as a group, were plotting to control or otherwise influence the world. From the early infamous Russian literary hoax, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, published by the Tsar's secret police, a key element of anti-Semitic thought has been that Jews influence or control the world.

In a recent incarnation, extremist groups, such as Neo-Nazi parties and Islamist groups, claim that the aim of Zionism is global domination; they call this the Zionist conspiracy and use it to support anti-Semitism. This position is associated with fascism and Nazism, though it is becoming a tendency within parts of the left as well.

New anti-Semitism

Main article: New anti-Semitism

In recent years some scholars of history, psychology, religion, and representatives of Jewish groups, have noted what they describe as the new anti-Semitism, which is associated with the Left, rather than the Right, and which uses the language of anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel to attack the Jews more broadly.

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism

Anti-Zionism is a term that has been used to describe several very different political and religious points of view (both historically and in current debates) all expressing some form of opposition to Zionism. A large variety of commentators—politicians, journalists, academics and others—believe that criticisms of Israel and Zionism are often disproportionate in degree and unique in kind, and attribute this to anti-Semitism. In turn, critics of this view believe that associating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is intended to stifle debate, deflect attention from valid criticism, and taint anyone opposed to Israeli actions and policies.

European Commission definition

The European Commission on Racism and Intolerance formally defined some of the ways in which anti-Zionism may cross the line into anti-Semitism. "Examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

  • denying the Jewish people right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor;
  • applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation;
  • using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel, to characterize Israel or Israelis); and
  • holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the State of Israel."

Anti-Semitism and the Muslim world

Anti-Semitism within Islam is discussed in the article on Islam and anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism in the Arab World is discussed in the article on Arabs and anti-Semitism

The Qur'an, Islam's holy book, accuses the Jews of corrupting the Hebrew Bible. Muslims refer to Jews and Christians as a "People of the book"; Islamic law demands that when under Muslim rule they should be treated as dhimmis - from the Arab term ahl adh-dhimma. The writer Bat Ye'or introduced the modern word Dhimmitude as a generic indication of this Islamic attitude. Dhimmis were granted protection of life (including against other Muslim states), the right to residence in designated areas, worship, and work or trade, and were exempted from military service, and Muslim religious duties, personal law and tax on certain conditions such as paying the poll (jizyah) and land taxes as set by Muslim authorities. They were also subject to various other restrictions in relation to Muslims and Islam (for example, Muslim men could marry Jewish women and own Jewish slaves, but the opposite was not true), the Qur'an or Muhammad (such as desecrating scriptures or defaming the Prophet), proselytizing. At times Jews were subjected to a number of other restrictions on dress, riding horses or camels, carrying arms, holding public office, building or repairing places of worship, mourning loudly, wearing shoes outside a Jewish ghetto, etc.

In the Muslim world traditional Islamic judeophobia eventually merged with modern European anti-Semitism. Antagonism and violence increased in the twentieth century, as anti-Semitic motives and blood libels were imported from Europe and as resentment against Zionist efforts in British Mandate of Palestine spread. While anti-Semitism has certainly been heightened by the Arab-Israeli conflict, there were an increasing number of pogroms against Jews prior to the foundation of Israel, including Nazi-inspired pogroms in Algeria in the 1930s, and massive attacks on the Jews in Iraq and Libya in the 1940s (see Farhud). George Gruen attributes the increased animosity towards Jews in the Arab world to several factors including: The breakdown of the Ottoman Empire and traditional Islamic society; domination by Western colonial powers under which Jews gained a disproportionatly larger role in the commercial, professional, and administrative life of the region; the rise of Arab nationalism, whose proponents sought the wealth and positions of local Jews through government channels; resentment over Jewish nationalism and the Zionist movement; and the readiness of unpopular regimes to scapegoat local Jews for political purposes.[12]

Anti-Zionist propaganda in the Middle East frequently adopts the terminology and symbols of the Holocaust to demonize Israel and its leaders. At the same time, Holocaust denial and Holocaust minimization efforts have found increasingly overt acceptance as sanctioned historical discourse in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Arabic- and Turkish-edition of Hitler's Mein Kampf and the Protocols of Zion have found an audience in the region with limited critical response by local intellectuals and media. The Protocols have even inspired TV series (in Lebanon and Iran) showing rabbis ritually slaughtering (throat cutting) Christian children.

Anti-Semitism and specific countries

United States

The KKK: Nazi salute and Holocaust denial

Main article: History of the Jews in the United States

Jews were often condemned by populist politicians alternately for their left-wing politics, or their perceived wealth, at the turn of the century. Anti-semitism grew in the years leading up to America's entry into World War II, Father Charles Coughlin, a radio preacher, as well as many other prominent public figures, condemned "the Jews," and Henry Ford reprinted The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in his newspaper.

In 1939 a Roper poll found that only thirty-nine percent of Americans felt that Jews should be treated like other people. Fifty-three percent believed that "Jews are different and should be restricted" and ten percent believed that Jews should be deported.[13] Several surveys taken from 1940 to 1946 Jews were seen as a greater threat to the welfare of the United States then any other national, religious, or racial group. [1] It has been estimated that 190,000 - 200,000 Jews could have been saved during the Second World War had it not been for bureaucratic obstacles to immigration deliberately created by Breckinridge Long and others.[14]

In a speech at an America First rally on September 11, 1941 in Des Moines, Iowa entitled "Who Are the War Agitators?", Charles Lindbergh claimed that three groups had been "pressing this country toward war" - the Roosevelt Administration, the British, and the Jews - and complained about what he insisted was the Jews' "large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government."

Unofficial anti-Semitism was also widespread in the first half of the century. For example, to limit the growing number of Jewish students between 1919-1950s a number of private liberal arts universities and medical and dental schools employed Numerus clausus. These included Harvard University, Columbia University, Cornell University, and Boston University. In 1925 Yale University, which already had such admissions preferences as "character", "solidity", and "physical characteristics" added a program of legacy preference admission spots for children of Yale alumni, in an explicit attempt to put the brakes on the rising percentage of Jews in the student body. This was soon copied by other Ivy League and other schools, and admissions of Jews were kept down to 10% through the 1950s. Such policies were for the most part discarded during the early 1960s.

American anti-Semitism underwent a modest revival in the late 20th century. The Nation of Islam under Louis Farrakhan claimed that Jews were responsible for slavery, economic exploitation of black labor, selling alcohol and drugs in their communities, and unfair domination of the economy. Jesse Jackson issued his infamous "Hymietown" remarks during the 1984 Presidential primary campaign. According to ADL surveys begun in 1964, African-Americans are "significantly more likely" than white Americans to hold anti-Semitic beliefs, although there is a strong correlation between education level and the rejection of anti-Semitic stereotypes.[15]


The summary of a 2004 poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project noted that "Despite concerns about rising anti-Semitism in Europe, there are no indications that anti-Jewish sentiment has increased over the past decade. Favorable ratings of Jews are actually higher now in France, Germany and Russia than they were in 1991. Nonetheless, Jews are better liked in the U.S. than in Germany and Russia."[16]

However, according to 2005 survey results by the ADL,[17] anti-Semitic attitudes remain common in Europe. Over 30% of those surveyed indicated that Jews have too much power in business, with responses ranging from lows of 11% in Denmark and 14% in England to highs of 66% in Hungary, and over 40% in Poland and Spain. The results of religious anti-Semitism also linger and over 20% of European respondents agreed that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, with France having the lowest percentage at 13% and Poland having the highest number of those agreeing, at 39%.[18]

The Vienna-based European Union Monitoring Center (EUMC), for 2002 and 2003, identified France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and The Netherlands as EU member countries with notable increases in incidents. As these nations keep reliable and comprehensive statistics on anti-Semitic acts, and are engaged in combating anti-Semitism, their data was readily available to the EUMC. Governments and leading public figures condemned the violence, passed new legislation, and mounted positive law enforcement and educational efforts.

In Western Europe, traditional far-right groups still account for a significant proportion of the attacks against Jews and Jewish properties; disadvantaged and disaffected Muslim youths increasingly were responsible for most of the other incidents. In Eastern Europe, with a much smaller Muslim population, skinheads and others members of the radical political fringe were responsible for most anti-Semitic incidents. Anti-Semitism remained a serious problem in Russia and Belarus, and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, with most incidents carried out by ultra-nationalist and other far-right elements. The stereotype of Jews as manipulators of the global economy continues to provide fertile ground for anti-Semitic aggression.



Defacement of a Jewish cemetery in France, 2004.

Main article: History of the Jews in France

Anti-semitism was particularly virulent in Vichy France during WWII (1939 - 1945). The Vichy government openly collaborated with the Nazi occupiers to identify Jews for deportation and transportation to the death camps.

Today, despite a steady trend of decreasing antisemitism among the population,[19] acts of antisemitism are a serious cause for concern,[20] as is tension between the Jewish and Muslim populations of France, both the largest in Europe. According to the National Advisory Committee on human rights, antisemitic acts account for a majority (72% of all in 2003) of racist acts in France. (See also the official statement of the French ministry of interior about antisemitic acts.[21]

In 2005 the Israeli newspaper the Maariv found that 82% of French people questioned had favourable attitudes towards Jews, the second highest percentage of the countries questioned. The Netherlands was highest at 85%.[22]


see History of the Jews in Poland

In 1264, King Boleslaus V of Poland legislated a charter for Jewish residence and protection, hoping that Jewish settlement would contribute to the development of the Polish economy. This charter, which encouraged money-lending, was a slight variation of the 1244 charter granted by the King of Austria to the Jews. By the sixteenth century, Poland had become the center of European Jewry and the most tolerant of all European countries regarding the matters of faith, although there were still occasionally violent anti-Semitic incidents.

At the onset of the seventeenth century, however, the tolerance began to give way to increased anti-Semitism. Elected to the Polish throne King Sigismund III of the Swedish House of Vasa, a strong supporter of the counter-reformation, began to undermine the principles of the Warsaw Confederation and the religious tolerance in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, revoking and limiting privileges of all non-Catholic faiths. In 1628 he banned publication of Hebrew books, including the Talmud.[23] Acclaimed twentieth century historian Simon Dubnow, in his magnum opus History of the Jews in Poland and Russia, detailed:

"At the end of the 16th century and thereafter, not one year passed without a blood libel trial against Jews in Poland, trials which always ended with the execution of Jewish victims in a heinous manner..." (ibid., volume 6, chapter 4).

In the 1650s the Swedish invasion of the Commonwealth (The Deluge) and the Chmielnicki Uprising of the Cossacks resulted in vast depopulation of the Commonwealth, as over 30% of the ~10 million population has perished or emigrated. In the related 1648-55 pogroms led by the Ukrainian Haidamaks uprising against Polish nobility (szlachta), during which approximately 100,000 Jews were slaughtered, Polish and Ruthenian peasants often participated in killing Jews (The Jews in Poland, Ken Spiro, 2001). The besieged szlachta, who were also decimated in the territories where the uprising happened, typically abandoned the loyal peasantry, townsfolk, and the Jews renting their land, in violation of "rental" contracts.

In the aftermath of the Deluge and Chmielnicki Uprising, many Jews fled to the less turbulent Netherlands, which had granted the Jews a protective charter in 1619. From then until the Nazi deportations in 1942, the Netherlands remained a remarkably tolerant haven for Jews in Europe, excedeeing the tolerance extant in all other European countries at the time, and becoming one of the few Jewish havens until nineteenth century social and political reforms throughout much of Europe. Many Jews also fled to England, open to Jews since the mid-seventeenth century, in which Jews were fundamentally ignored and not typically persecuted. Historian Berel Wein notes:

"In a reversal of roles that is common in Jewish history, the victorious Poles now vented their wrath upon the hapless Jews of the area, accusing them of collaborating with the Cossack invader!... The Jews, reeling from almost five years of constant hell, abandoned their Polish communities and institutions..." (Triumph of Survival, 1990).

Throughout the sixteenth to eighteenth century, many of the szlachta mistreated peasantry, townsfolk and Jews. Threat of mob violence was a specter over the Jewish communities in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at the time. On one occasion in 1696, a mob threatened to massacre the Jewish community of Posin, Vitebsk. The mob accused the Jews of murdering a Pole. At the last moment, a peasant woman emerged with the victim's clothes and confessed to the murder. One notable example of actualized riots against Polish Jews is the rioting of 1716, during which many Jews lost their lives. Later, in 1723, the Bishop of Gdańsk instigated the massacre of hundreds of Jews.

The legendary Walentyn Potocki, a Polish nobleman who converted to Judaism, is said to have been burned by auto da fe on May 24, 1749. In 1757, at the instigation of Jacob Frank and his followers, the Bishop of Kamianets-Podilskyi forced the Jewish rabbis to participate in a religious dispute with the quasi-Christian Frankists. Among the other charges, the Frankists claimed that the Talmud was full of heresy against Catholicism. The Catholic judges determined that the Frankists had won the debate, whereupon the Bishop levied heavy fines against the Jewish community and confiscated and burned all Jewish Talmuds. Polish anti-Semitism during the seventeenth and eighteenth century was summed up by Issac de Pinto as follows: "Polish Jews... who are deprived of all the privileges of society... who are despised and reviled on all sides, who are often persecuted, always insulted.... That contempt which is heaped on them chokes up all the seeds of virtue and honour...." (Issac de Pinto, philosopher and economist, in a 1762 letter to Voltaire).

On the other hand, it should be noted that despite the mentioned incidents, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a relative haven for Jews when compared to the period of the partitions of Poland and the PLC's destruction in 1795 (see Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, below).

Anti-Jewish sentiments continued to be present in Poland, even after the country regained its independence. One notable manifestation of these attitudes includes numerus clausus rules imposed, by almost all Polish universities in the 1930's. William W. Hagen in his Before the "Final Solution": Toward a Comparative Analysis of Political Anti-Semitism in Interwar Germany and Poland article in Journal of Modern History (July, 1996): 1-31, details:

"In Poland, the semidictatorial government of Pilsudski and his successors, pressured by an increasingly vocal opposition on the radical and fascist right, implemented many anti-Semitic policies tending in a similar direction, while still others were on the official and semiofficial agenda when war descended in 1939.... In the 1930s the realm of official and semiofficial discrimination expanded to encompass limits on Jewish export firms... and, increasingly, on university admission itself. In 1921-22 some 25 percent of Polish university students were Jewish, but in 1938-39 their proportion had fallen to 8 percent."

While there are many examples of Polish support and help for the Jews during World War II and the Holocaust, there are also numerous examples of anti-Semitic incidents, and the Jewish population was certain of the indifference towards their fate from the Christian Poles. The Polish Institute for National Memory identified twenty-four pogroms against Jews during World War II, the largest occurring at the village of Jedwabne in 1941 (see massacre in Jedwabne).

After the end of World War II the remaining anti-Jewish sentiments were skillfully used at certain moments by communist party or individual politicians in order to achieve their assumed political goals, which pinnacled in the March 1968 events. These sentiments started to diminish only with the collapse of the communist rule in Poland in 1989, which has resulted in a re-examination of events between Jewish and Christian Poles, with a number of incidents, like the masscre at Jedwabne, being discussed openly for the first time. Violent anti-semitism in Poland in 21st century is marginal[24] compared to elsewhere, but there are very few Jews remaining in Poland. Still, according to recent (June 7, 2005) results of research by B'nai Briths Anti-Defamation League, Poland remains among the European countries (with others being Italy, Spain and Germany) with the largest percentages of people holding anti-Semitic views.

Poland is actively trying to address concerns about anti-semitism. In 2004, the Polish government approved a National Action Program against racism, including anti-semitism. Additionally the Polish Catholic Church has widely distributed materials promoting the need for respect and cooperation with Judaism.



Der Stürmer: "Satan". The caption reads: "The Jews are our misfortune."

See main articles: History of the Jews in Germany, Holocaust

From the early Middle Ages to the 18th century, the Jews in Germany were subject to many persecutions as well as brief times of tolerance. Though the 19th century began with a series of riots and pogroms against the Jews, emancipation followed in 1848, so that, by the early 20th century, the Jews of Germany were the most integrated in Europe. The situation changed in the early 1930's with the rise of the Nazis and their explicitly anti-Semitic program. Hate speech which referred to Jewish citizens as "dirty Jews" became common in anti-Semitic pamphlets and newspapers such as the Völkischer Beobachter and Der Stürmer. Additionally, blame was laid on German Jews for having caused Germany's defeat in World War I (see Dolchstosslegende).

Anti-Jewish propaganda expanded rapidly. Nazi cartoons depicting "dirty Jews" frequently portrayed a dirty, physically unattractive and badly dressed "talmudic" Jew in traditional religious garments similar to those worn by Hasidic Jews. Articles attacking Jewish Germans, while concentrating on commercial and political activities of prominent Jewish individuals, also frequently attacked them based on religious dogmas, such as blood libel.

The Nazi anti-Semitic program quickly expanded beyond mere speech. Starting in 1933, repressive laws were passed against Jews, culminating in the Nuremberg Laws which removed most of the rights of citizenship from Jews, using a racial definition based on descent, rather than any religious definition of who was a Jew. Sporadic violence against the Jews became widespread with the Kristallnacht riots, which targeted Jewish homes, businesses and places of worship, killing hundreds across Germany and Austria.

The anti-Semitic agenda culminated in the genocide of the Jews of Europe, known as the Holocaust.

Russia and the Soviet Union

"Judaism Without Embellishments" by Trofim Kichko, published by the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR in 1963: "It is in the teachings of Judaism, in the Old Testament, and in the Talmud, that the Israeli militarists find inspiration for their inhuman deeds, racist theories, and expansionist designs..."

Main articles: History of the Jews in Russia and Soviet Union, Pogrom

The Pale of Settlement was the Western region of Imperial Russia to which Jews were restricted by the Tsarist Ukase of 1792. It consisted of the territories of former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, annexed with the existing numerous Jewish population, and the Crimea (which was later cut out from the Pale).

During 1881-1884, 1903-1906 and 1914-1921, waves of anti-Semitic pogroms swept Russian Jewish communities. At least some pogroms are believed to have been organized or supported by the Russian okhranka; although there is no hard evidence for this, the Russian police and army generally displayed indifference to the pogroms (e.g. during the three-day First Kishinev pogrom of 1903), as well as to anti-Jewish articles in newspapers which often instigated the pogroms.

During this period the May Laws policy was also put into effect, banning Jews from rural areas and towns, and placing strict quotas on the number of Jews allowed into higher education and many professions. The combination of the repressive legislation and pogroms propelled mass Jewish emigration, and by 1920 more than two million Russian Jews had emigrated, most to the United States while some made aliya to the Land of Israel.

One of the most infamous anti-Semitic tractates was the Russian okhranka literary hoax, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, created in order to blame the Jews for Russia's problems during the period of revolutionary activity.

Even though many Old Bolsheviks were ethnically Jewish, they sought to uproot Judaism and Zionism and established the Yevsektsiya to achieve this goal. By the end of the 1940s the Communist leadership of the former USSR had liquidated almost all Jewish organizations, including Yevsektsiya.

The anti-Semitic campaign of 1948-1953 against so-called "rootless cosmopolitans," destruction of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, the fabrication of the "Doctors' plot," the rise of "Zionology" and subsequent activities of official organizations such as the Anti-Zionist committee of the Soviet public were officially carried out under the banner of "anti-Zionism," but the use of this term could not obscure the anti-Semitic content of these campaigns, and by the mid-1950s the state persecution of Soviet Jews emerged as a major human rights issue in the West and domestically. See also: Jackson-Vanik amendment, Refusenik, Pamyat.

Today, anti-Semitic pronouncements, speeches and articles are common in Russia, and there are a large number of anti-Semitic neo-Nazi groups in the republics of the former Soviet Union, leading Pravda to declare in 2002 that "Anti-semitism is booming in Russia."[25] Over the past few years there have also been bombs attached to anti-Semitic signs, apparently aimed at Jews, and other violent incidents, including stabbings, have been recorded.

Though the government of Vladimir Putin takes an official stand against anti-semitism, some political parties and groups are explicitly anti-Semitic, in spite of a Russian law (Art. 282) against fomenting racial, ethnic or religious hatred. In 2005, a group of 15 Duma members demanded that Judaism and Jewish organizations be banned from Russia. In June, 500 prominent Russians, including some 20 members of the nationalist Rodina party, demanded that the state prosecutor investigate ancient Jewish texts as "anti-Russian" and ban Judaism — the investigation was actually launched, but halted amid international outcry.



Main article: Antisemitism in Japan

Originally Japan, with no Jewish population, had no anti-Semitism but Nazi ideology and propaganda left an influence on Japan during World War II, and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were translated into Japanese. Today, anti-Semitism and belief in Jewish manipulation of Japan and the world remains despite the small size of the Jewish community in Japan. Books about Jewish conspiracies are best sellers. According to a 1988 survey, 8% of Japanese had read one of these books.


Cartoon from the Syrian Arab daily newspaper Tishreen (Apr 30, 2000). Negative zoomorphism is commonly used in anti-Semitic discourse.

Anti-Semitism in the 21st century

According to the 2005 U.S. State Department Report on Global Anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism in Europe has increased significantly in recent years. Beginning in 2000, verbal attacks directed against Jews increased while incidents of vandalism (e.g. graffiti, fire bombings of Jewish schools, desecration of synagogues and cemeteries) surged. Physical assaults including beatings, stabbings and other violence against Jews in Europe increased markedly, in a number of cases resulting in serious injury and even death.

On January 1, 2006, Britain's chief rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, warned that what he called a "tsunami of anti-Semitism" was spreading globally. In an interview with BBC's Radio Four, Sacks said that anti-Semitism was on the rise in Europe, and that a number of his rabbinical colleagues had been assaulted, synagogues desecrated, and Jewish schools burned to the ground in France. He also said that: "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."[26]

Much of the new European anti-Semitic violence can actually be seen as a spill over from the long running Israeli-Arab conflict since the majority of the perpetrators are from the large immigrant Arab communities in European cities. According to The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, most of the current anti-Semitism comes from militant Islamist and Muslim groups, and most Jews tend to be assaulted in countries where groups of young Muslim immigrants reside.[27]

Similarly, in the Middle East, anti-Zionist propaganda frequently adopts the terminology and symbols of the Holocaust to demonize Israel and its leaders -- for instance, comparing Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews. At the same time, Holocaust denial and Holocaust minimization efforts find increasingly overt acceptance as sanctioned historical discourse in a number of Middle Eastern countries.

The recurrence of anti-Semitism is not only significant in Europe and in the Middle East, but there are also expressions of it elsewhere. For example, in Pakistan, a country without a Jewish community, anti-Semitic sentiment fanned by anti-Semitic articles in the press is widespread. This reflects the more recent phenomenon of anti-Semitism appearing in countries where historically or currently there are few or even no Jews.

On April 3, 2006, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced its finding that incidents of anti-Semitism are a "serious problem" on college campuses throughout the United States. The Commission recommended that the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights protect college students from anti-Semitism 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.[28][2]

See also


  1. Chesler, Phyllis. The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It, Jossey-Bass, 2003, pp. 158-159, 181.
  2. Kinsella, Warren. The New anti-Semitism, accessed March 5, 2006.
  3. Doward, Jamie. "Jews predict record level of hate attacks: Militant Islamic media accused of stirring up new wave of anti-semitism", The Guardian, August 8, 2004.
  4. Endelman, Todd M. "Antisemitism in Western Europe Today" in Contemporary Antisemitism: Canada and the World, University of Toronto Press, 2005, pp. 65-79.
  5. Matas, David. Aftershock: Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, Dundurn Press, 2005, p.31.
  6. Bauer, Yehuda. "Problems of Contemporary Antisemitism", accessed March 12, 2006.
  7. Bauer, Yehuda. A History of the Holocaust, Franklin Watts, 1982, p. 52. ISBN 0531056414
  8. Lewis, Bernard. "Semites and Anti-Semites", Islam in History: Ideas, Men and Events in the Middle East, The Library Press, 1973.
  9. "Report on Global Anti-Semitism", U.S. State Department, January 5, 2005.
  10. European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, "Working Definition of Antisemitism", accessed March 12, 2006.
  11. Thernstrom, Stephan, ed. Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, Belknap Press, 1980, p. 590. ISBN 0674375122
  12. Gruen, George E. "The Other Refugees: Jews of the Arab World", The Jerusalem Letter, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, June 1, 1988.
  13. Smitha, Frank E. "Roosevelt and Approaching War: The Economy, Politics and Questions of War, 1937-38", accessed March 12, 2006.
  14. "Breckinridge Long (1881-1958)", Public Broadcasting System (PBS), accessed March 12, 2006.
  15. "Anti-Semitism and Prejudice in America: Highlights from an ADL Survey - November 1998", Anti-Defamation League, accessed March 12, 2006.
  16. "A Year After Iraq War: Mistrust of America in Europe Even Higher, Muslim Anger Persists", Pew Global Attitudes Project, accessed March 12, 2006.
  17. "ADL Survey in 12 European Countries Finds Anti-Semitic Attitudes Still Strongly Held", Anti-Defamation League, 2005, accessed March 12, 2006.
  18. Flash Map of Attitudes Toward Jews in 12 European Countries (2005), Philo. Sophistry, accessed March 12, 2006.
  19. "L'antisémitisme en France", Association Française des Amis de l'Université de Tel Aviv, accessed March 12, 2006.
  20. Thiolay, Boris. "Juif, et alors?", L'Express, June 6, 2005.
  21. "Communiqués Officiels: Les actes antisémites", Ministère de l'Intérieur et de l'Aménagement du territoire, accessed March 12, 2006.
  22. "Are Frenchies antisemitic?", SuperFrenchie, accessed March 12, 2006.
  23. Jones, Derek. "Censorship in Poland: From the Beginnings to the Enlightenment", Censorship: A World Encylopedia, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000.
  24. "Major Violent Incidents in 2004: Breakdown by Country", The Steven Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University, accessed March 12, 2006.
  25. Litvinovich, Dmitri. "Explosion of anti-Semitism in Russia", Pravda July 30, 2002.
  26. Gillan, Audrey. "Chief rabbi fears 'tsunami' of hatred", Guardian, January 2, 2006.
  27. "Annual Reports: General Analysis, 2004", The Steven Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University, accessed March 12, 2006.
  28. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: "Findings and Recommendations Regarding Campus Anti-Semitism", April 3, 2006


  • Bodansky, Yossef. Islamic Anti-Semitism as a Political Instrument, Freeman Center For Strategic Studies, 1999.
  • Carr, Steven Alan. Hollywood and anti-Semitism: A cultural history up to World War II, Cambridge University Press 2001.
  • Chanes, Jerome A. Antisemitism: A Reference Handbook, ABC-CLIO, 2004.
  • Cohn, Norman. Warrant for Genocide, Eyre & Spottiswoode 1967; Serif, 1996.
  • Freudmann, Lillian C. Antisemitism in the New Testament, University Press of America, 1994.
  • Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews. Holmes & Meier, 1985. 3 volumes.
  • Lipstadt, Deborah. Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, Penguin, 1994.
  • McKain, Mark. Anti-Semitism: At Issue, Greenhaven Press, 2005.
  • Prager, Dennis, Telushkin, Joseph. Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism. Touchstone (reprint), 1985.
  • Selzer, Michael (ed). "Kike!" : A Documentary History of Anti-Semitism in America, New York 1972.

Further reading

External Links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).