ANTISEMITISM , a term coined in 1879, from the Greek ἁντί = anti, and Σημ = Semite by the German agitator Wilhelm *Marr to designate the then-current anti-Jewish campaigns in Europe. "Antisemitism" soon came into general use as a term denoting all forms of hostility manifested toward the Jews throughout history. It is often qualified by an adjective denoting the specific cause, nature or rationale of a manifestation of anti-Jewish passion or action: e.g., "economic antisemitism," "social antisemitism," "racial antisemitism," etc.
Prejudice against Jews appeared in antiquity almost exclusively in those countries which later became part of the Roman Empire. Some manifestations were noted in the Parthian Empire, which contained Babylonian Jewry, but such hatred never attained serious proportions. Josephus states it as a well-known fact that in the lands of the Babylonian exile antisemitism did not exist (Apion 1:71). In those countries that afterward formed part of the Roman Empire, a distinction must be drawn between Ereẓ Israel and the Diaspora.
in ereẒ israel
Even in the days of David and Solomon the land of Israel contained a substantial Gentile population. In Hellenistic times it was primarily concentrated in the coastal towns and in certain districts of Transjordan, but the boundaries between the Jewish and non-Jewish regions were not fixed and the seeds of friction were ever present. Of particular importance, however, was the difference in occupations between the Jews and Gentiles of those areas. The Jewish population engaged principally in agriculture, particularly in small-scale farming; the non-Jewish population occupied itself primarily with commerce. The transit and sea trade was almost entirely in the hands of the inhabitants of the coastal cities, or of the Transjordanian cities situated along the routes that connected Syria, Asia Minor, and the regions of the Euphrates with the Arabian countries. The inhabitants of Ereẓ Israel who engaged in commerce, with connections abroad, were thus mainly non-Jewish. These Gentiles were therefore in close contact with the foreign powers in the region and were confident of their support; in Ereẓ Israel they were contemptuous of the Jewish population, whom they regarded as an isolated people that eschewed civilization and refrained from all contact with the outside world. Moreover, the non-Jews who dwelt in Ereẓ Israel knew that the Jews looked upon that land as their divine inheritance, and upon themselves as a unique and elevated people. In the eyes of the Jews, as these Gentiles knew, their pagan religions and practices rendered them "unclean"; intermarriage with them was forbidden and, as a consequence of the dietary laws, no real social intercourse was possible.
In normal times these two segments of the population dwelt alongside each other without any undue hostility. In time of crisis, however, relations deteriorated sharply. The first serious manifestation of antisemitism in history was the concentrated attack on the Jewish religion in the days of *Antiochus Epiphanes (175–164 b.c.e.). The immediate cause was anger by the Seleucids at the fact that the vast majority of Jews traditionally sided with the Ptolemies against the Seleucids. Tension was exacerbated still further by the image that Hellenistic rulers such as Antiochus had of themselves. Their role was not only political; they were also to be torchbearers of the ideals of *Hellenism within their dominions. The seeming unfriendliness of the Jews toward all Gentiles, and their refusal to adopt any other religion, was therefore seen as an obstacle to the realization of this cultural mission. An echo of this attitude can be seen in the account of the negotiations that took place outside Jerusalem in 133 b.c.e., when John Hyrcanus was compelled to yield to Antiochus Sidetes after the latter had besieged the capital for a year. Antiochus Sidetes' officers counseled him to seize the opportunity to conquer the city and completely destroy the Jewish people, since the Jews were the only people in the world that refused to associate with other peoples. Pressing the point, they reminded Antiochus Sidetes of the course taken by Antiochus Epiphanes, who undertook to abrogate those laws of the Torah that he regarded as inimical to humanity. To this end, he had sacrificed a swine on the altar at Jerusalem and ordered that juices from the sacrificial flesh be sprinkled over the books containing the statutes that were directed against the Gentile world (Diodorus, Bibliotheca 34:1, 1ff.).
This reiterated insistence on the alleged antipathy of the Jews to other nations is best understood against the background of the peculiar conditions and circumstances obtaining in the Hellenistic period. No other nation at that time denied the gods of its neighbors; on the contrary, it recognized them, identifying them with its own deities. This pan-religiosity was used with considerable success by the Hellenistic ruling authorities to create a social bond between the various peoples in their domains. None of the peoples refrained from dining at one table with their neighbors and from partaking of the sacrifices offered to their gods, except the Jews. None of the peoples refused to send gifts to its neighbors' temples, except the Jews. None of the peoples was unequivocally hostile to intermarriage, except the Jews. They characterized it as a misanthropy in general, and as a flagrant denial of the Hellenic principle of the unity of mankind in particular.
As the Hasmonean kingdom expanded and established its dominion over the whole land, its kings occasionally adopted a policy of political and religious oppression vis à vis the inhabitants of the pagan cities of Palestine, who had sided earlier with Antiochus Epiphanes and had joined the war of Antiochus Sidetes against the Jews. Against this background, libels began to circulate, denying that the Jews had any right to remain in the land. Underlying these libels were Egyptian legends concerning shepherd kings who had once ruled over Egypt and oppressed its people but who had subsequently been expelled. There were also stories about a leprous or unclean people who had been banished from Egypt so that the land and its temples, which they had defiled, might be purified. These legends were now related to the biblical tale of the Exodus; the composite version was that the Jews had been expelled from Egypt because of their uncleanliness and had continued to separate themselves from the other nations in Ereẓ Israel. If such was their origin and the reason for their present habits, they had no legitimate claims on this or any other land, or on being unique and elevated.
Descriptions of the Jews as homeless wanderers are found in the allegations of Antiochus Sidetes' officers, who regarded their nomadic status as justification for destroying them. The general motif, however, is undoubtedly much older, having been employed by non-Jews to counter the Jewish claim that Ereẓ Israel was the inheritance of the Lord and that idolaters had no share in it. However, if in the period preceding the Hasmonean conquests this Jewish conception of Ereẓ Israel made little practical difference to its non-Jewish inhabitants, in the Hasmonean epoch it became the justification for eradicating idolatry from the land, and not idolatry alone. The sins of the Canaanites, as they are enumerated in the Wisdom of Solomon (12:3ff.), an apocryphal book composed in this period, were depicted as so offensive to the Holy Land that their perpetrators would have to be cast out if they did not mend their ways and conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the sanctity of Ereẓ Israel. This view, in turn, aroused more animosity against the Jews.
With the consolidation of Roman rule in Palestine there was apparently little reason for the Jews of Palestine to obstruct the policy pursued by Rome on its eastern borders. Even the attempts at such obstruction in the time of *Antiochusii (e.g., his approach to the Parthians), and by the war party during the war which led to the destruction of the Second Temple, constituted no great danger to Rome. Any anti-Judaism which then was associated with Roman foreign policy was not caused by militancy or even by revolt on the part of Palestinian Jewry. Even in the relations between the Jewish and non-Jewish settlements in Palestine, or Palestina, as the Romans named the region. Rome created a kind of equilibrium, and clashes on any large scale between the two sides ceased completely. Fresh fuel for antisemitic excesses, however, was provided by emperor-worship, which had begun to assume the form of a permanent political institution in all the countries of the Roman Empire from the time of Augustus onward. From the views of contemporaries to this worship, it appears not to have been regarded as an act of religious homage to the emperor but as an expression of loyalty to the state, which was itself endowed with religious sanctity. The refusal by the Jews to accept the imperial cult in any form was thus equated in the minds of many Romans with a refusal to recognize the authority of the state, and as a result, the belief gradually began to take hold in the pagan world that the Jews had no respect for whatever was held in esteem by the rest of humanity. For example, when the Jews were ordered by Caligula to erect and worship an image of the emperor in Jerusalem, but his assassination spared the Jews of Palestine and other parts of the Roman Empire a bitter conflict with the imperial authorities.
in the diaspora
The Jews of the Roman Empire (unlike their later-day descendants in the late Middle Ages) were not, as a rule, restricted in regard to place of residence; according to the testimony of reliable sources, there was no part of the empire where Jews were not to be found. The Jews formed up to 10–12 percent, approximately, of the population of the empire, and since an appreciable portion of the Jews in the Diaspora were found in the cities, it follows that they played an important role in the economic life of the countries in which they lived (Jos., Ant. 14:115). It would also seem that the Jews were as unrestricted in their choice of occupation as they were in their choice of residence. In regard to their legal position, no discrimination was made between them and the other citizens of the empire, the extent of their rights being dependent, as a rule, on the class to which they belonged. In some cases Jews even received favored treatment in deference to their religious needs. The observance of Sabbath and the fulfillment of other religious precepts led them to seek exemptions from certain civic obligations which were imposed upon the rest of the populace. According to Josephus (Ant. 14:187, 190ff.), the prerogatives granted the Jews were protected by special decrees of the kings of Persia and Macedonia, and even the Roman rulers honored them, without thereby arousing popular resentment. Still, it should be taken into consideration that Jews maintained the same habits outside Ereẓ Israel as well.
About the first century b.c.e., however, several factors brought about a radical change. In Egypt, particularly in Alexandria, strong opposition to Roman rule became manifest, for many reasons. The upper strata of Alexandrian Egyptians had particular cause for complaint. They had directed the country's policies during the reign of the Ptolemies but they were now, under Rome, out of power. They were thus reduced to a level no higher than that of the Jews, who were now competing with the former ruling class for Roman favor. Relations inevitably deteriorated.
Illuminating in this respect are the orders issued by the emperor Claudius soon after the restoration of quiet in Alexandria, following the turbulence resulting from the riots organized by the Greeks against the Jewish community there. In his injunction to the citizens of Alexandria and the Syrian cities (Jos., Ant. 19:279ff.) Claudius fully confirms the original privileges granted to the Jews to allow them to keep the precepts of the Torah without let or hindrance. However, in his edict to all the countries of the empire, in which Claudius addresses himself to the Jews as well, after reaffirming their privileges, he declares: "I enjoin upon them also by these presents to avail themselves of this kindness in a more reasonable spirit, and not to set at nought the beliefs about the gods held by other peoples, but to keep their own laws" (Ant. 19:286ff., especially 290). Claudius, in an edict to the Alexandrians which has been preserved in a papyrus (published by Idris Bell), is even more explicit. In it, after stating that the Jews are completely at liberty to observe the injunctions of the Torah, Claudius warns that if they will not content themselves with the rights accorded them, he will employ against them all such means as should be used against people who spread "a general plague throughout the world."
Despite the friction between Judaism and the centers of Hellenistic-Roman culture in Egypt, Syria, and cities of the Roman Empire, where intellectual and economic circles were adverse to the Jews, no change was made in the Roman legal code. However, Judaism and the Jews were increasingly described in those circles as flouting not only the law, but all of human society. Though the elements of such characterizations had all already appeared during the struggle between the Hasmonean kings and their adversaries in Palestine, in the first century c.e. they were arranged into a kind of connected rationale of anti-Jewishness.
In common with the courtiers of Antiochus Sidetes two centuries earlier, many Greek authors of the first century c.e. portrayed the Jewish people as the descendants of a mob of lepers, a contaminated rabble, whom the Egyptians had cast out to purge themselves of their defilement and who had continued to pursue in Judea, their adopted home, the pattern that accorded with their degenerate and outcast state. Thus, the portrayal went on, as unclean people who had been afflicted with leprosy they shunned the flesh of swine, this creature being more prone than others to contract this disease. The observance of the Sabbath and the worship of God by the Jews in general were interpreted in a similar vein. No stranger was permitted to approach the Temple in Jerusalem because human beings were sacrificed there. A number of writers of the first century c.e. attempted to portray Jewish life in this manner, the most prominent among them being *Chaeremon, Nero's teacher; *Lysimachus of Alexandria, the head of the library at Alexandria, and *Apion, who surpassed all the others in the crudeness of his fabrications. The destruction of the Second Temple added fuel to the fire. In the period immediately preceding this event, visions of the redemption of the world from the Roman yoke in a form closely corresponding to that of Jewish eschatology began to spread within sections of pagan society. The attraction of the idea of redemption, with its attendant liberation from the ruling power, was a great boon to the propagation of the message of Judaism, the recognition of the unity of God being inextricably interwoven with the redemptive vision. The destruction of the Temple at this juncture produced a sharp counterreaction to this ferment, many of the Jewish adversaries seizing upon it and upon the catastrophe that befell Judea and the Jewish communities in Alexandria, Antioch, and Cyrene as evidence that the Jews were hated by God and had received their due punishment at His hands. According to a story from an antisemitic source (Philostratus, Vita Apolloni, 6:29), when representatives of the peoples living in proximity to Judea came and presented to Titus a wreath of victory for his destruction of Jerusalem, he declined to accept it, saying that he had only lent a hand to God, who had revealed his wrath against the Jews. Of what worth was a doctrine of world redemption propagated by a nation forsaken by its god?
The same period saw a deterioration in the attitude of a number of the representatives of the Roman aristocracy toward Jews and Judaism. The factors responsible for this change stemmed, on the one hand, from the conditions prevailing in Rome and among its ruling classes, and, on the other, from the continuing influence, even after the year 70, exerted by Judaism upon some sections of Roman society. Emperors of the type of Nero and Domitian snuffed out the last glimmer of freedom. Sycophancy and subservience dominated the atmosphere. As they dreamt of a purer past which ought to be restored, many Roman intellectuals felt hampered by the multiplicity of foreign cults in imperial Rome and by the powerful influence of Judaism, which appeared to them as subversive of the entire life pattern of Rome. The Jewish community in Rome had already felt the barbs of a number of Roman writers (e.g., *Horace, *Martial), but the first Roman authors to deal with the Jews did not rise to unusual heights of invective. Even *Cicero, the first writer to discuss the Jews seriously (in his speech on behalf of Lucius Valerius Flaccus, the proconsul of Asia Minor, in 62 b.c.e., he attacked the Jews of Palestine and the Diaspora, and, in particular, those of Rome), did not carry his criticism of the Jews beyond the bounds customary among the pleaders in Rome who tried to discredit a litigant in the interests of their client. It may be well to point out here that Cicero, in attacking the Gauls in defense of one of his clients, leveled such grave charges against them and their religion that, by comparison, the accusations he made against the Jews were not unduly severe (cf. the fragments of Cicero's speech Pro Pontio).
The end of the first century c.e. witnessed a radical change. Those who saw Rome's salvation in the resuscitation of civic liberty, in the revival of the Roman attribute of virtus, and in the renewal of the ancient Roman ideals of heroism and justice, pointed to the danger inherent in the Jewish attempt to swamp the lower and middle classes with new ideas. They sought to rally the public to their standard by declaring the struggle against the propagators of such ideas a life and death necessity. One of the most capable and outspoken of these agitators was Cornelius *Tacitus. He cited all the libelous fabrications against Jews to be culled from Greek anti-Jewish literature. His presentation of the subject as an inquiry into the various accounts of the Jews and their doctrines to the end of discovering that most consonant with historic reality is but a futile attempt to mask his single, overriding purpose, to prove the Jews a mere rabble, hateful to the gods and men alike, and capable of gaining adherents for their degenerate cause only in a Rome that had become a breeding ground for all that was vile and abhorrent (Tacitus, Historiae 5:1–13; cf. also his Annales 15:44).
*Juvenal followed closely in the footsteps of Tacitus. In one of his poems he portrayed a convert to Judaism as estranged from Roman society and from the members of his family, as unprepared to guide a person who has lost his way if he is not an observer of the Law of Moses, and as unwilling to give a thirsty man a drink if he is uncircumcised (Juvenal, Saturae 14:96ff.). General Roman policy toward the Jews was not greatly affected by the diatribes of writers such as Tacitus or Juvenal. It is not inconceivable, however, that the emperor Hadrian's anti-Jewish policy, which represented only a brief episode in the history of Roman legislation in regard to the Jews, was influenced to a certain extent by the circles in which Tacitus and his associates moved.
[Joseph Heinemann /
The Early Christian Period
The anti-Judaism of the pagan world, whether expressed in outbreaks of violence and rioting or in ideological diatribes and libels, did not hold such fateful consequences for Jews as that which later crystallized within Christianity. The crucial factor here was not so much Christianity's refusal to countenance any other faith, as its commitment to an idea of redemption so manifestly in opposition to that of the Jews as to render their mutual coexistence inconceivable. With the political triumph of Christianity, the old pagan image of the Jews as a people hated by God was resuscitated, but the reasons for God's hatred were changed to suit the new circumstances. Under the stigma of this image, the Jews were gradually excluded from every sphere of political influence and their political and civic rights were increasingly denied them, until in the end such rights were almost entirely a thing of the past.
Since Christianity originated as a dissident Jewish sect, certain judgments of Judaism in the New Testament must be examined in this light. Such, for instance, is the case with the writings of Saul (Paul) of Tarsus. In his Epistle to the Romans he protests against the idea of God's rejection of the Jews: "They are beloved for the sake of their forefathers" (Rom. 11:28): "I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin" (Rom. 11:1). Of the Gospels – easily the most popular writings in the New Testament – the last chronologically, namely Matthew and John, are the most hostile to Judaism, which they criticize from the standpoint of an outsider. In addition, these Gospels already contain the two cardinal themes appearing later in Christian antisemitism: the Jews themselves are made to admit their collective responsibility for the crucifixion of the son of God ("Then answered all the people and said, His blood be on us, and on our children": Matt. 27:25), and are identified with the powers of evil ("Ye are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires": John 8:44).
Regarded by the Jews as members of a heretical sect, the first Christians stood aloof from the Jewish struggle against Rome. The Gospels' description of the crucifixion, in minimizing the role of Pilate, attests a desire to gain the goodwill of the Roman authorities, while the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 c.e. provided obvious proof of the divine anger and chastisement. In sum, the evolution of Christian anti-Judaism reflects the spread of the new faith among pagan circles and a progressive withdrawal from the ancient faith. The growing hostility was also fed by the rivalry for proselytes. Since traditional Judaism continued to attract pagan elements, the newly Christianized groups were highly susceptible to its influence. The young church, therefore, which declared itself to be the true Israel, or "Israel according to the spirit," heir to the divine promises, found it essential to discredit the "Israel according to the flesh," to prove that God had cast away His people and transferred His love to the Christians. From the outset, therefore, Christian anti-Judaism was an original manifestation: it differed from the traditional tensions between Israel and the nations and did not merely reflect them. Obliged to contest Israel's historic heritage and title, and confronted in addition by a vigorous rabbinical counter-propaganda, the church unremittingly concentrated its attention on the Jews and Judaism. The anti-Jewish theories developed by the *Church Fathers are preeminently variations or extensions of the first accusations leveled in the Gospels. They are developed with particular vehemence by the Greek Fathers who exercised their apostolic authority in regions where the Jewish population was large and influential. Certain polemics already afford an insight into the psychology of the early bishops, whose judeophobia was on the same scale as their religious fervor. To Gregory of Nyssa and John Chrysostom, love of Jesus and hatred for his presumed executioners were indistinguishable. These polemics also testify to the existence of a Jewish population which mixed with its Gentile neighbors on an equal footing. In the fourth century, John Chrysostom characteristically reproached these Jews with extravagance, gluttony, and dissolute living, as well as with deicide.
After Christianity became the official religion of the Roman state (in 321 c.e.) the emperors began to translate the concepts and claims of the theologians into practice. The ancient privileges granted to the Jews were withdrawn, rabbinical jurisdiction was abolished or severely curtailed, and proselytism was prohibited and made punishable by death, as were relations with Christian women. Finally, Jews were excluded from holding high office or pursuing a military career. The rapid disintegration of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, however, postponed the principal effects of this legal forfeiture of rights. As the model that was to inspire the clerical and lay legislators of the Middle Ages, its repercussions on Judeo-Christian relations only become apparent centuries later. The persistence of Judaism, seemingly a contradiction of the Christian conception of the church as Verus Israel, "the true Israel," led the great theologians, notably *Augustine, to elaborate the doctrine that represents the Jews as the nation which was a "witness" to the truth of Christianity. Their existence was further justified by the service they rendered to the Christian truth in attesting through their humiliation the triumph of the church over the synagogue. "Unintelligent, they possess intelligent books"; they are thus condemned to perpetual servitude. A further variation, reversing a biblical image, depicts the Jews as Esau and the Christians as Jacob. They are also Cain, guilty of fratricide, cursed and marked with a sign for eternity. However, the hostility of this allegorization also implies a nascent tendency on the part of the church to protect the Jews, since "if someone killed Cain, Cain would be revenged sevenfold." Thus the ideological arsenal of Christian antisemitism was completely established in antiquity. However, from the social standpoint the deterioration of the Jewish position was only beginning, and it seems clear that in the early period virulent judeophobia was mainly limited to the clergy.
In Early Islam
From the theological standpoint, the Koran also contained attacks against the Jews, as they refused to recognize Muhammad as the prophet sent by God. In certain respects, Muhammad utilized the Bible in a manner similar to that of the Christian theologians, since he found in it the announcement of his own coming, but at the same time he also used the New Testament in the same way. As a result, Jews and Christians, although "infidels," are both regarded by the Koran as "Peoples of the Book," "possessing Scriptures."
Since Islam spread by force of arms rather than by spiritual propaganda, it did not generally aspire, at least initially, to conquer souls. Therefore, it displayed greater tolerance than Christianity. The religions of the two "Peoples of the Book" were officially recognized, and a special status combining subjection and protection was evolved for them. Apart from the distinguishing colors of their insignia, the dhimmi ("protected") Jews and Christians were subjected to the same measures and were obliged to pay the same tax. On various occasions they were included in the same persecutions. But in the regions where Islam reigned, the forms of anti-Judaism and anti-Christianity each evolved in their own way. When Islam began to spread, the majority of the subjected territories were Christian, and in them Greek remained the official language for some time. One source of antisemitism in Islam, therefore, may derive from ancient Christian anti-Judaism. The celebrated controversialist Al-Jahiz (mid-ninth century) cites in an anti-Christian polemic four reasons why the faithful held a better opinion of the Christians than of the Jews: the Christians wielded power in Byzantium and elsewhere; unlike the Jews, they engaged in secular sciences; they assimilated more easily and adopted Muslim names, and they engaged in more respectable occupations. In the same period the historian Al-Tabari observed that "the Christians bear witness against the Jews morning and night." Thus, a number of anti-Jewish traditions and legends from Christian folklore penetrated, with appropriate adaptations, into that of Islam.
However, the concepts relating to ritual purity and dietary laws, of similar inspiration for both Jews and Muslims, as well as the observance of circumcision, drew them together in that they excluded or lessened certain inhibitory phobias such as the fear of pollution. In addition, Muslim revelation was not founded on the biblical canon and could not become a ground of contention, thus excluding one source of polemics and oppression. In sum, the term antisemitism, which becomes a particularly blatant semantic misnomer when used in connection with the Arab world, also regarded as "Semitic" can be employed only with qualifications in reference to Islam.
From the 12th century, the expeditions of the Crusades aggravated the condition of Christians in the Orient. Persecutions were followed by forced mass conversions to Islam. In many regions the Jews remained the only "infidels" with exceptional status, so that their situation became more vulnerable. In North Africa and Muslim Spain they were also fiercely persecuted (period of the *Almohads). Yet it is from this period that the position of the Jews in western Christendom progressively deteriorated, and until the modern era, Jewish migration usually proceeded from Christian to Islamic countries. But migratory phenomena, like the frequency or intensity of persecutions, are imperfect indicators of a collective attitude, and literature provides a better conspectus: Although in Islamic literature and folklore the Jew is often depicted in an unfavorable light – frequently accused of malevolence toward non-Jews, or even of plotting their damnation – he is only in exceptional cases invested with the satanic character and attributes frequent in Christian literature. There are Islamic literary sources in the medieval age in which the contemporary Jew is endowed with positive characteristics. In the modern period the position of the Jew in Islamic countries, although varying according to region and historical circumstance, has tended to deteriorate. The most notorious persecutions, in *Yemen in 1697, and in *Meshed, Iran in 1839, were perpetrated by Shi'ites. The Yahud confined to his ghetto – until recently in Yemen and even up to the 1970s in certain mellahs in Morocco – appeared to the Muslim an object of contempt rather than of hatred.
The Middle Ages
Jews had appeared in Western Europe from the beginning of the Christian era. At the commencement of the Middle Ages, no sign of particular animosity toward them was discernible. The clerical anti-Jewish polemics of the period deplored the influence the Jews exerted on the simple people and pointed to the existence of cordial, sometimes intimate, Judeo-Christian relations. Characteristic are the epistles of the ninth-century Christian reformer Archbishop *Agobard: "Things have reached a stage where ignorant Christians claim that the Jews preach better than our priests… some Christians even celebrate the Sabbath with the Jews and violate the holy repose of Sunday… Men of the people, peasants, allow themselves to be plunged into such a sea of errors that they regard the Jews as the only people of God, and consider that they combine the observance of a pure religion and a truer faith than ours."
The *Church Councils continually legislated to prevent these contacts. Ecclesiastical propaganda seems to have produced its first fruits at the beginning of the 11th century, when persecutions and expulsions were recorded in Rouen, Orleans, Limoges, and Mainz. A persecution inflicted at the time on Christians in the Orient was used as a pretext, and, apparently dating from the same period is the fable depicting the Jews as legionaries of the Anti-Christ. However, the crucial event was the First Crusade (1096). Religious excitation commingled with greed for gain. As bands of crusaders set out to recapture the sepulcher of Jesus they were prompted to wreak vengeance on Jesus' legendary enemies and killers and attacked the Jewish quarters of German and French towns along their way. The massacres perpetrated during the summer of 1096 made a lasting impression on both Christians and Jews. The tradition of sacrifice, *Kiddush ha-Shem, was expressed in collective suicides to avoid forced conversion.
European economic life began to revive in the 12th century. Although the Christian guilds which began to flourish in the cities did not admit Jews, an action which had unfavorable repercussions on their commercial activities, the economic resurgence in Europe considerably increased credit operations, against which the church began to adopt measures. The church regarded the practice of *usury as endangering the eternal salvation of its flock, and opposed the overt and authorized practice of usury, i.e., the acceptance of pledges, with particular severity. Being inevitable in contemporary economic conditions, however, the church subsequently endorsed the practice of usury by the Jews, for according to the prevalent opinion their souls were lost in any case. The doctrine and practice which thus spread constituted a major source of antisemitism for, in general, agrarian societies tended to leave the practice of usury to foreigners (those who were not "brothers"). The Jew, already stigmatized as an infidel and deicide, was now regarded by most as the direct antagonist of the Christian, and thus began to symbolize the hostile stranger par excellence. The process of differentiation was slow, as shown by the legend of a miraculous conversion around 1220 which places the following question in the mouth of a little girl: "Why is it that the Jews and the Christians have different names since they speak the same language and wear the same clothes?" Thus the Jew was distinguished primarily by his name, and in contemporary idiom the verb "to judaize" meant both to be a heretic and to lend money on interest.
Secular princes and church prelates were in fact the Jews' silent partners in the practice of usury. Although this partnership multiplied the sources of internal antagonism among Christians, the Jews were assured of an influential protection justified by patristic doctrines: the monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire regarded the Jews as serfs of the chamber (*servi camerae). Thomas *Aquinas considered them condemned to perpetual servitude because of their crime, but they were not to be deprived of the necessities of life. As a later scholastic, Angelo di Chivasso (1411–1495), said: "to be a Jew is a crime, not, however, punishable by a Christian."
Each renewed preaching for the Crusades roused anti-Jewish excesses, despite the protection afforded by the ecclesiastical and lay authorities. Religious consciousness in the masses intensified, and the evolution of theological thinking tended to emphasize and particularize the Jewish role as the scapegoat of Christianity. The 12th and 13th centuries saw the crystallization of the doctrine of transubstantiation, whereby the flesh and blood of Christ become present in the consecrated Host and wine – a doctrine definitively stated at the Fourth Lateran *Council (1215). As a result, the eucharistic cult acquired concrete character. Miraculous tales in connection with the Host, proliferated, frequently of *Host desecration by the Jews, and the *blood libel also began to inflict its ravages. These two closely connected allegations both relate to the delusion that a criminal conspiracy was being fabricated by the Jews against Jesus and the Christians. Psychologists have explained this suspicion as the transference of a guilt complex on the part of Christian communicants who attacked Jews. In partaking of the flesh and blood, they sought to identify themselves with the God-man who had taken upon himself the sins of the world, but they were unable to attain this identification satisfactorily. The resultant feeling of culpability could well be projected onto the "witness" people: the Jews were the people of God, but the only group to remain outside the universal communion of Christians.
The Fourth Lateran Council also promulgated a canon requiring the Jews to wear a distinguishing mark: the decision was intended to make any intimate relations between Jews and Christians impossible. The form of mark was not specified. In practice, the Jews in Latin countries were made to adopt a disk sewn onto their clothing, and in the Germanic countries a distinctive hat. Characteristically, contemporary iconography also depicts the biblical patriarchs, as well as Christian heretics of all kinds, in this dress. The appearance of the Jewish *badge also helped to propagate fables that showed the Jews as physically different from other men. The badge, or patch, became popularly known as the yellow badge, yet colors and forms varied in the Christian as well as in the Muslim world, where markings to distinguish the non-Muslim seem to have been introduced as early as the eighth century. Other features ascribed include a tail and horns – the attributes of the devil – and a distinctive smell (foetor judaicus), the converse of "the odor of sanctity."
During the 13th century the economic position of the Jews, and consequently the protection from which they benefited, was impaired by the development of finance on an international scale in Italy by, e.g., the Florentine and Siennese banks, and by the Lombards in France. The kings of England found that they could now dispense with the services of the Jews, and expelled them in 1290. In 1306 the first general expulsion from France took place. *Expulsions and massacres also followed in the German towns. The mass expulsions helped to perpetuate the image of Jewish homelessness, of the *Wandering Jew condemned to roam from country to country, in the eyes of the masses. At the beginning of the 14th century the specter of conspiracy against Christianity found new expression in the popular belief that the wells were being poisoned by the Jews. It is necessary to draw a distinction between these myths of a popular demonology, which the church itself did not endorse, but on the contrary combated, and the clerical anti-Jewish tradition. Apart from the religious and economic factors referred to above, persistent agencies of religious excitation were the development of a literature written in the vernacular and the growing popularity of the "Passion plays," which reenacted the crucifixion. Passion plays took place annually, lasted several days, and presented the cruelty and perfidy of the Jewish executioners in a highly realistic fashion.
Very often the established lay and ecclesiastical authorities continued to protect the Jews The most implacable adversaries of the Jews were now recruited among the rising middle class, and particularly among the mendicant Franciscan and Dominican orders. The Italian anti-Jewish Franciscan preachers John of *Capistrano and *Bernardino da Feltre, at whose instigation the institution of the *Monte di Pietà spread rapidly, and the Dominican Vincente *Ferrer in Spain, were especially vituperative. In Spain, the slow pace of the Christian reconquest – a process lasting from the 11th to the 15th centuries – enabled the Jews to continue to benefit from a privileged situation. Thus the conceptions current in the rest of Europe took time to spread to the Peninsula. It was not until the end of the 14th century that the preaching of Archdeacon Fernando Martinez of Seville set in motion a wave of bloody persecutions. The numerical and social importance of Spanish Jewry resulted in a different evolution, particularly the phenomenon of Crypto-Judaism practiced by the *Conversos. The Castilian *Inquisition was founded in 1478 to eradicate it. In 1492 Jews of the faith were expelled from Spain after a preliminary blood libel trial – the case of Nino de la Guardia – had been staged.
Poland, where a Christian middle class was slow to develop, became the principal country of refuge for European Jewry at the end of the Middle Ages. Russia, however, followed a different course in consequence of a religious schism which menaced Russian Orthodoxy at the end of the 14th century. This "judaizing heresy" predicated in an extreme form the tendencies of return to the Old Testament present in the Reformation movements of Western Europe. It acquired followers at the court of Moscow but was rapidly stifled. As a result, access to Russia was barred to Jews hereafter. Religious struggle was thus the starting point for the traditional judeophobia of the ruling Russian dynasties.
In general, popular susceptibility to antisemitism developed in the Middle Ages. It was henceforth perpetuated by linguistic usage and religious instruction. In all languages the term "Jew" and its derivatives had assumed a derogatory significance. Religious instruction by the catechism, practically the only form of popular education until a later period, instilled hostility against the "executioners of Christ" into the souls of children. "If it is incumbent upon a good Christian to detest the Jews, then we are all good Christians," Erasmus stated ironically at the beginning of the 16th century.
The Reformation had important complex and even contradictory repercussions on the evolution of antisemitism. One branch of Protestantism, namely Calvinism and the sects or movements influenced by it, proved less judeophobic than Catholicism until the 20th century. The other branch, Lutheranism, became increasingly antisemitic. How may this divergency be explained? It is as difficult to give a complete answer as it is to establish the exact relationship – a problem posed by Max *Weber and his school –between the "Protestant ethic" and "the capitalist spirit" or modern mentality. From the outset Calvinism and its derivatives emphasized individual responsibility, embracing social values and energetic moral action. To Lutheranism, on the other hand, justification by faith implied a renunciation of civic responsibility, and hostility to active faith (or "salvation through works"), which Luther himself described as juedischer Glaube ("Jewish faith"). At the end of his life the German reformer vilified the Jews in violent pamphlets which could not fail to exert their influence. Conversely, the role played by the Old Testament in Calvinism led the Puritan sects to identify themselves with the Jews of the Bible and reflected favorably on their attitude toward contemporary Jewry. The French Calvinists were a special case: themselves persecuted until the French Revolution, their sympathies were traditionally pro-Jewish, an outlook retained to a considerable extent to the present day.
An immediate consequence of the Reformation was to aggravate the position of the Jews in regions which remained Catholic. The popes of the Counter-Reformation were determined to restore ecclesiastical usages and the strict application of canon law. One result was that from the second half of the 16th century ghettos were introduced, at first in Italy and afterward in the Austrian Empire. This segregation then served as a convenient additional demonstration of the error of Judaism: "A Jewish ghetto is a better proof of the truth of the religion of Jesus Christ than a whole school of theologians," declared the 18th-century Catholic publicist G.B. Roberti. In France, the celebrated Bossuet had expressed analogous views in the 17th century. With the advent of the Counter-Reformation, therefore, the theses of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas regarding the Jews were applied to the letter. However, in the Low Countries, which had been freed of Spanish domination, the Jews could settle freely. They also began to settle in Great Britain and its colonies, and in particular North America, from the time of Cromwell.
Spain after 1492
Traditional Christian conceptions condemned the Jews because their faith was erroneous and strenuous efforts were made to convert them, but the mass conversion in Spain in the 15th century resulted in transference of the customary hostility to the converts and to their real or suspected descendants, the New Christians. In other words, religious antisemitism, far from disarmed by the disappearance of Jews of the faith, transformed itself into racial antisemitism. The Inquisition gradually stamped out Crypto-Judaism. However, statutes promulgated in Spain made "purity of blood" (limpieza de sangre) a new criterion to bar entry of the New Christians whose faith was suspect, to certain guilds, and to certain military and religious orders. This discrimination, sanctioned by Emperor Charles v, spread to the military academies and universities and persisted until the Napoleonic Wars. The law involved detailed genealogical research and contributed to the obsession with the code of honor and hidalgoism characteristic of old-time Spain. Since New Christians were traditionally concentrated in productive and commercial occupations and in crafts, the contempt with which they were held was connected with these callings. Such an attitude can be considered a major cause of Spanish economic decline in modern times. Vestiges of this attitude toward the New Christians still persist in the Balearic islands, affecting the *Chuetas of Palma de Majorca. Needless to say, the determinant of "purity of blood" was not based on actual religious, cultural, or even biological differences, but on the illusion fostered by the Old Christians that such a difference existed.
For as long as Christianity held unchallenged sway in Europe, Jews could exist only on the margin of European social life. With the coming of the 18th-century Enlightenment, however, their isolation slowly began to crumble. A new class of bourgeois intellectuals – the philosophes – denounced Christianity in the name of Deism, or "natural religion," and ushered in the secularism of the modern era. As a result of their efforts, for the first time in centuries the status of the Jews became a matter for widespread debate. Many philosophes found it only natural to sympathize with the Jews. Not only were Jews the oppressed people par excellence in a century which prided itself on its concern for justice, but they were also the most notorious victims of Christian intolerance, which the Enlightenment was sworn to destroy. Accordingly, protests against the persecution of Jews – and especially against the Inquisition, the Enlightenment's bête noire – became one of the standard set pieces of 18th-century rhetoric. Led by Charles Louis *Montesquieu, Gotthold Ephraim *Lessing, and Jean Jacques *Rousseau, Enlightenment writers everywhere preached that Christian and Jew shared a common humanity and common human rights. Relatively few of these men foresaw the Emancipation, which for most of the 18th century remained a distant prospect. But emancipation was proposed as early as 1714 by the English freethinker John Toland, and it drew increasing support from philosophes as the century went on. When, at last, the Jews of France were emancipated in 1791, it was largely the authority of the Enlightenment which overcame the objections of churchmen and gentile economic interests.
Despite its achievements, however, the Enlightenment's pro-Jewish agitation was not so purely humanitarian as it appeared. Much of the indignation which Jewish suffering aroused was calculated not to comfort the Jews, but to exploit their plight for the purpose of condemning Christianity. Admiring accounts of the Jewish religion, such as those favored by Lessing, were also intended to discredit Christianity – often so blatantly that, like Lessing's famous Nathan der Weise, they expounded Judaism as a religion for philosophes to make Christianity seem backward by comparison. In short, when the Enlightenment chose to defend the Jews, it did so largely for reasons of its own; and it dealt with them, in consequence, not as real individuals, but as a useful abstraction. The sole novelty of its approach was that, whereas the Jews had once been a witness to the truth of Christianity, now they were expected to demonstrate its error. The actual Jews, meanwhile, were usually regarded with suspicion and distaste. The Judaism which they practiced, after all, was a religion much like Christianity and hence considered by Enlightenment thinkers as a "superstition" to be eradicated. What was still more serious, Judaism was often considered a particularly anti-social religion, one which nurtured a stubborn sense of particularism, perpetuated ancient, fossilized habits, and created grave divisions within the state. These opinions were so widely held by Enlightenment writers that even friends of the Jews continually urged them to abandon their traditions and observances. Only Montesquieu, of all the 18th century's great thinkers, showed any willingness to accept the Jews without reforming them into something else. Indeed, the most common argument for emancipation, as conceived by Christian Wielhelm von *Dohm, Honore-Gabriel-Victor Riqueti, Comte de *Mirabeau, and others, was precisely that it would convert the Jews to the majority culture, thus expunging their most obnoxious traits. This view was ultimately upheld by the French revolutionaries, who declared, when they emancipated the Jews in 1791: "To the man, everything; to the Jew, nothing." Though as a citizen the Jew was to receive full rights, as a Jew he was to count for nothing.
Even so, this program of compulsive emancipation did not fully reflect the intense Jew-hatred of the more extreme philosophes. Though it is surprising to recall the fact, among this group were some of the leading minds of the 18th century, including Denis *Diderot, Baron Paul Heinrich Dietrich d'*Holbach, and *Voltaire. Despite their intellectual stature, these men launched scurrilous attacks on the Jews which far surpassed the bounds of reasoned criticism. Many of their polemics were not only intolerant, but so vicious and spiteful as to compare with all but the crudest propaganda of the 1970s or the late 1990s. To some extent, this anti-Jewish fervor can be understood as merely one aspect of the Enlightenment's war on Christianity. Diderot, d'Holbach, Voltaire, and their followers were the most radical anti-Christians of their time, and – in contrast to the more moderate Deists who praised the Jews – they did not hesitate to pour scorn on Christianity by reviling its Jewish origins. This tactic was all the more useful because Judaism, unlike Christianity, could be abused in print without fear of prosecution; but even the fact that the Jews made a convenient whipping-boy cannot explain all the hostility which they excited. Diatribes written against Jews by Enlightment thinkers were often so bitter, so peculiarly violent, that they can only have stemmed from a profound emotional antagonism – a hatred nourished not only by dislike of Jewish particularism, refurbished from ancient Greco-Roman sources, but also by unconscious Christian prejudice and resentment of Jewish economic success. Voltaire, in particular, detested the Jews with vehement passion. A large part of his whole enormous output was devoted to lurid tales of Jewish credulity and fanaticism, which he viewed as dangerous threats to European culture. At times, Voltaire actually pressed this argument so far as to imply that Jews were ignorant by nature, and could never be integrated into a modern society.
To be sure, prejudices of this kind made little headway against the ingrained egalitarianism of the Enlightenment. Neither Voltaire nor any other pre-Revolutionary thinker seriously denied that Jews could be assimilated, so that in this sense, at least, antisemitism was hardly known. Still less respectable were outright fantasies like the blood libel, which most Enlightenment writers firmly repudiated. Yet the fact remains that, for all their resistance to racism and other delusions, some of the leaders of the Enlightenment played a central role in the development of antisemitic ideology. By declaring the Jew an enemy of the modern secular state, they refurbished the religious anti-Judaism of the Middle Ages and set it on an entirely new political path. In so doing, moreover, they revealed a depth of feeling against Jews which was wholly disproportionate to the Jews' supposed faults, and which would continue to inspire antisemitism even when the Jews' secularism was no longer open to question.
Emancipation and Reaction
The newer 19th-century version of antisemitism arose on a soil which had been watered for many centuries in Europe by Christian theology and, more important, by popular catechisms. The Christian centuries had persecuted Jews for theological reasons, but this "teaching of contempt" had set the seal on the most ancient of all antisemitic themes: that the Jews were a uniquely alien element within human society. In every permutation of European politics and economics within the course of the century, the question of the alienness of the Jew reappeared as an issue of quite different quality from all of the other conflicts of a stormy age. Jews themselves tended to imagine that their troubles represented the time-lag of older, medieval Christian attitudes, of the anger at "Christ-killers" and "Christ-rejecters," which would eventually disappear. It was not until the works of Leo *Pinsker and Theodor *Herzl, the founders of modern Zionism were published, that the suggestion was made that antisemitism in all of its varieties was, at its very root, a form of xenophobia, the hatred of a stranger – the oldest, most complicated, and most virulent example of such hatred –and that the end of the medieval era of faith and politics did not, therefore, mean the end of antisemitism.
As a result of both the French and the American revolutions there were two states in the world at the beginning of the 19th century in which, in constitutional theory, Jews were now equal citizens before the law. In neither case was their emancipation complete. In the U.S. certain legal disabilities continued to exist in some of the individual states and the effort for their removal encountered some re-echoes of older Christian prejudices. The Jews in America were, however, at the beginning of the 19th century a mere handful, less than 3,000 in a national population approaching 4,000,000, and there was therefore no contemporary social base for the rise of a serious antisemitic reaction. The issues were different in Europe. In France there had been more than a century of economic conflict between Jewish small-scale moneylenders, illegal artisans, and petty credit and their Gentile clients and competitors. The legal emancipation of the Jews did not still these angers but, on the contrary, exacerbated them. The spokesmen of the political left in eastern France during the era of the Revolution and even into the age of *Napoleon argued, without exception that the new legal equality for the Jews would not act to assimilate them as "useful and productive citizens" into the main body of the French people but, rather that it would open new avenues for the rapacity of these aliens. Napoleon's own activities in relation to the Jewish question, including the calling of his famous French *Sanhedrin in 1807, were under the impact of two themes: the desire to make the Jews assimilate more rapidly and the attempt, through a decree that announced a ten-year moratorium on debts owed to Jews in eastern France, to calm the angers of their enemies.
On the other hand, Jews were visibly and notoriously the beneficiaries of the Revolution. It was, indeed, true that a number of distinguished émigrés had been helped to escape by former Jewish associates, and it was even true that the bulk of the Jewish community, at least at the very beginning of the Revolution and a few years later during the Terror, feared rather than favored the new regime. Nonetheless, in the minds of the major losers, the men of the old order and especially of the church, the Jews were the chief, or at the very least the
most obvious, winners during the era of the Revolution. The association of French antisemitism with counterrevolutionary forces, with royalist-clericalist reaction, throughout the next 150 years was thus begun very early. In the demonology of antisemitism it was not difficult to transform the Sanhedrin in Paris in 1807 into a meeting of a secret society of Jews plotting to take over the world. This connection was made in that year by Abbé *Barruel in his book Mémoire pour servir a l'histoire du jacobinisme. This volume is the source of all of the later elaborations of the myth of the Elders of Zion.
In Europe as a whole a new kind of antisemitism was evoked by the new kind of war that the revolutionary armies, and the far more successful armies of Napoleon, were waging against their enemies.
Between 1790 and 1815 the armies of France appeared everywhere not, as they announced, as conquerors holding foreign territory for ransom or for annexation, but as liberators of the peoples from the yoke of their existing governments in order to help them regenerate themselves in a new state of freedom. Wherever the Revolution spread, its legislation included, in places as far-flung as Westphalia, Italy, and even briefly, Ereẓ Israel, equality for Jews. It was entirely reasonable on the part of the Austrian police, and the secret services of some of the other European powers, to suspect that some of the Jews within their borders were really partisans of Napoleon. In the wake of his defeat the emancipation of the Jews remained on the books in France, but it was removed elsewhere, with some modifications in favor of Jews, as an imposition of a foreign power. The battle for Jewish equality had to begin again; it became part of a century-long battle in Europe to achieve the liberal revolution everywhere. This struggle had not yet ended by the time of World War i, for at that moment the largest Jewish community in the world, that in the Russian Empire, was not yet emancipated and had, indeed, suffered grievously throughout the century.
In the early and middle years of the 19th century the most important battleground between Jews and their enemies was in Germany. Capitalism was rapidly remaking the social structure and Jews were the most easily identifiable element among the "new men." The victims of the rising capitalist order, especially the lower-middle classes, found their scapegoat in the most vulnerable group among the successful, the Jews. In a different part of society, and from a nationalist perspective, the most distinguished of German historians of the day, Heinrich *Treitschke, was insisting toward the end of the century that the acculturated and legally emancipated Jews, who thought in their own minds that they had become thoroughly German, were really aliens who still had to remake themselves from the ground up and to disappear inconspicuously. Not long after the turn of the century Werner *Sombart (Die Juden und das Wirtschaftsleben, 1911) was to express his own ambivalence about capitalism as a whole by insisting, against Max Weber, that it was the Jews, and not the Protestants, who had always been, even in biblical days, the inventors and bearers of the capitalist spirit. Such identification between the Jews and the spirit of capitalism had been made, to their discredit, seven decades earlier, in 1844, by the young Karl *Marx in his essay "On the Jewish Question." For antisemites of both the political right and the left, who struggled against capitalism for different reasons, such identification was one of the sources and rationales of Jew-hatred throughout the modern era, well into the Nazi period.
On the surface of events modern German antisemitism began with riots by the peasants in 1819, using the rhetoric of older Christian hostility. This attitude toward Jews was soon transformed by the rising romanticism and the nationalist reactions to the Napoleonic wars into an assertion that the true German spirit, which had arisen in the Teutonic forests, was an organic and lasting identity in which the Jew could not, by his very nature, participate. For this purpose the work of Count Joseph-Arthur de *Gobineau on race was pressed into service to make the point that the Jews were a non-Aryan, Oriental element whose very nature was of a different modality. Richard *Wagner insisted on this point not only in his overt antisemitic utterances but also indirectly in his operas, in which he crystallized the Teutonic myths as a quasi-religious expression of the authentic German spirit. In Wagner's footsteps there appeared the work of his son-in-law, Houston Stewart *Chamberlain (The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, 1899), which pronounced the presence of Jews in German society to be radically inimical to its very health. In the popular mind these theorists of national culture were understood within a situation in which the intellectual importance of Germany in Europe was not equaled by its political significance, for the scandalous division of the country lasted until 1870. To be united and German was the dominant ideal.
The very difficulties in realizing the unity of Germany brought the existence of Jews into unfriendly focus. Very few elements in mid-19th century Germany society, even among their friends, were willing to regard Jews as true Germans. Jews were asking for political equality more in the name of the universal rights of man – that is, as partisans of the cosmopolitan principle – than as sons of the German people. As a result, the ultimate attainment of equality, first in Prussia in 1859 and ultimately in all of Germany in the aftermath of the unification of the country in 1870, had a quite narrow social base. It was identified with the rise of the bourgeois liberalism, but this element never dominated in mid-19th-century Germany as it did in contemporary England. What was worse, from a Jewish perspective, was that as a middle-class element the Jews were themselves in competition with the very class which had facilitated their entry into society. Toward the end of the century the German middle class itself was shifting its political alignment from liberalism to romantic conservatism. To be sure, the main thrust of German liberalism continued to regard antisemitism as reactionary, just as the main body of German Socialism would have no truck with the identification of all Jews with the capitalist oppressors of the working class. Nonetheless, antisemitism was sufficiently potent for all its themes to coalesce into the image of the successful, non-national, unproductive foreigner, whose power resided in money, in his mastery of the legerdemain of modern manipulation, and his cosmopolitan contacts. This "Jew" was a lineal descendant of the Jewish maker of love potions in Greco-Roman demonology and the poisoner of wells of the medieval myths, but the new version was very up to date and answered to contemporary frustrations and angers.
In the last quarter of the 19th century, antisemitism became an acceptable element in German political life to be manipulated at opportune moments by political leaders seeking popular lower-middle-class support. The very term antisemitism had been invented by Wilhelm Marr in 1879 and it was in that year that the court chaplain, Adolph *Stoecker, had made his first public antisemitic speech, "What We Demand of Modern Jewry," and had then turned his Christian Socialist Party in overtly anti-Jewish directions. With the rise of German imperialism toward the end of the century and the sense of success it gave Germany, political antisemitism waned, but social distance continued unaltered.
In France, Jews had not been an issue of any considerable importance after the restoration of the Bourbons to power in 1815. There alone Jewish political gains had been safeguarded without question, because the fundamental social changes which had been introduced by the Revolution could not be radically altered by the return of the émigrés. Nonetheless, Jews remained one of the most visible symbols of these very changes, and the attacks upon Jews, both from the extreme right and the extreme left, were sufficiently overt to provide the spark for greater difficulties in the second half of the century. Two of the greatest theorists of Socialism in France, Pierre-Joseph *Proudhon and Charles *Fourier, were anti-Jewish on the ground that Jewish capitalist interests stood counter to those of the peasants and the workers, and that the Jewish spirit as a whole was antithetical to their vision of a reformed humanity living the life of unselfish social justice. In France, too, the changes being brought about by capitalism and the Industrial Revolution made many people feel helpless, as their lives were being remade for the worse. The power of the *Rothschilds was very evident in France, especially in the age of Louis Napoleon, and some of the anger at the new age came to expression in attacks on them by left-wingers such as Alphonse *Toussenel. In the time of conflict which followed the fall of France in 1870 major elements among all forces contending for power after the debacle could blame their troubles on the Jews.
In the renewed political battles of the 1870s and 1880s the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community in France was associated with the liberal republican forces against the conservative Catholics, who were enemies of the Republic. From 1879 to 1884 republican anti-clericals dominated in parliament and succeeded in freeing French education from clerical control. One of the building blocks of the almost successful counterrevolution of 1888, in which General Boulanger very nearly made an end of the Republic, was antisemitism. The myth that the small handful of Jews in France had enormous and highly dangerous economic power had been broadcast two years before in perhaps the single, most successful antisemitic and counterrevolutionary book ever published, Edouard *Drumont's La France Juive, which went through innumerable editions. Late in 1894 antisemitism became the central issue of French society and politics for at least a decade and the reechoes of the positions taken in those years can still be heard. Captain Alfred *Dreyfus, the first Jew to become a member of the general staff of the French army, was accused of spying for Germany. The outcry against Dreyfus was joined not only by the clerical-royalist right but also by some elements of the French left. His ultimate vindication was the result of the exercise of the moral conscience in the service of truth by a number of individuals more concerned about the preservation of the Republic than about the rights of Jews.
antisemitic political parties and organizations
A distinction must be made between organizations that temporarily adopted antisemitic attitudes and those founded with the express purpose of fighting alleged negative Jewish influences. Into the first category fall some originally liberal groups, especially in Austria and Romania, as well as most of the clerical parties. For example, the German Catholic Center Party blamed Bismarck's Kulturkampf on the Jews but later relented and even protected Jewish religious interests. Many conservative groups vacillated in a similar fashion as did certain socialist movements, like the Fourierists in France, some disciples of F. *Lassalle in Germany, and the Narodniki in Russia. Even the Social-Democrat parties later rid themselves, though rather tardily, of antisemitic tendencies. The groups that called themselves Christian-Social were steeped in antisemitism, although for some of them anti-Judaism served
mainly as a means of vote-catching and of competing with all-round antisemitic parties, while for others it constituted an integral part of their program. Since it is difficult to separate them, all parties which displayed anti-Jewish tendencies are included here.
The appearance of anti-Jewish parties and organizations, whether they were based on economic, religious, or voelkisch (Aryan nationalist) ideologies or a combination of all three, constitutes the most important distinguishing mark of modern antisemitism, which came to the fore after the political reshuffle of Europe following the wars of 1866 and 1870–71, and particularly after the general economic crisis of 1873. All antisemitic organizations aspired to influence public life by means such as mass movements and parliamentary pressure groups. Although before World War i most of them were short lived and failed to acquire mass support, they registered local victories and accumulated valuable political experience. Moreover, by their incessant propaganda they infected large parts of the population with a latent antisemitism. Germany and Austria were the first countries to experience organized antisemitism, preceding Hungary and Poland. France on the one hand, and Russia and Romania on the other, constitute separate categories.
In the mid-1870s certain antisemitic social reform groups of artisans, small traders, and clerks began to form local organizations. A prominent instance in Saxony was Ernst Schmeitzner's Society for the Protection of Artisans and Traders. Rural advocates of social reform also gathered in small societies. Groups like the Antisemitic League of Wilhelm *Marr (1879) occupied themselves less with economic reform than with voelkisch issues. Thus, from the outset of organizational activities, two main trends in political antisemitism asserted themselves: the social and the racist trends. It must be added, however, that both were complex: there was a radical and a conservative trend in the reform associations, as well as rather radical and ultraconservative wings in the racist groups. This divergence, originating in the multifaceted and even contradictory image of the Jew, caused incessant splits and re-formations in political antisemitism, rendering it more or less ineffective until the end of World War i.
The first political organizer to use antisemitism as a lever for a mass movement was the court preacher Adolf *Stoecker in Berlin. Stoecker failed to attract followers to his Christian Socialist Workers' Party (1878) on a platform of Christian ethics and reconciliation between state and workers through state intervention in economics. In 1879, however, he hit upon antisemitism as a vote-catcher for artisans and other members of the lower-middle classes in his speech "Our Demands on Modern Judaism." His activities inspired the founding of the antisemitic students' movement, Verein Deutscher Studenten (1881). This was not powerful in itself, but it imbued the old students' organizations – the Corps and the Deutsche Burschenschaft – with the spirit of racial intolerance, so that finally they excluded all Jews from membership. Meanwhile, Stoecker was elected, with Conservative help, to the Prussian Diet (1879) and to the Reichstag. Stoecker's initial success was paralleled in Saxony, where the First International Anti-Jewish Congress convened in Dresden in 1882, assembling during the blood libel of the *Tisza-Eszlar trial, convened delegates from Germany, Austria, and Hungary. A standing committee decided on the founding of an Alliance Anti-Juive Universelle (an allusion to the *Alliance Israélite Universelle) and fixed a second congress to be held the following year in Chemnitz. This congress attracted additional delegates from Russia, Romania, Serbia, and France but no lasting unity was established. Later antisemitic congresses (Kassel 1886, Bochum 1889) were strictly German, and they too accomplished close to nothing.
During 1880 and 1881, some of Stoecker's most vociferous racist allies broke away. The first was Ernst Henrici, who headed the radical anti-conservative Soziale Reichspartei for about three years. Next was the ultraconservative Max Liebermann von Sonnenberg, who in conjunction with Friedrich *Nietzsche's brother-in-law, Bernhard Foerster, established the Deutscher Volksverein (1881–83). Both parties remained weak, and their endeavors to win general support by presenting to Bismarck their joint antisemitic petition asking for the abolition of Jewish equality gained them only fleeting success. Although they collected 225,000 signatures, they failed at the polls. When in 1883 the *Conservative Party severed all connections with them, the center of political antisemitism shifted for a time from Berlin to small towns and rural districts and to other German states. This happened in 1886 when Theodor *Fritsch of Leipzig, one of the most rabid racists, joined with the "Hessian King of Peasants," Otto Boeckel, and others in the Deutsche Antisemitische Vereinigung. Boeckel was immediately elected to the Reichstag as the first antisemite per se. Before the elections of 1890 he founded his own Antisemitic People's Party (renamed in 1893 Deutsche Reformpartei), enjoying a certain measure of cooperation with Liebermann von Sonnenberg's reshuffled Deutschsoziale Partei. Thus in 1890 Von Sonnenberg, Boeckel, and three of Boeckel's followers were elected to the Reichstag, the latter forming the first antisemitic parliamentary group. The 1893 elections showed even more striking gains: 16 antisemitic candidates were elected, half of them in Hesse.
This increase was brought about by the public reaction to Jewish emancipation, by a definite antisemitic turn in the Conservative Party, which adopted an openly anti-Jewish paragraph in its so-called Tivoli Program (1892), and by the entrance of the feudal-agrarian Bund der Landwirte ("Agrarian League") into the political arena as an ultraconservative and antisemitic pressure group. Finally, there emerged in Berlin a new rabble-rouser, Hermann *Ahlwardt, the "headmaster of all the Germans." Ahlwardt's triumphs were, however, short lived. In 1894 he was received into the parliamentary faction of the later-united wings of Liebermann Von Sonnenberg and Boeckel's Deutschsoziale Reformpartei (dsrp), but was soon excluded again. Boeckel himself lost his seat in 1903 to a candidate from a Protestant group. Nevertheless, 11 antisemites were elected in 1903, and three more joined them at by-elections. However, the realignments within their ranks continued. Von Sonnenberg's Deutschsoziale joined forces with the Agrarian League, the Christian-Socialists, and the Bavarian Peasant Party. Thus a parliamentary alignment, Wirtschaftliche Vereinigung, was established. Only the remnants of the dsrp held aloof, commanding six seats in 1907 and three in 1912, while the Wirtschaftliche Vereinigung secured 19 and ten respectively. On the eve of World War i, although again amalgamated into a Deutschvoelkische Partei (1914), party antisemitism seemed to be declining, but other previously non-antisemitic groups had been deeply infected by its vociferous activities. Even the left-wing liberal parties (alternately called Fortschritt, Freisinn, and again Fortschritt), which had staunchly defended Jewish equality, began making election agreements with antisemites or otherwise alienating their Jewish followers. It was therefore not surprising that various club-like right-wing groups openly pursued an anti-Jewish line. Such groups, mostly pan-Germanic and imperialist in outlook, comprised beside the already mentioned Students' and Agrarian Leagues, the Akademischer Turnerbund (from 1883), other gymnastic clubs imbued with Friedrich Ludwig Jahn's exclusive nationalism, the Alldeutscher Verband ("Pan-Germanic League"), a small but effective organization of influential right-wing personalities, the somewhat similar Colonial Society, and many others. Of another hue was the Deutschnationaler Handlungsgehilfenverband – dhv (from 1893), which became Germany's largest white-collar union, combining trade-union activities with conservative-nationalist and antisemitic policies. In 1933 the dhv merged with the Nazis in the National Socialist Labor Front. Among the small, lodge-like organizations were the Deutschbund of Friedrich Lange (1894), the Deutsche Volksbund of Boeckel (1907), the Germanen und Waelsungenorden (1912), whose activities were coordinated with Fritsch's Reichs-Hammerbund, and many others.
Austria and the Hapsburg Dominions
Although there are many similarities in the development of the German and Austrian antisemitic organizations, there remain two main differences. Christian-Socialist antisemitism played a leading part in Catholic Austria and even included the conservatives, while in Germany Protestant conservatism never relinquished its predominance over the Christian-Social movement. Secondly, racial antisemitism in Austria partly derived from the liberal camp, because of the essentially German nationalism of Austrian liberalism which denied the various minorities the right of self-determination. Yet the minorities themselves were often antisemitic, regarding Jews as proponents of Hapsburg domination. On the other hand, pan-German racism antagonized the minorities and did not attain the same influence as in Germany. Chronologically, students' unions led the way, excluding Jews as early as 1878. Soon the first Societies for the Protection of the Artisans (from 1880) amalgamated in the Oesterreichischer Reformverein (1882), which, under the leadership of Franz Holubek, was temporarily the main antisemitic organization. Later also the Deutsche Schulverein, supporting German schools in non-German territories, excluded Jews (1896), as did the nationalist Turnverein, cycling clubs, and the Deutsch-Oesterreichischer Alpenverein, which, however, adopted antisemitism only at the end of World War i.
The way for antisemitism as a force in party politics was paved by Georg Ritter von *Schoenerer, who gradually shifted from liberalism to the extreme nationalist pan-Germanic wing, his movement probably influencing the young Adolf Hitler. In 1888, when Von Schoenerer was sentenced to prison for assault, his Deutschnationaler Verein began to dissolve, and the road was clear for the ascendancy of the Christian-Social movement. Karl von *Vogelsang was its ideological mainspring and Karl *Lueger its leading personality. They first attached themselves to the Christlich-Sozialer Verein (founded in 1887). Lueger, although still associated with a Jew (Julius Mandl), gradually identified himself with a newly formed anti-Jewish and anti-liberal election alignment, the United Christians (from 1887). In Vienna he formed a special antisemitic city branch (Buergerklub), and in the Austrian Reichsrat he led the Free Union for Economic Reform on a Christian Basis. These Christian-Social organizations backed him for the mayoralty of Vienna, although the nationalist elements broke away and formed the short-lived Deutschnationale Vereinigung (1896–1900). He also enlarged the Christian-Social field of action outside the capital by means of Peasant Unions; he was helped by an able organizer, Msgr. Joseph Scheicher. Thus, in the elections of 1902 all 51 antisemitic members of the lower Austrian Diet were Christian-Socialists.
Catholic conservatives (united since 1895 in the Catholic People's Party) also wanted Lueger; when the introduction of a general ballot in 1907 raised the number of Christian-Social members in the Reichsrat to 67, about 29 conservatives joined with them in a parliamentary Klub, thus establishing the Christian-Social movement as the protagonist of Austrian conservatism also. Only the radicals, continuing Von Schoenerer's pan-Germanic racism, went their separate way, mainly among the German elements in the Czech Sudetenland. Here the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (1903, later called Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei) and the Deutsche Agrarpartei (1905), with their anticlerical, anti-Jewish, and anti-Czech attitude, registered considerable gains. However, antisemitism in the Hapsburg countries was not a German monopoly. Czech, Polish, and Ruthenian nationalists were sporadically as anti-Jewish as they were anti-German, or anti-Russian and anti-Polish, all regarding the Jews as part of rival nationalism, or decrying them as entirely foreign.
Győzo (Victor) *Istóczy, from the liberal benches of the Diet, started local antisemitic cells, similar to Marr's Antisemitic League. He boasted that in 1880 there were already 78 such cells, which he hoped to amalgamate into a Union of Non-Jews. After the riots and pogroms which followed the Tisza-Eszlar blood libel, Istóczy and Ivan Simonyi, a "national-social" antisemite, founded the Antisemitic Club for the elections of 1884. They gained 17 seats and captured the majority in the Pozsony (Bratislava) municipality but quarreled among themselves and dissolved again. Later, Count Ferdinand Zichy's Christian-Social movement (Catholic People's Party, founded in 1895) attracted much antisemitic support, but was not to the taste of radical-nationalists, although it spread vicious anti-Jewish propaganda.
While antisemitism in Czechoslovakia and Hungary was more or less sporadic, it was endemic in Galicia and Russian Poland. Already in the 1880s it had found a spokesman in Teofil Merunowicz, who advocated anti-Jewish legislation in the Galician Diet. During the 1890s, the Polish Catholic People's Party, led by Jan Stapiński, which sponsored social measures like rural producers' and consumers' cooperatives, also supported anti-Jewish *boycott measures. When the Jesuit Father Stojalowski took over the direction of propaganda, this Christian Social movement even initiated a wave of pogroms during the by-elections of 1898, in which Father Stojalowski was returned to the Diet. At the same time, the National Democratic Party (ndk, *Endecja) organized the radical national forces, mainly in Russian Poland. The National Democrats and their propaganda were instrumental in transferring antisemitism into the new Polish state founded after World War i.
In the abovementioned countries, with the exception of Russian Poland, political antisemitism emerged as an immediate reaction to the granting of Jewish emancipation. French Jewry had already been emancipated for 80 years when it was hit by the organized forms of Jew-hatred. The chaotic conditions after the French defeat by Germany in 1871, the bloodbath of the Paris Commune, and the birth pangs of the unloved Third Republic formed the background for anti-liberalism, anti-parliamentarism, and antisemitism. Even socialists, influenced by the teachings of Charles *Fourier, Pierre Joseph *Proudhon, and Alphonse *Toussenel, quickly adopted the image of Rothschild as the symbol of financial capitalism. But in the main, French feelings against the Jews, whether of a conservative or of a democratic and social type, were perhaps inspired mostly by Catholicism. In its fight against liberalism and socialism Catholicism was looking for a scapegoat; this it found first in *Freemasonry and finally in a "Jewish plot," allegedly exploiting the Masonic order to attain "world domination."
Paralleling Austrian developments, the French-Social-Catholic movement started in the 1870s with rather conservative Catholic Workers' Clubs; their antisemitism gradually increased, especially after the collapse of the Catholic bank Union Générale in 1882. However no mass organization emerged until about 1890, with the formation of the Christian Democratic movement by forces that took their inspiration from Edouard *Drumont's book La France Juive (1886). Such a movement also served as a refuge for the disillusioned remnants of General Boulanger's supporters. Certain Boulangists and Boulangist organizations, like Paul Déroulède's Patriotic League, had already dabbled in antisemitism, as had Jacques de Biez, one of the first followers of Drumont, who in 1886 attended the founding ceremony of the Alliance Anti-Israélite Universelle in Bucharest. It was only during the course of elections of 1890, however, that the French National Antisemitic League took shape, under the leadership of the Marquis de Morès and Jules Delahaye, as an election alignment for Boulangists and adherents of Drumont. It quickly disintegrated, its candidates being defeated at the polls. An attempt by Morès to organize the Paris street mob into strong-arm brigades did not help, but it invited imitations (see below). The Christian Democrats became more republican and radical, and most violently antisemitic during the *Dreyfus Affair. Typical of this development are the utterances of the anti-monarchist Father Hippolyte Gayraud at the first Christian Democratic Congress in Lyons (1896). Gayraud held that the church had always been antisemitic "on a high moral plane," and that "all social excrement, especially the Jews" should be expelled from France. The movement quickly disintegrated after the pardon of Dreyfus in 1906. Meanwhile, however, antisemitism prospered, not only in Paris, but also in the provincial towns where antisemitic small businessmen's and salesmen's organizations sprang up in Lyons, Poitiers, Dijon, Nancy, and other places, and finally in Algiers, where Max Régis instigated anti-Jewish atrocities, gaining for himself the mayoralty and for Drumont a seat in the Chamber of Deputies. In Paris itself, the most important local group before 1897, when Jules Guerin renewed the Ligue Antisémite and organized the mob into anti-Dreyfusard and anti-Jewish commandos, was the Students' Antisemitic League (1894), which remained active in the streets and at the university during the Dreyfus Affair. Several of its founders later formed a National Anti-Jewish Party (1901), but finally joined l'*Action Française. This extreme chauvinist and royalist group (founded in 1899), which sponsored a conservative "landed antisemitism," remained a political force for more than 40 years, until Hitler's conquest of France.
In Romania and czarist Russia, antisemitism was to a large extent government-sponsored. Within the borders of constitutional Romania parliamentary parties flourished and vied among themselves in sponsoring anti-Jewish measures, turning the parliament itself into the main stage for antisemitic propaganda and for discriminative legislation against the "foreigners," in flagrant violation of international commitment (see Congress of *Berlin). In this, the so-called Liberal Party under John Bratianu surpassed the conservatives, as the land-owning boyars were to a certain extent interested in protecting "their" Jews. In 1886, under the influence of Edouard Drumont, Bucharest served as the center for a new departure in international antisemitism: the Alliance Anti-Israélite Universelle was founded by Romanian, Hungarian, and French intransigents, Drumont being unanimously elected president. But this time, too, the international organization very quickly proved abortive. About ten years later (1895), the Romanians organized their own Universal Antisemitic League with A.C. *Cuza, the deputy N. Jorga, and other members of parliament and high officials in leading positions. It established branches in many towns, pledging itself "to make life intolerable" for Jews and to force them out of the country. In the following years pogroms in Romania were numerous and vicious, culminating in rural anti-Jewish riots that led to a general peasant uprising, which in 1907 had to be quelled by the army. On the eve of World War i, the so-called "Culture-League" continued the pogrom propaganda in derision of its name, vowing to create a situation in which "Russia with its pogroms and blood libels would seem to be a Promised Land to the Jews."
Although Russia was the land of the most violent antisemitism, it had perhaps the fewest organizations devoted to it, for Russian autocratic patterns of government did not allow even antisemitic groups. Thus, the first known reactionary antisemitic organization, the Sacred League, which sprang up after the assassination of Czar Alexander ii in March 1881, was clandestine, although arch-reactionary high officials and even ministers seem to have furthered it. In their eyes the Jews were the source of all rebellion, and they themselves used terror and violence to destroy the "leaven of revolution." It is generally believed that the Sacred League was instrumental in fomenting the pogroms of 1881 and 1882. It was dissolved at the end of that year. Toward the end of 1904, when the Japanese war was going badly for Russia, and early in 1905, when the revolution broke out, another antisemitic organization was formed, the *Union of the Russian People, rather similar in character and aims to its predecessor. This league was openly recognized, and even furthered by the czar and his government, together with its secret fighting squads, the "Black Hundreds," which were largely responsible for the pogroms of 1905 and for counterrevolutionary political assassinations. The Union of the Russian People, acting in the open, continued in existence until World War i, and inspired the formation of several similar "patriotic" organizations. Perhaps its most reactionary offspring was the United Nobility (1911), one of its leading spirits being N.E. Markov. This party openly advocated the complete expulsion of the Jews from the country, and did much to spread blood libels against the Jews which finally culminated in the *Beilis case. Even during the war, government-sponsored antisemitism scarcely abated and was responsible for the allegation of an act of Jewish high treason against the Russian Army in the village of Kuzhi (1915), which was given wide publicity by every Russian newspaper.
russia and central europe
There was a radical difference between the situation in Western Europe in the 19th century and that which prevailed in the Russian Empire. At least in theory the West European states were not anti-Jewish. Despite occasional liberalizations, the czarist regime as a whole regarded it as its duty to protect the bulk of its population against the spread of Jewish economic influence or even of Jewish population. A few attempts in the course of the century at the assimilation of the Jews did not alter the basic outlook of the state, that Jews were dangerous aliens. The czar continued to derive the validation of his absolutism from theology, from the identification of the Caesar and Jesus by the Orthodox faith; antisemitism based on Christian religious prejudice thus remained alive and virulent. Whatever hopes the Jews had in the course of the 19th century for improvement in their status rested in the hopes for the evolution of czarist absolutism toward parliamentary democracy. Repeated repressions made such hopes clearly illusory, and younger Jews in increasing numbers turned to helping to prepare revolution. This served to enrage the government, and the reactionary circles which supported it, even further. The regime kept imposing more economic disabilities on the Jews, keeping them in the least secure of middlemen occupations such as petty shopkeepers, innkeepers, and managers of estates for absentee landlords; in these capacities Jews were in direct, often unpleasant, contact with the poorest of the peasants. The government made it its business to use these resentments to draw attention away from the seething angers which pervaded the whole of the social system. Antisemitism was thus encouraged and fostered as a tactical tool for preserving czarist absolutism.
The critically important event in the history of Russian antisemitism took place in 1881, when a wave of pogroms occurred involving outbreaks in some 160 cities and villages of Russia. The occasion for these outrages was the assassination of Czar Alexander ii by revolutionary terrorists on March 13, 1881. Among the assassins was one Jewish girl who played quite a minor role, but reactionary newspapers almost immediately began to whip up anti-Jewish sentiment. The government probably did not directly organize these riots, but it stood aside as Jews were murdered and pillaged, and the regime used the immediate occasion to enact anti-Jewish economic legislation in 1882 (the *May Laws). The situation continued to deteriorate to such a degree that in the next reign Czar *Nicholasii financially supported the antisemitic organization, the Black Hundreds, and made no secret of his personal membership, and that of the crown prince, in that organization (see *Union of Russian People). This body was associated with the government in directly fomenting pogroms during the revolutionary years of 1903 and 1905; in that latter year the libel known as the Protocols of the *Elders of Zion was first published under the auspices of the secret police by the press of the czar, although he himself believed the work to be a fraud. The ordeal of Mendel *Beilis arose within the hysterical atmosphere of disintegrating czarism. He was accused in 1911 in Kiev of ritual murder, and the full weight of government power was put behind the prosecution. His acquittal at the trial in 1913 was the culmination of two years of battle between the regime and the Jews and their supporters in liberal humanitarian circles in Russia and throughout the world.
It was, indeed, in such circles, which were the Russian parallel to the forces which had created western parliamentary democracy and social and intellectual liberalism, that the Jews found support during a tragic period. When these elements came briefly to power in the revolution of February 1917 the Jews were immediately given the rights of equal citizens.
Nonetheless, despite this later, brief, and abortive victory of liberalism, after 1882 this current seemed too weak and divided to afford the Jews much hope for the future. Men like Ivan Sergejevitch Turgenev had mixed feelings about Jews and even Lev Nikolajevitch Tolstoy did not always hasten to support them when they were under attack. The political left was even more ambiguous. Even some of the Jews within the general revolutionary movements saw the Jewish petty bourgeoisie not as a victim but as an oppressor. The anger of the peasants and the urban poor was, therefore, regarded as merited, and their pogrom activities were even viewed as positive stirrings toward the ultimate revolution. This was, for example, the stand of the Narodniki, the pro-peasant populist group, with regard to the pogroms of 1881. More fundamentally, the revolutionary groups in Russia had even less patience with specifically Jewish problems, or with any desires on the part of Jews to continue their own communal identity, than was to be found in the European left as a whole. The young Lenin was an opponent of antisemitism, and he held that the problems of the Jews would disappear along with that of all other people in Russia in a new socialist order. On the other hand, Lenin insisted that Jews would have to undergo a more radical and cultural transformation than any other element in Russia and that any Jew who opposed assimilation was "simply a nationalist philistine" ("The Position of the Bund in the Party," in Iskra, Oct. 22, 1903). Any form of Jewish national feeling had already been pronounced to be a form of particularly obnoxious reaction. The stage was thus set for the ultimate questioning by Stalin of the loyalty of even Communist Jews.
These difficulties in the Russian Empire in the decades right before and after 1900 had their parallels in the buffer countries between Germany and Russia. In Romania, despite promises that had been made in the Berlin Convention of 1878, Jews were systematically excluded from most walks of life. Even the native-born were declared to be foreigners, so that very few Jews held citizenship. There was little that Jews could do except attempt to flee in large numbers. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire the blood libel was revived in 1899 in Bohemia, but this was only the most sensational case of a series that had begun in *Tisza-Eszlar, a small Hungarian village, in 1882. Much Jewish energy went into the defense against such charges. What was being debated was not so much the blatant lie of the blood accusation but rather the more fundamental issue of the moral integrity of Judaism and the Jew. This was, essentially, still medieval antisemitism, but more contemporary currents were running strong. There were deep national tensions within the multinational Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Jews were caught in the middle of all of the most embittered of these situations. In Bohemia they identified with the ruling Germans, to the chagrin and anger of Czech nationalists, but the local Germans nevertheless rejected the Jews as not true members of the Volk. In Galicia, the poorest and most medieval of the Austro-Hungarian provinces, the dominant Poles could claim a majority over the Ukrainians only by counting the Jews as Poles, but that did not induce them to accept even those Jews who were Polonizing themselves. The masses of Galician Jewry, almost a million at the turn of the century, were living in poverty that was abject even by Russian and Romanian standards, with no hope of betterment.
between east and west
Those years, of the last quarter of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, were the crucial turning point, the hinge on which modern Jewish history, the era of the emancipation, turned into contemporary Jewish history, the age of unparalleled virulence of antisemitism, the virtual end of European Jewry, and the rise of the American Jewish community and the State of Israel. Between 1880 and 1914 it became clear that the dominant response to the growing difficulties and dangers in Central and Eastern Europe was for Jews to attempt to flee westward; at first westward in Europe itself, to Vienna in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Germany, to France, and to England. In all of these countries quite small Jewish populations were, on the average, at least doubled between 1882 and 1914. In the United States, however, during that very same period, the Jewish population increased nearly fifteen fold, from a quarter of a million to three and a half million; Jews were some 8 percent of the total that arrived between 1880 and 1914. In the main, the reasons for this great increase were economic as America was then expanding rapidly in economic dynamism and through the settling of its large territories, and was thus in need of large numbers of new immigrants.
However, a partial reason was the increasing lack of hospitality to Jews in Western Europe. Antisemitism was growing, and so was the increased fear of it on the part of the older Jewish residents in Germany, France, and England. In Vienna the 1890s were marked by the repeated reelection as mayor of the city of Karl *Lueger on an avowedly antisemitic platform. Lueger appealed to the impoverished lower-middle classes, who envied the success of Jews in Vienna's economic and cultural life. The emperor refused to confirm his first four elections, but on the fifth such occasion, in 1897, he finally gave in. It was Lueger to whom the very young Adolf Hitler listened when he came to Vienna to try to become a painter; it was Lueger whom Theodor Herzl had in mind when, watching the degradation of Alfred Dreyfus in Paris, he came to the conclusion that antisemitism which could become a major political issue in the two most enlightened cities in Europe could no longer be regarded as a passing phenomenon. Even in England, the country which had been freest of all forms of antisemitism in the middle third of the 19th century, it reappeared after 1881, as relatively large numbers of Yiddish-speaking new immigrants continued to arrive. The moral qualities and working habits of these Jews were debated and investigated by parliamentary commissions and, after years of tension, an Aliens Act putting restrictions on further immigration became law in 1906.
In England, and even in France during the Dreyfus affair, anti-Jewish arguments and attitudes rested on a purely national premise, that is, on the supposed need to protect the integrity of national traditions. So, for example, the problem for Charles *Maurras, the central figure of French integral nationalism, was whether the Jews would be regarded, along with Bretons, Normans, etc., as one of the valid "families of France." It was, indeed, to the nationalist forms of antisemitism that Pinsker and Herzl were responding by suggesting that the cure for such tensions could come through the establishment of a normalized Jewish national identity parallel to that of all other nations. In those years, however, new forms of antisemitism were arising. These were no longer rooted in real or supposed defense of national integrity. The ideologies of both Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism were politically conceived in international terms (both movements were in being in 1890). In the realm of metaphysics their sense of the Teutonic or Slavic traditions as the prime bearers of human culture reflected, and conflicted with, biblical notions about the chosenness of the Jews. The distance from either of these ideologies to racism, to the insistence that the superiority of the Slav or the German inhered not in his history but in his very biological type, was not very large. Gobineau, who had been half forgotten, was again being read in the 1890s, especially in Germany. The first international meeting of all the antisemitic parties of Europe had taken place as early as 1882; by 1900 antisemitism was clearly an international movement in which objection to the Jews had become the unifying premise for groups as disparate and clashing as the anti-Dreyfusards and the nationalists of the very Germany for which Alfred Dreyfus had been accused of spying. This paradox made a certain kind of antisemitic sense. Jews were heavily identified in the major capitals of European culture with the most modern, critical, cosmopolitan supra-national spirit, and thus with the very cultural force which the newest ideologies of the radical right were trying to destroy. The leading figure of the Enlightenment, Voltaire, had not believed that Jews could ever really become philosophes, and he had, therefore, been less than a staunch proponent of their equality. Little more than a century later the newest forms of national antisemitism were attacking the Jews as harmful to society precisely because they were regarded, with considerable truth, as the most significant single element among the bearers of the tradition of the European Enlightenment. In this task Jews continued to be important in Europe after 1900, but their position was already clearly embattled.. By that year the Jewish masses on the move had already made a crucial decision that the future of most of the migrants was to be found in the United States. The ideologists and earliest pioneers of Zionism had moved eastward, out of the European arena to the creation of a renewed Jewish national identity in Ereẓ Israel.
For the first two centuries of the United States' national history antisemitism as an active force was practically nonexistent. Certain remnants of exclusion on Christian grounds from public office did exist in the early years of the 19th century, but these were all ultimately removed on the grounds of constitutional logic. As a population the Jews were an insignificant handful; the social structure of the country as a whole was largely fluid. The serious conflicts within the United States until after the Civil War had almost nothing to do with Jews, and they played so little role that none of the contenders could use them as scapegoat. A certain amount of endemic social prejudice reappeared in the 1870s, especially in the sight of the rapid economic rise of the first generation of German Jews to affluence. This was one expression of the process by which newly rich gentile elements were asserting their social positions by manufacturing exclusiveness. The serious tensions which did arise were a concomitant of the mass immigration from 1881 to 1914, as gentiles fled from – or battled to retain – neighborhoods becoming filled with masses of very foreign Jews from Eastern Europe. There was substantial discrimination in housing and educational opportunities at the colleges and universities, and especially in jobs in the highly structured bureaucracies of heavy industry, insurance, and banking. This new immigration provided in the first third of the century many of both the leaders and the followers of what little there was of left-wing politics in the big cities, and their role was well remembered in the reaction to the Russian Revolution and later, to the Great Depression of 1929, when there appeared a substantial amount of overt American antisemitism. The memory was carried further in the 1930s under the impetus of Nazism and its American wing, the German-American Bund. Native-born American radicalism, the populist tradition with its suspicions of the big cities, the intellectuals and, above all, of the Wall Street bankers, had its own antisemitic component. It looked for a moment in the 1930s as if antisemitism might become a substantial force in the United States, but that moment was superseded by World War ii. As a whole, American antisemitism has been one of the least serious of all its manifestations in the Western world, at least in part because the United States has had, during the last century, phenomenal economic expansion and was absorbing a variety of immigrants and their cultures.
The Inter-War Period
In Europe, however, the 20th century brought with it the most violent forms of antisemitism in all of history, worse even then the outbreaks during the Crusades or in the 17th century. The border wars in Russia and Poland in the days immediately after World War i were attended by pogroms in which many thousands were killed and hundreds of thousands were robbed and rendered homeless. The major force which perpetrated these murders was the army of the Ukrainian Democratic Republic under Simon *Petliura, which made blood baths of as many as 500 places. The justification that was advanced, insofar as any rationale was offered at all, was that the Jews were supposedly partisans of the Bolsheviks. Under the impact of these horrors and the pressure mounted by the world Jewish community on the peacemakers at Versailles, minority rights for Jews, along with those for other national minorities, were written into the treaties which created such newly independent states as Poland, Lithuania, and Czechoslovakia. In the interwar period these arrangements became a source both of some protection for Jews and of considerable friction. Especially in Poland, where Jews were 10% of the population and particularly conspicuous in the cities, the essential trend between 1919 and 1939 was toward driving the Jews out of their economic positions, and toward emigration, in a world in which almost all doors were increasingly closed. The scare of Bolshevism provided the impetus for an American isolationist campaign in 1921 to close the doors of the United States to further unrestricted immigration, especially from Eastern Europe, which ended with the Monroe Law of 1924, that intentionally closed the doors to Jews. Even though some migration from Poland continued in this period and a relatively large number of Central European Jews did escape from Hitler after 1933, the European Jewish community as a whole had to face its destiny in Europe after World War i without the possibility of the kind of migrations which could make a radical difference. The only exception was Ereẓ Israel, where Jewish population grew from relatively negligible numbers to over half a million in this interwar period, and the foundations of the future State of Israel were laid.
The great and virulent outbreak of antisemitism in the Nazi era and its culmination in the Holocaust of most of European Jewry is discussed in detail elsewhere (see *Holocaust). Nazism succeeded in the backwash of German defeat in World War i and the creation of the Weimar Republic and subsequent economic disaster, all of which paved the way for nationalist-racist pan-German ideology and Third Reich hallucinations. Jews were prominent in the very founding of Weimar and in the anti-traditional culture of the Weimar period. They were thus identified with the most "un-German" era of modern German history. This was the situation within which Nazism appealed, especially to the petty bourgeoisie who envied the seemingly ever more successful Jews, but the question of what were the ultimate roots and sources of the Nazi horrors remains a matter of controversy. The most debatable issue is whether it was a demonic aberration in which the underside of human nature broke all the bonds of civilization, or whether Nazism arose from a joining together of all of the forms, of old and modern antisemitism and a need for calculated modernization in an outbreak armed with the most advanced technical tools of mass murder. To survey the whole history of antisemitism suggests that the demonic element in Nazism was not so unprecedented and that its appearance is related to a long past for which Western history cannot disclaim moral responsibility.
The Early Postwar Period
As a result of mass murder in World War ii and of the emigration caused by the heightened tensions with the Arab world attending the creation of the State of Israel, Jewish residence in the classic centers of antisemitism, Christian Europe and the Islamic Middle East, was enormously reduced. The primary centers of Jewish population in the wake of the war were in the United States, the Soviet Union, and Israel.
In the post-World War ii era, the Jews of America rose rapidly to very close to the top of American economic, political, and intellectual life. This has been attended by remarkably few conflicts. Some social antisemitism remained, for, as repeated studies have shown, the Jews are the only white group in the United States for whom social rank is consistently lower than economic status. Nonetheless, quotas in the colleges and universities and in certain professions, and exclusion from the highest posts of political life, have well-nigh ended. The visible difficulties that exist are noticeable in the black community. The Jew has generally been the last occupant of the neighborhoods in which blacks now live in the large cities and Jews are therefore still quite visible as landlords and storekeepers in the black neighborhoods. In addition, some Jews have felt that they have been resented for being too prominent in what some blacks would like to regard as their own revolution, which other people are taking away from them in the very act of participating in it. Nevertheless, antisemitism in postwar America was generally regarded as a minor problem.
The mood of Christians in the aftermath of World War ii was overwhelmingly that of contrition. World Protestantism in its international meetings immediately after World War ii, at Amsterdam and New Delhi (1948, 1961), was at great pains to condemn antisemitism and to express contrition for not having acted more strongly during the Nazi era. It was in this mood, despite ongoing theological problems with the question of whether the church continues to need to convert Jews in order to be true to itself, and the further problems of understanding, from the perspective of Christian theology, the right of the Jews to the Holy Land, that there was substantial Christian support in the late 1940s, especially among Protestants, for Zionist efforts toward the creation of the State of Israel.
In Catholic circles, Pius xii began the process of dissociating himself from Nazism after World War ii by maintaining public neutrality during the battle for the creation of the State of Israel and insisting only on the internationalization of Jerusalem. The radical changes in Catholic-Jewish relations took place in the reign of John xxiii, with his excision of certain objectionable anti-Jewish references from the Good Friday liturgy, such as the term perfidy and with his setting into motion the revision of the church's basic attitude on the Jews. This crystallized in the declaration on the subject at the Vatican Council of 1965, that clearly stated: "True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His Passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today." And: "Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected by God or accursed, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures." This historic theological revolution made necessary further rethinking on the part of Catholics on a whole host of theological doctrines, a process of review that is still going on. A document in which the religious significance of the Holy Land for Judaism, if it be understood in its own terms, is warmly hailed, was discussed within the highest instances of the Catholic Church. There have been since the 1950s cooperative efforts between Jews and Christians of many persuasions toward the removal of antisemitic elements in church textbook material.
Nonetheless, the significance of the "ecumenical age" could be overestimated at the time. Christianity was no longer considered the dominant spiritual force in the West during the 1960s or the 1970s that it was two centuries ago, nor has the antisemitism of the last modern age been primarily Christian. Therefore Christian ecumenism could indeed be considered less than an absolute deathblow to antisemitism. The increased friendship and understanding between Jews and Christians involved the most Western, modern, and intellectual elements: yet large parts of the Christian community remained unaffected. More important, following the Six-Day War of 1967 between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the Christian churches, and most especially the Protestant ones, in many places in the world, evidenced an increasing hospitality to Arab anti-Israel propaganda. Much of this has emanated from the Christian churches of the Arab world. Such material has often been careful to make a distinction between antisemitism, which is ruled out, and anti-Zionism and opposition to Israel, which is affirmed. Nonetheless this distinction was not always maintained. In place of the old stereotype of the Jews as accursed of God for rejecting or killing Jesus, the weak and cringing figure held in contempt, a new stereotype became prevalent in some Christian circles of the Jews as arrogantly victorious and ruthless toward the Arabs.
In the aftermath of June 1967, General de Gaulle, then president of France, angered by the support the Jews of France had given to Israel, which was contrary to his political line and wishes, pronounced the Jews to be an "elitist, self-confident, and domineering people." Here and there older antisemitic stereotypes were used in reaction to the newest phenomena, the appearance of the Israeli Jew and his effect on the Jewish mentality throughout the Diaspora. In the course of the short period of its existence, Israel has produced for the world the Jew who is unconcerned with what opinions others hold of him and who insists on his personal and national autonomy and sovereignty. This "new Jew" has elicited admiration, but also resentment. The newest forms of antisemitism have responded to the new Jewish stance by attacking what is in their eyes the elements of power. In the late 1960s and 1970s considerable left and-radical left-wing opinion in the world was strongly opposed to Israel and to the Jewish involvement in it. There was within this movement the paradox, but not an unprecedented one, of the presence of considerable numbers of leftist Jewish youngsters who were indifferent or even hostile to all forms of contemporary Jewish identity and survival (see *New Left, and "New Antisemitism" below).
The existence of Jews, the Jewish community, Judaism, and Jewish identity – whatever may be their self-definitions – as a people apart inevitably carries with it the prospect of that attack upon them which is termed antisemitism. The hatred of the unlike is an all too human phenomenon. Add to it dimensions of supposedly demonic powers; of many centuries of damnation of Jews by Christianity as the enemies of God; of the need for scapegoats in times of turmoil or defeat – and there then appears antisemitism, the most lasting expression in Western history of the hatred of the man who is regarded as alien, and therefore even possibly inhuman. Have that alien maintain, or have once maintained, or be believed to maintain, his own religious or cultural superiority – and thus appear to be a threat in the midst of elements of the majority– and the "great hatred" has arisen. Antisemitism has been less fashionable after the horror of Hitler, but it was too hopeful to believe in the post-war decades that its day is over.
In Arab Countries
Postwar Arab antisemitism was influenced by European antisemitic literature (mainly French) published in Arabic in the second half of the 19th century, particularly in connection with the *Damascus Affair. In about 1869, Neophytos' Destruction of the Jewish Religion was published in Arabic in Beirut. In 1890 H. Fāris published in Cairo a book on the blood libel entitled The Cry of the Innocent in the Horn of Freedom (reissued in 1962 in the uar official series of "National Books" under the title Talmudic Human Sacrifices). August *Rohling's The Talmud Jew was published in Cairo in 1899 and was cited as a source in such publications as the Arab version of the Protocols of the of the Elders of Zion published (c. 1967) by Shawqī ʿAbd al Nāṣir, President *Nasser's brother.
The publication of antisemitic literature became a spate as a result of the Arab-Israel conflict. Antisemitic themes and arguments were developed by Arab propaganda as a weapon against the yishuv during the Mandate period (1917–48) and even more so against the State of Israel. The radical objective of liquidating the Jewish state as a political entity induced Arab writers and officials to present the State of Israel as both aggressive and inherently evil, and the need to substantiate the wickedness of Israel led them to trace the sources of its evil to the history, culture, and religion of the Jewish people. Despite attempts to differentiate between Zionism and Judaism, it has been stressed repeatedly that Zionism – which is presented in such writings as a sinister, racist colonialism-originated from, and is a continuation of, Judaism. Zionism is also frequently characterized as "the executive mechanism" of Judaism. For example, H. al-Hindī and M. Ibrahim wrote in their Isrāīl: Fikra, Ḥaraka, Dawla ("Israel: Thought, Movement, State," Beirut, 1958, p. 113): "We fight against the imperialist regime and the Jewish people, whose invading vanguard in Palestine, called Israel, is preparing for a further leap." Though Arab antisemitism did not cause the Arab-Israel conflict, but rather was stimulated by it, it has aggravated Arab hostility.
The amount and vehemence of antisemitic literature in Arabic has no parallel in the post-World War ii era. In addition to its quality and tenor, the fact that much of it has emanated from official publishing houses and government agencies makes it all the more significant, as it does not originate on the fringes of Arab society but rather at the center. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been translated into Arabic several times and been recurrently referred to, summarized, and quoted by various Arab authorities, including Nasser himself (see e.g., the official English volume of his speeches and press interviews, 1958, part 2, p. 30). Antisemitic themes and abstracts from the Protocols have been included in Arab secondary school textbooks, as e.g., in Dh. al-Hindāwī's al-Qaḍiyya al-Falisṭīnyya ("The Palestine Problem"), published in 1964 by the Jordanian Ministry of Education, and in indoctrination material of the armed forces, as in Ḥasan Ṣabrī al-Khūlī's Qaḍiyyat Filasṭīn ("The Palestine Problem"), published by the Indoctrination Directorate of the uar (United Arab Republic) Armed Forces. The concept of a Jewish world conspiracy, as described in the Protocols, was the main theme adopted by Arabs from European antisemitism as early as the 1920s. It later may have served the psychological need of alleviating Arab self-reproach for failures and defeats by asserting that the Arabs fought not only against Israel, but against "those who are behind her" – imperialism and world Jewry.
That Arabs have not hesitated to exploit antisemitic themes, despite their witnessing the moral havoc wrought by Nazi antisemitism in Germany, proves the vehemence of Arab hostility. In Arab political literature, the Nazi extermination of the Jews has been justified. It has been suggested that others will follow this example, and Adolf *Eichmann has been hailed as a martyr (see, e.g., Abdallah al-Tal's Khaṭr al-Yahūdiyya ʿAlā al-Islām wa-al-Masīḥiyya ("The Danger of World Jewry against Islam and Christianity") and M.A. ʿAlūba's Filasṭīn wa-Ḍamīr al-Insāniyya ("Palestine and Humanity's Conscience"), both published in Cairo in 1964). Thus, antisemitism has served Arab political and intellectual leaders as a psychological tool to prepare their people for the violent liquidation of Israel.
The quibble that the Arab anti-Jewish attitude cannot be defined as antisemitism because "the Arabs themselves are Semites" is sometimes used by Arab spokesmen, particularly in statements addressed to the outside world. Arabs have distributed antisemitic literature in European languages in various countries, and antisemitic groups in Europe and America have collaborated with Arab representatives, as the Arab states can offer them such instrumentalities as support and asylum. The affiliation between Arabs and Western antisemites is manifested by the tendency of post-World War ii antisemitism, especially on the left, to support the Arab case against Israel. Arab leaders are aware of the dilemma that by helping to propagate antisemitism they may endanger the position of the Jews in various countries and thereby induce further Jewish migration to Israel, but their emotions and their belief that the Arab struggle is a global one directed against world Jewry often override other considerations. The very meagerness of the remnants of the Jewish communities in most Arab countries, apart from *Morocco, has been a factor limiting the development of social antisemitism. However, there was clearly an element of antisemitism in the persecution of Jews in *Syria and *Iraq. After the Six-Day War there appeared in the Arab press condemnations of the excessive use by Arabs of antisemitic themes, specifying the damage caused by extremism to the Arab cause The frequency of antisemitic publications subsequently abated somewhat. A later book is Bint al-Shāṭiʾ (Dr. ʿAʾisha ʿAbd al-Raḥman), A'da al-Bashar declaring the Jews the enemies of humanity), published by no less than the uar Government – The Higher Council of Islamic Affairs, 1964.
In the Soviet Bloc
theory and practice
Antisemitism, according to Communist doctrine, is an extremely negative social phenomenon; it could only be part of reactionary, capitalist, and pre-capitalist regimes, in which hatred of the Jews is exploited for the gain of the ruling classes. Lenin, along with the other revolutionaries in czarist Russia, was a sincere and resolute opponent of antisemitism and of any form of oppression, discrimination, and persecution of Russian Jewry. However, after the consolidation of the Soviet regime, principally under *Stalin's one-man rule, a distinctly anti-Jewish policy was sometimes planned and implemented in the Soviet Union. This policy consciously exploited the traditional antisemitism of the people in the Ukraine and in other parts of Russia, who viewed the Jews as a foreign element, "rootless in the homeland," who tended to conspire with the country's enemies, to evade dangerous defense duties in time of war, and who quickly profited by illicit economic manipulations and by exploiting the toiling masses. The word "Jew" itself has been mentioned relatively rarely in Soviet antisemitic propaganda, precisely in order to avoid breaking an ideological taboo; the antisemitic intent, however, was clear to everybody through the use of thinly disguised, conventional terms, such as "*Cosmopolitans," "Zionists," "people without a fatherland," etc. The aim was mostly "a so-called educational" one: to produce tangible evidence that certain popular tendencies which the regime tried to eradicate (such as interest in Western life and culture, or illicit manufacturing and marketing of goods) were initiated and conducted by foreign, traitorous, "rootless" elements, i.e., the Jews. A further stimulus arose during the Cold War years, when the system of suspecting and supervising whole groups of the population by the security organs reached its peak. Every Jew was thus regarded as a real or potential security risk because of his family ties with Jews in the U.S. or other Western countries, and because of his sympathy, open or hidden, for the young State of Israel. This "cosmopolitanism," presumably an inherent characteristic of every Jewish body, was considered dangerous from the security point of view and warranted the liquidation of all Jewish institutions and organizations, with the exception of only a few synagogues which were placed under constant supervision by the security police. A further stage in Soviet antisemitism was reached in the late 1960s when the Soviet Union adopted an extreme anti-Israel policy, particularly after the Six-Day *War in June 1967. Soviet propaganda started a campaign grotesquely inflating the image of Zionism as a sinister international conspiracy spread over the whole world, very similar to that propounded in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
after the october revolution
During and immediately after the October Revolution, antisemitism served as one of the prime weapons of the Russian counterrevolution, when the White forces depicted the Bolshevik regime as executing the enslavement of Mother Russia by the Jews. Lenin saw antisemitism not only as a socio-political evil, in accord with his ideological outlook, but also as a formidable factor which he had to combat in his struggle for saving the revolution. He attacked antisemitism in his statements and speeches, including the well-known resolution of the Soviet government which defined perpetrators and instigators of pogroms as enemies of the revolution who had to be outlawed (Izvestiya, July 27, 1918). This atmosphere existed in the Soviet Union for years, at least up to the consolidation of Stalin's dictatorship toward the end of the 1920s. Among the masses antisemitic feelings continued in the 1920s, particularly during the nep ("New Economic Policy"), sometimes even increasing, as when a large influx of Jews from the townlets came to the industrial and administrative centers, where they competed for the available jobs. Antisemitism also increased among the peasants as Jews received land in southern Russia and Crimea for agricultural settlement. But, despite popular antisemitism and the official persecution of the Jewish religion and the Zionist and Jewish Socialist movement (carried out to a large extent by Jewish Communist party members), vast numbers of Jews in the U.S.S.R. enjoyed (during the 1920s and most of the 1930s) considerable geographic and social mobility, with no obstacles of an antisemitic nature standing in their way.
The turning point began toward the end of the 1930s with the Great Purges, during which the Soviet government discontinued denouncing and punishing expressions and outbursts of popular antisemitism. At this time, the government initiated a systematic liquidation of Jewish institutions and leading figures. Then, however, it was possible to view this as part of the general processes designed to secure Stalin's dictatorship, since there still were significant numbers of Jews holding middle and higher positions of power in the party hierarchy and in vital branches of government, such as the political secret police. From 1939 onward, after the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact (Ribbentrop-Molotov Non-Aggression Pact) and the outbreak of World War ii in the West, the Soviet press and radio systematically concealed reports about the anti-Jewish character of the Nazi regime and about the oppression and murder of Jews after the invasion of Poland. In this respect, there was a considerable improvement following the German attack on the U.S.S.R. in June 1941. However, in the many detailed accounts of Nazi atrocities in the Soviet press and radio there was still a discernible tendency to cover up the fact of the genocide of the Jewish people, which was mostly described in vague terms, as the murder of "peaceful, innocent citizens." This systematic concealment continued even more strongly after World War ii. Anyone attempting to emphasize the special suffering of the Jewish people under the Nazi occupation of the U.S.S.R. (as, e.g., Yevgeny Yevtushenko) was strongly criticized by official spokesmen.
the black years
1948–1953. The Black Years began for Russian Jewry when the anti-Jewish line became the active policy of the highest government echelon. These were the last four or five years of Stalin's regime (1948–53). The secret police murdered Solomon *Mikhoels, director of the Jewish State Theater in Moscow and chairman of the Jewish *Anti-Fascist Committee, thus touching off what became the systematic liquidation of all Jewish cultural institutions which were remnants of the 1930s or established during the war. At the end of 1948 and the beginning of 1949 Soviet newspapers and journals opened an anti-Jewish campaign, condemning the alleged cosmopolitan rootless elements in intellectual life. This campaign was the first undisguised expression of the wide exploitation of popular antisemitism for Soviet government aims. The ingrained hatred and suspicion of Jews – as a foreign element liable to treason – served here as a powerful demagogic means of educating the nation against "westernizing" tendencies and for seclusion behind the wall of Russian nationalism. The closing down of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee; the arrests and execution of Jewish writers, artists, and public figures; the "Crimea Affair" trial behind closed doors; the Slansky *trial in Prague (initiated and run by emissaries from the Soviet Union); the *Doctors' Plot; the dismissal of many thousands of Jews from their work; and the portrayal of the State of Israel and of the Zionist movement as instruments of an anti-Soviet American spy network, were all part of the anti-Jewish program of the "Black Years." Antisemitism served as one of the principal tools of Stalin's regime and policy during the Cold War years both in the U.S.S.R. and in the satellite countries. According to reliable testimony, Stalin intended, following the Doctors' Plot trial," to initiate a mass deportation of the Jewish population from the principal cities of the U.S.S.R. to Eastern Siberia, but he died in March 1953, before he could carry out his plan.
the khrushchev period
The period following Stalin's death was inaugurated by an apparent reversal of the anti-Jewish policy through the official retraction of the "Doctors' Plot" accusation, but expectations that the Jewish institutions would be reinstated and that there would be a vigorous campaign against popular antisemitism were frustrated. Nikita Khrushchev, who in a closed session of the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party (February 1956) denounced Stalin and his methods, completely ignored the anti-Jewish aspect of the defunct dictator's rule, and silence on this subject was regarded as ominous for Soviet Jewry. Khrushchev himself, who was the supreme party and government representative in the Ukraine during and after World War ii, was apparently deeply impressed by the immense power of popular antisemitism as a socio-political factor. Upon becoming prime minister and first secretary of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R., he more than once expressed his own anti-Jewish thoughts and feelings in talks with foreign personalities, delegations, and newsmen and once even spoke out in defense of Stalin's stand in the "Crimea Affair," thus indirectly vindicating the liquidation of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and its members.
Khrushchev's antisemitic policy was moderate in comparison with that practiced in Stalin's last years. It took the form not only of a consistent concealment of the genocide inflicted on the Jews during the Nazi invasion, but also of using Jews for show trials in the campaign against "economic crimes." This campaign was carried out by the security police from May 1961 until Khrushchev was removed from office in 1964. The Jews accused of "economic crimes" were picked out from a large number of people engaged in illicit economic activities and assigned the role of alleged initiators, instigators, and organizers of transgressions and other "crimes" against the Soviet laws in matters of production, marketing, and foreign currency regulations. Jews were the majority of those found guilty. Many of them received the death penalty, and their being Jews was emphasized in various ways in the press. During Khrushchev's office, books and pamphlets appeared which strongly denounced not only Zionism and the State of Israel, but also Judaism as such, as an extremely negative historical, cultural, and religious phenomenon. These publications were sometimes accompanied by crude antisemitic cartoons (as in the book by the Ukrainian antisemite Trofim Kychko, Judaism without Embellishment, published by the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, Ukrainian, 1963). A new effort to eradicate organized Jewish life in the U.S.S.R. was made under Khrushchev through the closing of many synagogues, often following a smear campaign by the local newspapers in which the synagogues were described as hangouts where criminals met for their sinister purposes. Synagogue leaders were arrested; minyanim in private homes were brutally dispersed; and the baking of maẓẓot for Passover was gradually abolished. In some places, burial of Jews in separate Jewish cemeteries was discontinued. In these years, popular antisemitism made itself felt in several outbursts, as, e.g., the arson of the synagogue and murder of the Jewish cemetery's shammash in the town of Malakhovka near Moscow, accompanied by the posting of antisemitic proclamations in the streets (Rosh Ha-Shanah 1959); the burning of the synagogue in Tskhakaya, Georgia, in 1962; anti-Jewish street riots, at times incited by blood libels (in Tashkent and in Tskhaltubo in 1962); public tension created by a blood-libel story in Vilna in 1963; and in one instance, the publication of an anti-Jewish blood libel in the official organ of the Communist Party (in the town Buinaksk, Dagestan, in the local newspaper on August 9, 1961, where a few days later an official apology of sorts was printed).
In widespread circles of the Russian intelligentsia opposition to the official and popular antisemitic clime was expressed in several ways, but for the most part by hints and implications rather than by overt criticism. It reached its climax in Yevtushenko's poem *Babi Yar published in Literaturnaya Gazeta in 1961 and in the fact that Dmitri Shostakovich included the poem in one of the movements of his 13th symphony. The poem immediately aroused severe criticism, with antisemitic overtones, on the part of official literary critics and even from Khrushchev himself. A clear hint was given that any public declaration on behalf of the Jews was in contradiction to official policy. At the same time Jews of the U.S.S.R. were affected by systematic discrimination in many spheres. Jews almost completely disappeared from the foreign service, from commanding posts in the army, from positions as representatives of the government, the party hierarchy, the judiciary, etc. The number of Jews in local, republican, or Soviet government bodies fell far below the percentage of Jews, not only in the cities (where about 95% of the Jews reside), but in the population as a whole. Young Jews met with increasing difficulties in getting accepted in higher institutions of learning in the main cities of Russia and the Ukraine, particularly in those fields of study which usually lead to positions of power or to classified fields.
When Khrushchev was demoted in October 1964, and the "collective leadership" headed by Alexei Kosigin and Leonid Brezhnev initiated, there were signs of slight improvement in the attitude to Soviet Jewry. The campaign against "economic crimes" and the synagogues ceased; baking of maẓẓot was to a certain extent renewed; Jews were mentioned as victims of the Nazi Holocaust on Soviet soil; and even a public denunciation of antisemitism as one of the evils of society was once made in a speech by Prime Minister Kosigin. Following this, editorials in the same spirit were published in several leading newspapers in 1965. However, after the Six-Day War in June 1967 between Israel and the Arab states, a most severe anti-Jewish campaign in the Soviet press and propaganda media was unleashed again. Its declared aim was to condemn Israel and Zionism, but its general spirit and the caricatures accompanying it were markedly antisemitic. The Ukrainian style of antisemitism, which represents Judaism as a criminal religious tradition from ancient times, educating its followers in racial superiority and hatred of other peoples, began reappearing in widely diffused publications, as well as in tracts written by Trofim Kychko who reappeared on the scene after having had to remain silent for a few years, as his 1963 book had caused a world-wide scandal even in Communist parties in the West. In the new campaign, "Zionism" was assigned a central place: it was depicted as a powerful instrument or a main ally of "imperialism," serving its sinister global aims, such as enslaving nations and exploiting them, undermining Socialism, and, of course, manipulating Israel for criminal aggression against the progressive Arab states. These descriptions of Zionism closely resembled the description of the world Jewish conspiracy in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It created an atmosphere of depression and deep apprehension in Soviet Jewry, who again were led to fear for their physical and economic security. However, no persecutions of Jews in the manner of the "Black Years" of Stalin are known to have taken place; it seems that the government took steps to prevent any outbursts of popular antisemitism such as those which occurred in Khrushchev's time.
poland and czechoslovakia
Popular expression of antisemitism in Poland became overt when Wladislaw Gomulka's government rose to power in October 1956. One of its sources was hatred of the overthrown Stalinist higher echelon, which in Poland included a number of Jews in key positions (e.g., Jacob *Berman and Hilary *Minc). However, Gomulka's regime was expressly opposed to antisemitism. In the framework of repatriation of former Polish citizens, it made possible the return of many Jews from the U.S.S.R. and their further migration to Israel. It did not interfere with the exodus of the remnant of Polish Jewry to Israel and other countries. However, its policy underwent a marked change following the Six-Day War in June 1967, becoming extremely anti-Israel, in line with Soviet policy. Gomulka even went a step further, when he publicly warned the Jews in Poland against becoming a "fifth column" by expressions of sympathy for Israel. Following this stand, a number of books and articles appeared that sharply attacked Israel and Zionism, with distinctly antisemitic overtones. This paved the way for wide anti-Jewish purges in the ranks of the government, universities, and other fields in the spring of 1968, when government circles blamed "Zionists" for mass demonstrations held by students and professors in the universities. The anti-Jewish purge and propaganda campaign was directed and exploited by one of the party factions for political ends. This faction, known as the "Partisans," was headed by the minister of the interior and head of the security police, Mieczysław Moczar.
In Czechoslovakia, where traditional antisemitism has no deep roots, as in the Ukraine and in Poland, Antonin Novotny, president of the republic and secretary of the Communist Party, ruled continuously from the period of the (Rudolf) Slansky Trial until early in 1968. When he was ousted by the liberal wing of the Communist Party, there was a general improvement in the atmosphere. Jewish cultural and religious life was favorably affected. But, during the sharp controversy between the Soviet government and the liberal regime in Prague that led to the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet army in August 1968, Soviet and Polish propaganda used anti-Jewish allusions (e.g., that "Zionists" had pulled the strings of the "counterrevolution" in Czechoslovakia). Following the invasion, Jewish figures in the liberal Czechoslovak regime, such as Eduard *Goldstuecker, Ota Šik, and others, were forced to disappear or even to leave the country. In the Czechoslovak crisis, as in the anti-Jewish purges in Poland that year, antisemitism, mostly disguised as "anti-Zionism," was one of the prime elements in the influence exerted by Soviet agencies in Soviet bloc countries; it naturally served even more the needs of the anti-Israel campaign conducted by the Soviet government and propaganda media in Arab countries.
In the United States
ideals and reality
In the United States the fate of the Jewish community has been more fortunate than in almost any other country. Jews in general experienced wider tolerance and greater civil and political equality than in the countries they had left, and Judaism was accepted by most Americans as one of the great religions. The U.S. government has exemplified George Washington's famous words accepting the formula of the Newport Hebrew Congregation to give "to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance." American Jews, unlike many European compatriots, did not live as an autonomous community, or with a separate legal system for running the affairs of a ghetto.
Jews benefited not only from the absence of official governmental hostility, pogroms, or serious restrictions, and of an established religion that might encourage discrimination against other faiths, but also from the social, economic, and political traits of American life: the pluralistic society with its opportunities for social and geographic mobility, ability to participate in political activity, political parties as broad coalitions in which ethnic groups could compete and also be mutually protected, constitutional protection of civil rights in most cases, the competitive economic system, and the decentralized congregational structure permitting different expressions of the Jewish faith. Some legal restrictions of the civil and political rights of Jews to vote and hold office were almost all eliminated by the early 19th century. No systematic antisemitic ideology has been advocated by any mainstream political leader or group; overt antisemitism has, with rare exceptions, been associated with fringe or non-political elements. Indeed, care must be taken to distinguish the application to Jews of the normal intergroup tensions and conflicts in America from genuine antisemitism.
Nevertheless, anti-Jewish sentiment, social prejudice, and hatred motivated by religious, economic, and racial considerations, has been a constant presence in American life. Sometimes it has taken the form of violence. The Jewish community has suffered from discrimination in many forms: housing, employment, admission to resort hotels, business, college quotas, membership of social clubs. Negative images of Jews in popular literature and culture have persisted. Stereotypes – killers of Christ, criminals, Shylocks, uncouth nouveaux riches responsible for social disintegration, ethnic and cultural aliens, clannish conspirators, financial exploiters, revolutionaries or radicals – have been rife. For long periods Jews were rarely portrayed positively or realistically.
Antisemitic rhetoric and behavior have been more pronounced in some periods of American history than in others. During the Civil War the most discriminatory act against Jews was the official order of General Grant in December 1862, expelling them from military territories in the border states for alleged illegal trading; the order was immediately revoked by President Lincoln. In the 1880s and 1890s, the agrarian and Populist movements in the Middle West gave vent to some antisemitic utterances. Anxiety at the influx of East European Jews, and of others held undesirable, led to the imposition of quotas, and the virtual end of Jewish immigration by 1918. Jewish residents also experienced an increase in social antisemitism.
American constitutional ideals, liberal traditions, and pluralistic society and politics, were normally sufficient to prevent extreme antisemitic behavior. Yet ugly incidents did occur, the most dramatic being the unjust conviction in 1913, and the lynching by a mob in 1915, of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory superintendent in Atlanta for the alleged murder of a female employee. In the 1920s, the most influential expressions of antisemitism emanated from publications financed by the industrialist Henry Ford, The International Jew and the Dearborn Independent, with a circulation of 700,000, and reprinting of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Before World War ii demagogues, such as Senator Theodore Bilbo and Congressman John Rankin, attacked international Jewry in general and New York Jews in particular as aggressive capitalists, communists or radicals, or polluters of American culture. Over a hundred organizations, mostly small and local in character, seeing Jews as mainly or partly responsible for social ills appealed to different social classes and ethnic groups.
Of these organizations, five were particularly active: The German-American Bund, the Silver Shirts, the Christian Front led by Father Coughlin, Gerald L.K. Smith's Committee of One Million, and the Protestant Defenders of the Christian Faith.
Since the end of World War ii, polls and surveys, though differing on the exact figures, have suggested a considerable decline in antisemitic attitudes, though about half of American Jews believed that antisemitism is a serious problem and two-thirds feared it could be serious in the future. Moreover, in the U.S., negative attitudes have rarely led to serious manifestations of prejudice. In its 1989 audit of antisemitic incidents in the United States, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith reported 845 incidents of vandalism and desecration, ranging from arson to swastika daubings of Jewish institutions and property, and over 580 assaults, threats, and harassments against Jews or Jewish institutions. Over 85 percent of those arrested for the incidents were under 21.
Though it significantly declined from 1944 to the late 1960s, antisemitism persisted during these years notwithstanding the determined efforts of Jewish organizations and political action to counter it, despite elimination of many hostile references to Jews in Christian religious books and increased interfaith activity and institutes on Judaism, civil rights legislation, federal and state laws, continuing revulsion about Nazi crimes against Jews, the breaking down of social barriers in the post-War era, and in spite of the changed nature of the American Jewish community.
That community is a well-educated, affluent, highly urban, liberal, Democratic, politically active, mobile, adaptable, aging and gradually becoming less religiously observant group. In the late 1970s it amounted to 2.5% of the total population, and still declining, it has achieved an unparalleled social, political, and economic status, occupying prominent positions in education, government, business, the professions, and the cultural world. The very fact that intermarriage of Jews with members of other faiths rose so dramatically – by some calculations to 40% of Jewish males and 10% of females – itself indicated the increased acceptance of Jews. In 1981 only 14% of non-Jews objected strongly, and another 14% somewhat, to a mixed marital relationship.
In post-World War ii America, until the 1980s at least, open advocacy, let alone ideological formulation, of antisemitism was not respectable. The symbol of the Holocaust; the moderate political climate; the absence of any mass dissatisfaction with the prevailing socio-economic system; the decline in Christian religious orthodoxy; the modifications of doctrine and attitude by churches, especially by the Catholic Church at Vatican Council ii; and the growth of the economy and in the standard of living all helped lessen tension between Jews and non-Jewish whites.
Besides the decline in unofficial anti-Jewish prejudice in areas such as housing and employment, state laws increasingly forbade discrimination, and the courts removed restrictive covenants on housing. In universities, the quota system imposing limitations on Jews was largely ended. Overt discrimination appeared confined to a few exclusive cooperatives, athletic or golf clubs, and law firms.
Public opinion polls tried to measure the attitudes of Americans towards Jews in the postwar years. Survey findings sometimes showed widely differing results and must be treated with care. Yet, they were a valuable way to assess the degree of prejudice since American antisemitism was then largely attitudinal and not usually translated into either ideological coherence or concrete actions.
The index of 11 antisemitic beliefs proposed by Selznick and Steinberg in 1969 has been a useful benchmark for later studies. Between 1964 and 1981, negative beliefs in the index declined by about 14 percentage points. Americans were then less likely to see Jews as dishonest businessmen, clannish, in control of international banking or the media, television, or the movies, as having a lot of irritating faults, or as willing to choose money over people.
Yet, significant numbers of Americans between 1978 and 1985 still accepted negative stereotypes of Jews in general. They saw Jews as pushy, aggressive (25%), clannish (40%), going out of their way to hire only Jews (57%), controllers of movie and television (25%), willing to use shady practices (33%), choosing money over people (34%), and control over international banking (43%).
In 1981, over 80% would vote for a qualified Jew as president. A 1988 Gallup poll shows that only 3% did not want Jews as neighbors; 13% disliked black and 9% disliked Hispanic neighbors. In a 1981 Gallup poll, about 40% had a "highly favorable" opinion of Jews while only 2% were "highly unfavorable." The highly antisemitic attitudes declined from 37% in 1964 to 23% in 1981. Negative stereotypes existed about Jews but they were held even more strongly against evangelical or fundamentalist Protestants, and against oil companies and big business.
Accompanying the decline in negative images is an increase in positive ones. Jews are seen as hard working, talented, intelligent, warm and friendly, as contributing much to American cultural life, as philanthropic, and as good family members. A 1982 Roper poll found that 59% thought it was "a good thing" that Jews had immigrated to the U.S.
On some issues, negative attitudes increased over the 1960s and 1970s. In 1981, 35% thought Jews had too much power in the business world, 20% that they had too much power in the U.S. (11% in 1964) and more were concerned about the loyalty of Jews to Israel. Polls show that between a quarter and a third of the population believed Jews "are more loyal" to Israel than to America. In a poll in April 1987, 28% thought Jews placed the interests of Israel ahead of the U.S.
Few in post-war America have ventured antisemitic remarks in public. Generalizations, however, can be made on the basis of certain factors: educational level, income, age, race, religion, place of birth, and geographical location. Those holding antisemitic beliefs tended to hold other prejudiced, intolerant, or undemocratic views in general. They were most widespread among the uneducated and poorer members of American society.
Education is a key variable. The least educated scored highest in antisemitic attitudes, except for blacks. Decline in negative images of Jews, as well as in general intolerance, could be correlated during the 1970s and 1980s with the higher level of education of the community. More knowledge of minorities, possession of cognitive skills to think rationally, and understanding of the virtues of tolerance and civil rights have meant less negative images of Jews. Antisemitism was found to be highest in the working class and lowest among professionals and the middle class.
Antisemitism was higher among Protestants than among Catholics. About 80% of Southern Baptists and 70% of Missouri Synod Lutherans agreed that Jews remained unforgiven for the death of Christ. Religion has been a powerful reinforcement of antisemitic views; 45% of all American antisemites get their antisemitic ideas from religious indoctrination or from some religious influence. The number of prejudiced among fundamentalists is some 7% greater than among nonfundamentalists.
Older people tend to be more antisemitic than younger individuals. This might be explained by lower educational level, by the fact that antisemitism was more prevalent when the older people were themselves young, and by the possibility that the aging process might have led to greater feelings of insecurity and intolerance.
Foreign-born Americans in general, partly because they tend to be older and less well educated than the average, hold stronger antisemitic views than the native born. Rural residents, especially in the South and Midwest, tend to be more antisemitic than urban residents. There appears to be little difference in beliefs between the sexes.
The greater degree of antisemitism among blacks than among the white population is disenchanting for those with memories of Jewish sympathy for the plight of blacks, and of actions, even at cost of life, to remedy that plight. Jews have always been more concerned about the state of blacks than have members of other religions, and given disproportionate support and financial aid to civil rights organizations. Black prejudice, often inherited from the Christian fundamentalism imbibed in youth, essentially stemmed from disparaging economic stereotypes of Jews as money grubbers, callous storekeepers and landlords, uncaring employers of black domestics, and as individuals who would use their economic power to degrade blacks.
Moderate black leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., praised "the contribution that Jewish people have made toward the Negro's struggle for freedom." They acknowledged the Jewish help and alliance in black organizations and in the campaigns in the South with their freedom riders and voter registration teams.
However, from the 1960s on, the alliance had become strained. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (sncc), formed in 1960 with Jewish help, within a decade, under the leadership of Stokely Carmichael, began attacking "the Rothschilds" as well as "Zionist Jewish terrorists." Malcolm x denounced Jews as part of the white exploitative majority and wrote, "I don't care what a Jew is professionally, doctor, merchant, housewife, student or whatever – first, he or she thinks Jew," and talked of "Jews who sapped the very lifeblood of blacks." The extremist Black Panthers, the Black Muslims, believing in a Jewish conspiracy to control the world, and some black intellectuals were vocal in anti-Jewish sentiment.
All polls and surveys of the time, as well as other empirical evidence, showed that black antisemitism was considerably higher than that of whites at every educational level. Two-fifths of blacks, compared with one out of five whites, could then be characterized as having high or moderate antisemitic beliefs.
Looking at the surveys of black antisemitism, five features seemed significant. The first was that it increased relative to that of whites. Secondly, black antisemitism was higher in the urban North than in the more rural South. Thirdly, it was manifested more on economic than on other issues. Those blacks who had economic dealings with or who perceived economic mistreatment by Jews recorded a higher level of antisemitism than those who do not. Blacks remained more opposed than did whites to political antisemitism and to social discrimination, but negative beliefs on some noneconomic matters, especially on Israel, also increased. Fourthly, blacks who had personal contact with Jews, mostly in a subordinate role, were likely to be more antisemitic than those who did not, the reverse of the relationship between adult whites and Jews.
Most significant, it was younger blacks and the better educated who exhibited the strongest negative attitudes. This may be the consequence of the competition with or envy of Jews by aspiring black professionals. The antisemitic level of elite black leaders was about double that of blacks as a whole. Assertions of black consciousness and power from the 1960s, greater racial pride and solidarity, meant rejection of white, primarily Jewish, control of black organizations. For many black leaders, the politics of integration changed to the politics of confrontation.
That confrontation took the form of disputes over political goals and the exercise of power. But also the dismissal in 1979 of Andrew Young as American ambassador to the United Nations for meeting with a plo official, the abusiveness of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's remarks about Judaism as a "gutter religion" and his declared admiration for Hitler, the references to New York City as "Hymietown" by presidential candidate Jesse Jackson in 1984, the injection of black-Jewish animosity into the 1988 Democratic party primary in New York, all inflamed passions on both sides. Blacks held about 10% less favorable attitudes to Israel than do whites. Jews and blacks have strongly differed on questions of open enrollment in New York City colleges and, above all, on the issues of quotas for employment. Yet, the old black-Jewish liberal coalition, with its mutual support for electoral office and for policies favoring integrated schools, civil rights, and vitality of urban areas on the one hand, and issues significant to Jews, especially the security of Israel on the other, did not break down.
Besides a few radical left groups, most contemporary vitriolic antisemitism stems from a wide diversity of extremist right-wing hate groups, small in size, essentially anti-democratic and estranged from political and social reality, Identity Church groups and neo-Nazi organizations, living with the memories of Adolf Hitler, and limited to between 400 and 450 members, and the various, small Ku Klux Klan bodies. Some of these groups have engaged not only in hate rhetoric against minorities and racist ideology, but also in crimes, from synagogue bombings to armed robbery and murder, and fanciful conspiracies to overthrow the U.S. government.
These groups, whose members are often disaffected and frustrated, share overlapping beliefs: hostility to government which is seen as illegitimate; enmity toward Jews and non-whites; attacks on Jewish interests supposedly controlling government, finance, and the media; and purported Christian concepts by which white Protestants are seen as the "chosen people."
The better known of the hate groups are the Aryan Nations, the Christian Defense League, the Posse Commitatus, the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, and the Christian-Patriots Defense League.
Probably the most aggressive of the non-religious hate groups are the "skinheads," gangs of shaven-headed youths who glorify violence, and have been responsible for an increasing number of assaults as well as antisemitic bigotry.
The Liberty Lobby, the most active and the best financed antisemitic organization in the country, describes itself as "a pressure group for patriotism," and maintains close connections with a number of members of Congress. Its weekly newspaper, The Spotlight, started in 1975 and now, with a circulation of over a quarter of a million, is the most widely read right-wing extremist paper in the country. Among its favorite targets are Zionism, and people defined euphemistically as "dual loyalists" or "international bankers."
The Institute for Historical Review was created in 1979. Its chief concern has been to deny or minimize the reality of the Holocaust and explore Jewish "atrocity propaganda" through a number of books and materials with antisemitic themes and by annual conventions.
To conclude: Extreme groups in the U.S. remained small and outside the political mainstream, and their membership appeared to have declined even further. American politics embodies and public opinion coheres around a consensus of political moderation in which antisemitic expressions are not respectable.
The country, with certain qualifications, exhibited a lower level of overt prejudice and bigotry than ever before in racial and religious matters. Jews as a group were no longer blamed, except by a fringe element, for the nation's problems or condemned for not being truly American. Indeed, in the working of the American political system today, Jews both as political activists and participants, and as elected and appointed officials have played a prominent role.
Yet, the portrait of antisemitism is a composite of conflicting traits. If most churches no longer insist on Jewish responsibility for the Crucifixion, those of an orthodox or particularist persuasion are inclined to do so. An appreciable minority, between one-fifth and one-quarter, still believed in the 1980s that Jews have too much power. Some remain obsessed by the idea of Jewish domination of the media and banking.
Two other major problems remained. Black antisemitism, stemming from religious teachings and economic stereotypes, exacerbated by the politics of confrontation and, to a lesser degree, a rise in adherence to Islam, was a troubling issue. The issue of Israel, support for its policies, aid for its security, and Jewish relations with the state did not lead to an increase in antisemitism. But about a quarter of non-Jews were highly unfavorable to Israel, and young people are more likely to be so than are older people.
Appropriate anxiety should be shown for the rhetoric and the potential for violence of those extreme groups which have antisemitism high on their agenda, though their membership is small and declining. But that anxiety should not be excessive. Even admitting a significant minority of the population can be regarded as having antisemitic attitudes, Jews have not been made scapegoats for economic or social problems. What is finally important is that the antisemitic beliefs that existed until the late 1980s did not lead to an organized movement with any serious support for violence against Jews.
Trends in the 1970s
from nazism to neo-nazism
In the post-Holocaust period, there have been attempts in Western countries to revive Nazi organizations with antisemitic ideologies. Still, the "swastika plague." that swept West Germany and other countries in 1959–60, accompanied by a wave of antisemitic incidents, was found to have been orchestrated by the Soviet Union, in order to embarrass West Germany, and subsided shortly thereafter. Indeed, the efforts to set up an international organization of neo-Nazi groups were centered in Belgium, where a group called Nation Europa tried to get a foothold in the 1960s. In the U.S., a small body was set up by Gerhard Lauck in Lincoln, Nebraska, which kept the old label of the nsdap (National Socialist German Workers' Party) and still acts as a main supplier of ideological guidance to neo-Nazi groups. Other propaganda centers exist in Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Britain, Belgium and elsewhere. In Germany, the weekly Deutsche National-Zeitung (cir. 100,000 in 1977; 130,000 in 1978) served as a rallying point. After various groups tried to form a neo-Nazi party in the 1950s, the npd (National-demokratische Partei Deutschlands) emerged; Jewish issues were not on the whole central, but the 1953 Luxembourg agreements on German *restitution were attacked, German war-guilt was rejected, and the Holocaust either minimized or denied. This last tendency became especially marked after the appearance in the U.S. in 1975 (German edition, 1977) of Arthur R. Butz's The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. However, the vote received by the npd in Federal elections fell from 0.3% in 1976 to 0.2% (68,096 out of 38 million) in 1980. The total average editions of all right-wing periodicals in Germany added up to 324,000 in 1983, of which 17,000 represent neo-Nazi publications (according to the adl the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith). The total readership would therefore indicate a slightly higher percentage of sympathizers than actual voters. Membership in the npd declined from 21,000 in 1970 to 6,500 in 1983, but the Deutsche Volksunion, headed by the editor of the Deutsche National-Zeitung, claimed 10,000 members. Other German right-wing and neo-Nazi groups rejected the legalistic approach of the npd and, from about the mid-1970s, increasingly leaned towards extra-legal and terrorist activities. The main targets were the democratic institutions of the German Federal Republic, but antisemitism is part and parcel of the ideological baggage of these groups. They numbered about 70 in 1977, with fewer than 20,000 members. Overall, public opinion polls revealed a marked decline in antisemitic sentiments, which are now prevalent mainly among older people, whereas the younger generation appeared to be very much less prone to antisemitism. The decline in antisemitic sentiment was accompanied, paradoxically, by increased violence on the part of the minuscule neo-Nazi movement. Group hatred was directed mainly towards Turkish and other foreign workers ("Gastarbeiter").
A similar picture emerges in other countries. In Britain, the neo-Nazi National Front was declining steadily after initial successes. In 1977, it polled over 5% (119,000 votes) in the Greater London council elections; by 1978 it had dropped to 34,000 votes, with the downward trend continuing in subsequent years. Its antisemitism, while very marked ("the Jewish question" is "a central issue in the struggle for the salvation of British nationhood," in Spearhead, February 1977), was overshadowed by its opposition to black and Asian immigration to Britain. In the early 1980s, the nf split into four groups. Some of the more extreme splinters (such as the British Movement and Column 88) have evinced an inclination to terrorist action.
In France, a May 1977 enquiry (by the Paris Le Matin) showed that about 5% of Frenchmen exhibited clear antipathy to Jews, while 29% were against the idea of a Jew as French president (as opposed to 60% in 1966). French group animosity was directed largely towards foreigners (92% dislike Arab North Africans). Right-wing extremist political groups came and went, but they did not poll, until the late 1970s, more than 1% in national elections. An extreme terrorist group (fane) was banned in 1980.
The Italian neo-fascist party, msi (Movimento Sociale Italiano), was a force to be reckoned with, despite a split in December 1976. Openly antisemitic views, however, were expressed only in marginal groups such as Ordine Nuovo or Ordine Nero. The msi polled 8.6% in 1972 parliamentary elections and 5.3% in 1979. In Belgium, a militant Flemish nationalist group, the vmo (Vlaams Militante Orde), was instrumental in several attempts to coordinate neo-Nazi activities on an international scale. In Spain, a similar group called Fuerza Nueva was accused of being linked to a December 1976 bomb attack on the Madrid synagogue. The European country with the strongest antisemitic popular feelings appears to have been Austria, where 50% of Viennese were found to have negative attitudes to Jews in 1977.
In the U.S., Ku Klux Klan groups reappeared occasionally. Their membership numbered about 10,000 in 1980 (but 50,000 in 1967); however, adl estimates of Klan sympathizers run to about 100,000. A Nazi party was active, under the leadership of Lincoln Rockwell, but has declined considerably. According to polls conducted in the U.S. and Western Europe, popular antisemitism was generally on the decline. Yet at the same time, the shrinking extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi groups had become more violent and terror-prone. In the U.S. the number of acts of vandalism, mail and phone threats, and harassment of Jews and Jewish institutions increased.
In France and Belgium, terrorist attacks were aimed at Jewish targets, such as the January 1978 attack on Jewish communal buildings in Paris, the October 3, 1980, attack on the rue Copernic synagogue in Paris, the July 1980 murder of Jewish children at Antwerp, the August 1982 attack on the Goldenberg restaurant in Paris, and many more. Similar occurrences took place in Austria and Italy, while less serious incidents were recorded in Britain and other countries. The security organs in all these countries largely failed to uncover the culprits. At least some of these attacks appear to have been perpetrated by Arab terrorists; they were clearly antisemitic, as they were directed against Jews as Jews and not against Israeli targets. Other attacks may have been carried out by right-wing or left-wing extremists, by themselves or in collusion with Arab groups. All this must be seen against the background of the general increase in terrorist activity throughout the Western world, with antisemitic terror playing some, but not a large part. Terror may have the effect of disrupting organized Jewish life, and various Jewish groups have attempted to counteract it by legal action and other means. Laws against racial incitement were legislated in most European countries and in the U.S., sometimes with a salutary effect.
In Germany, the Statute of Limitations on Nazi crimes was abolished in July 1979; however, only 6,342 individuals were sentenced for Nazi crimes in Germany between 1945 and 1978, out of 84,403 indicted by public prosecutors.
the denial of the holocaust
A new phenomenon in the antisemitic discourse was the denial of the Holocaust. While before World War ii extreme antisemites demanded the annihilation of the Jews, increasingly influential groups of pseudo-intellectuals argued in its aftermath that six million Jews were not in fact killed. While immediately after the war it was argued that Jews exaggerated the number of victims, this was done by people on the fringes of society and in the gutter press. The situation changed with the writings of Paul Rassinier (Le Mensonge d'Ulysse, 1961; Le Drame des Juifs Européens, 1964), a former French socialist and resistance fighter who spent some time in a Nazi concentration camp. Identifying with the SS aggressors, he saw great merit in Nazi Germany, argued that the Nuremberg trials had been a sham, and that "only" a few hundred thousand Jews had been killed. Towards the end of his life, he began to doubt the existence of the gas chambers.
The theme was picked up in the U.S. by students and followers of historian David Hogan, and more so of Harry E. Barnes, an American isolationist historian who opposed America's participation in the European Allies' war against Germany. His anti-Communist leanings led him to take the position that Nazi Germany should have been an ally against the U.S.S.R. Academics, many of them of German ancestry, developed his thinking into an attack on American democracy in general and American participation in the Nuremberg trials, which were seen as kangaroo courts dispensing the victors' justice against tortured Nazis forced to confess to crimes they never committed. Jews were seen as the conspiratorial element behind this unfortunate American involvement.
A number of influential publications helped spread the idea. Former SS-man Thies Christophersen published "The Auschwitz Lie" in Germany in 1973, a term that became a code name for Holocaust denial. Richard E. Harwood (or Verral), a known member of the British National Front, published in 1974 the brochure "Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last." Arthur Butz's 1975 book The Hoax of The Twentieth Century became a focal intellectual event: Butz, a Northwestern professor of electrical engineering, was supported by his colleagues on freedom of speech grounds. In 1978 an Institute of Historical Review was founded at Torrance, California, publishing the Journal of Historical Review, which is still largely devoted to the denial of the Holocaust. It was founded by extreme rightist Willis A. Carto, publisher of the antisemitic Spotlight and head of the so-called Liberty Lobby. International conferences have brought together the French, American, and other branches of what became an international group of activists, with most of its members holding academic degrees from respectable institutions or being lawyers (such as Nazi veteran Wilhelm Staeglich, author of the 1979 Der Auschwitz Mythos, or Robert Faurisson, a Lyon university professor of literature).
The tack was to deny the genuineness of Jewish and Allied documentation, regard all trials of Nazi criminals as based on confessions obtained by torture, deny the existence of gas chambers, brush aside testimonies of survivors as lies (Anne Frank's diary was declared to have been forged, for instance), and see a Jewish-Israeli conspiracy as threatening the West. Some Jews, such as Dr. Alfred Lilienthal, an extreme anti-Zionist, and Dr. Howard Stern, a medical psychiatrist, supported this group of intellectuals. Prof. Noam *Chomsky of mit defended its right to be heard. Other Jews admired by the Institute include Yehudi *Menuhin, Rabbi Elmer *Berger and the leaders of *Neturei Karta.
The purpose, consciously or otherwise perceived, seemed to be an attack on Western institutions and systems of justice, in order to create a moderate picture of Nazi Germany and its crimes, by presenting the west as no less responsible for World War ii: the Jews pushed Germany into the war and were the reason for the fight to the bitter end. Discrediting the Jews was a means to achieving this purpose. Some of the propaganda was very cleverly aimed at young intellectuals in the West. At least some of the authors appeared to believe their own lies. Their influence appeared to have increased in the 1970s and 1980s: in high schools and some universities the literature of these so-called "revisionist" historians entered into the curriculum. Activities directed against these groups included law suits (such as the one pursued by Mel Mermelstein in Los Angeles, which resulted in a judicial statement acknowledging as a fact that the Holocaust occurred) and attempts at legal measures (in the German Federal Republic) that would make the denial of the Holocaust a punishable offense. This denial was obviously a new form of antisemitism, because it saw the Jewish mind as capable of fabricating such a horror, and it was attuned to the psychology of Western post-Holocaust society.
In countries such as France, antisemitic sentiment and activity was connected in one way or another with the denial of the Holocaust. While French popular feeling appeared to be veering away from antisemitism, new forms, especially among small groups of the intelligentsia, appeared to be spreading. Groups variously known as the "Nouvelle Droite" or "Nouvelle Ecole" propagated a sophisticated racism directed against non-Europeans such as the North African workers who are the equivalent of the "Gastarbeiter" in Germany. The supposedly destructive influence of these non-French elements was linked to the Jews. The groups mentioned were anti-Christian as well as anti-Jewish, and propounded an integral French nationalism based on "new scientific" insight ("sociobiology"). A group led by the poet Alain de Benoist and associated with the Nouvelle Ecole was prominent in the Sunday Figaro Magazine. A group of Rassinier's followers gathered around La Vielle taupe, a leftist source of publications. Their influence on French intellectual life seemed to be greater than its apparently small numbers would warrant. In 1980 the group organized itself as grece (Groupement de recherche et d'études pour la civilisation européene), with about 10,000 adherents.
It was not easy to clarify the situation in Latin America during the reign of the military juntas. Undoubtedly, the terror initiated by the generals turned with special venom against Jews, and Jewish victims were especially maltreated; the number of Jewish victims (reportedly about 2,500) was out of proportion to the number of Jews involved in political strife in Argentina. Indeed, it is difficult to accept the view of editor Jacobo Timmerman, for instance, that the junta was a Nazi group whose main purpose was to attack and eliminate Jews, because South American antisemitism would rather seem to be a reaction to economic and political crises based on traditional antisemitic prejudices that are revived as the crises get worse. But the impact of the Nazis who reached Argentina after the war, and of Fascist ideologies, on parts of the military and political high echelons of Latin America cannot be ignored. In Argentina, some outrages continued into the post-junta period despite efforts of the new democratic government to stop them. Bombs were thrown at Jewish centers elsewhere as well, for instance, in August–September 1982 alone, there were incidents in Quito (Ecuador), Guatemala City, Guadalajara (Mexico) and Maracaibo (Venezuela). However, violent antisemitic incidents in Latin American countries were few, and the intensity of verbal expressions was far lower than that of European countries.
(For more on Holocaust denial, see below.)
The major antisemitic threat during the 1970s was from the Soviet Union. With the tightening of the Stalinist dictatorship came an increasingly anti-Jewish tendency, reviving pre-Bolshevik anti-Jewish stereotypes as butts of propaganda in a crisis-ridden society. Culminating in the mass murder of the leaders of Jewish culture in the U.S.S.R. in 1949–50 and the so-called "Doctors' Plot" of early 1953, this tendency caused Jews as a group to be seen as the protagonists of an imperialist campaign designed to topple the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. Loyal Communists of Jewish descent were tortured into admitting impossible deeds of treachery as part of the regime's efforts to strengthen its hold over the satellite nations. Stalin's death on March 7, 1953, prevented the tragedy of a mass expulsion of Soviet Jews to Siberia. Under Stalin's immediate successors, the anti-Jewish campaign abated. After the Six-Day War in 1967, and the consequent breaking off of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Soviet bloc, a new campaign started.
In literally hundreds of publications, some with very high circulation (up to quarter of a million copies), and at what must have been a tremendous cost, Soviet writers and journalists, some of whom of Jewish descent, focused on a number of Jewish questions: first, the theme of an inherently evil Jewish culture, whose central text, the Bible, was presented as the source of racism, as the expression of the vilest human qualities, and as endangering the human race through its nefarious cultural influence (V.Y. Begun, The Creeping Counterrevolution, Minsk, 1974; T. Solodar, The Wild Woodworm, Moscow, 1980, and many others). The second and perhaps major theme was that of a Jewish world conspiracy which managed to gain effective power in the West, where it controls Western imperialism. Writers such as Yuri Ivanov, Lev Korne'ev, and others represented the "Zionist clique" dominating the West as equivalent to the traditional concept of the Devil. Continuing a tradition that started in Christian antisemitism long ago and was perpetuated via the Protocols of the Learned *Elders of Zion (1903) and on through Nazi writings, contemporary Soviet writers did not actually accuse Soviet Jewry of being part of an international conspiracy. The accusation was directed against a nebulous entity, interchangeably described as Zionist or Jewish, which controlled the levers of economic and political power in the West. By comparison, attacks on Israel's policies were relatively rational, obviously reflecting Soviet political, strategic and economic interests as perceived by the ruling oligarchy.
In a large number of Soviet publications, then, Jews, Judaism and Zionism (the terms are interchangeable) were seen as the greatest danger to the Communist world. This view was echoed, among East European states, mainly in Czechoslovakia, which excelled in the most violent antisemitic propaganda in its major newspapers. The impact of all this on the general public in the U.S.S.R. and Czechoslovakia was difficult to gauge, but it could be assumed that government-organized antisemitic propaganda could have catastrophic consequences for the remnants of the Jewish populations at some future date; there appeared, however, to be some opposition among Soviet intellectuals, including some close to official circles, to the excesses of Soviet antisemitic propaganda (e.g., G. Martynov).
Antisemitic writings were rife indeed: the bibliography runs into hundreds of items for the years since 1967, including pseudo-scientific writings in a number of disciplines, fiction (including science fiction), and journalism. Little was done to distribute these publications in other countries. They were mainly intended for home consumption and appeared to answer a deep-seated need for an explanation of the failures of the regime in the economic, social and political spheres.
antisemitism and anti-zionism
The campaign to identify Zionism with racism, which reached its apogee in 1975 with the resolution at the un equating the two, was initiated and orchestrated by the U.S.S.R., in cooperation with Arab and Third World countries, as a direct consequence of its antisemitic campaign. The aim seemed to be the delegitimization of the Jewish State, which was increasingly being forced into the position of a pariah within the international community, reminiscent of the situation of the individual Jew in antisemitic societies in pre-modern times.
The 1970s Soviet antisemitic propaganda denied without exception that it was antisemitic. It was everywhere claimed that the attack was against Zionism. Some observers, and especially certain Israeli politicians, have argued that all so-called anti-Zionism is antisemitic, because Israel is representative of Jewish endeavors and therefore every attack on any Israeli interest is anti-Jewish. Others (e.g., Shlomo Avineri) have argued that criticism of Israeli policies is hardly antisemitic, as practically all Israeli citizens have at one time or another been opposed to their government, and if such opposition were anti-Zionist or antisemitic, these terms would lose all meaning. Anti-Zionism should therefore be defined as denying the existence of a Jewish people as such and their right to an independent state, and not as criticism of policies or acts. Such anti-Zionism is then considered to be antisemitic, when antisemitism is equated with anti-Judaism. Jewish anti-Zionists, with some exceptions (such as those who align themselves with the deniers of the Holocaust), are regarded as collective self-haters, though some will admit a category of Jewish antisemites.
The attempt to differentiate between criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism in principle is especially important in the study of Arab and Third World antisemitism, on the other hand, and Western liberal and left-wing antisemitism on the other.
The study of Arab antisemitism – as contrasted with anti-Israeli attitudes, including opposition to Jewish national aspirations – is problematic, as the elements are obviously intertwined. However, a case study of Egypt might well show this differentiation because of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty (1978), which was accepted as a fact by some of the more extreme antisemitic writers in the pro-government camp (e.g., Anis Mansur). In mass publications such as Akhbār al-Yawm or the government party's ideological periodical, October, articles were published lauding Hitler's attitude to the Jews, quoting the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion as a basic historical text, and comparing Israeli (interchangeable with Jewish) actions on the West Bank and in the Lebanon with the Holocaust. Stereotyped descriptions of Jews as controlling the wealth of the world, as exploiters and usurers, as a morally defective community were abundant. Fanatic Sunni writers opposed to the peace treaty repeated these accusations but combine them with the view that the Jews are enemies in principle of Islam from its inception; the idea of independent Jewish political existence is totally unacceptable as it would mean relinquishing territory within Dār al-Islam, the area of Islam, to a subject people viewed as the enemy of Islamic traditions. This is the view of the Muslim Brotherhood (e.g., Sayyid Qutb, Al Yahud, al Yahud, Riyad, 1970), just as it is of the Khomeinite Shiʿa movement, whose anti-Jewish ideology increasingly penetrated into Sunni countries (Syria) and areas with large Shiʿite populations (Iraq, Lebanon).
The Palestine Arab Nationalist organizations fighting Israel with terrorism are an entirely different case. The Palestine National Covenant of 1968 (article 20) states that "Judaism, in its character as a religion of revelation, is not a nationality with an independent existence. Likewise, the Jews are not one people with an independent personality." Article 22 sees Zionism as "aggressive, expansionist and colonialist in its aims; and Fascist and Nazi in its means. Israel is the tool of the Zionist movement and a human and geographical base for world imperialism." These statements are clearly antisemitic, and even genocidal, in two respects: first, because the destruction of Israel clearly implies the destruction of its Jewish population, despite the declaration in article 6 that Jews who were living in Palestine before 1917 could remain (not many of these were still alive in 1968, and even fewer later); second, because the majority of Jews see Israel as an expression of their nationality or ethnicity and not only their religious beliefs. All other national or ethnic groups are likely to have such sentiments recognized by the international community, including, presumably, the Palestine Liberation Organization. The non-recognition, in principle, only of the Jewish case is therefore not merely antisemitic but genocidal by implication. However, from the mid-1970s, the plo took great care to avoid any antisemitic statements or propaganda, with the important exception of refusing to budge from the original statements included in the 1968 Covenant.
In the West, the apparent ease with which anti-Israeli criticism can turn into clearly antisemitic statements was exemplified in the 1982 media attack on Israel's entry into Lebanon. Beyond political or moral opposition to a military move, which in itself cannot be termed antisemitic, the following was characteristic of media criticism of Israel's action: the Jews (not Israel) are "said to be God's chosen people; at all times and in all countries and with every means they have stolen the property of others" (Ostersunds-Posten, Sweden, June 1982); the ritual murder story was revived: "A child disappeared" (in Lebanon) "and was found a few days afterwards in a crevice, shot in his head, ritually executed" (Aftonbladet, 25.9.82). Respectable papers compared the attack on Lebanon with the Holocaust and then joined the deniers of the Holocaust: "How ironic it is that the word 'holocaust,' now synonymous with the deaths of supposedly 6 million Jews in Nazi concentration camps, is the only word that can describe what is now going on in Lebanon… there is much controversy going on now about the accuracy of that 6 million figure… perhaps it was a type-setter's error that was repeated" (The Barrie Examiner, Canada, 3.7.82). British papers and many Continental journals published similar material. Alongside political or moral criticism of Israel's government, which in itself is certainly not antisemitic, traditional antisemitic themes were introduced – Jewish world conspiracy, ritual murder, flawed Jewish character, including racial superciliousness – all directed against the Jewish people as a whole and not just an Israeli government. It would appear that the Lebanese war only served as a pretext for these outbursts.
Anti-Jewish feelings, often masquerading as opposition to Israeli policy, could be found in liberal circles, among which media was but one example. In another context, the 1983 Assembly of the World Council of Churches – founded by Willem A. Visser t'hooft, who was active in efforts to rescue Jews during World War ii – declared its support for plo participation in Middle East negotiations and lamented the rift in the ranks of the Palestinians and the loss of consensus among Arab nations.
Dangerous tendencies could be discerned in New Left circles. Thus, for instance, the National Union of Students in Britain attempted to ban university and polytechnic Jewish societies on the grounds that as they were pro-Israel and as Zionism was racism they should be denied platforms and union facilities (House of Commons, Hansard, 25.22.1977, cols. 2058–2072).
On the other hand, there is no consensus regarding the many Protestant groups on the American Right, loosely described as Fundamentalist or Evangelical. Many, though by no means all, are ardent supporters of Israel, and many also abjure any kind of anti-Jewish stance. Some may have different views, but no in-depth investigation or self-analysis was attempted during the 1970s.
The increase in antisemitic expressions since the late 1960s justifies calling it a wave. "Classical" antisemitism was gradually declining, but what is more important is that new configurations were cropping up, though here too a clear continuation from previous periods can be shown: the emphasis was on Jewish world conspiracy and rule and the Jewish state as the embodiment of the flawed Jewish character and as the center of the conspiracy.
opposition to the antisemitic wave
During the 1970s and the early 1980s the fight against antisemitism was not carried out by Jews alone, though of course Jewish defense organizations bore the brunt of the struggle. In the U.S., the adl fought manifestations of the phenomenon not only locally but increasingly in Europe and Latin America as well. The American Jewish Congress concentrated more on attacking the Arab boycott of Israel. The American Jewish Committee emphasized the defense of Jewish communities in the political and cultural spheres.
The World Jewish Congress was active on the international scene fighting antisemitism at the un and elsewhere. Its research institution, the Institute of Jewish Affairs in London, was a major source of information about contemporary antisemitism. In Berlin, the Center for Research on antisemitism at the Technische Universität, specialized mainly, but not exclusively, in Central and West European antisemitism in the last two centuries. National Jewish bodies such as the Board of Deputies in Britain, and the crif (Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France) in France acted against antisemitism locally; in France, a research group associated with crif, cerac (Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche sur l'antisemitisme Contemporain), was engaged in a study of French antisemitism. In Jerusalem, the Hebrew University's International Center for the Study of Antisemitism is currently engaged in a broad historical and contemporary investigation of antisemitic phenomena.
In the Christian world, there came about an increased awareness of the importance of fighting antisemitism. Following the Vatican's historic decisions in 1965 (see before), the Catholic Church was making efforts to combat antisemitism among its adherents. In 1973, the pastoral Instructions of the French Catholic bishops' Conference called for a repudiation of "pseudo-theological arguments" used to reject Judaism. The Protestant World Council of Churches established a Commission on the Church and the Jewish People, headed by Prof. Krister Steadhal, working for better interfaith understanding. The bond between the Jews and the Land of Israel is recognized in the Guidelines for Christian-Jewish Dialogue of the wcc (1982). In May 1981, the Assembly of the Church of Scotland declared "its belief in the continuing place of God's people of Israel within the divine purpose," and the Lutheran World Federation consultation of August 1982 stated that "we Christians must purge ourselves of any hatred of the Jews and any sort of teaching of contempt for Judaism." The Rhineland-Westphalia Synod of the evangelical church in Germany proclaimed the continued validity of Judaism, and the Catholic Church established an International Liaison Committee for itself and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations in 1971. A German bishops' declaration of April 1980 was rather weak and apologetic regarding German Catholic responses to the Holocaust, but it acknowledged the Catholic debt to Judaism and opposed the "deicide" accusation. Apart from these official bodies, important Christian leaders are working to fight antisemitism. Franklin H. Littell (Methodist Church) set up the conferences on the Holocaust and the Church Struggle (Detroit, 1970); Father John Pawlikowski and a number of other Catholic leaders in North America have helped fight antisemitism in their Church; in Rome, August Cardinal Bea (d. 1968) was a major influence in the same cause.
Public figures and leaders in the arts, literature and science and in secular movements in the West were concerned with the phenomenon. From Jean-Paul Sartre to Daniel Patrick Moynihan and from President François Mitterand to Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, strong opposition to antisemitic attitudes and actions was expressed and the danger to Western society from antisemitism was recognized.
The term antisemitism (or rather "anti-Semitism"), as a catch-all phrase denoting anti-Jewish attitudes or acts of all types, is misleading. Casual expressions of dislike as well as murderous hatred are subsumed under one term; but in the absence of a differentiating terminology the term continues to be used. As there is no "Semitism" to which "anti-Semites" object, the term being used to denote haters of Jews as Jews, it should indeed properly be written antisemitism rather than anti-Semitism.
Partly as a reaction to antisemitism, Jewish antagonism to non-Jews, sometimes of a violent and even terrorist nature, has no name, but belongs to the same general category of group hate. Originally a protective psychological defense mechanism, it has burgeoned in the last few decades into a recognizable stance among some radical religious and nationalist Jewish groups in Israel and in the Jewish Diaspora.
In the 1980s
In the Western world, the decade of the 1980s began with a wave of antisemitism sparked off by the Lebanon war. There followed a decline in public expressions of it until the late 1980s when economic recession took hold, far-right parties made significant advances, and newer forms of antisemitic expression gained ground. The resurgence of grassroots antisemitism in Eastern Europe, following the collapse of Communism, gave encouragement to antisemitic groups in the West, and by 1992 it was clear that a wave of resurgent antisemitism was under way.
the west: new forms of antisemitic expression
In the United States and Germany, anti-Jewish sentiment, as measured by opinion polls, declined steadily, and in other countries no marked increases in antisemitic sentiment were recorded. However, even in countries where polls indicated decreasing levels of antisemitism, the number of antisemitic incidents appeared to rise steadily and become more violent and abusive. A particularly gruesome example was the desecration in May 1990 of the Jewish cemetery in Carpentras, France, where a corpse was dug up. This shocked many and a huge demonstration led by President Mitterrand, took to the streets of Paris.
In the U.S., skinhead groups were thought to be responsible for the rise in antisemitic incidents in the mid-1980s which continued until 1992, when there was a reported decrease in such incidents for the first time in six years. Skinhead groups were also a source of concern in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, and Canada, where they were thought to be behind the increase in antisemitic attacks over the decade.
Many neo-Nazi groups were formed during the 1980s. Most remained electorally marginal, although some were thought to be responsible for the more violent attacks. There was increased international co-operation between extremist groups in terms of the publication and distribution of propaganda and the organization of conferences and speaking tours.
By the mid-1980s, disillusionment with established political parties, rising nationalism, ethnic conflicts, and an influx of immigrants and asylum-seekers from Eastern Europe led to increased electoral gains for far-right parties in Western Europe. These parties were principally anti-immigrant but their leaders used antisemitic innuendo to make it clear to supporters that antisemitism was part of the fundamental ideological outlook. Antisemitism was far more open at local party level. Racial violence was directed mostly at blacks, Asians, Turks – anyone seen as a "foreigner" – and not at Jews. Yet antisemitic slogans and rhetoric often seemed to be employed by those perpetrating such violence.
In France, the Front National consistently achieved between 9 and 15 percent of the vote. By the late 1980s far-right parties such as the German Republikaner Partei, the Belgian Vlaams Blok, and the Austrian Freiheits Partei also won seats at local and national levels. In 1984, for the first time, the far-right parties had sufficient numbers in the European Parliament to form the Group of the European Right, entitling them to ec funding.
In the U.S., David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, and Pat Buchanan, known for anti-Jewish comments, were candidates for the 1992 Republican Party's presidential nomination. Although both failed, there was considerable unease at the willingness of the American body politic to embrace these candidates.
Black antisemitism was a serious concern through the 1980s in the U.S. Two of its principal sources were Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam Movement, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, the black contender for the 1988 Democratic Party presidential nomination. Further tension was caused when, in 1991, a black child was run over by a Ḥasidic driver in the Crown Heights district of New York and a seminary student was murdered in riots which followed.
The "Pollard affair," in which Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish U.S. citizen was convicted of spying for Israel, caused anxiety in the Jewish community. However, fears that the affair would result in the traditional antisemitic accusation of dual loyalties were allayed by opinion polls which indicated that it had little negative effect.
Antisemitism in Latin America was marginal during the period, except in the case of Argentina. Under the Argentine military junta, antisemitism had been a factor in the violent campaign waged against perceived political enemies. When democracy was restored after the Falklands/Malvinas war, expressions of antisemitism in publications increased markedly. However, by the end of the decade, even in Argentina, antisemitism appeared to be decreasing in significance.
In South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, antisemitism remained essentially marginal, although overtly antisemitic groups existed and their activities were occasionally cause for concern.
While significant efforts were made to curb antisemitism throughout the period, the start of the first intifada in December 1987 reignited tensions. Interfaith dialogue played an important role in countering antisemitism in the Christian churches, particularly among the clergy, but did not appear to have sufficient impact on their charges.
post-communist antisemitism in east-central europe
These years could be characterized as a time of transition from institutionalized to grassroots antisemitism. Indeed, the early 1980s were for the Soviet Union a transitional phase between the bureaucratic stagnation of the Brezhnev era and the reformism of the Andropov-Gorbachev regimes. Beginning around the years 1982–83, there was a shift away from the state-sponsored ideological and political media campaign against Zionism and Israel which had begun in the late 1960s in response mainly to the emigration movement of Soviet Jewry. The campaign had been expressed in Marxist-Leninist terms but elements of it had been marked by transparent anti-Jewish imagery, in particular the invocation of an alleged "Zionist"-Masonic world conspiracy against Moscow and the Soviet Bloc.
As the political wind changed, some writers, propagandists and activists who had specialized in this form of propaganda paid lip service to perestroika, others joined the burgeoning chauvinistic and antisemitic groups which had sprung up in Russia, yet others disappeared from view.
With the failure of reform, the economic, political, and social fabric of the Soviet Union deteriorated. This was accompanied by ethnic strife in a number of republics. In December 1992 the Soviet Union finally collapsed and was replaced in part by the shaky Commonwealth of Independent States; the three Baltic states had earlier successfully sued for independence from Moscow.
By the beginning of the 1990s, the situation with regard to antisemitic expression in Central and Eastern Europe had changed radically. In not a single country was antisemitism tolerated as a state policy. On the contrary, Jewish culture was undergoing an unimpeded renaissance, emigration was virtually unrestricted, and the leaders of the new states were concerned both with combating xenophobia, racism, and antisemitism by political and legal means and with maintaining good relations with Israel.
At the same time, the collapse of the Communist system was accompanied in several of the countries by the rise of grassroots anti-Jewish movements of varying degrees of importance. One particular source of danger was tactical alliances between "unreconstructed" Communists and extreme nationalists. Another source of concern, in particular in the Baltic countries, was the rehabilitation of accomplices of the Nazis in implementing the "Final Solution."
At the turn of the decade, the principal danger spots in post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe appeared to be Russia, where the far right embraced both the would-be respectable National Salvation Front and numerous Pamyat-style neo-Nazi and neo-fascist groups; Hungary, where the far-right parliamentarian and writer Istvan Csurka had been expelled from the governing party and had started up a party of his own; and Romania, where the governing coalition depended on the support of a number of xenophobic parties. While there appeared to be relatively little popular prejudice against Jews in any of the post-Communist countries-there was no shortage of ethnic scapegoats – the economic, political, and social dislocation which followed the collapse of Communism remained serious cause for alarm. The bitter warfare in the former Yugoslavia, with its abhorrent practice of "ethnic cleansing," served as a solemn reminder of the depths to which ethnic strife could descend.
anti-zionism and antisemitism
Much expression of antisemitism at the beginning of the 1980s was disguised as anti-Zionism. Although by no means all anti-Zionists were antisemites, many groups across the political spectrum, but particularly on the extreme left, couched their antisemitism in anti-Zionist rhetoric. For some Communist countries too, anti-Zionism was a convenient tool for concealing state-sponsored antisemitism. The 1975 un General Assembly resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism, was a principal tool of the antisemitic anti-Zionist campaign, which reverberated for a number of years, well into the 1980s, with over 200 denunciations of Israel or the Jewish people or both in national and international forums.
The Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 sparked off a wave of antisemitism which was closely related to negative images of Israel. In the following few years, criticism of Israel provided effective cover for expressions of antisemitism, generating considerable debate as to the relationship between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Some believed that since anti-Zionism denied the rights of Jews on a collective level, it was the equivalent of denying the Jew individual rights – a classic element of antisemitism.
As the 1980s wore on, however, anti-Zionism began to diminish. The Third World forums in which anti-Zionist rhetoric was constantly featured declined in importance as many of the participants saw that it brought them no benefit. The collapse of the Soviet empire led to an end to Communist state-sponsored anti-Zionism. Far-right groups which utilized anti-Zionism continued to do so but, as anti-Zionism became less of an acceptable notion on the international political stage, it became less useful to those seeking a "respectable" front for their antisemitism. In addition, as socialism appeared to be discredited, far-left antisemitic anti-Zionism declined markedly.
In many Arab countries antisemitism was used in the continuous fight against Zionism and the State of Israel. Much of this antisemitism was imposed from above since practically all Arab governments exercised strict control of the media. However, in some countries, Egypt in particular, there was clear evidence of antisemitism becoming increasingly a grassroots phenomenon, linked to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
Antisemitism from Islamic fundamentalist sources became a cause of increasing concern during the period, with extremist groups in certain Western countries propagating violent anti-Jewish rhetoric and using traditional far-right Christian antisemitic themes. Much of this activity was encouraged by Iran and although it resulted in little actual violence against Jews outside of the Middle East, the potential for violence was certainly increasing at the end of the period under review.
the denial of the holocaust
During the 1980s, Holocaust-deniers sought to depict denial as a scholarly endeavor, issuing "research" purporting to prove that the Holocaust was a hoax. Their main focus was on the gas chambers, particularly at Auschwitz.
Fred Leuchter, who invented the lethal injection system used for executions in some American states, was commissioned to analyze the gas chambers "scientifically." Leuchter's work, which claimed to prove the gas chambers a physical impossibility, was disseminated widely by Holocaust-deniers, although it was found to contain fundamental scientific errors and historical inaccuracies. In Britain, the so-called Leuchter Report was published by the far-right historian David Irvin, whose influence in Neo-Nazi circles worldwide increased parallel to the escalation of his tone and arguments, and his moderate portrayal of Hitler.
Other Holocaust-deniers who continued to provide the "conceptual" framework for the deniers' arguments were Robert Faurisson, in France and Arthur Butz in the U.S. (see above).
Young people were targeted by deniers in an attempt to spread doubt about the Holocaust and the veracity of such works as the Diary of Anne Frank. They continually placed advertisements denying the Holocaust in American campus newspapers. A significant number of papers accepted the ads, contending that they represented "ideas" and "points of view" which, however odious, deserved to be heard. In addition, the deniers strenthened their ties with extremist groups worldwide.
Certain countries tried to use the courts as a means of controlling Holocaust-denial activities. However, such legal measures are often difficult to sustain. In 1992, the Canadian Supreme Court overturned the conviction of prominent Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel, ruling that the prohibition against spreading false news likely to cause injury to a public interest was too vague and possibly restricted legitimate forms of speech
[Hadas Altwarg /
Antony Lerman /
Julia Schopflin /
Beginning in late 1986, a marked increase in antisemitic literature surfaced in Japan. Antisemitic literature had been popular in Japan previously, most notably in the 1930s.
In Japan, the image of the Jew that has developed over the past century is a warped and distorted one due to inaccurate sources of information: the anti-Bolshevik White Russian officers of the 1920s, the translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Nazi propaganda in the 1930s and 1940s, and American antisemitic writing in the 1950s and 1960s. But, ironically, although the intention of many of these sources of misinformation is antisemitic it has not led to antisemitic acts by the Japanese. This is because the Japanese have a different value system from that of the West. While they have accepted the image of the Jew as "smart and rich" this has not led to dislike. On the contrary as the Japanese respect "smart and rich" people, they believe that the Jews should be admired and emulated.
However, during the 1980s there were dozens of other works published about Jews and Judaism, including Japanese translations of authors such as David Ben-Gurion and Elie Wiesel. In addition, Japanese scholars have written on Jewish subjects. It is important to emphasize that these, as well as antisemitic books, have also been published in Japan.
The antisemitic literature can be divided into two general categories. The first describes the extraordinary intelligence and financial wizardry of the Jews. These kinds of books are not necessarily intended to slight or insult the Jews. On the contrary they extol the Jews for their great business acumen and, propose that the Japanese should emulate the so-called "Jewish way of business." These books usually led not to a dislike of Jews but a peculiarly Japanese kind of admiration.
The second category is based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and uses The Protocols to explain the troubled economic situation. They blame the rising value of the Japanese yen on a world-wide Jewish conspiracy to control Japan. One "proof" of this is that multinational companies are a "Jewish invention." ibm, Exxon, Ford, and Chrysler as well as other leading companies, are Jewish-owned; Rockefeller, George Shultz, and Stalin are Jewish; and Korea's economy was planned by the Jews to beat Japan. Jews are also held responsible for the Tanaka-Lockheed scandal (charges of corruption involving the Japanese prime minister Nakoi Tanaka and the American aircraft company in 1976), the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and the pillage of the Incas in the 15th century. The most important "fact" in these arguments is that the Jews control the United States and whoever controls the U.S. controls the world.
The "evidence" is as absurd as the allegations. For example, the Lockheed scandal is seen as an act of retaliation by the Jewish world conspiracy. The "Jew" Rockefeller had planned to have the "Jew" Kissinger open China to the U.S. in order to procure off-shore oil rights. Similarly Tanaka had to be eliminated lest the Japanese endanger the "Jewish world conspiracy" to gain off-shore oil rights.
The leading "Jewish conspiracy" theorist is Masami Uno whose four books have sold well over 1,000,000 copies. Uno also lectures extensively on this subject and has written several articles for various publications. In the April 1987 issue of Big Man, a popular monthly, he wrote the following passage:
How does the international Jewish capital, which effectively controls the U.S. assess America? Jews have gradually been taking their money out of the U.S. for the past several years.
The concept of multinational enterprise, which can move like an amoeba all over the world in search of profits, is typically Jewish.
While Japan is struggling with problems arising from loans made to the Third World countries and massive investment in the U.S., these multinational enterprises have removed far more massive assets from the U.S. to elsewhere and are looking for next investment targets. What will be their next investment target? I'm sure that they will invest their money in buying up Japanese enterprises. When will they start their action? It will be when debtors in the Third World declare a moratorium and stocks plummet simultaneously.
The Great Depression calls to mind scenes of people in bread lines, but these pictures only show one side of things. The other side of the Depression was that the Jewish capital groups, such as Rockfeller, Mellon and Morgan in the U.S. and Rothschild in Europe, accumulated massive fortunes during that period. They kept buying massive banks and companies that went bankrupt. There is no guarantee that the same thing will not happen in Japan.
Among other things these books also trivialize the Holocaust. Uno claims that it was physically impossible for 6,000,000 Jews to have been killed and also states that Hitler had no choice but to eliminate the Jews. Another writer, Toru Kawajiri, estimates that only 200,000 Jews died.
During the late 1980s a total of approximately 1,500,000–2,000,000 antisemitic books in both categories were bought in Japan. These books' popularity is an outgrowth of the tremendous concern in Japan about current economic conditions. The recent leap in the value of the yen has hurt Japanese exports. Many Japanese perceive themselves as gravely threatened and are fearful of the future.
Thus, when a book claims it has answers for the economic situation it has great appeal. Many people who bought books with such titles as If You Understand the Jews, You Understand the World were primarily interested in what was said about economic matters and had only a vague curiosity about the Jews. Thus the fact that two million copies of the above book were sold should not be regarded as a sign of a rise in antisemitism.
There is another explanation for the recent popularity of antisemitic books. Japan is very concerned with preserving its sense of national identity. Historically, it has always been fearful of foreigners, with large numbers believing that Japan is only for the Japanese. Such a concern can lead to varying degrees of xenophobia and a tendency to blame the outsider in times of trouble. Thus the recent popularity of antisemitic literature can be understood as a reaction against foreigners in general. It has even been suggested that in reality antisemitic books are attacking America, but since America is too important to Japan it is more politic to blame the Jews.
Other groups have also been blamed for Japan's economic problems. This includes the Rockefellers, Illuminati, and Freemasons.
There is, however, a fundamental difference between Western antisemitism and Japanese attitudes to Jews. In the West Jews are blamed as such but in Japan the word "Jew" is often used as a pseudonym for Americans and even possibly for all foreigners. Furthermore, Japanese do not generally distinguish between one white Westerner and another but see all Westerners as a large group with only minor differences between them. These attitudes reflect a sense of xenophobia in general rather than any specific hostility towards the Jews.
These antisemitic books are believable to the Japanese for several reasons. First, the books are popular in form and language. They are aimed at the low- and middle-level white-collar workers. Such people have had little contact with or understanding of the West and have no reason to doubt the "facts" presented to them. Furthermore the Japanese are great respecters of the printed word.
Until March 1987 these antisemitic publications went basically unopposed both in Japan and abroad. The New York Times on March 12, 1987, carried an article, "Japanese writers critical of Jews," which detailed the rise in popularity of the Jewish conspiracy books. This article was followed by others in the Western press.
Subsequently, the Japanese press published several essays debunking the Jewish conspiracy theory. The first of these appeared in the April edition of the intellectual monthly Bungei Shunju. This article, by Professor Herbert Passin, a leading Japanologist, detailed the inaccuracies of such theories and scoffed at their credibility. Other eminent writers also published articles in this vein included Professor Go Muramatsu, Y. Teshima, and Shuichi Sato. Masahiro Miyazaki, former lecturer at Waseda University and author of several books on economics, published If You Mind the Jews, You Will Lose Sight of the World which parodied the three of Uno's books and explained point by point why the claims made against the Jews are baseless.
On a political level, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter and Rep. Charles Schumer called on Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone to take action against the spreading of antisemitic feeling. On March 19, 1987, Mr. I. Umezu, director of the Japan Information Center in New York, wrote a letter to the New York Times which contained the following reassurances: "Anti-Semitism has no roots in Japan's cultural history. The Japanese government and people are firmly opposed to any form of discrimination, whether ethnic, religious or other grounds, and we are firm in our determination to uphold that position."
On March 23, 1987, a delegation from the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith met with the Japanese ambassador to the U.S., H.E. Nobuo Matsunaga, to protest to the Japanese government about the antisemitic literature being published in Japan. Matsunaga responded that while Japan guarantees freedom of speech these publications did not reflect the view of the Japanese government or people.
On September 4, 1987, in response to a question in a session of the Japanese Diet, then Foreign Minister Tadashi Kuranari stated: "I must say that the argument that the problems Japan faces today are due to a global conspiracy of the Jews is totally untrue and irresponsible." While this statement should have helped to delegitimize antisemitic literature, its value and importance were severely limited by the fact that the statement received almost no Japanese press coverage.
On February 3, 1988, the American Jewish Committee held a consultation on Japanese-Jewish relations. It can be said that world Jewish organizations were slowly coming to the realization that Japan as a growing economic and political power could no longer be ignored by world Jewry. While this antisemitic literature has not led to any significant acts of antisemitism, such misinformation left unchecked might ultimately be harmful both to Jews and to the Japanese. In light of this, an effort was made to establish a Yudaya Bunka Center, a Jewish cultural center, to provide accurate and basic information about Jews to the Japanese.
[Michael J. Schudrich]
The 1990s and After
waves of antisemitism and their causes
Antisemitic activities and expressions were on the rise from the beginning of the 1990s: during the first Gulf War world Jewry, especially the U.S. communities, were accused of pushing their countries into a war that was in Israel's interests. This accusation served to bolster the "conspiracy theory" that was already in place and according to which the Jewish desire for world domination manipulates global events. Moreover, the waves of immigrants and foreign workers caused by the fall of the Soviet Bloc and the globalization process exacerbated problems of defining and relating to ethnicity, nationality, and the rights of newcomers arriving from the poor Southern Hemisphere to the richer Northern one – all bearing on attitudes to Jews, the symbol of the eternal other. Indeed, the year 1994 was by far the worst of the decade – more than 300 cases of violence against Jews were registered worldwide. Violence doubled in Western Europe, most notably in Germany, and increased in Russia. Great Britain remained the most violent country with respect to racist and antisemitic activities for the third year running.
Additional reasons for these developments were the considerable increase throughout the Western world of the role of extremist Muslim groups and movements affiliated to fundamentalist organizations in North Africa and the Middle East. The extreme right, reacting to the growing presence of immigrant minorities, escalated its response to Jews as well, and even more so, having at their service the skinheads, youth devoid of ideology and of institutionalized frameworks. New and constantly improving techniques, the Internet first and foremost, that facilitated the dissemination of antisemitic propaganda and the cooperation among extremist groups, defied government efforts to impose bans and legal constraints. Worst of all was the impact of public debates on World War ii (see below), the gradual dissolving of former taboos and the filtering of instigation by hard-core extremists down to the general public.
In 1995 these developments prompted government agencies, police and parliaments included, to increase anti-terrorist and anti-racist legislative and enforcement efforts. Their unequivocal response to these few years of rising violence against foreigners and Jews resulted in a sharp decline in such violence for the following two years, until 1998, especially in Western Europe, Canada, and the U.S., but not in Russia. However, use of the Internet by extremists was not hampered and served as a vehicle to disseminate their views, especially the "world Jewish domination" notion that was still prevalent in Japan at the time and was enhanced by additional claims made by U.S. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan: having been slave traders, the Jews fabricated a Holocaust story to divert public attention from the suffering of the blacks, and distorted their image through Jewish control of Hollywood and the media. The ongoing globalization, resulting in rampant unemployment, cuts in welfare spending, and subsidization of newcomers' needs, caused public dissatisfaction. The extreme right-wing parties were not slow in exploiting the situation, and their leaders – Jorg Haider in Austria, Filip Dewinter in Belgium, and Jean-Marie le Pen in France, made impressive electoral gains in 1995–97. A few years later, Corneliu Vadim Tudor in Romania, Christoph Blocher in Switzerland, and Istvan Churka in Hungary would follow. While such parties became stronger, extra-parliamentary extremist groups weakened.
After three relatively quiet years, 1998 and 1999 were years of great concern and unease as violence became more severe and each attack caused more damage and underscored the enhanced local and international organizational capacities of the perpetrators. The first signs of cooperation between Islamic extremists, active even during the years of the Oslo Accord, and ultra-rightists or -leftists surfaced in a number of countries. They were coupled to attempts by the right-wing organizations to compensate for their weakness through regional or even European reorganization, and to maintain "leaderless cells of resistance" that were harder to identify and monitor. Indeed, the far right orchestrated a violent summer in the U.S. in 1999, and German authorities warned that the number of such groups whose members are prepared to use arms is on the rise, and that some areas in slowly adjusting East Germany were closed off by hooligan youngsters even to the police. Moreover, violence spread to countries hitherto quiet in this respect, not to speak of overt and uncurbed use of antisemitic motifs and an atmosphere of violence in Russia that kept intensifying each year, with the beating of rabbis on the streets of Moscow, Buenos Aires, and London – blatant acts unknown for decades. Violence was accompanied by a no less troubling proliferation of graffiti, slogans, personal insults, threats, and harassment, together with a host of verbal, electronic, and visual anti-Jewish expressions.
Following two difficult years, the year 2000 ushered in a new century with cautious hope. At the Stockholm Conference some 45 countries declared their commitment to embarking on a less violent century by implementing the lessons of the Holocaust. Pope *John Paulii visited Yad Vashem, and Holocaust denier David *Irving lost his lawsuit against American Jewish historian Deborah Lipstadt with an unequivocal condemnation by a British court that upheld the contention that he had falsified truth and facts – all dealing Holocaust denial a severe blow and creating a new atmosphere. But within a few months, in October 2000, with the outbreak of the second Intifada, an unprecedented wave of violence against Jews swept Western Europe, the U.S., and Canada. Young immigrants from Muslim countries perpetrated most of the 180 or so incidents of violence within a few weeks, during the High Holidays. From then until 2005 a number of waves occurred, each more violent than the previous one, primarily targeting the young and old who looked Jewish on the streets and in educational institutions, but not abandoning the desecration of cemeteries and synagogues. The Durban, South Africa, U.N. World Conference against Racism, held in September 2001, originally assembled to address acute world problems of discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance originating in the migration process, turned into a wholesale attack that singled out Israel and the Jewish people from among 160 countries and nations. Together with the September 11 events, for which American Jews and Israel were immediately blamed, the conference opened a new wave of virulent antisemitism, later followed by another in 2002, with the opening of Operation Defensive Shield, and another with the invasion of Iraq led by the U.S.
Fueling the fire were the concurrence of interests between radical Islam and the European left; deep-seated anti Americanism and pacifism, combined with anti-globalization movements, associating rich Jews operating in the global economy and the State of Israel with both their bugbears; post-nationalist and post-colonial discourse in a unifying and repentant Europe when the Jewish people exercised a unique kind of nationality; the unspoken wish to shake off the heavy shadow of the Holocaust and the Jewish demand to be compensated for its property looted during the war. Violence against persons has been perpetrated in countries with a large immigrant population, most notably a Muslim one (France, Great Britain, and Canada), while attacks on property and communal sites are more evident in countries where the far right is active (U.S., Russia, and Germany). Thus, the left, gradually realizing that millions of frustrated immigrants have not really been integrated, and are being used in the industries of aging countries, are stricken with guilt feelings toward them, but not toward the Jews. Since the liberal left comprises a considerable part of academia, the media, and government, the scene was set for hostility towards the Jewish communities and the Jewish state.
world war ii and holocaust-related issues
Ceremonies held in 1994–96 all over the world, commemorating the 50th anniversary of events that took place during the final stages of the Holocaust and World War ii, brought relations between Christians and the Jewish people to the fore. The impact of these ceremonies on public debate and extremist activities was especially marked in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, where most of the Holocaust victims had lived and were killed. The central issues were: compensation for Jewish property; rewriting of the dark history of the past in terms more flattering to local collective memory; rehabilitation of war criminals who became anti-Communist national heroes; cooperation of the local population with the Nazis, which is still being equated with Jewish support of Communism. Every commemoration and new monument or financial agreement – themselves Jewish achievements – took their toll in anti-Jewish terms.
Compensation for Jewish property came to the fore when archives were opened in the Western world in accordance with the 50-year archive laws, and in the former Soviet Bloc after its collapse. While governments, mainly in the West, supported the demands of Jewish organizations, bolstered by American pressure, and even hailed the courageous fight for lost rights and property, grassroot attitudes, especially in Eastern Europe, were different: they clung to the notion of Jewish domination of the world and the image of the rich manipulating Jew first found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, imagining a Jewish grip so strong that the Jews can sell the world any horror story, blackmail it, and get paid for it twice, even 50 years later. Holocaust denial thus became an even more convenient solution, exonerating former generations. The first example was the "Swiss Gold" affair, which pointed to a large number of countries that benefited either from Jewish assets or from transactions with the Nazi regime, in effect collaborating with and supporting, it. Indeed, antisemitism in Switzerland, long dormant, was openly expressed on the individual and even the official level. Another example was Hungary, where a rise in antisemitic violence was registered with the passage of the 1996 law recognizing Jewish rights. Jewish demands generated resentment especially then, when the majority of the Jews were seen a residing in wealthy countries while millions suffered poverty and human rights abuses worldwide.
As the century drew to a close, World War ii was increasingly perceived as the major event that shaped it, and other issues accentuated the pivotal role of the Jewish people: the political and economic crisis in Russia highlighted the alleged role of the Jews in the pre- and post-Communist regimes; Pope John Paul ii's epistle to his Catholic flock worldwide, "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust," summarized two millennia of Jewish-Christian relations and admitted that Church antisemitism had paved the way to the Holocaust. Right-wing organizations, especially in Germany and Austria, were cautious in formulating their messages, taking into account the resonance of World War ii-related issues in public opinion. Their caution paid off in electoral gains, which encouraged the extra-parliamentary extremists. Germany struggled to find a way to remember its past with a new generation in government office. This was evident in a continuing controversy over the erection of a central Holocaust memorial in Berlin, and the first voices among intellectuals doubting that the centrality of Auschwitz in public life is still justified.
While the 50th anniversaries and commemorations of World War ii brought to the fore the negative image of the Jewish people and resentment of the Jews' role as an eternal reminder of sins that people preferred to forget, the opposite occurred 10 years later, during the 60th anniversary. A special event dedicated to the liberation of Auschwitz at un headquarters in New York, not to mention a ceremony in the camp itself, with the participation of leading international figures and hosts of declarations and speeches, might be explained either as a form of compensation for the antisemitic violence that had not yet been suppressed by these same leaders; or as the use of Auschwitz as a symbol of human suffering as such, and not only Jewish suffering.
the new antisemitism and anti-zionism
The new antisemitism is a term that surfaced after the events of October 2000, to distinguish it from late 19th century political antisemitism and post-World War ii antisemitism. It is characterized by increasing violence mainly against the person of the Jews, mostly in Western Europe, where France is the biggest trouble spot, and North America and Russia; it is marked by a transfer of initiative from the Christian world to the Muslim one for the first time in the long history of antisemitism. Virulent propaganda keeps spreading from Arab countries, especially those in the Middle East, into the Western world, and Muslim immigrants, numbering about 15 million in 2005 in Europe, have become an electoral and economic asset overshadowing the Jewish communities and Israel. The basic negative characteristics of the collective image of the Jew as they accumulated throughout history have not changed, and traditional and even primitive antisemitism is still put to use. What has changed is the sharpening of the image and the degree of vilification as well as the intensity of the political use that is being made of it. The new antisemitism is political, serving as a tool in the war of the radical Muslim world against the West, and first and foremost against the U.S., a war in which Israel and the Jews represent modernity, a primary enemy in the radical Muslim worldview. And it is political as a convenient fusion of antisemitism and anti-Zionism based on the contention that Israel and the Jewish people are one entity, each responsible for the other and for the whole.
One might say that while part of the antisemitism in Christian countries in recent decades has turned into anti-Zionism, in the Muslim world anti-Zionism appears to be turning into anti-Jewishness, thus broadening a political and territorial conflict into a clash of ideological and religious world views. The use of Christian and secular European antisemitic motifs in Muslim publications has been on the rise, yet at the same time Muslim extremists are turning increasingly to their religious sources, first and foremost the Koran, as a primary anti-Jewish source. Indeed, in the media and in public meetings in Arab countries antisemitic motifs ranged from absurd accusations that Israel and the Jews engage in the spreading of aids and corruption in order to dominate the Middle East, to the extensive use of Nazi motifs, the blood libel and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with a hero's welcome to the French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.
Two of the most debated issues in this regard are the correlation between antisemitic events and the Middle East conflict and the question of when anti-Zionism becomes, if indeed it does, antisemitism.
While some of the antisemitic waves and incidents were clearly connected to the Middle East, many others were not connected to the outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, especially those which occurred during the years of the Oslo Accords or following the death of Chairman Yasser Arafat, when a process of rapprochement between the parties seemed to be underway. Also, many of the Muslim immigrants come from countries not necessarily connected to the Middle Eastern conflict, such as those from India and Pakistan in the U.K., from Turkey in Germany, or from central Africa and the Caribbean Islands in France and Canada. Indeed, by 2004 this correlation, previously considered a basic tenet, was being reconsidered because of the growing awareness that the results of immigration are basically a European and global problem, and that the declared correlation with the Middle East is a convenient way to blame the situation on external factors.
While there is general agreement that criticism of Israel's policies is not necessarily antisemitism, there is also agreement, among non-Jews as well, that there are forms of anti-Zionism which are not just criticisms of Israel's policies but an objection to its very existence, thus becoming antisemitism: (a) when the language and images used and the character traits attributed to Israel are imbued with known antisemitic stereotypes, and Israel becomes the collective Jew, or the Jew among the nations; (b) when Israelis and Jews are depicted as a cosmic evil, are blamed for worldwide disasters, and are compared to the Nazis, the ultimate evil; (c) when Israelis and Jews supporting the State of Israel are singled out and attacked, and are treated out of all proportion to the issue at hand and in comparison with the response to the actions of other nations; the often mentioned higher expectations from Israel as a democratic state are at the same time a way to avoid confrontations with despotic regimes, certainly the Muslim ones, spawning such phenomena as a ban only against Israeli universities; (d) when the very existence of a Jewish people, and/or its right to have a national movement and a state are doubted or delegitimized; the Merriam-Webster dictionary stated in 1966 that antisemitism is "opposition to Zionism; sympathy with opponents of the State of Israel"; (e) when the Holocaust is denied, distorted, and made a political weapon, and when the Jews are blamed for allegedly misusing it to extort financial support and to make political capital. While Jewish communities perhaps pay the price for the Middle East conflict, Israel pays for the image of the Jew: "in polite company," wrote a London Sunday Times observer, "one uses 'Israel' when hesitating to use the word 'Jew.'"
reactions to the waves of antisemitism
"We are back in the 1930s," was the reaction of most spokespersons of Jewish organizations and many individuals to the waves of antisemitism that started in October 2000. Though originating in calls of "death to the Jews" in the streets and in the numerous cases of arson against synagogues during the High Holidays, which reoccurred in 2001 as well, these developments belonged to an era that cannot be compared with the Nazi period: In the 2000s, the antisemitic waves notwithstanding, Jewish organizations and communities are on the alert, well-organized, pinpointing the recent processes and fighting against them, and applying history's lessons. The clear stance of the U.S., of the late Pope John Paul ii (1978–2005), and of Israel, coupled with the desire of countries to be members of international bodies by demonstrating their commitment to human rights, are all postwar developments. There is today no state-orchestrated antisemitism, and the billion-plus Muslim believers comprise a variety of sects, beliefs, and ways of life. Moreover, European and North American countries admit today that the ideal of a multicultural society advanced from the 1990s, especially by human rights-oriented ngos which believed in the idea of gradual assimilation, is being replaced by a growing awareness that immediate steps should be taken to calm inter-community tensions, the most prominent form of which is antisemitism. These steps include general education, education for the democratic system, legislation, law enforcement, operative definitions and comprehensive databases and monitoring. A long series of conferences and seminars, accompanied by public opinion polls and reports, initiated by the un, the osce (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), the European Union, and individual countries, was devoted to the struggle against antisemitism, and partly against Islamophobia. Intellectuals, Jews and non-Jews alike, joined the debates and condemned racism of all kinds, first and foremost antisemitism.
Two parallel phenomena thus characterize the antisemitism of the 2000s: violence accompanied by hostile verbal and visual outpourings and growing awareness and the practical response of the national and international communities.
[Dina Porat (2nd ed.)]
S.S. Cohen (ed.), Anti-Semitism: an Annotated Bibliography, vol. 1 (1987); R. Singerman, Antisemitic Propaganda: an Annotated Bibliography and Research Guide (1982). antiquity: Reinach, Textes; A. Leroy-Beaulieu, Israel Among the Nations (1895); M. Radin, Jews among Greeks and Romans (1915); H.I. Bell, Jews and Christians in Egypt (1924); Pauly-Wissowa, Suppl. 5 (1931); J.W. Parkes, Conflict of the Church and Synagogue: A Study in the Origins of anti-Semitism (1934); idem, anti-Semitism, A New Analysis (1964); M. Simon, Verus Israel (1948); A. Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews (1961); J. Isaac, Teaching of Contempt: Christian Roots of Anti-Semitism (1964). middle ages: J.C. Wagenseil (ed.), Tela ignea Satanae (Lat., 1681); A.L. Williams, Adversus Judaeos (Eng., 1935); J.W. Parkes, Jew in the Medieval World (1938); C. Roth, in: I. Davidson (ed.), Essays and Studies… Linda R. Miller (1938), 171–90; J. Trachtenberg, The Devil and the Jew (1943); G. Kisch, Jews in Medieval Germany (1949); B. Blumenkrantz, Juifs et Chrétiens dans le monde occidental 430–1096 (1960). modern times: B. Lazare, Anti-Semitism, its History and Causes (1903); J. Katz, From Prejudice to Destruction: Antisemitism, 1700–1933 (1980); J. Reinharz (ed.), Living with Antisemitism: Modern Jewish Responses (1987); H. Coudenhove-Calergy, anti-Semitism Through the Ages (1935); H. Valentin, anti-Semitism Historically and Critically Examined (1936); J. Maritain, A Christian Looks at the Jewish Question (1939); J. Graeber and S.H. Britt (editors), Jews in a Gentile World (1942); K.S. Pinson (ed.), Essays on anti-Semitism (19462); M. Hay, The Foot of Pride: the Pressure of Christendom on the People of Israel for 1900 Years (1950); N.W. Ackerman and M. Jahoda, Anti-Semitism and Emotional Disorder, A Psychological Interpretation (1950); P.F. Bernstein, Jew-Hate as a Sociological Problem (1951); R. Loewenstein, Christians and Jews: a Psychoanalytic Study (1951, 1963); G.W. Allport, Nature of Prejudice (1954); F. Lovsky, Anti-sémitisme et mystére d'Israël (1955); L. Poliakov, Harvest of Hate (1955); idem, Histoire de l'antisémitisme, 3 vols. (1956–68, History of anti-Semitism, vol. 1, 1965); Y. Gilboa, The Black Years of Soviet Jewry (1971); G. Langmuir, From Xenophobia to Prejudice (1957); J.H.E. Fried, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 3 (1959), 17–24; A. Bein, ibid., 7–15; idem, The Jewish Parasite… (1964, offprint from ylbi, vol. 10); idem, The Jewish Question in Modern Anti-Semitic Literature… (offprint from In the Dispersion, 4 (winter 1964/65), 126–54); idem, in: Between East and West: Essays… Bela Horovitz (1958), 164–93; C.J. Pulzer, Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria (1964); E.H. Flannery, Anguish of the Jews (1965); J.P. Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew (1965); Ch. Y. Glock and R. Stark, Christian Belief and Anti-Semitism (1966); M. Meyer, in: ylbi, 11 (1966), 137–70; N. Cohn, Warrant for Genocide (1967); S. Esh, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 6 (1967), 83–120; A.A. Hertzberg, The French Enlightenment and the Jew (1968); U. Tal, Yahadut ve-Naẓrut ba-Reich ha-Sheni (1970); American Jewish Committee, Selected Bibliography of Anti-Semitism (1942); E. Reichman, Hostages of Civilization (1950); G. Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology (1964); P. Massing, Rehearsal for Destruction (1949); D. Strong, Organized Anti-Semitism in America (1941); R. Byrnes, Anti-Semitism in Modern France (1950); H. Arendt, The Origin of Totalitarianism (1951); J. Higham, in: ajhsp, 47 (1957–58), 1–33; S. Almog, Nationalism and Anti-Semitism in Modern Europe, 1815–1945 (1990). antisemitic political parties and organizations: S.W. Baron, The Russian Jew Under Tsars and Soviets (1964); H. Bender, Der Kampf um die Judenemanzipation in Deutschland… (1939); R.F. Byrnes, Anti-Semitism in Modern France (1950); N. Cohn, Warrant for Genocide (1967); Dubnow, Hist Russ, 2 (1918), 3 (1920), index; J. Frumkin and G. Aronson (eds.), Russian Jewry 1860–1917 (1966); L. Greenberg, Jews in Russia, index; Mahler, in: K. Pinson (ed.), Essays on Anti-Semitism (1946), 145–73; Vishniak, ibid., 121–45; P.W. Massing, Rehearsal for Destruction (1949); P.G.J. Pulzer, Rise of Political Anti-semitism in Germany (1964); I. Schapira, Der Anti-semitismus in der franzoesischen Literatur (1927); K. Schickert, Die Judenfrage in Ungarn (1937); E. Sterling, Er ist wie Du (1956); Stern-Taeubler, in: huca, 23 (1950/51), 171–97; V. Eichstaedt, Bibliographie zur Geschichte der Judenfrage, 2 (1938, no more published); E. Silberner, Ha-Soẓializm ha-Ma'aravi u-She'elat ha-Yehudim (1955); J. Toury, Mehumah u-Mevukhah be-Mahpekhat 1848 (1968); U. Tal, Ha-Antishemiyyut ba-Reich ha-Germani ha-Sheni (1969); Y. Katz, Bonim Ḥofshiyyim vi-Yhudim (1968); N. Katzburg, Ha-Antishemiyyut ha-Politit be-Hungaryah (dissert., Jerusalem, 1962); N. Rotenstreich, Ha-Yahadut u-Zekhuyyot ha-Yehudim (1959); Z. Szajkowski, Anti-semitizm in der Frantsoizisher Arbeiter Bavegung (1948). arab antisemitism: S.G. Haim, in: jsos, 17 (1952), 307–12; idem, Arab Nationalism, an Anthology (1962); Y. Harkabi, Bein Yisrael le-Arav (1968); idem, Emdat ha-Aravim be-Sikhsukh Yisrael Arav (1968). in the u.s.s.r.: Jewish Library, London, Yevrei i Yevreyskiy Narod (1960– ), photostat of material from Soviet daily and periodical press; R.L. Braham, Jews in the Communist World: A Bibliography 1945–1960 (1961); P. Meyer et al., Jews in the Soviet Satellites (1953); S.M. Schwarz, Jews in the Soviet Union (1951); idem, Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union (1952); idem, Yevrei v Sovetskom Soyuze (1966); Jews in Eastern Europe, a periodical survey of events affecting Jews in the Soviet bloc (1958– ); B.Z. Goldberg, Jewish Problem in the Soviet Union (1961); S.W. Baron, The Russian Jew under Tsars and Soviets (1964). add. bibliography: N. Levin, The Jews in the Soviet Union since 1917 (1988); Sh. Ettinger, (ed.), Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union (1986); A.S. Lindemann, The Jew Accused: Three Anti-Semitic Affairs (Deyfus, Beilis, Frank), 1894–1915 (1991); W. Korey The Soviet Cage (1974). modern and new antisemitism: D. Porat and R. Stauber (eds), Anti-Semitism Wordlwide, Roth Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University Annual (1994–2004); Anti-Semitism World Report, Institute for Jewish Policy Research and ajc (1992– ); W. Bergman and J. Wetzle, Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the European Union (2003); Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the European Union, 2002–2003, eumc (2004): A. Finkielkraut, Au nom de l'Autre, Reflexions sur l'antisémitisme qui vient (2003); P.-A. Taguieff, Rising from the Muck, The New Anti-Semitism in Europe (2004); R.S. Wistrich, Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism in the Contemporary World (1990); idem, The Longest Hatred (1992); G. Schoenfeld, The Return of Anti-Semitism (2003); D. Matas, Anti-Zionism: A Human Rights Violation (2003); R. Rosenbaum (ed.), Those Who Forget the Past: The Question of Anti-Semitism (2004); A. Bein, The Jewish Problem: Biography of a World Problem (1990). holocaust denial: D. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: the Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (1994); K.S. Stern, Holocaust Denial (1993); S. Rembiszewski, The Final Lie: Holocaust Denial in Germany – A Second Generation Denier as a Test Case (1995).
ANTI-SEMITISM . The term anti-Semitism is relatively recent, coined only at the end of the nineteenth century, when it became the identifying symbol of an innovative anti-Jewish political platform that projected the Jews as an alien element in European society. The term was intended to encompass the entire spectrum of contemporary and historic anti-Jewish thinking and behavior and to convey a sense of the monolithic quality of all anti-Jewish thinking and behavior. Use of the innovative term spread quickly among adherents of the new political program and among their opponents as well. Subsequently, the term has been widely utilized as a synonym for all or at least most anti-Jewish attitudes and actions.
The present survey will accept popular usage of the term anti-Semitism as synonymous with historic and early twenty-first-century anti-Jewish attitudes and actions. It will, however, dissent from any sense of the monolithic quality of anti-Jewish thinking. This survey will insist instead that evolving anti-Jewish themes must be seen in context, that is, against the backdrop of their particular time and place. At the same time, this survey will acknowledge common and recurrent motifs in anti-Jewish thinking over the ages. It will suggest that the recurrence of these motifs can be traced in part to the tendency of the Jews over the ages to emerge as discordant elements in a variety of societies; it will further suggest that, once anti-Jewish motifs have been generated, they have often become staples of popular wisdom and folklore, thus resurfacing in later and often radically altered contexts.
Our evidence for Jewish life and also for anti-Jewish attitudes and actions in early antiquity comes largely from the biblical corpus, with its attendant problems, and—to a limited extent—from the ever-increasing body of ancient Near Eastern artifacts and texts uncovered by archaeologists. From this fragmentary data, it would seem that the frictions between Israelites and Judeans and their neighbors involved relatively normal tensions between rival polities. Wars were common in Canaan, with the Israelites and Judeans sometimes the aggressors and sometimes on the defensive. Anti-Israelite and anti-Judean sentiment seems to have been associated with the shifting political constellations of the ancient Near East.
The biblical corpus and the texts from the ancient Near East both note that the Israelites and Judeans—especially the latter—made their way beyond the confines of their kingdoms and settled in other lands, sometimes on their own initiative and sometimes forcibly. These sources suggest that the migrating Judeans brought into their new habitations innovative problems flowing from the incongruities between Judean religion and the larger polytheistic environment, as the Judeans insisted on one deity only and rejected alternative divinities. Two of the later books of the Hebrew Bible—the books of Daniel (Dn. 1-6) and Esther —portray both admiration and animosity on the part of Persians in the face of Judean unwillingness to worship the gods of their empire. While the tone of both books is folkloric, Judean monotheism might well have touched off hostility as a result of its innovative religious norms, perceived as threatening to the established religio-political order. These biblical stories have created a subsequent sense—among Jews and non-Jews alike—of animosity aroused by Jewish distinctiveness, in this case devotion to monotheistic ideals.
The Greco-Roman World
During the fourth pre-Christian century, the Near East was invaded from the west by the Greek forces of Alexander the Great (356–323 bce), which profoundly disrupted Near Eastern civilization. All segments of that ancient civilization, Jews included, had to come to grips with a new political order and a new culture. Anti-Jewish sentiment eventually emerged, resulting from the intersection of Jewish religious commitments and non-Jewish political concerns. The harsh decrees of the Seleucid king Antiochus III (242–187 bce) have been interpreted as an effort on his part to suppress what he perceived as dangerous Jewish rebelliousness rooted in commitment to the Jerusalem Temple and the religious dictates of Jewish tradition. The Seleucid ruler seems to have been convinced that only by attacking the Jewish religious system itself could he successfully repress Jewish rebelliousness.
This same combination manifested itself under Roman rule in Palestine as well. For the Romans, Palestine—perched at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea—was of utmost strategic significance and had to be maintained under Roman control. While portions of the Jewish population were quite amenable to Roman overlordship, other Jews were deeply opposed to Roman rule. Twice, the Jews erupted in revolt, and twice the revolts were crushed. Roman hostility seems to have been rooted in simple political considerations, although these eventuated in attacks on the Jewish faith. At the close of the first revolt in the year 70 ce, the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed; at the close of the second revolt in 135, key elements of Jewish tradition were banned by the Roman authorities. Once again, anti-Jewish actions seem to have been fueled by political considerations.
All through late antiquity, significant numbers of Jews lived outside Palestine, in an eastern diaspora centered in Mesopotamia and in a western diaspora spread throughout the Mediterranean Basin. The same Roman authorities that attacked Jewish religion in the aftermath of the rebellions in Palestine were quite generous in recognizing the special religious needs flowing from the demands of monotheism, and Jews were regularly exempted from problematic imperial obligations. In the Roman diaspora, a different kind of tension emerged, the tension between ethnic and religious minorities jockeying for position with their Roman rulers. Competition and contention seems to have developed, for example, between the large Jewish community of Roman Alexandria and the Greek population of that same great city. This contention escalated recurrently into violence.
Judaism seems to have both attracted and repelled the diverse populations that made up the Roman Empire. The attraction and the repulsion were stimulated by the special beliefs of the Jews and their zealous commitment to this belief system and its moral demands. Especially distressing to many Roman observers was the attraction of Judaism to some of their contemporaries and the implications of that attraction for loyalty to the traditional pillars of Roman civilization. Sharp expression of this distaste for Jews and Judaism can be found in Tacitus (c. 55–120), who bemoans the fact that Romans attracted to Judaism thereby sunder all the normal ties of Roman society—their loyalty to state, cult, and family.
Most students of anti-Semitism agree that, with the birth and development of Christianity, new, more intense, and more persistent anti-Jewish thinking and behavior emerged. While earlier anti-Jewish sentiment involved relatively normal political, ethnic, and religious strife and dissipated quickly, Christian anti-Jewish sentiment has proven far more intense and enduring. Scholars have struggled to explain the intensity and longevity of this Christian anti-Jewish sentiment, especially in the wake of World War II and the Holocaust.
Paul, whose writings form the earliest stratum of the New Testament, was intensely concerned with and highly ambivalent toward Judaism and the Jewish matrix out of which Jesus had emerged. For Paul (d. between 62 and 68), the Jews were God's first chosen people and would someday be fully reunited with their deity. However, the magnitude of Jewish sinfulness was overwhelming and necessitated divine rejection of the Jewish people and their replacement with new bearers of the divine-human covenant. The Pauline portrait of sinful Jews had enormous impact on the early crystallization of Christian thought.
While the complex development of early Christianity can no longer be reconstructed, the end product of this complex development—the post-Pauline four gospels—set the course for subsequent Christian thinking, including its views of the Jews. Although these alternative accounts of the birth, activities, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus differ in some details, they are unanimous in identifying the Jews as Jesus' sole and implacable adversaries and by imputing to the Jews full responsibility for his death. To be sure, the Romans ruled Palestine; crucifixion was a Roman punishment; and the crucifixion of Jesus is depicted by the gospels as administered by the Romans. Nonetheless, the gospels impute ultimate responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus to the Jews, who purportedly demanded it and would accept no alternative proposed by the Roman governor.
In the frictions that preceded the birth of Christianity, anti-Jewish thinking was localized, rooted in political and practical circumstances, and generally evanescent. Christian views of the Jews, as crystallized in Christian Scripture and in the authoritative writings of the Church Fathers, lost any semblance of temporality; they were projected as timeless, meaningful for Christians—indeed all of humanity—over the ages. Portrayed as oppositional, blind to the truth, malevolent to the point of murderousness, and rejected by God, Jews took on a central role in the Christian myth and in the Christian sense of cosmic reality.
As Christianity ascended to power in the Roman Empire, its leaders had to assess their stance toward non-Christians, Jews included, from a new vantage point, that of power. Jews were recognized as a legitimate religious community, with rights to security and exercise of their religious tradition. Once again, the Jews were thrust into a position of uniqueness. Now, they were the sole legitimate non-Christian grouping in what was intended to become eventually a thoroughly Christianized society. The theological underpinnings of Jewish legitimacy were fully formulated by Augustine (354–430), whose doctrine of toleration of the Jews remained authoritative over the ages. Yet, upon close inspection, this Augustinian doctrine, intended to safeguard Judaism and the Jews, reflects many of the negative themes bequeathed from earlier Christian history.
While Augustine identified a number of grounds for toleration of the Jews, two predominate, with both pointing to the utility of the Jews in the Christian scheme of things. The first argument asserts that Jews bear witness to Christian truth by proclaiming the validity of the Hebrew Bible—in Christian terms the Old Testament—as divine revelation. Thus, in advancing their case, Christians can comfortably cite the testimony of their Jewish opponents. To be sure, the Jews do not comprehend the revelation to which they attest. Thus, while insisting on Jewish rights, Augustine powerfully reinforced the earlier imagery of the Jews as failing to grasp the truth vouchsafed to them by God.
The second Augustinian argument for toleration of the Jews is likewise simultaneously protective and demeaning. According to this second argument, Jews offer Christianity—and indeed the world—incontrovertible evidence for the working of human sin and divine punishment. In the Christian view, Jesus' Jewish contemporaries sinned by rejecting him and occasioning his death. This sin immediately set in motion God's rejection of the Jews, his destruction of their sanctuary and sacred city at the hands of the Romans, and his decree of exile and degradation for their heirs. Christians are precluded from harming Jews, for God himself has already imposed their punishment. The sequence of Jewish sin and divinely ordained punishment is illuminating, useful for Christians and indeed all of humanity to contemplate.
The Middle Ages
During the first half of the Middle Ages (seventh through eleventh and twelfth centuries), the Jewish population in Christendom was relatively sparse. The overwhelming majority of Jews lived in the realm of Islam. With the arousal of western Christendom in the eleventh century and its rapid growth and expansion, increasing numbers of Jews were absorbed into Christian territories, either through conquest of formerly Muslim lands or through immigration. With this growth in the number of Jews with whom medieval Christians had genuine contact, ecclesiastical policies concerning the Jews had to expand, and Christian imagery of Jews took a number of new and negative turns.
Ecclesiastical policies were aimed by and large at obviating any kind of harm that the Jews might cause to the Christian host majority. Concerns included the possibilities of Jews blaspheming Christianity, influencing Christian neighbors religiously, and—from the twelfth century on—inflicting damage through business and banking activity. The policy focus on potential Jewish harmfulness served to heighten perceptions of the Jews as hostile. These perceptions were much exacerbated by the emergence of crusading as a church-sponsored initiative in the eleventh century. Exhilarated animosity toward the external enemies of Christendom tended to draw negative attention to the Jews, perceived as the unique internal enemy.
The combination of traditional Gospel imagery, ecclesiastical policies, and crusading fervor served to occasion a series of negative turns in the imagery of the Jews. The first of these involved transformation of the alleged Jewish responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus into perceptions of medieval Jews as murderously hostile to Jesus' followers. This notion of murderous Jewish malevolence first surfaced in the middle decades of the twelfth century. In 1144 the mutilated body of a young tanner named William was found outside the English town of Norwich. According to a slightly later account, the townspeople of Norwich were divided in their reactions. Some were immediately convinced that the Jews of Norwich had surely done the bloody deed; others rejected the allegation. Likewise, in 1147 in Würzburg, discovery of a dismembered body led to the conviction among some burghers that their town's Jews had committed the murder. In both instances, the killings were allegedly motivated by historic Jewish hatred of Christ and Christianity. In Würzburg, those convinced of Jewish guilt transformed the dead Christian into a martyr and venerated his remains until the local bishop intervened. In Norwich, many of the town's Christians viewed William as a martyr and transformed his grave into a shrine, at which miracles were quickly reported.
In the Norwich case, an important new motif of purported Jewish hatred for Christianity emerged. In the face of ongoing dispute among the Christians of Norwich as to the sanctity of the lad, a late-arriving cleric undertook to make the case for William's sainthood. This case involved three critical elements: a blessed and pure childhood; a martyr's death; and the production of miracles at the gravesite. Of these three elements, the second was decisive, and the chronicler Thomas of Monmouth made an elaborate case for the martyrdom of William, depicting in graphic detail alleged Jewish torture of the young tanner and eventual murder via crucifixion. Thomas portrayed the Jews of Norwich as imitating precisely their Jerusalem ancestors, thus eliminating any doubt as to William's status as martyr.
Over the remaining decades of the twelfth century and on into the thirteenth, further imaginative embellishments grounded in the basic image of the Jews as murderously hostile proliferated. These included the claims that Jews were committed to reconstituting their ancient sacrificial system through the murder of Christians, that Jews killed Christians in order to utilize their blood for Jewish ritual, and that Jews sought to gain possession of host wafers in order to subject them to torture and suffering. During the devastating mid-fourteenth-century bubonic plague, the imagery of murderous Jewish animosity eventuated in the popular conviction that Jews had poisoned the wells of Europe and thus brought about the plague. Thousands of Jews lost their lives in the resultant violence.
A second negative turn in Christian imagery of Jews resulted from the combination of the sense of Jewish hostility and malevolence and a new Jewish economic specialization that developed during the twelfth century. As the vitalization of western Christendom accelerated, European society keenly felt the need for enhanced flow of capital. Both Christian and Jewish understandings of Deuteronomy 23:20–21 forbade their adherents from taking interest from or giving interest to fellow Christians or fellow Jews. However, traditional readings of these verses allowed the taking and giving of interest across denominational lines. As the need for capital became more pressing, Jews found it increasingly advantageous to use their special circumstances to enter the banking business. To be sure, bankers have never been popular, and Jewish involvement in such business combined with traditional imagery of Jewish hostility toward Christ, Christianity, and Christians to create the perception that moneylending became another vehicle through which Jews sought to inflict harm on Christian society.
Yet a third negative turn in Christian imagery of the Jews involved the conviction that Jewish acts of malevolence were hardly individual and local. Rather, it was claimed that Jews, scattered throughout the world as part of their divinely imposed punishment, utilized their wide-ranging Jewish network for inflicting harm throughout Christendom. Thomas of Monmouth, for example, indicated that a convert from Judaism to Christianity had reliably informed him that the murder in Norwich in 1144 was by no means an isolated deed undertaken by a small band of local Jews. Rather, an international Jewish conspiracy lay behind the Norwich event, with that particular town selected for that particular year. Regularly, it was asserted, the international Jewish conspirators met and selected the site for the annual anti-Christian crime.
A final turn in anti-Jewish perception emerged in the wake of large-scale conversion of Jews during the violence that swept across the Iberian Peninsula in 1391. In much traditional ecclesiastical thinking, baptism thoroughly altered the nature of the convert, meaning that Jews lost their inherently negative characteristics through acceptance of Christianity. However, traditional thinking was complex, with some voices suggesting that in fact inherited Jewish characteristics could not be totally effaced by baptism. Prior to the fourteenth century, this uncertainty remained unresolved and an interesting theoretical issue only. With the conversion of tens of thousands of Iberian Jews, this theoretical issue quickly assumed practical significance. What emerged was a form of racist thinking, with many Old Christians convinced that their New Christian neighbors had lost none of their prior Jewish infirmities. Clarification of genealogical lines and proof of blood purity became preoccupations of Spanish society, with numerous groups, both ecclesiastical and lay, denying membership to applicants whose lineage was tainted by Jewish ancestry.
By the end of the Middle Ages, as western Christendom stood on the threshold of major change, anti-Jewish imagery had proliferated and hardened into widely shared beliefs regarding Jewish otherness, Jewish hostility toward Christianity and Christians, and Jewish harmfulness. The central organs of the Roman Catholic Church regularly repudiated many of the radical anti-Jewish canards, while at the same time continuing to purvey the more traditional themes of Jewish otherness and enmity. The entire spectrum of anti-Jewish motifs, including the most radical, became staples of European folk thinking.
Much of the Reformation's energy was directed at dismantling the authoritarian centralization of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, the tendency toward fragmentation is pronounced, and scholars regularly speak of a number of reformations. Once more, however, our interest lies with the broad stratum of folk conviction common to many of the diverse strands of Reformation thinking.
Since so much of Reformation thinking is oriented toward change, it is reasonable to anticipate that some of this change might have involved improved treatment and imagery of the Jews. During the Reformation, there were indeed signs of more positive imagery of the Jews, which flowed largely from two directions. Some of the reformers, Martin Luther (1483–1546) for example, used the issue of the Jews as a cudgel with which to beat the Roman Catholic Church, arguing that its harsh policies and the anti-Jewish imagery it projected turned the Jews into enemies. More sympathetic perception and treatment of Jews would surely win them over to Christianity. Additionally, the suffering of some of the reform groups transformed the meaning of persecution from divine punishment to divine testing. Persecuted Protestants viewed Jewish suffering and Jewish perseverance in a positive light.
However, the Reformation did not improve overall perceptions of the Jews. Martin Luther himself, disappointed in the Jewish failure to respond to his earlier ameliorative statements, expressed bitterness toward Jews in his later writings and supported extreme anti-Jewish measures. Urging the need to "prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity," Luther proposed the following steps:
- total destruction of synagogues;
- parallel destruction of Jewish homes;
- prohibition of Jewish literature;
- prohibition of rabbinic teaching;
- revocation of all travel rights;
- prohibition of Jewish usury; and
- forcible labor for the Jews.
Lurking beyond all these specific measures lay the possibility of expulsion of the Jews from all German lands. Luther couched his extreme recommendations in the most vituperative and demeaning terms. However, in neither the program nor the rhetoric does Luther break new ground. The imagery upon which he built his program and which he reinforced with his harsh language is identifiably a legacy of the later Middle Ages. What makes the Luther program and imagery especially striking was the potential that the Reformation had for change; instead, a number of its leading figures reinforced the most negative elements in medieval perceptions of Judaism and the Jews.
The Enlightenment as well was grounded in a profound desire for innovation, with the attendant promise of significant alterations in policy and thinking vis-à-vis the Jews. Once again, there were changes, in this case more far-reaching policy changes than had emerged from the Reformation. At the same time, the new order entailed its own dangers. Moreover, folkloric stereotypes survived into the new environment and continued to affect the European majority in both overt and subtle ways.
One of the major stimuli to Enlightenment change was accelerating despair over the toll taken by post-Reformation religious warfare. Thinkers like John Locke (1632–1704) began to ask whether there might not be a reasonable alternative to the ceaseless struggle for religio-political domination. Might it not be possible to fashion a society within which men and women would be free to practice a variety of religious confessions while belonging to a nondenominational civil society? A second major stimulus in the move toward the Enlightenment was the rapid advance of Western science, suggesting new paradigms for knowledge and raising serious doubts with respect to traditional religious scholarship and theology. This new knowledge further diminished the standing of the various Christian churches and further encouraged creation of a secular sphere of societal life, grounded in reason, in which all might participate.
Once again, the new thinking had complex implications for the Jews. On the one hand, criticism of prior ecclesiastical legacies—whether rooted in moral or intellectual considerations—often highlighted maltreatment of the Jews and called for changes. At the same time, Judaism was seen as the precursor to and the source of the ills and cruelties of Christianity. The turn away from Christian sources and the revival of Greco-Roman classics reintroduced non-Christian anti-Jewish themes appropriate to the new anticlerical mood of Enlightenment thinking. Most important, the popular stereotypes created during the Middle Ages continued to affect imagery of the Jews, who were perceived as separatist, malevolent, and harmful. Many of the leading Enlightenment thinkers, especially Voltaire (1694–1778)—perhaps the most influential of all—expressed intense anti-Jewish sentiments.
The social ideals of the Enlightenment reached their realization in the two revolutions of the later eighteenth century. In the earlier of the two, the American Revolution, Jewish presence in the fledgling United States was too small to occasion a serious debate about Jewish rights. These rights simply emerged as part of a broad commitment to human liberty. In the French Revolution, the situation was quite different, with pockets of Jewish population stirring considerable controversy as to the appropriateness of the Jews for citizenship in the new society. What quickly came to the fore were arguments for and against granting rights to Jews. For proponents of Jewish rights, Jewish infirmities—fully acknowledged—were simply the result of prior circumstances. Elimination of the restrictive circumstances would quickly eventuate in the emergence of healthy Jewish citizens of France. For opponents, the infirmities of Jewish life included political loyalty to the Jewish world and a concomitant lack of political loyalty to France, cultural depravity and an inability to comprehend French civilization, and economic predispositions damaging to French society. It is not difficult to see in these negative views remnants of the realities of pre-modern Jewish life in Europe and prior anti-Jewish imageries.
Ultimately, the proponents of Jewish citizenship in France won out, but the victory was predicated on an assumption of change in Jewish behavior and mentality. This made the Jews in France—and eventually elsewhere in Europe where the battle for Jewish rights was fought and won—subject to incessant scrutiny and judgment. Jews were criticized from a number of directions. On the one hand, adherents of their emancipation found fault with them for failure to integrate sufficiently into the new order; at the same time, opponents of the new order saw the Jews as the instigators, beneficiaries, and exploiters of radical and deleterious change.
Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Nationalism and Anti-Semitism
As the new Europe and its recently enfranchised Jews made their way into the nineteenth and then twentieth century, the accelerating nationalisms of the period resulted in a renewed sense of the Jews as different and hostile. Once again, Jews were thrust into a situation of uniqueness, this time as a unique foreign element in coalescing national states. This perception of Jewish distinctiveness resulted in part from the real residue of premodern European life, and in other part it involved the reactivation of earlier anti-Jewish perceptions. In this new setting, many of the older images of Jewish hostility and harmfulness resurfaced.
In 1879 Wilhelm Marr entitled his most important anti-Jewish work The Victory of Jewry over Christendom. Marr was hardly a religious traditionalist; rather, he wrote of the victory of the Jewish people over the German folk. Marr's work reflects a strong sense of the Jews as a different people; a conviction that this different people was committed to struggle against the German-Christian world; and that one of the major tools in this struggle was economic. It is not difficult to see in these assumptions many of the major motifs in medieval anti-Jewish thinking.
In the subsequent and influential Protocols of the Elders of Zion, these three convictions are reasserted in striking ways. To them is added the sense of an international Jewish conspiracy aimed at subverting the Christian world, in part through manipulation of finance, in part through the techniques of democracy, and in part through the mass media. Here again, earlier anti-Jewish motifs resurface in terms appropriate to radically altered circumstances.
Some late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century anti-Semites pushed the new term in a more focused direction, influenced by anthropological thinking of the period. For such anti-Semites, the key to understanding the Jews lay in clarifying the racial dimensions of the issue. Framing the issue of the Jews in racial terms was useful in the altered circumstances of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in which many Jews had successfully amalgamated into European society and were no longer readily distinguishable from their neighbors in social and religious terms. Racial categorization was intended to remove all doubt and to permit identification of Jews on allegedly scientific grounds. Moreover, racial thinking was also meant to highlight the innovativeness of the new movement and to efface any sense of age-old religiously inspired anti-Jewish thinking. To be sure, such racial conceptualization—as we have seen—had roots in the later centuries of the Middle Ages.
Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) was deeply affected by the anti-Semitic thinking of the nineteenth century and became its most effective twentieth-century proponent and propagandist. In Mein Kampf (2 vols., 1925–1927), he claims to have been initially opposed to the teachings of the nineteenth-century anti-Semites, portraying himself as only slowly awakening to the realities of Jewish distinctiveness and malevolence. Subsequent to this awakening—he claims—he saw the Jewish danger in its true proportions. Hitler made this insight a cornerstone of his political program, utilizing anti-Semitism as an effective tool in mobilizing German society toward achievement of his overall vision. He took anti-Semitic thinking to new extremes in the program of genocidal destruction of the entire Jewish people that he eventually espoused. The zeal with which destruction of European Jewry was pursued even during the closing days of World War II, when German defeat was inevitable, reflects the radical nature of the anti-Semitic element within Nazi thinking.
Post–World War ii and the New Anti-Semitism
As the horror of the Holocaust became clear, Western societies and thinkers were appalled and undertook serious examination of the roots of anti-Semitic thinking. This effort involved Jews, on the one hand, and diverse Christian communities, on the other. Especially noteworthy was the effort on the part of numerous Christian denominations to examine the Christian roots of anti-Semitism and to eliminate—to the extent possible—the religious foundations of anti-Jewish thinking. Anti-Semitism was widely condemned and became a term of opprobrium. "Anti-Semite," a designation once embraced publicly by many, became a label to be avoided at all costs.
However, post–World War II realities created new conflicts into which Judaism and the Jews were absorbed. The creation of the State of Israel in a thoroughly Islamic sphere, the wide-ranging rejection of prior Western colonialism, and accelerating liberal espousal of postcolonial thinking have combined to create new anti-Jewish sentiment, diversely perceived in different quarters. For some, anti-Israel sentiment involves rational and moral recoiling from the injustices imposed on Palestinians. Other observers see in this recoiling the activation of traditional anti-Jewish motifs, earlier absent in the Islamic sphere.
The premodern world of Islam was quite different from premodern Christendom. The most obvious difference is the variety of populations encompassed within the world of premodern Islam, which was a rich mélange of racial, ethnic, and religious communities. Within this complex human tapestry, the Jews were by no means obvious as lone dissenters, as they had been earlier in the world of polytheism or subsequently in most of medieval Christendom. While occasionally invoking the ire of the prophet Muḥammad (c. 570–632) and his later followers, the Jews played no special role in the essential Muslim myth as the Jews did in the Christian myth. The dhimmi peoples, defined as those with a revealed religious faith, were accorded basic rights to security and religious identity in Islamic society and included Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians. Lack of uniqueness ameliorated considerably the circumstances of Jews in the medieval world of Islam.
In the post–World War II period, however, the Jewish-Zionist enterprise did take on elements of uniqueness: it was projected as the sole Western effort at recolonization within the Islamic sphere. This perception has triggered intense antipathy for Zionism and its Jewish supporters, often viewed as indistinguishable, and has resulted in the revival of harshly negative imagery spawned in the altogether different sphere of medieval Christendom. Popular Muslim writing and journalism now regularly introduce themes such as ritual murder, Jewish manipulation of finance, and worldwide Jewish conspiracy, themes taken over with little difficulty from an entirely different ambience. Once again, these themes have proven flexible, readily transferable from milieu to milieu.
Despite the sense in early and medieval Christian circles and in modern racial circles that Jewish nature—and hence anti-Jewish sentiment as well—is fixed and immutable, in fact anti-Jewish perceptions over the ages were very much set in specific contexts of time and place. Changing contexts conditioned the emergence and intensity of anti-Jewish motifs and affected the content of these motifs as well. To be sure, review of the history of anti-Semitism suggests considerable repetition of themes, attributable to two factors. First, it was the fate of the Jews to become a unique minority in a number of settings—initially as monotheists in a polytheistic world, then as the only legitimate non-Christian group in Christianized society, and later as the unique foreign element in nationalistic societies and the Western element in an Islamic postcolonial milieu. The sense of Jewish uniqueness was not always negative; Jewish distinctiveness evoked complex reactions of admiration, anxiety, and distaste. The negative responses, however, played a considerable role in historic anti-Jewish sentiment. Moreover, as Christianity evolved, it created a powerful myth that placed the Jews in a central position of opposition, animosity, and harmfulness. During the Middle Ages, these core Christian notions were transformed into potent popular perceptions of Jewish malevolence and harmfulness. These popular motifs survived as a key element in the folklore of European societies, resurfacing recurrently during the modern period in a variety of new settings, including the Enlightenment, nineteenth- and twentieth-century European nationalisms, and the postcolonialist developing nations.
The fullest survey of anti-Semitism is Léon Poliakov, The History of Anti-Semitism, translated by Richard Howard et al., 4 vols. (New York, 1965–1985). The best one-volume survey is Robert S. Wistrich, Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred (London, 1991). For anti-Jewish sentiment in Greco-Roman civilization, see Louis Feldman, Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World (Princeton, N.J., 1993), and Peter Schafer, Judeophobia: Attitudes toward the Jews in the Ancient World (Cambridge, Mass., 1997). For overviews of Christian anti-Jewish thinking, see Jules Isaac, The Teaching of Contempt, translated by Helen Weaver (New York, 1964); Rosemary Radford Ruether, Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism (New York, 1974); William Nicholls, Christian Anti-Semitism: A History of Hate (Northvale, N.J., 1993); and James Carroll, Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews (Boston, 2001). Much effort has been extended to identifying anti-Jewish motifs in early Christianity. See John Gager, The Origins of Anti-Semitism: Attitudes toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian Antiquity (New York, 1983); Craig A. Evans and Donald A. Hagner, eds., Anti-Semitism and Early Christianity: Issues of Polemic and Faith (Minneapolis, Minn., 1993); and William R. Farmer, ed., Anti-Judaism and the Gospels (Harrisburg, Pa., 1999).
Considerable attention has focused on anti-Jewish thinking in twelfth-century western Christendom. See Gavin I. Langmuir, History, Religion, and Antisemitism (Berkeley, Calif., 1991); Anna Sapir Abulafia, Christians and Jews in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance (London, 1995); Robert Chazan, Medieval Stereotypes and Modern Antisemitism (Berkeley, Calif., 1996); and Jeremy Cohen, Living Letters of the Law (Berkeley, Calif., 2000). For anti-Jewish motifs in the Reformation, see Heiko A. Oberman, The Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Age of Renaissance and Reformation, translated by James I. Porter (Philadelphia, 1981), and Frank E. Manuel, The Broken Staff: Judaism through Christian Eyes (Cambridge, Mass., 1992). For the Enlightenment, see Arthur Hertzberg, The French Enlightenment and the Jews: The Origins of Modern Anti-Semitism (New York, 1968); Manuel, The Broken Staff (cited above); and Adam Sutcliffe, Judaism and Enlightenment (New York, 2003). Useful surveys of nineteenth-century anti-Semitism include Jacob Katz, From Prejudice to Destruction: 1700–1933 (Cambridge, Mass., 1980), and Albert S. Lindeman, Esau's Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews (Cambridge, Mass., 1997). For the New Anti-Semitism, see Bernard Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice (New York, 1986).
Alan Davies (1987)
Robert Chazan (2005)
ANTI-SEMITISM.BOLSHEVISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM
THE THIRD REICH
ANTI-ZIONISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM
NATIONAL SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM: SIAMESE TWINS?
In the second half of the nineteenth century, more and more European countries enacted first-time legislation protecting Jewish rights. Despite this formal emancipation, the product of rising liberalism, Jews of the fin de siècle were confronted with a vigorous revival of anti-Semitism. Christian anti-Judaism, which was primarily religious in inspiration, had never been entirely free of racist tendencies. But around the turn of the century the racial component of Jew hatred started playing a more pronounced role and developed into the most important feature of modern anti-Semitism.
With the aid of social Darwinist and pseudobiological arguments, anti-Semites began to view Jews as a distinct "race," which not even baptism could change. Whether a person had ancestors who belonged to the Jewish religion was key. If so, then Jewish identity was established for all time. Nationalists especially, who regarded Jews as a "state within a state," seized upon this biological weltanschauung to place Jews outside society.
In addition to the attempt to forge a "national identity," anti-Semites and anti-Semitic movements also used Jews as a screen on which to project their own anxieties. Jews represented the negative aspects of urbanization and industrialization and were regarded as champions of liberalism, capitalism, materialism, socialism, and above all bolshevism. Both aspects, the attempt to artificially create a national identity and the desire to construct an explanatory model for intractable social problems, again and again played a major role, alone or in combination, in twentieth-century anti-Semitism.
The October Revolution of 1917 and the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in Russia sent shockwaves around the world. Many feared political instability and economic loss. During World War I, on 30 August 1918, the Dutch diplomat Willem Jacob Oudendijk, the individual charged by the British with negotiating the evacuation of Britain's subjects from revolutionary Russia, declared:
I consider that the immediate suppression of Bolshevism is the greatest issue now before the world, not even excluding the war which is still raging, and unless … Bolshevism is nipped in the bud immediately it is bound to spread in one form or another over Europe and the whole world as it is organised and worked by Jews who have no nationality, and whose one object is to destroy for their own ends the existing order of things. The only manner in which this danger could be averted would be collective action on the part of all powers. ("Withdrawal of Missions and Consuls," pp. 678–679)
The notion that bolshevism was "Jewish" was shared in the highest places. On 8 February 1920 Winston Churchill argued, in an article titled "Zionism versus Bolshevism" in the Illustrated Sunday Herald, that Jews were behind world revolutions everywhere:
This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt [the Illuminati founder Adam Weishaupt] to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg [sic] (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing.… It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the Nineteenth Century, and now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire.
It is not surprising that the revolution held a strong appeal for parts of the Jewish population of tsarist Russia. Around the turn of the century some 5.2 million Jews lived there, accounting for 4.1 percent of Russia's population and almost half the world's Jews. They were the most oppressed population group in the tsarist empire, and the Bolsheviks initially presented themselves as a radical movement of emancipation. Jews were not the only ones to be so attracted. Other ethnic and national groups, such as Poles and Georgians, for example, were also "overrepresented" among the Bolsheviks.
The identification of bolshevism with Jewry is inaccurate: there were even more Jews among the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries than among the Bolsheviks. As well, Jews could be found among the staunchest opponents of bolshevism. It was a Jewish woman, the Social Revolutionary Fanya Kaplan, whose attempted assassination of Vladimir Ilich Lenin on 30 August 1918 left the Bolshevik leader seriously wounded. On the same day, another Jewish Social Revolutionary, the student Leonid Kannegisser, succeeded in killing Moisei Uritsky, the Petrograd chief of the Bolshevik secret police, the Cheka. Both events marked the beginning of the Red Terror. The equation of Jewry with bolshevism is further refuted by the fact that religious Jews were immediately confronted with the negative aspects of the revolution. The October Revolution, it is true, made anti-Semitism a punishable offense. At the same time, however, the Bolsheviks had declared a war on religion, thus also on Judaism.
In the period between the two world wars the whole of Europe saw the rise of nationalist movements that were nearly always anti-Semitic. The situation was particularly troubling in the newly created state of Poland (1918), where Jews accounted for 10 percent of the population. The frontier established in the Treaty of Riga between Poland and Russia in March 1921 left 38 percent of Poland's population composed of minorities, with Jews, Ukrainians, White Ruthenians, and Germans constituting the largest groups. At the time, Polish nationalists assumed that the integration of the Slavic Ukrainians and White Russians could be advanced by means of assimilation; Jews and Germans, on the other hand, were regarded as unsuited for integration.
Most Polish politicians were highly unsympathetic toward their minorities and tried to enforce an ethnically defined national identity. Stanislaw Grabski, the foreign policy spokesman for the Polish parliament and later minister of culture, explained, in a speech in Poznan in 1919: "We want to base our relationships on love, but there is one kind of love for countrymen and another for aliens. Their percentage among us is definitely too high.… The foreign element will have to see if it will not be better off elsewhere. Polish land for the Poles!" (Blanke, p. 89).
Both the Polish Catholic Church and the Camp of National Unity, the government party created in 1937, pursued aggressively anti-Semitic policies, and even more so after Hitler's advent to power in 1933 and the death of Marshal Józef Piłsudski in 1935. August Cardinal Hlond represented the cold and hostile attitude of the Vatican vis-à-vis the Jews. His pastoral letter of 1936 called for an economic boycott of Jewish shops and defined Jews as "freethinkers [who] constitute the vanguard of atheism, Bolshevism, and revolution" (Lendvai, p. 213).
The avowed aim of Polish nationalists was the expulsion of all Jews from Poland because in their eyes Jews could not be Poles. In 1938 the Polish ambassador to Germany, Józef Lipski, reporting a conversation he had had with Hitler, told Józef Beck, the Polish minister of foreign affairs: "That he [Hitler] has in mind an idea for settling the Jewish problem by way of emigration to the colonies in accordance with an understanding with Poland, Hungary, and possibly also Romania (at which point I told him that if he finds such a solution we will erect him a beautiful monument in Warsaw)" (Lipski, p. 411).
In the eyes of German nationalists, Jews, who comprised less than 1 percent of Germany's population, became the scapegoats for the lost war and the ensuing economic misery. The Spartacist uprising that broke out in Berlin in 1919 under the leadership of Karl Liebknecht (who was not Jewish) and Rosa Luxemburg only served to reinforce this perception. It quickly became clear that this revolt, like those of the other council republics (Räterepubliken) that had been proclaimed in the revolutionary year of 1919, was doomed to fail. German revanchist elements however, immediately seized up on this opportunity to agitate against "Jewish bolshevism."
But not only the council republics were seen as "Jewish." According to Germany's nationalists, the Weimar Republic, proclaimed on 9 November 1918, was also a "Jewish republic." On 24 June 1922 Walther Rathenau, Germany's foreign minister, was assassinated by members of one of the Freikorps. In World War I, Rathenau, himself an ardent nationalist, had been in charge of the German war economy. Nonetheless, many regarded him as a "Jewish politician favoring appeasement" ("jüdischer Erfüllungspolitiker") who had betrayed Germany to the Allies. This murder marked a turning point in the political anti-Semitism of Germany, which from then on became increasingly more aggressive.
In the Weimar Republic, anti-Semitism did not only come from the right but also from the left. The Kommunistische Partei Deutschland (KPD, Communist Party of Germany) was not a party with an anti-Semitic worldview. On the contrary, until the November pogroms of 1938 it hardly paid any attention to the "Jewish Question." But in its attempt to attract the votes of workers and the petty bourgeoisie, the party did make use of anti-Jewish stereotypes by linking capitalism and Jewry. Oft-heard epithets were "stock market Jews," "Jewish finance capital," "Jewish racketeers," or "Jewish jobbers" (Haury, p. 282; author's translation).
An intense struggle took place in the Weimar Republic between the National Socialists (NSDAP) and the KPD to win over the proletariat and the middle classes. This struggle was carried on with variable success. Already in Mein Kampf, his autobiography and political manifesto, which was published in two volumes in 1925 and 1927, Adolf Hitler had written with satisfaction that from the very early years of the NSDAP "tens of thousands of Marxists were induced to make their way back to the Volksgemeinschaft [the folk community] to become fighters for an imminent and free German Reich" (vol. 2, p. 557; author's translation).
The nationalistically tinged anticapitalism of the Communist Party also made it easier for National Socialists to form temporary alliances with the KPD. The first time this came about was in the so-called Schlageter course. Launched in 1923 by the Comintern (Communist International) functionary Karl Radek, the Schlageter course was an attempt to wrest control of nationalistic feelings.
Albert Leo Schlageter had fought with the right-wing Freikorps. Charged with engaging in sabotage by the French occupying force, he was sentenced to death and executed on 26 May 1923. Karl Radek was a member of the presidium of the Executive Committee of the Comintern in charge of KPD's political instruction. On 20 June 1923, at a plenary session of the committee, Radek praised Schlageter as a "martyr to German nationalism" and a "courageous soldier of the counterrevolution." Radek, who was Jewish, declared: "If the people matters to the nation, then the nation will matter to the people."
This nationalist course reached its high point with an address by the KPD official Ruth Fischer to students on 25 July 1923. Fischer, herself of Jewish ancestry, proclaimed, with regard to Schlageter's death:
You are protesting against Jewish capitalism, gentlemen? Whoever protests against Jewish capitalism, gentlemen, is already a class warrior, whether he knows it or not. You are against Jewish capital and want to bring down the stock exchange jobbers. That's all right. Stamp on the Jewish capitalists, string them up from the lampposts, trample them underfoot. But, gentlemen, what do you think of major capitalists like Stinnes, Klöckner …? (Haury, p. 283)
The KPD pursued an aggressive anticapitalist course that made no distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish capital on the one hand, but on the other did exploit anti-Semitic stereotypes. The Schlageter course lasted only a few months and was abandoned for the sake of Soviet foreign policy.
The alliances between the NSDAP and the KPD were short-lived and exclusively tactical in nature. With the Nazi assumption of power in 1933, German society was subjected to totalitarian control, and thousands of communists promptly disappeared into the concentration camps.
National Socialists endeavored to create an ethnically homogeneous nation by exploiting late-nineteenth-century racist thinking. Point four of the party program of the NSDAP of 24 February 1920 stated, unequivocally, that Jews could not be Germans: "None but members of the nation [Volksgenossen] may be citizens. None but those of German blood, whatever their creed, may be members of the nation. No Jew, therefore, may be a member of the nation" (author's translation). The National Socialists increasingly began referring to Jews as "bacillus," "bacteria," "parasites," or "poison."
Hitler's anti-Semitism was motivated not only by racism, antibolshevism, and anticapitalism; he also construed a connection with Christian anti-Semitism. In Mein Kampf he asserted:
If, with the help of his Marxist creed, the Jew is victorious over the peoples of this world, his crown will be the dance of death of humanity and this planet will, as it did millions of years ago, move through the ether devoid of men. Eternal Nature inexorably avenges the infringement of her commands. Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord. (pp. 69–70)
Shortly after Hitler came to power, legislation was enacted excluding Jews from society. This legislation, which the overwhelming majority of the German population did nothing to protest, would become the immediate prelude to a genocide of unprecedented magnitude.
The Nuremberg Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor banning marriage between Jews and non-Jews was passed on 15 September 1935. A November supplementary decree to the Reich Citizenship Law stated that all Jews, including quarter- and half-Jews, were no longer citizens of the Reich but Staatsangehörige (subjects of the state). The law deprived Jews of their basic rights as citizens, including the right to vote, and in 1936 Jews were excluded from all professional jobs.
During the night of 9–10 November 1938, the SS and the mob went on a rampage throughout Germany, Austria, and Sudetenland, attacking Jews wherever they could find them. During this so-called Kristallnacht, or the "Night of Broken Glass," hundreds of synagogues were destroyed and set on fire, thousands of Jewish residences and stores vandalized and looted. At least ninety-one people were murdered and many were mistreated. In the days thereafter more than thirty thousand male Jews were rounded up by the Gestapo and the SS and interned in the concentration camps of Buchenwald, Dachau, and Sachsenhausen. Most of them were only let go after they had signed a statement declaring themselves prepared to "emigrate."
From Kristallnacht it was but a small step to the so-called Endlösung der Judenfrage (the final solution of the Jewish question). Streamlining the mass murder of millions of Jews was the objective of the Wannsee Conference, held in Berlin on 20 January 1942 and chaired by Reinhard Heydrich, one of the main architects of the Holocaust (Shoah). The number of Jewish lives claimed by the Shoah has been put at approximately six million (the number cited by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum).
It has been said that the history that led up to the Shoah had by and large been concealed from the German population. This is only partly true, not only because regular troops also had been involved in the preparations for the mass murders in the east, but more so because Hitler had openly alluded to the Holocaust early on. Looking back to World War I, he declared in Mein Kampf, with regard to what he characterized as a Jewish-led "Marxist delusion":
If, at the beginning and during the War, twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrews who were corrupting the nation had been forced to submit to poison-gas, just as hundreds of thousands of our best German workers from every social stratum and from every profession had to endure it in the field, then the millions of sacrifices made at the front would not have been in vain. On the contrary: If twelve thousand of these rogues had been eliminated in proper time probably the lives of a million decent men, who would have been of value to Germany in the future, might have been saved. (vol. 2, p. 772)
What is more, on 30 January 1939, in a speech to the Reichstag, he stated: "If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevizing of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."
The Germans began to make good on his threat almost immediately after the surprise attack on Poland on 1 September 1939. As of 23 November 1939 all Jews over the age of six had to wear a Star of David on the left side of their chest. Thousands of Jews perished at the hands of Einsatzgruppen in random killings in the open or died as a consequence of enforced ghettoization.
After the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 the Einsatzgruppen went all out. The principal targets of these mobile killing squads, which were divided into smaller units called Einsatzkommandos and Sonderkommandos, were communist officers, officials, intellectuals, prisoners of war, Romanies (Gypsies), and Jews. In conjunction with collaborators and with the assistance of the Wehrmacht, they murdered approximately 1.5 million people, the vast majority of whom were Jews.
The desire to carry out the murders with greater efficiency led to the creation of the death camps. From 1941 to 1942 millions of Jews were being murdered with industrial methods by gassing in camps like Auschwitz, Chelmno, Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor, and Majdanek. The Shoah was a German enterprise, but not all of the killers were German. Willing executioners came forward in Slovakia and Poland, the Baltic republics, Hungary and Croatia, Rumania and Ruthenia. In Paul Lendvai's words, "clerical and traditional Jew-hatred, economic jealousy, social protest, and nationalist resentment all help to explain the powerful current of indifference and the absence of any appreciable reaction when Hitler embarked on the 'final solution' of the Jewish Question in Eastern Europe" (p. 64).
In occupied western Europe as well, the Germans could count on cooperation rooted in ideological affinity or indifference to the fate of the Jews. In France the puppet government of Vichy (1940–1944), presided over by Marshal Philippe Pétain, an anticommunist and a national hero, collaborated with Nazi Germany. Jews were rounded up by the French police and sent to a transit camp in the Parisian suburb of Drancy, from which they were deported. In all, 75,000 French Jews died in the East (Hilberg, p. 339).
In the Netherlands, the Dutch civil service actively participated in the preparations for the deportation of Dutch Jewry. After Queen Wilhelmina and the cabinet fled the country, several permanent secretaries approved the "declarations of Aryan origin." Many Jews were betrayed by "ordinary Dutchmen" out of greed and personal enrichment. It was Dutch policemen who arrested the Jews. And it was the Dutch military police that guarded them in the Westerbork transit camp, from which they were deported to their deaths by Dutch railroad personnel. In all, one hundred thousand were murdered.
It is also difficult to maintain that the fate of the Jewish deportees was completely unknown in western Europe. Even a girl like Anne Frank, who lived in hiding, came to believe the worst. In a diary entry dated 9 October 1942, she writes: "If even in Holland it is this bad, how will they live in the far and barbarian regions where they are being sent? We assume that most of them will be killed. The English radio speaks of gassing. Maybe that is after all the quickest method of dying. I am completely upset" (p. 35).
Shortly after the Holocaust, Jews were once again confronted with politically organized anti-Judaism, this time under the banner of anti-Zionism. In the 1950s purges took place in communist parties throughout the Eastern bloc. Such purges may be regarded as pseudo revolutions, the object being the political control of the population. The authorities next fell back on deeply ingrained anti-Jewish stereotypes. After all, only Jews could be "Zionists," and all Jews were suspected of "Zionism." In order to counter the charge of anti-Semitism the party cadres declared that they differentiated between good "hard working Jews" and poisonous "Jewish Zionists."
Officially Zionism was seen, as Joseph Stalin put it, as a "reactionary nationalist current, which found support in the Jewish bourgeoisie, the intelligentsia and the backward layers of the Jewish working class. The Zionists attempted to isolate the Jewish working masses from the common struggle of the proletariat" (p. 364). It was at the trial of the Hungarian foreign minister László Rajk in September 1949 that Zionism was first injected into the accusations against party members. Rajk was not Jewish but three of his codefendants were, as was Mátyás Rákosi, the ruthless party leader, who fondly described himself as "Stalin's best Hungarian disciple."
But nowhere in the Eastern bloc was "anti-Semitism after Auschwitz" more in evidence than in the eastern part of Germany, where the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was established under the auspices of the Soviet Union. From the very beginning, the East German communists of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), recognizing the necessity of legitimizing their "antifascist" state vis-à-vis the Federal Republic (West Germany), the allied countries of the Warsaw Pact, and its own population, embarked on a "national" course. This accounts for the extremely aggressive character of its nationalistic, "anticosmopolitan," and anti-Western campaigns.
Rudolf Slánský was a Jew and the general secretary of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia. In 1952 Slánský and his so-called group were accused of "Zionist conspiracy." On 20 December 1952, the SED issued a proclamation with the "lessons from the trial against the group of plotters around Slánský." In the matter of anti-Jewish stereotypes, this proclamation showed strong affinities with the nationalist KPD traditions of the Weimar Republic. The proclamation contained the following statement from the Central Committee of the SED:
Sailing under the Jewish-nationalistic flag, and disguised as a Zionist organization and as diplomats of the American vassal government of Israel, these American agents practiced their trade. The Morgenthau-Acheson plan which came to light at the Prague trial makes it abundantly clear that American imperialism organizes and supports its espionage and sabotage activities in the People's republics via the state of Israel with the assistance of Zionist organizations. ("Lehren aus dem Prozess," p. 51; author's translation)
The same proclamation accused the German communist Paul Merker of being an agent of Zionism who acted "in the same way as the criminals in Czechoslovakia." During his exile in Mexico between 1942 and 1946, Merker had taken the fate of the Jews to heart, demanding the German state pay restitution to Jewish Germans. The GDR neither acceded to this demand nor thanked him for his efforts. The proclamation stated:
It can no longer be doubted that Merker is an agent of the U.S. financial oligarchy, whose demand for compensation for Jewish properties is only designed to infiltrate U.S. financial capital into Germany. That is the real reason for his Zionism.… He demands the displacement of German national wealth with the words: "The compensation for the harm that has been done to Jewish citizens will be given both to those who return and to those who want to stay abroad." Merker illicitly transformed the maximum profits squeezed out of German and foreign workers by monopoly capitalists into alleged property of the Jewish people. In reality "Aryanization" of this capital merely transferred the profits of "Jewish" monopoly capitalists to "Aryan" monopoly capitalists. (pp. 55–56)
The Arab-Israeli Six-Day War in June 1967 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 by Soviet, East German, Polish, Hungarian, and Bulgarian army units marked the beginning of new anti-Zionist campaigns initiated by Moscow, East Berlin, and Warsaw. On 6 September 1968 the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal published a report that demonstrated that the continuities between the GDR and the Third Reich even extended to personnel. The official stand of the entire Eastern bloc during the war was distinctly pro-Arab and anti-Israel. However, it struck Wiesenthal that the news service of the GDR was particularly biased and anti-Israel. Wiesenthal noticed that the use of words in the press and propaganda of the GDR deviated from the commentary of other Communist Party–led countries. Some utterances corresponded literally to remarks in former National Socialist newspapers and journals. It did not take very long for it to be confirmed that some of the regular contributors of the anti-Israel articles in the East German press were the same people who had written about the "Jewish peril" during the Third Reich.
On 14 July 1967, for example, a cartoon appeared in the Berliner Zeitung, depicting a flying Moshe Dayan, with his hands stretched out toward Gaza and Jerusalem. Next to him stood Adolf Hitler, shown in an advanced state of decomposition, encouraging Dayan with the words: "Carry on, colleague Dayan!" It was apparent to Wiesenthal that there were Nazis on the editorial staff of several East German newspapers and magazines (Wiesenthal, pp. 20, 26–38).
Despite its antifascist credo, the SED took no responsibility whatsoever for the German role in the Holocaust. On the contrary, the East German population subsequently was declared the victor and victim of "fascism," while the Holocaust itself received scant attention. In this way the GDR was able to avoid dealing with feelings of guilt. Latent anti-Jewish feelings were further reinforced by anti-Zionist campaigns rife with insinuations that Jews desired to infiltrate, sabotage, and exploit the East German state.
In the early twenty-first century, overt anti-Semitism on the part of all authoritative political and social organizations is strictly taboo and thoroughly repudiated. Even so, at the beginning of the 1990s approximately 10 to 25 percent of the population in western industrialized countries harbored anti-Semitic sentiments (Haury, p. 123). The phrase secondary anti-Semitism came into use to refer to an attitude that views "Auschwitz" as a blot on a nation's history (Germany, France, Poland, and so on), for which contemporary Jews then receive the blame. Often this inclination not to forgive Jews for "Auschwitz" is of a piece with the desire to deny the Holocaust or to "relativize" it. This relativization of the Holocaust is especially popular among adherents of a political-cultural movement known as the New Right, who resort to it frequently.
New Right intellectuals are attempting to bring about a cultural revolution by smashing taboos and turning the arguments on their head. This school of thought originated in France and was founded in 1968 by Alain de Benoist, whose Groupement de Recherche et d'Études sur la Civilisation Européenne (GRECE) set the tone for the New Right throughout Europe. De Benoist has claimed to be neither right-nor left-wing, but his writings make clear that his overall philosophy combines elements of right-wing extremism and conservatism. The European New Right is not a homogeneous movement with a unified ideology. The typical supporter is anti-Western, antiliberal, anti-communist, anti-American, and, above all, anti-multicultural. Although de Benoist has distanced himself from anti-Semitism, the arguments of his followers have not always been free from anti-Semitic overtones.
One of the most prominent examples of New Right agitation in Europe came to the fore in the so-called Historikerstreit, an academic controversy fought out in the German media in the middle of the 1980s. The Historikerstreit grew out of the New Right historian Ernst Nolte's claim that in the totalitarian troika of National Socialism, fascism, and Marxism-Leninism, National Socialism was a reaction to Stalinism. In Nolte's view, communism constituted the original and National Socialism a copy, more or less.
Nolte and his sympathizers perceived a causal connection between the mass murders of the Russian Revolution and the crimes of Nazi Germany. "Auschwitz," according to this reasoning, was a reaction born of fear, the fear that the destruction unleashed by bolshevism might spread and come to Germany. In other words, Stalin and his regime were partly responsible for the creation of the Third Reich. Hence, for Nolte, "Auschwitz" and the "gulag" were equally criminal, apart from, as he put it, the "technical procedure of gassing"(p. 45).
Indeed, at first glance there are similarities between the two political systems. What class was for Lenin and Stalin, race was for the Nazis. What capitalists were for the Communist Party, Jewry was for Hitler. For the Soviets the New Man was the proletarian. The Nazis rejected the proletarian in favor of the Aryan. In addition, Hitler and Stalin had concluded a nonaggression pact from which it could be deduced that the two dictators were "blood brothers." But opponents of this theory of totalitarianism contend that the equation of the two dictatorships as opposed to their comparison is highly problematical.
In National Socialism the principle of human inequality rooted in biology was raised to the level of dogma. In communism—to judge by its ideology, at least—the principle of equality was central. National Socialism was by definition German nationalist, whereas communism—again according to its ideology—was internationalist. Stalinism was not the essence but the perversion of communism. In National Socialism, however, doctrine and reality coincided. To put it in the words of the Italian writer and concentration camp survivor Primo Levi: "One can't imagine Nazism without gas chambers, but one can imagine Communism without camps."
The mass murder perpetrated by National Socialism was carried out meticulously, dutifully, "in an orderly fashion," and with industrial methods. Ideologically this genocide was a mixture of the rational and irrational. On the one hand, individuals often were relegated to the status of Untermenschen—subhumans—and employed as slave labor in German industries. On the other hand, they were the victims of a deeply antimodern irrationalism, a perverse nationalism, and a unique racial delusion whose roots stretched back to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Both the quantity and the quality of National Socialism's organized mass murder made the Third Reich unique, despite similarities with Stalin's Soviet Union—all the more so because Hitler's assumption of power was legitimized by the electorate.
The views of Nolte and others not only were of historiographical interest but also served a political goal. In order to create a "post-Auschwitz national identity," Nolte and his sympathizers strove to "neutralize" Auschwitz by placing the Third Reich and Stalinism in the same box. Once accepted, it then becomes easier to take up the "Jewish part" in bolshevism. Taking it one step further, Nolte reasoned that it might be legitimate to argue that Hitler was entitled to intern German Jews as prisoners of war: had not Chaim Weizmann announced in September 1939 that Jews all over the world would fight on the side of England?
The assertion that National Socialism and communism were Siamese twins also sparked fierce discussions in France. There, the Black Book of Communism (Livre noir du communisme) by xsthe ex-Maoist Stéphane Courtois, appeared in 1997. In it, the author concluded: "But the intransigent facts demonstrate that Communist regimes have victimized approximately 100 million people in contrast to the approximately 25 million victims of the Nazis" (p. 15). Courtois's opponents argued that this "history with a calculator" drew an inaccurate picture, inasmuch as executions, deliberate or accidental famines, along with epidemics were added up without differentiating among them. Moreover, many found that a comparison between communism and capitalism would have provided a more realistic picture than that between communism and National Socialism.
Nowhere in western Europe, however, was the political exploitation of the equation of communism and National Socialism more pronounced than in Germany. As a result of German unification in 1990, the country not only had to confront the legacy of East German communism; the unification also affected the way in which people started looking at the National Socialist past.
In January 2004 the vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Salomon Korn, ceased collaborating with the Stiftung Sächsische Gedenkstätten, the Saxon government agency that deals with the reconstitution of camps into museums. First used by the Nazis, some of these former concentration camps were subsequently taken over by the Soviet Union and the East German authorities. Korn was protesting the policy of implied moral equivalence that treated the political prisoners of the GDR and people persecuted by the Nazis as though they were the same. Some East German officials seemed to regard the Soviet Russian occupation of East Germany as a punishment for "Auschwitz," a punishment that might be said to have ended with the unification of the two Germanys. Korn even spoke about a "renationalization" of public commemorative policies.
Many agreed with Korn that the politics of equating communism, including its GDR variant, with National Socialism had started immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall. As early as 1991, for example, a special brochure issued by the camp museum in Sachsenhausen near Berlin stated: "Sachsenhausen is first and foremost the scene of National Socialist and SS crimes; but it is also a place where crimes were committed in the name of another ideology, with no less inexorable consequences. The creed of National Socialism and of communism was the same: the opponent must be destroyed."
Encouraged by an international climate in which the Third Reich was being equated with communism, the German Christian Democratic politician Martin Hohmann went one up on Ernst Nolte in breaking a taboo. Amid the celebrations of German Unity Day, 3 October 2003, he insinuated that Jews could just as well be regarded as a "nation of perpetrators" (Tätervolk) as Germans. After all, he argued, in the first phase of the Russian Revolution, which cost the lives of millions of people, many Jews were involved in terrorist activities.
Like Nolte, Hohmann attempted to articulate a post-Auschwitz national identity that, along with its anti-Semitic undertones, could be derived from the equation "communism equals National Socialism." With this it became much simpler to point to "Jewish guilt" and "national victimization." Vigorous protests and intense media attention in Germany led to Hohmann's expulsion from the party, but it was nonetheless clear that a considerable minority supported his views.
In the early twenty-first century such viewpoints can be found in many postcommunist countries in central and eastern Europe, where they are extremely popular and politically acceptable. Soviet rule and the struggle for national independence often are the main topics of history and politics. The German occupation, collaboration, and the Holocaust are treated as occurrences of secondary importance, while much of the criticism is directed at bolshevism, which continues to be associated with Jewry. This is especially true for the Baltic states, Poland, and Ukraine.
The president of Estonia, Arnold Rüütel, in 2005 refused to attend the commemorations of the sixtieth anniversary celebrations of the end of World War II in Moscow. He declared that we must do everything to see to it that the Holocaust and the "Holodomor," that is, the "Great Famine-Genocide" perpetrated by Stalin in the 1930s on the rural population of Ukraine, will never be repeated. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the president of Latvia, did commemorate the Holocaust but at the same time lionized the men from Latvia who were "abused as cannon fodder" in the Waffen-SS. These soldiers are widely honored as national resistance fighters against bolshevism.
National conservative and New Right politicians throughout Europe applaud the equation of National Socialism and bolshevism. It remains to be seen, however, whether such a "positively differentiated" perception of anticommunist and anti-Semitic nationalists in the interbellum will not lead to increased anti-Semitism.
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Lendvai, Paul. Anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. London, 1972.
Jan Herman Brinks
Is anti-Semitism a new name for an ancient, uninterrupted phenomenon? It is a recent name, no doubt—its 1878 coinage being attributed to Swiss radical Wilhelm Marr. Yet, new names have become one of the curious features of problems that either refer to a long and obstinate history (e.g., the hatred of the Jews through the centuries) or indicate sites of resistance, the refusal to confront diverse and changing phenomena. Understandably, different interests seeking to isolate and refute or, alternatively, contextualize “anti-Semitism” necessarily run the risk of sacralizing or banalizing it. Thus, inseparable from the study and elusive comprehension of such an object (or objects), the politics of anti-Semitism have involved most manifestly the definition of the word Semite (along with its companion, Aryan, a term that was invented in German Protestant theological circles circa 1771 and quickly spread to England, France, and their respective empires) and most covertly the very representation of the West vis-à-vis its others.
Scholars and ideologues differ in invoking, for different periods and regions of the world, terms such as Jew-hatred, anti-Judaism, Judeophobia, more recently including even anti-Zionism. Is there, then, one history of anti-Semitism through the ages (Almog 1988)? Should one not attend instead to the distinct histories of relations between Jews and the populations among whom they have lived? A further claim has been made that some forms of anti-Semitism have thrived, in fact, in the complete absence of Jews. French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, for example, famously asserted that anti-Semitism is essentially independent of the Jews, that it rather “makes the Jew” (“c’est l’antisémite qui fait le Juif”) (1948, p. 84). Indeed, it now seems as if anti-Semitism has become a unified and universal, indeed global, phenomenon, one that has spread and radiated from its historical center in early Christian theology (borrowing from earlier Greek and Latin writers) and in western Europe to all corners of the planet. When considering the genocidal paroxysm that hostility to Jews reached in Europe (and, incidentally, only there), the temptation has increased to read all prior hostility toward Jews as prefiguring the horrors of the Holocaust (Bernstein 1994).
Clearly, anti-Semitism demands explanation—and refutation—and many compelling cases have been made in this direction. Some have sought to testify to anti-Semitism’s quasi-eternal nature (Netanyahu 2001; Bein 1990) or account for its specific persistence (the recurrence of Christian theological prejudice). Others have explored vectors of change (the well-known, modern shift from religion to race described by Léon Poliakov; the teleological understanding of Daniel Goldhagen) and tried to account for historical distinctiveness (Amos Funkenstein on the changing and proximate nature of the Jewish-Christian dispute; Gavin Langmuir’s criterion of “socially significant chimerical hostility” [1990, p. 341]; Jeremy Cohen’s description of the medieval transformation of the Jews from “theological witness” to “demonic” figures) and geographical or cultural difference (Poliakov, again, as well as Mark Cohen). At times, Jewish thinkers themselves have gone so far as to consider Jewish “antisocial behavior” as a major source of anti-Jewish hostility (Bernard Lazare; Israel Yuval on Jewish collective suicide in the eleventh century).
Other reasons, equally contentious, have been proposed: materialist reasons, for example, and chief among them, socioeconomic ones (“Jews and money,” as the old topos goes, but see also Abram Léon’s notion of the Jews as a “people-class”), and political reasons (Karl Marx, but also Hannah Arendt’s theory of the modern state and the role of “political anti-Semitism” in it) and psychological reasons as well (Sigmund Freud on sibling rivalry and castration, and Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno on mimesis). Historians of science have shown the importance of new categories of thought and classification, including those operative in Jewish self-perception (Gilman 1986; Hart 2000). There are those who have sought to locate anti-Jewish hostility within the larger frame of attitudes toward “outsiders” (Mayer 1982) or as one among numerous features of a “persecuting society” (Moore 1987). A recurring dispute continues to separate those who wish to distinguish exclusionary practices on the basis of their (real or fantasmatic) targets and those who uphold the strategic usefulness of conducting a unified fied analysis of (and struggle against) all agents of exclusionary practices. Should all racisms be studied and fought as the different guises of one essence or should differences be acknowledged and exposed?
Hannah Arendt (1958) insisted on the numerous elements and structures that relate attitudes toward the Jews with issues of state formation, modern racism, imperialism, and colonialism. After Arendt, however, the most significant breakthrough in the study of anti-Semitism was made by Edward W. Said (1978). Arguing that the history of Orientalism (and prominent among them “western views of Islam”) is the history of anti-Semitism, Said has enabled a novel understanding of the emergence of the category of “Semites” as the most obvious manifestation of an enduring theologico-political problem. This problem, which antedates modernity, is at the heart of the West’s own constitution as a historical subject. Relating theological premises to political endeavors, and religion to race, Said demonstrates the necessity of understanding the distributive and dynamic distinctions between Jews and Arabs, between Judaism and Islam, strategically associating and dissociating the two from within the standpoint of Western Christendom and, later, of European colonialism (Anidjar 2003). This dynamic approach also means taking the measure of the late eighteenth-century invention of “Semites” as the unity of race and religion, of Jew and Arab (Olender 1992; Hess 2002). From this novel perspective, it becomes possible to better understand the spread of European anti-Semitism to the Arab world (described, for example, by Bernard Lewis and Geneviève Dermenjian), as well as phenomena like Zionism in its different figures, at once emancipatory and potential manifestations of covert self-hatred (Gilman 1986).
The intricate connections that tie modern anti-Semitism to Zionism may further explain the continued contaminations we witness today between the two (Wistrich 1990; Finkelstein 2005). The Zionist “negation of exile” also participated in the project to reinscribe and undo the unity of the Semites and recast it from within as either a separation of Jews from Arabs (anti-Semitism from Orientalism) or as a binational perspective—advocated by Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, Arendt, and other members of Brit Shalom, a Jewish group founded in 1925 dedicated to promoting coexistence—seeking to invent and promote collective rights for both Jews and Arabs (Raz-Krakotzkin 2001). The debate over the persistence of anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism can therefore be better understood as the enduring effort to maintain Jews and Arabs as separate and opposed, indeed as objects of different, unrelated, exclusionary practices. Reframed as the unity of a theologico-political complex that manages both hostility to Jews and hostility to Arabs, anti-Judaism and the war on Islam, anti-Semitism and Orientalism, are revealed as indissociable: one and the same in their very difference.
SEE ALSO Jewish Diaspora; Jews
Almog, Shmuel, ed. 1988. Antisemitism Through the Ages. Trans. Nathan H. Reisner. Oxford and New York: Pergamon.
Anidjar, Gil. 2003. The Jew, the Arab: A History of the Enemy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Arendt, Hannah. 1958. The Origins of Totalitarianism. 2nd ed. New York: Meridian.
Bein, Alex. 1990. The Jewish Question: Biography of a World Problem. Translated by Harry Zohn. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
Bernstein, Michael-André. 1994. Foregone Conclusions: Against Apocalyptic History. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Cohen, Jeremy. 1982. The Friars and the Jews: The Evolution of Medieval Anti-Judaism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Cohen, Jeremy. 1999. Living Letters of the Law: Ideas of the Jew in Medieval Christianity. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Dermenjian, Geneviève. 1983. Juifs et Européens d’Algérie: L’antisémitisme oranais, 1892-1905. Jerusalem: Institut Ben-Zvi.
Finkelstein, Norman G. 2005. Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Freud, Sigmund. 1967. Moses and Monotheism. Trans. Katherine Jones. New York: Vintage.
Funkenstein, Amos. 1993. Perceptions of Jewish History. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Gilman, Sander L. 1986. Jewish Self-Hatred: Anti-Semitism and the Hidden Language of the Jews. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Goldhagen, Daniel. 1996. Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. New York: Knopf.
Hart, Mitchell B. 2000. Social Science and the Politics of Modern Jewish Identity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno. 2002. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Katz, Jacob. 1980. From Prejudice to Destruction: Anti-Semitism, 1700-1933. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Langmuir, Gavin I. 1990. Toward a Definition of Antisemitism. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lazare, Bernard. 1995. Antisemitism: Its History and Causes. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Léon, Abram. 1970. The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation. New York: Pathfinder.
Lewis, Bernard. 1986. Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice. New York: Norton.
Mayer, Hans. 1982. Outsiders: A Study in Life and Letters. Trans. Dennis M. Sweet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Moore, R. I. 1987. The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Power and Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250. Oxford: Blackwell.
Netanyahu, Benzion. 2001. The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain. 2nd ed. New York: New York Review of Books.
Olender, Maurice. 1992. Languages of Paradise: Race, Religion, and Philology in the Nineteenth Century. Trans. Arthur Goldhammer. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Poliakov, Léon. 1965. The History of Anti-Semitism. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Vanguard.
Raz-Krakotzkin, Amnon. 2001. Binationalism and Jewish Identity: Hannah Arendt and the Question of Palestine. In Hannah Arendt in Jerusalem, ed. Steven E. Aschheim, 165-180. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Said, Edward W. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Vintage.
Sartre, Jean-Paul. 1948. Anti-Semite and Jew. Trans. George J. Becker. New York: Schocken.
Wistrich, Robert S., ed. 1990. Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism in the Contemporary World. New York: New York University Press.
Anti-Semitism is hatred, fear, and hostility that harms, has harmed, or has the potential to harm Jews. The term anti-Semitism was coined in 1879 by German anti-Semitic agitator Wilhelm Marr, who claimed that the term was based on "science," rather than religious concepts that would have justified antagonism toward Jews. Yet antipathy toward Jews (sometimes known as Jew-hatred, Judaeophobia, or "the longest hatred") is centuries old, and centuries ago became elaborated into an ideology. Anti-Semitic ideology, whose adherents have drawn and continue to draw on anti-Jewish myth and legend, has led to social and legal discrimination, demagogic political mobilization, and spontaneous or state-sponsored violence that has striven to isolate, expel, or annihilate Jews as Jews. That ideology considers the Jewish character as permanently and unreformably degenerate. And as per that ideology, Jews, no matter how few or assimilated, are perpetually engaged in conspiracies that seek to dominate, exploit, and destroy society or the world, and hence are menaces to society. Although some Greek and Roman authors (most notably Tacitus) expressed hostility toward Jews, no anti-Semitic ideology emerged in antiquity.
The New Testament and the Middle Ages
There are competing schools of thought as to the origins of anti-Semitism. One of these schools of thought holds that the roots of anti-Semitism are religious, that anti-Semitism derives from the narrative of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the four New Testament gospels. Expressions of anti-Semitism that are essentially nonreligious (except perhaps racialist language) are transformations, secularizations, extensions, and "new" applications of the religious original.
Christianity is the only world religion that accuses another religion of murdering its god. Owing to Christian allegations that Jews are culpable for the crime of deicide, or Christ-killing, Jews are—in many settings—defined as criminals linked to the anti-Christ, a Jewish son of Satan who thwarts the Second Coming and will rule the world via a reign of terror that will mean affliction for all Christians. Also adumbrated in the New Testament is the myth of the Wandering or Eternal Jew. (See John 18:4–10, 20–22, parallels in Matthew 26:51, Mark 14:47, Luke 22:50–51) The Wandering Jew, supposed to be emblematic of the Jewish people, is doomed to wander to the end of time, homeless, alienated, unable to die, fated to live in misery, and suffering repentance for his unforgivable crime of having mocked Christ.
The medieval accusation of ritual murder is also adrumbrated in the gospels. In Matthew (27:23–26) the Jews of Jerusalem cry out to Pontius Pilate: "Crucify him. . . . His blood be upon us and our children." Thus are Jews made to pronounce an eternal curse on themselves. The most pernicious anti-Semitic motif in the gospels is the demonization of Jews. In John (8:44–47) Jesus excoriates the Pharisees (one of several Jewish parties or sects, and other Jews present):
Your father is the devil and you choose to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and is not rooted in the truth; there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie he is speaking his own language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
And so Jews became alleged to be pledged in allegiance to Satan's superhuman powers and to be devoted to his work of subversion and overturning God's plan, echoed (many centuries later) in Shakespeare's describing his character Shylock (in The Merchant of Venice) as a "fiend" and the "very devil incarnal." The putative capacity of Jews to lie, deceive, and manipulate is rooted in the same ideology as the image of the Jew as standing menace and arch-conspirator. That the origins of anti-Semitism are economics-related (a "doctrine" that tends toward the portrayal of Jews as greedy Judases, carnal, antispiritual, and rejected by God—and of the Jew as Shylock, financial wizard, and huckster) finds its New Testament foundation in the story of Jesus expelling the moneychangers from the temple and Judas' betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
The Church Fathers (theologians, whose beliefs and writings are termed patristic) of the third to the seventh centuries wove anti-Semitic New Testament passages into an intellectually sophisticated ideology. For St. Augustine (354–430), Jews—as he stated some twenty times in his influential Treatise against the Jews and elsewhere—are the "witness people," fated to exist as suffering Cains (in collective punishment for the crime of deicide) until the Last Judgment. His writings strove to justify the degradations to which Jews were subject, but at the same time may have helped to shield them from genocidal aggression—by advocating that limits be set on their persecution. Augustine wrote in his Reply to Faustus the Manichanean: "The continued preservation of the Jews will be a proof [of the truth of Christianity] to believing Christians." St. John Chrysostom (c. 347–407), the most vituperatively anti-Semitic of the Church Fathers, gave expression to almost every allegation that was part of the anti-Semitism of his day. In his writings Jews were devil-possessed, "impure, criminal, impious," their religion a "disease." And "Like an unruly draft animal, the Jews are fit for killing. And this is what happened to the Jews: while they were making themselves unfit for work [by rejecting Christianity], they grew fit for slaughter" (Perry and Schweitzer, 1994, 114–115). The need to shun Jews and to regard them as dangerous, polluting, and corrupting was a patristic teaching.
It was a staple of medieval Christian folklore that Jews suffered from terrible physical maladies and needed the blood of Christian children to carry out their medicinal and magical arts—or would simply exact that blood as revenge. According to the fable known as blood libel: Each spring a band of Jewish conspirators selected a town in which a Christian child was to be kidnapped. That child was sacrificed (a reprise of the crucifixion), and the child's blood was used in the making of matzohs and wine, to be consumed at Passover. As part of the aftermath of an accusation of ritual murder, Jews were expelled from cities and towns, their properties were expropriated, or they were massacred. Typically, a shrine to the "martyred saint" was erected. The first blood libel is supposed to have taken place in Norwich, England, in 1144; this species of slander became common all over Europe, and lived on into the twentieth century.
A parallel anti-Semitic fable is host desecration. As part of Christian dogma, a consecrated or "transubstantiated" host is the equivalent of the flesh of Christ. Mostly in Germany during the late Middle Ages, Jews were accused of stealing consecrated hosts, of "torturing Jesus again"—by stabbing, beating, boiling, or burning hosts, thereby causing hosts to "bleed" or cry out. Jews who had been accused of host desecration were made to confess and suffered the same consequences as the victims of blood libels. Unlike ritual murder accusations, which several medieval popes condemned, the host libel myths flourished with papal blessing. Almost all Protestant denominations condemned transubstantiation; hence, allegations of host desecration disappeared from Protestant countries, but lived on in Catholic areas until Vatican Council II (1962–1965).
Another expression of popular anti-Semitism was the passion play, a genre that originated in the church's liturgy of holy week. An early dramatization was the elaboration of the gospel narratives into an oratorio, combining singing and acting. There was clerical resistance to such developments on the grounds that dramatic performance is pagan and improper (the Latin for play, ludes, has the same root as lewd). But with the heightening of religious emotion that accompanied the Crusades, such inhibitions ended. There were also the precedents of liturgical plays (many included anti-Semitic motifs) dealing with the Nativity, Jesus' miracles, anti-Christ, the second coming, and the end of the world.
From the twelfth century, Christian art and drama dwelled on Jesus' suffering—mocked and pilloried, beaten and tortured, bleeding and tormented by the villainous Jews, with Judas and Caiphas prominent as Satan's evil-doing minions, and as greedy, blood-thirsty, power-hungry conspirators. The earliest manuscript of passion play dates from the mid-twelfth century. The first recorded performance occurred in Siena, Italy, c. 1200. By the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, almost every town and hamlet in Europe—and many a local parish—put on its version of the story. The Protestant Reformation, except for the Calvinists and later Puritans, did not object to the performance of passion plays. They went on in England throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as elsewhere in Europe and especially Germany (503 examples have been traced in southwest Germany alone in the early sixteenth century). Throughout all these centuries the fear and hatred unleashed by such productions meant that performances were often followed by Christian attacks on the community's Jewish ghetto, resulting in sack, arson, pillage, massacre, and expulsion. So often did such mayhem ensue that town ordinances required guards to be placed in defense at the ghetto gates, or performances were barred, as at Freiburg in 1338, Frankfurt in 1469, and Rome in 1539.
The most famous passion play, Oberammergau, dates from 1634, but that Bavarian village was the scene of similar performances centuries before; for all its elaboration and dramaturgical finesse, it closely resembles its medieval anti-Semitic archetypes and, notoriously, won the admiration of Adolf Hitler.
During later medieval centuries in Europe, Jews were isolated in ghettos and were required to wear badges and clothing that would identify them—indignities receiving the solemn sanction of church councils. Ordinances forbade Christians to associate with Jews, including marriage between Christians and Jews, eating with or buying food from Jews, or frequenting Jewish physicians (who were alleged to poison their patients). During the Black Plague (1347–1350) Jews were scapegoated and sometimes massacred; they were expelled from cities and towns for poisoning the air and water. In the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), Jews were to be tolerated—however he went beyond the condemnations of the Church Fathers in his denunciations of "usury" and of Jews who were usurers. As part of that worldview Jews were "destined to absolute servitude" and rulers might confiscate their property—"treating Jewish goods as their own" (Perry and Schweitzer, 2002, p. 17). The Vatican cited Aquinas when it gave its approval to the anti-Semitic laws of Vichy France during World War II.
During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Christian theologians discovered the great body of Jewish biblical commentary and interpretation known as the Talmud. Christian theologians and even some popes believed that Jews had replaced the Bible with the Talmud, and that Judaism had ceased to be biblical. In the view of these Christian scholars and ecclesiastics, Judaism was heretical and "of earth." Jews thus forfeited their right to be tolerated in Christendom and were a proper focus for the Inquisition courts (Roman Catholic courts set up in several European countries to punish heresy, most notably in Spain under royal auspices from 1378 on). For many Christian theologians, the Talmud and other Jewish texts affirmed Christ as the messiah. Accordingly, the lying Jews had concealed this revelation—which was justification for the involuntary progressions of Jews toward the baptismal fount. The Dominican and Franciscan friars were fanatical in their efforts to compel Jews to convert to Christianity, confiscating their books and forcing them to listen to conversionist sermons. The end result was forced conversions en masse, the best known of which occurred in the Spanish kingdoms in the century that followed 1391.
Many of these forced converts, known variously as crypto-Jews, New Christians, Conversos (converts), or Marranos (swine), and/or their descendants became steadfast Christians; others secretly remained steadfast Jews. Conversos became successful in all walks of life (as the laws that had discriminated against them were withdrawn). Before long, however, envied and under suspicion of "Judaizing," they were ruthlessly scrutinized and abused by Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition authorities for centuries. Anticipating the anti-Semitism of Nazi Germany, Spanish and Portuguese laws established "purity of blood" requirements for numerous kinds of employment, which had the intended effect of excluding Conversos from many occupations.
Other readers of the Talmud purported to find that its text enjoined Jews, as part of their religious duty, to malign, rob, maim, enslave, and kill Christians; to undermine Christian belief; to bankrupt and destroy the church. Copies of the Talmud were seized and burnt; consequently few copies of the Talmud survived into the more tolerant Renaissance period. By the end of the Middle Ages, western Europe was essentially barren of Jews, who had either fled (mostly to Poland and the Ottoman Empire) or, fleeced of their property, been expelled—from England in 1290, France in 1306, Austria in 1421, and Spain in 1492. The Summa Angelica of the fifteenth-century Italian theologian Angelo di Chivasso epitomized the church's position: "To be a Jew is a crime, not, however, punishable by a Christian" (Poliakov, 1974–1985, vol. 3, p. 6). In practice, however, fifteenth-century Christian rulers, crusaders, ecclesiastics, and municipalities did punish Jews because they were Jews.
Jewish literacy and erudition (often acquired under the religious obligation to know Torah) long conferred economic advantages on Jews. However, their alleged mental and intellectual superiority—a weapon Satan reputedly bestowed on Jews—became an anti-Semitic stereotype: "Intelligence—that is the mortal sin of the Jews" (Weiss, 1996, p. 157). Because Jews in Christian Europe were normally excluded from owning land and barred from the crafts, their academic distinction and literacy would often enable them to become prominent in trade, and, later, finance, callings deemed disreputable and unprestigious by Christians during the Middle Ages and after. Socioeconomic standing enabled some Jews (most were poor) to play prominent roles in the commercial, financial, and industrial expansion of Europe.
Jewish emancipation, beginning in revolutionary France in 1790, and the more secular attitudes that obtained in Europe in the nineteenth century enabled many Western Jews to prosper as never before. Antisemitic explanations of Jewish prosperity abounded. Karl Marx equated Jews and Judaism with capitalism (so-called mammonism) and claimed that money-worshipping Jews had invented capitalism and had "Judaized" Western society because "Jewish" capitalism rose there and became the dominant economic system. Accordingly, capitalism would not end until Judaism, its source, ended. Marx pronounced this goal of Jewish annihilation in his essay of 1843, "The Jewish Question." The German economic historian and eventual Nazi Werner Sombart published an influential book, The Jews and Modern Capitalism (1911), which allegedly proved Marx's contentions.
Modern Period: Luther to Hitler
The acolytes of Reformation Calvinism were not obsessed with the strengthening of Christianity via the persecution of Jews and even tended toward philo-Semitism. In contrast, the Catholic Counter-Reformation and Lutheranism upheld the tradition of anti-Semitic persecution. Martin Luther, contemptuous of and dismissive of Judaism, was intent on converting Jews to Christianity. Frustrated by the failure of his attempts at conversion and fearful of accusations of "Judaizing," Luther vented his wrath against Jews in letters and pamphlets, in which age-old anti-Semitic calumnies were spewed. In his treatise On the Jews and Their Lies (1543), he delivered an edict: Burn their synagogues and homes, their prayer books, and Talmuds; on pain of death forbid rabbis to teach; outlaw Jews and exempt them from any protections afforded to travelers on highways; bar them from all financial and banking activity and confiscate their money; ostracize them; make them "earn their bread in the sweat of their brow"; treat them "as a physician treats gangrene—without mercy, to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bones, and marrow" (Luther, 1971, pp. 268–274, 292). Much later German nationalists exploited Luther's hatred of Jews, and the Nazis reissued his diatribes as endorsements of their anti-Semitic ideology. In 1938 a Lutheran bishop published excerpts from the 1543 treatise and extolled Hitler and Martin Luther as Germany's "greatest anti-Semites" (Perry and Schweitzer, 2002, p. 83).
Voltaire was perhaps the most celebrated exemplar of the distinctly secular eighteenth-century Enlightenment philosophy (and its secular anti-Semitism). In his attacks on Christianity, he condemned Judaism as its source and denounced both religions as "superstitions." In his view Jews were avaricious and detestable. He informed his readers: "Still, we ought not to burn them." His instruction to Jews: "Renounce your sacred books" (Levy, 1991, pp. 41, 46). Thus, would Jews cease to be Jewish; Voltaire had proposed a form of cultural annihilation comparable to medieval forced conversions and later European nationalists' demands for Jewish assimilation. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries were periods of intense nationalism in Europe, and the particular forms of nationalism that had evolved fostered perceptions of Jews as foreigners and aliens who could never become true nationals.
As theories of "race" came to the fore, perceptions of Jews as inassimilable strangers and dangerous polluters grew in intensity, as racialist phobias and biological pseudoscience became conflated with hypernationalism. As distinct from Christian teaching, according to which baptism effaced Jewishness, "racial science" decreed that race (and separateness) could never be changed. The composer Richard Wagner expressed his own paranoia in this regard in his adoption of the neologism Verjudung ("Jewification," similar to Marx's "Judaizing"), which denoted the danger of "infection" by the Jewish spirit of German culture, German institutions, or the German soul. In his essay "Jewry in Music," he pronounced his verdict of annihilation in the form of a command: "Go under."
Adherents to the political anti-Semitism that emerged in Europe in the nineteenth century strove to curtail Jewish emancipation, to expel Jews from cities, towns, and neighborhoods on racialist grounds, and to require their conversion and assimilation—and, more generally, to combat political and social liberalism as a manifestation of Jewish influence. On the continent the ideologies and platforms of virtually all major political parties were tainted with anti-Semitism. For many years the members of left-leaning, socialist, and/or social democratic parties were prone to making an equation between Jews and "the capitalist enemy" (in the manner of Marx), and were slow to rid themselves of this bias. A pioneer of political anti-Semitism was the Lutheran pastor and German court preacher Adolf Stoecker, who founded the German Christian Social Workers' Party in 1878. In 1892 Germany's Conservative Party absorbed several anti-Semitic splinter parties by pledging itself "to battle against the manifold aggressive, decomposing, and arrogant Jewish influence" (Weiss, 1996, p. 116). In France in the 1890s and after, the Marquis de Morés and Édouard Drumont led the Anti-Semitic League, which elected a dozen or so deputies to the National Assembly and which was clamorously active during the Dreyfus Affair (centered on the 1895 treason conviction of Army captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was innocent but not acquitted until 1906—and whose accusers were motivated by anti-Semitism). In the late nineteenth century the governments of Romania and Russia were overtly anti-Semitic, and encouraged pogroms against their Jewish citizens. Although a short-lived organization called the International Anti-Jewish Congress held yearly conventions in the 1880s, a most negative portent was the coming to power of the Austrian Christian Social Party (the lone example of an anti-Semitic party winning elections and holding power over a span of several years). The party's leader was the demagogue Karl Lueger, who became mayor of Vienna in 1897 after gaining a clear majority in Vienna's city council elections; his anti-Semitic tactics and demagoguery were greatly admired by the young Hitler. In between the two world wars Europe's fascist parties (except Italy's before 1938), flourishing under the aegis of Adolf Hitler prior to and during World War II, were virulently anti-Semitic.
A noteworthy example of anti-Semitic hate literature is the Russian document The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Written in France in the l890s at the behest of the Russian secret police, it sought to justify the tsarist regime's anti-Semitic policies and pogroms. Intended for the credulous, and recapitulating anti-Semitic mythology almost in its entirety, it is supposed to be the secret minutes of a conclave of Jewish elders meeting in the ancient Jewish cemetery of Prague and plotting to take over the world. To implement their plan, the Jewish conspirators employ every imaginable weapon. Acting like the evil god Vishnu with a hundred hands, they undermine religion; hatch revolutions (the French Revolution and all since); manipulate stock exchanges; ignite class warfare; set off economic crises; maneuver sources of power (judicial, parliamentary, the press, institutions of learning, and money—"over which [Jews] alone dispose"); dominate workers through socialism and trade unionism; promote alcoholism, prostitution, pornography, and humanism in order to befog the minds of non-Jews; and create anti-Semitism in order to bind the Jewish masses to their cause until the plot is fulfilled. Then the elders will eliminate all religions except Judaism and thus "shall determine the destiny of the earth." First published in Russia in l903, the Protocols won the enthusiasm of Tsar Nicholas II at the time of the catastrophic Russo-Japanese war—a time when Russia was quaking with impending revolution. Nicholas blamed these catastrophes on the Jews, and joined with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in signing the treaty of Björkö, in which they pledged to form a "continental league" to combat revolution and international Jewry. The next year Nicholas signed a secret agreement (which reads like the Protocols and was probably based on it). Nicholas envisioned a great alliance whereby combined powers would engage in "an active joint struggle" to avert "the impending general European revolution" and fight the "Judaeo-Masonic" conspiracy. No part of this plan materialized, but it is illustrative of how unconcealed anti-Semitic ideology could enter into the highest-level diplomatic exchanges and provide a basis for treaties and policy aims. Deploying the Protocols in the public arena for the first time, Nicholas exhibited the credulousness of most European minds and the willingness of those minds to believe bizarre myths about Jews, as well as his belief in the utility of anti-Semitism (as Hitler believed) in furthering the aims of foreign and domestic policy. Since 1918 the Protocols has remained a staple of anti-Semitic discourse worldwide—millions of copies in many languages continue to circulate in print and on the Internet—despite the fact that it was demonstrated to be a forgery and nothing other than paranoiac hate literature as early as 1921.
Hitler was immersed in the mental universe of the Protocols all his life. His speech before the German Parliament in January 1939 contained a prophecy: "If international Jewry . . . succeeds in plunging the peoples into another war, then the end result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and the consequent victory of Jewry but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe" (Cohn, 1967, p. 190). His belief that Jews were menaces and a highly organized race of evil-doing supermen was a modern, secularized version of the medieval idea of the demonized Jew. He spoke in medieval accents when he declared: "The struggle for world domination will be fought between . . . Germans and Jews. We are God's people. Two worlds face one another: the men of God and the men of Satan." And: "The Jews . . . invented capitalism . . . an invention of genius, of the devil's own ingenuity" (Rauschning, 1940, p. 237–238). There is nothing original about Hitler's version of anti-Semitism except his political genius in promoting anti-Semitism. He feared Jews—they were "the people of Satan," people who conspired to enslave and rule the world through communism, socialism, capitalism, internationalism, democracy, pacifism, biological degeneration, and disarmament. In his eyes Jews were "culture-destroyers"; they embodied everything he feared, hated, and sought to destroy. Other high-ranking Nazis shared these views—an amalgamation of medieval, racial, and Protocols anti-Semitism. The demagogue Julius Streicher, publisher and editor of anti-Semitic newspapers and part of Hitler's inner circle, promulgated an anti-Semitism that was as much medieval and religious as it was modern and secular. He scoured specious texts such as J. A. Eisenmenger's Judaism Uncovered (1700), Theodor Fritsch's Handbook of the Jewish Question (1887), novels such as Gustav Freytag's Debit and Credit (1885), and forgeries such as Protocols (1903) as part of an attempt to prove (in his own words): "This satanic race really has no right to exist." He was perhaps the first Nazi to invoke and articulate the concept of a Final Solution, saying in a 1925 speech before a mass audience in Nuremberg: "[F]or thousands of years the Jew has been destroying the nations. . . [W]e can annihilate the Jews." Since the 1870s there had been many calls for the destruction of the Jews; until 1914 these calls had been more pervasive and vehement in France, Russia, Romania, and Austria-Hungary than in Germany, but it was Hitler's Germany that carried out what many in Europe believed to be history's mandate and science's dictate.
Holocaust denial is a new from of anti-Semitism, but one that hinges on age-old motifs. Another new form of anti-Semitism is that sponsored by the Nation of Islam (an anti-white supremacist movement founded in the United States in the 1930s) and its leader, Louis Farrakhan, who has employed a wide range of anti-Semitic propaganda weapons in his demagoguery. The Nation of Islam fabricated the myth that Jews originated and dominated the 400-year Atlantic slave trade, profited immensely from it, owned disproportionate numbers of slaves, and were the cruelest of slave masters. The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews (1991), with authorship attributed to the Historical Research Department of the Nation of Islam, purports to provide the evidence of Jewish culpability for "the black Holocaust." That some Jews were involved in slave trading is well-known, but their participation, when compared to that of many Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, freed blacks, and black Africans, was minuscule.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, there has been a media focus on Muslim anti-Semitism and on radical Islam or Islamism (distinct from Islam and characterized by deep antagonism toward non-Muslims and the West). Muslim hostility toward Jews has its origins in the Qur'an, in which several passages express hostility toward Jews and in which Jews are described, variously, as "the worst enemies of the Muslims," a "cursed people," "slayers of prophets," "perverters of scriptures," and "apes and swine" (Suras 2:73, 88; Qu'ran 5:60–65, 78–82). Jews lived for many centuries in Muslim lands as dhimmis (Jews or Christians living in Islamic countries as protected minorities), and were subject to governments that sought to degrade and humiliate them; there were pogroms and periodic forced conversions. Since the 1870s there has filtered into the Middle East the entire range of Christian/European/German/Nazi anti-Semitic beliefs, the principal intermediaries having been Christians who live in the Middle East. The principal literary sources for anti-Semitic ideologues living in the Middle East have been the Protocols, Hitler's Mein Kampf, Henry Ford's International Jew, and the churchman August Rohling's Talmudic Jew (which attempts to prove the myth of ritual murder; translated into Arabic by 1899). Some scholars have argued that Muslim anti-Semitism is essentially a byproduct of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, and that when that struggle is concluded, Islamism will evaporate. Yet Islamism, which predates the founding of Israel by twenty years, contains a hatred so vile that Muslim anti-Semitism is unlikely to wane anytime soon. The "moderate" ex-president of Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani, in a speech of December 2001 at Teheran University, urged Muslim countries to develop nuclear weapons: "It is theologically imperative. . . . Nothing will remain after one atom bomb is dropped on Israel. . . . The founding . . . of Israel is the worst event in all history." Islamism shares with mid-twentieth-century fascism ideological fanaticism, genocidal anti-Semitism, and terrorists' indifference to human life.
For half a century after 1945 anti-Semitism was disreputable in Western countries. Since 2000, however, exacerbations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have generated a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The Israeli military campaign in the West Bank in the spring of 2000, a response to suicide bombings in Israel, provoked a rash of anti-Semitic incidents in several parts of the world: Cemeteries were vandalized, Holocaust memorials defaced, synagogues torched, buses carrying Jewish children stoned, Jews beaten. Muslim fanatics were the main perpetrators of the violence. In protests against the military campaign, whether coming from the political right or the left, Israel was attacked as a belligerent, uncompromising, imperialistic state. At rallies and demonstrations in many cities of Europe, crowds shouted: "Death to the Jews!" Britain's Guardian proclaimed: "Israel has no right to exist." The Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano attacked Israeli "aggression that turns into extermination." A 2003 European Union poll reported that a majority of citizens believe that Israel is the greatest threat to world peace.
Communism and fascism have gone, but anti-Semitism remains and is again becoming socially and intellectually acceptable—although it often rears its head under the cover of anti-Zionism, or anticolonialism, or antiglobalism. In reportage on Israel, the European news media are biased to varying degrees against that nation and its people. They continue to rely on anti-Semitic stereotypes. These media, in their analyses of Israeli government actions (which include no comparisons to other bloody conflicts), dredge up ancient anti-Semitic topoi, a shared body of half-conscious, half-remembered motifs. All the European countries, despite some constructive efforts, remain shackled to age-old anti-Semitism. Almost all the European countries are burdened with the heritage of the Holocaust and a reluctance or unwillingness to face up to their collaborations with the Nazi regime. This is most clearly visible in France, where memory of the Vichy regime lingers on and recent anti-Semitic violence has been the worst.
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Frederick M. Schweitzer
ANTI-SEMITISMthe spread of anti-semitism in the 1880s and 1890s
the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
the mid-nineteenth century
the late nineteenth century
anti-semitism in the generation before 1914
the importance of anti-semitism in the nineteenth century
The term anti-Semitism first appeared and gained currency in Europe in the early 1880s to describe, it was claimed, a modern and objective hostility to the Semitic race, in contrast to hatred derived from earlier religious fantasies about Jews. The distinction was a key point in a defining document of modern anti-Semitism, Wilhelm Marr's best-selling book Der Sieg des Judentums über das Germanentum (The Victory of Jewry over Germany), first published in 1879. Marr, a sixty-year-old journalist of middling talent, attempted to turn this publishing success in a political direction by establishing an anti-Semitic league, which was to take up the fight against the alleged Jewish victors. His political initiative is also considered by historians to have been a key development in hostility to Jews moving from a diffuse social prejudice intertwined with Christian belief to an organized political movement based on modern racist ideology and looking to legislation that would limit Jewish rights and curtail what was believed to be a rising Jewish power. In October 1880, the Anti-Semites' Petition gathered more than a quarter of a million signatures, and in the early 1880s the anti-Semitic Berlin Movement challenged the ruling and generally pro-Jewish leftist coalition in Berlin.
The distinction made by Marr between religious and racial hostility, however, was from the beginning not consistently observed. Within the diverse ranks of those who began to use the new term, its meaning remained imprecise, more or less synonymous with such earlier generic terms as Judeophobia or Judenhass (Jew-hatred) that had not made such explicit claims to racism as a science. Similarly, Marr was by no means the first to insist that Jews were a separate race with destructive proclivities. What made his pamphlet stand out was its focus on the growing dangers of the Jewish rise in the economic, political, and cultural realms—so much so that Jews had, he claimed, already effectively taken over Germany from behind the scenes. Marr's claim gained credence in part because of what was indeed a remarkable rise of Jews in nineteenth-century German-speaking areas, especially in Berlin. That Jewish culprits had been very prominent among those linked to financial scandals in the 1870s further enhanced the plausibility of Marr's charges.
The generic usage of the new term came to prevail not only in Germany but also in the rest of the Europe, gradually coming to be applied to any and all forms of antagonism to Jews, from simple irritation to murderous detestation. "Religious anti-Semitism" was a contradiction in terms, ignoring the very point made by Marr, but nonetheless religious hostility to Jews in the 1880s was also increasingly termed anti-Semitic. For example, Adolf Stoecker (1835–1909), the chaplain to the court of the German Kaiser, launched a series of notorious attacks on Jews in the 1880s that featured both religious and economic themes but that nonetheless was considered part of the general surge of anti-Semitism in those years. Stoecker occasionally used vaguely racist language and was particularly interested in the role of Jews in modern capitalism, but he accepted Jewish converts to Christianity—indeed, took pride in them—in a way that a doctrinaire racist could not have.
Similarly, the harsh criticisms of Jews by the popular professor and nationalist historian Heinrich von Treitschke (1834–1896), starting in the late 1870s, lacked a hard-core racist consistency, even though he too used the term anti-Semitism (Antisemitismus) and indeed had employed the notion of "Semitism" (Semitentum) in his writings as early as the 1860s. In a series of much-discussed articles in 1879–1880, Treitschke urged Germany's Jews to reform, to become Germans wholeheartedly, abandoning their lingering separatist identity, with its implications of superiority to non-Jews. However, whereas Marr's pamphlet described the "un-German" behavior of Jews in Germany as an expression of their fundamentally unchangeable racial essence, Treitschke believed that in fact many Jews had already accomplished the reform he asked for. He observed that there were Jews in Germany, "baptized and unbaptized … [who were] Germans in the best sense of the word" (Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 280–283), but he was also deeply troubled by what he saw as a new arrogance and separatist spirit among Jews, especially those arriving from eastern Europe.
In short, the "anti-Semitism" of both Stoecker and Treitschke, while using vaguely racist vocabulary, lacked Marr's belief in rigid racial determinism. Similarly, their approach, unlike Marr's, remained largely hortatory, urging Jews to reform, religiously or cultural-nationalistically. Both men warned against the danger of violence against Jews and did not support stripping Jews in Germany of their recently granted civil equality. But they both also predicted that violence would be the result if the mounting impudence of so many Jews was not curbed.
Whatever the genuine intent of these two men, the emotional power of their language, linked to their respected position in German society, added much fuel to the flames of what was increasingly called the anti-Semitic movement. Treitschke's name became associated with the notorious slogan, "The Jews are our misfortune!" (Die Juden sind unser Unglück), which would be picked up by more extreme activists and, eventually, the Nazis. Stoecker, in his many public speeches, caustically dismissed Judaism as "dead at its very core"; Jews no longer honored the god of their fathers but instead worshipped Mammon—in their new temple, the stock exchange; and in the leading ranks of the new capitalist rulers of Europe.
A rising hostility to Jews, often but not consistently using the new vocabulary of race, was in evidence elsewhere in Europe in the 1880s, although there were important and revealing variations from country to country and much inconsistency in what anti-Semitism seemed to mean. In the western regions of tsarist Russia, Jews were violently attacked in a series of riots, or pogroms (a Russian word for riot), killing scores and resulting in much property damage, following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881. Jews were special targets in part because revolutionaries of Jewish origin had previously participated in violent attacks on a number of tsarist officials and also numbered among the assassins of the tsar.
Those revolutionaries did not in fact claim to speak for the Jews, and the rampaging mobs made no mention of the Semitic race, a term that was not in their vocabulary or world view. The more fundamental origins of the pogroms were to be found in the serious economic and social tensions in Russia at the time and the incompetence of the tsarist authorities in dealing with them. The immediate catalyst of the pogroms was a rumor—mistaken but widely believed—that the new tsar, Alexander III, had given an order to punish the Jews for participating in the murder of his father. At any rate, the pogroms, although subsequently described as anti-Semitic, were not racist in Marr's sense, nor were they the product of modern political organization; instead, they resembled the episodic, disorganized uprisings of the Russian peasantry in the past.
To state that Russian mobs in 1881 and subsequent years were not motivated by racial hatred may seem to make a mere verbal distinction; Russians of all classes certainly recognized Jews as profoundly different, because most of Russia's large Jewish population looked different (in physical traits and dress), spoke a different language (Yiddish), followed a different religion (one that itself greatly emphasized the separate lineage and nature of Jews and non-Jews), engaged in different economic activities (typically as middlemen rather than as peasants tied to the land), and were ruled by separate laws (Jewish with tsarist oversight). In short, one might easily conclude that Jews in Russia constituted a race without the word. However, tsarist regulations defined Jews as a religious group, not as a race in Marr's sense, and those Jews who converted to Christianity were treated differently; in a few cases some even entered government service.
In the west, there was also much variety. A racial-political movement against Jews was almost completely lacking in Italy, whether among the peasants or the rest of the population, but in Vienna, capital of the sprawling Austro-Hungarian Empire, Karl Lueger (1844–1910), was elected mayor in 1897 on an anti-Semitic program, after being disqualified in several previous elections by the emperor, Francis Joseph, who thoroughly disliked Lueger and feared the implications of race-based movements in his multinational empire. Lueger's Christian Social Party, which may be considered Europe's most successful anti-Semitic organization before 1914, was another example of a party that attacked Jews with racist language but that also resorted to religious imagery and, indeed, relied upon support from the Catholic Church.
The Jewish population in most of western and central Europe by the 1880s was significantly unlike that in Russia; their status as a separate people—a "race" apart—was more subtle and ambiguous. By the late nineteenth century, they had been granted equality under the law, had prospered economically and risen socially, and in a number of areas had even served as high-ranking government officials, both appointed and elected. Their numbers were generally far smaller than in Russia (in Germany, around 1 percent of the population, and in most of the rest of western Europe, only a fraction of 1 percent). Most western Jews had adopted, or were adopting, the language, dress, and customs of the surrounding populations. It was widely assumed, especially by the liberal Left, that Jewish assimilation would continue as an aspect of the general progress of modern societies.
Hostility to Jews of course much predated the 1880s. By the late eighteenth century what was termed "the Jewish question" was widely discussed, at least by the intellectual elites, among whom there were often ill-tempered dissents about the assertion that Jews could be expected to assimilate into the nations of Europe. The issue of whether Jews could become citizens was passionately debated in the first years of the French Revolution; they were finally granted civil equality in the revolutionary constitution of 1791, but by a very narrow majority. As French revolutionary armies expanded into the rest of the Europe, civil equality was extended to the Jews in all the lands ruled by the French. Still, deep and recurring misgivings about the issue remained in both France and the rest of Europe in the early nineteenth century.
Most of these misgivings might, again, be termed anti-Semitic before the actual word existed, in that they assumed some sort of unchangeable essence in Jews, one that was dangerous to non-Jews. In the many efforts to formulate the nature of that essential difference, the term race came to play a growing role. Still, there were pervasive and lasting uncertainties associated with what race in general, and the Semitic race in particular, actually referred to. Usage of the word race evolved in the course of the nineteenth century, with different nuances in each language, from initially being more or less synonymous with "sort" or "kind" (as in the "human race") to becoming a more precise or scientific term designating inherent physical and psychological traits. Still, even by the end of the nineteenth century, there was no clear consensus among the many theorists of race, let alone in the general population, about what constituted a race, or how completely membership in a race determined an individual's nature and behavior.
The rise of nationalism in the middle years of the nineteenth century further complicated matters. Many who advocated granting equal protection under the law to Jewish residents nonetheless did not believe that Jews could possibly become authentic members of a European people or nation. And insofar as it was believed that nations were to be composed of a single race, or of closely kindred races, the problem was even larger, since even if Jews did learn non-Jewish languages and embrace non-Jewish customs, they could not become a different race. "Semites" remained a non-European people with no obvious homeland in Europe.
The issue had parallels in the much earlier and long-standing doubts by some Christians about whether Jewish converts to Christianity had genuinely abandoned their Jewishness. Such was the issue in Spain at the time of the Inquisition, when Jewish converts allegedly lacked limpieza de sangre, or purity of blood (often cited by modern historians as an early-modern proto-racist concept). Many observers in the nineteenth century, including many Jews, emphasized that Jews would always remain in some significant sense separate, never wholly blending into the people of the various European nations. At the same time, it should not be assumed that Marr, in his dogmatic assertion of the unchangeable and destructive essence of Jews, spoke for more than a minority, even in Germany. There is no question that Europeans in the nineteenth century became increasingly fascinated with the concept of racial determinism; many blended racist and nationalist language, but differences of opinion, inconsistency, and contradiction continued to characterize racist thought up to 1914 and beyond.
The case of Count Arthur de Gobineau (1816–1882), often described as the father of modern racism, is revealing in those regards. His very widely read Essai sur l'inegalité des races humaines (1853–1855; Essay on the inequality of the human races) offered the controversial theory that Europe's upper classes were racially different from and superior to its lower classes. Gobineau popularized another new term, Aryan, which he applied to the upper classes. Although he has often also been identified as an anti-Semite, Gobineau in his Essai placed the Jews among the superior "white" races. On the other hand, in his rankings the black or Negro race was at the bottom of the world's inferior races, and he described France's lower classes as having similar traits to blacks—especially low intelligence and a proclivity to outbursts of violence.
The qualities Gobineau attributed to blacks and other allegedly inferior races were rarely associated with Jews, even by anti-Semites. Marr had in fact written that the Semitic race was stronger and tougher than the German; he and most other anti-Semites also stressed the high intelligence of the Jews, made all the more dangerous because of their "un-German," slippery morality. Negative associations with the term Semite came from a wide range of other forms, seen perhaps most influentially in the extremely popular writings of the French scholar Ernest Renan (1823–1892). He introduced racial determinism as an important interpretive tool, although often in imprecise and paradoxical ways—and applied it in a negative way to other European races, not only the Semites. He wrote, for example, that France's courageous and combative "Frankish" race had been much weakened by its mixing over the centuries with the garrulous and effete "Celtic" racial strain, which helped explain France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871.
Renan's description of the role of the Semites in history contained both positive and negative elements—positive in their bringing monotheism to the world, but negative thereafter, because Jews gradually lost their creativity and became overly or destructively critical. However, he did not attribute those negative or destructive traits to his Jewish contemporaries in France, among whom he had many admirers and close friends. Indeed, as he observed the mean-spirited direction that political-racial anti-Semitism had taken toward the end of his life, he made efforts to disassociate himself from it. Marr, too, in his old age backed away from his earlier positions, apologizing to the Jews and quipping that the anti-Semites turned out to be worse than the Jews.
Renan's and Marr's second thoughts were not unusual; imagery about Jews as the nineteenth century progressed was characteristically shifting and paradoxical, not predominantly or uniformly negative. Sympathy for the sufferings of Jews and recognition of their virtues existed side-by-side with jealousy over Jewish successes and worries about growing Jewish power, especially that exercised behind the scenes. Jews were portrayed, on the one hand, as frail, physically unattractive, and even malformed, but also as more resistant to disease than non-Jews and as reproducing faster than they were. As the new racial terminology spread, Aryan-Semitic contrasts or dualities seemed to gain credence and currency, mostly pointing to the degenerate spiritual qualities of Jews: Aryan creativity versus Semitic destructiveness, Aryan tolerance and generosity versus Semitic intolerance and egotism, Aryan bravery and idealism versus Semitic cowardice and "realistic" materialism, Aryan honesty and simplicity versus Semitic cunning and deviousness, Aryan chastity and morality versus Semitic sensuality and licentiousness.
Nonetheless, with a few exceptions, anti-Semitic political movements did not gain broad popular support or achieve any notable legislative victories until 1914. Jews continued to prosper, to grow in numbers, and to move up socially, especially in western Europe; the Rothschilds and many other Jewish financiers and entrepreneurs became legendary millionaires. One of the nineteenth century's most celebrated politicians, Benjamin Disraeli (British prime minister, 1868, 1874–1880), not only was of Jewish origin but also was well known for his boasting about the racial superiority of Jews.
It is revealing that none of the previously discussed anti-Semites or alleged anti-Semites described Jews as vermin, or as worthy of death. Even the most influential anti-Semitic theorist of the pre-1914 period, Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855–1927), whose work is often cited as linking pre-1914 anti-Semitism with Nazism, did not call for violence against the Jews and in other ways was considered moderate. His best-selling and almost universally praised volume, The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (first published in 1899 with many subsequent editions into the 1920s), emphasized, as had Renan's works, the role of racial determinants in history—and the negative role of the Semites—but his definition of race, too, was elastic and hardly doctrinaire. He wrote, for example, "A purely humanized Jew is no longer a Jew because, by renouncing the idea of Judaism, he ipso facto has left that nationality." There were certainly others, theorists and popular agitators in the generation before 1914, who did describe Jews as vermin, implicitly deserving death or destruction, but they remained on the fringes, with nothing like the readership or popular following of Chamberlain or the other previously mentioned figures.
The successes of anti-Semitism before 1914 were limited but also difficult to gauge confidently. Lueger was indeed a very popular mayor, but his success had to do with his personal charisma and his "municipal socialism" in Vienna; he in fact did very little in terms of putting anti-Semitic programs into action. Laws were passed in Russia against the Jews, but by tsarist decree, not legislation initiated by elected anti-Semitic politicians, and those laws were notably unsuccessful. Even the most notorious explosion of anti-Semitic hatred in nineteenth-century history, the Dreyfus affair, cannot finally be termed a success for anti-Semitism, because it ended in victory—legal, political, and in other regards—for the so-called Dreyfusards, those opposed to anti-Semitism.
Nonetheless, the Dreyfus affair, arising out of charges that Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a highly assimilated French Jew, had sold military secrets to the Germans, became much more than a trial; the extent of the hatred for Jews it unleashed shocked both Jews and non-Jews, especially because it occurred in a country where Jews had widely been considered better off than in any other. In the course of the affair's complex development, beginning in late 1896 and lasting into the
early years of the next century, political alliances, personal friendships, and even families were torn apart. Crowds chanted "death to the Jews!" and the language used by some of the anti-Dreyfusard militants was rabidly hate filled.
Issues of racial anxiety and social-Darwinistic struggle were central to the Dreyfus affair, as they were in Marr's writings and in those of other anti-Semites. The French were haunted by the fear of further defeats at the hands of the Germans; that men of dubious racial fidelities seemed to have gained power in the government and in high-ranking military positions, pushed many to panic and irrational judgments. The evidence against Dreyfus was in fact weak, largely circumstantial, and some of the testimony against him would later be revealed as false, but anti-Semitic agitators succeeded in whipping up mass hysteria, often resorting to reckless charges and bald-faced lies.
Theodore Herzl (1860–1904), a Jewish journalist reporting on the trial of Dreyfus for a Viennese newspaper, recorded that observing the anti-Jewish hatred in France at this time finally convinced him that Jews faced implacable hatred in the lands of non-Jews; the Jewish dream, his earlier dream, of becoming a respected part of European civilization was turning into a nightmare. Herzl, who would become known as the iconic founder of Zionism, concluded that Jews needed their own nation. A Jewish state and a Jewish homeland was the only realistic solution to the Jewish question.
In Russia, where Nicholas II considered himself to be at war with the Jews both inside and outside the country, violent pogroms again burst forth from 1903 to 1906, partly linked to Russia's disastrous war with Japan in 1904 and the ensuing revolution in 1905. The anti-Jewish violence this time was far worse than in 1881. That many of the most prominent leaders of the revolution were Jews, perhaps most famously, Leon Trotsky, reinforced an anti-Semitic theme—that Jews were both capitalist and socialist destroyers—that would become ever more powerful after 1917, central to Nazism.
Historians have disagreed about the precise role of anti-Semitism in the arrest and conviction of Dreyfus, and even about anti-Semitism's power and general appeal in the affair, in part because of how much the country seemed to settle down afterward; the efforts to use anti-Semitism for reactionary political purposes seemed deeply discredited. Whatever the validity of Herzl's conclusions, very few French Jews left the country or embraced Zionism. Moreover, they continued to prosper after the affair as they had before. Parallel questions have been posed about the power and significance of anti-Semitism in Vienna, since Jews also continued to move into the city at a great rate until 1914. Moreover, the period when Lueger was mayor corresponded to a golden age for Jews, a time of prosperity and unparalleled creativity. Again, whatever the meaning of the popularity of Chamberlain's volume, the German anti-Semitic political parties of the generation before 1914 also fizzled, with their leaders discouraged and discredited. In Russia, where anti-Semites enjoyed governmental support, the sensational "blood libel" trial of Mendel Beilis in 1913, often termed the Russian Dreyfus affair, ended in his acquittal—to the apparent jubilation of the general population and the dismay and discredit of those, including government officials, who tried to exploit it for reactionary purposes.
For such reasons, some historians have warned against exaggerating the importance of anti-Semitism in the nineteenth century, or of considering it narrowly through the filter of later Nazi victories and the Holocaust. Historians have similarly differed about the very nature of anti-Semitism: Was racial-political hatred to be defined as something new, or was it simply a modern variant of a much larger and more basic entity—a unique, endlessly baffling hatred, stretching back through the Christian period into the ancient world? Should anti-Semitism be conceptualized as a modern, secular problem, or is it closer to a religious belief, embedded so deeply and obscurely in the consciousness of European civilization that it is naive to believe in practical or "rational" solutions within any foreseeable future?
In related ways, some scholars have described hatred of Jews as a deep-seated and self-generating "diseased discourse" of Western civilization. This general approach maintains that Jewish activity or Jewish nature has had little or nothing to do with provoking anti-Semitism; the hatred has been, in the deepest sense, an expression of the psychic needs of non-Jews for a scapegoat. To suggest that Jews themselves played a significant role in provoking hatred has been dismissed as "blaming the victim." Opponents of the scapegoat theory have argued that conflict between Jews and non-Jews has usually involved significant elements of mutuality, having to do with "normal" competition and genuinely contrasting values (not only bigoted illusions or miscommunication); the tenets of Jewish religion, it has been argued, are inherently tension creating (strict monotheism entails intolerance; claims to being a divinely chosen people have engendered an offensive sense of Jewish superiority), just as characteristically Jewish occupations, such as money lending, tend to produce understandable resentments. Those emphasizing mutuality also describe typically Jewish occupations as being the result of conscious choice by Jews, emerging out of Jewish tradition, not only choices imposed by surrounding society. It is argued, at any rate, that the frictions between Jews and others are best conceptualized as comparable to what other merchants and money lenders, such as the Chinese or Indians, have faced in other civilizations, and not as utterly unique, irrational, or involving moral responsibility only on one side.
To some extent these contrasting interpretations parallel those familiar in other historical controversies, touching upon issues of agency and responsibility. Just as historians in the once-raging debates over guilt for World War I put primary emphasis on individuals, nations, or impersonal forces, so the controversies about anti-Semitism have often been about the relative importance or responsibility of individuals (Chamberlain, Nicholas II), nations (Germany, Russia), or impersonal forces (industrialism, nationalism). Signs of the kind of consensus that finally emerged from the war guilt controversies have begun to appear in regard to the origins and nature of anti-Semitism, but passionate disagreement also continues to characterize the field.
Bredin, Jean-Denis. The Affair: The Case of Alfred Dreyfus. New York, 1986.
Holmes, Colin. Anti-Semitism in British Society: 1876–1939. New York, 1979.
Katz, Jacob. From Prejudice to Destruction: Anti-Semitism, 1700–1933. Cambridge, Mass., 1980.
Levy, Richard S. The Downfall of the Anti-Semitic Parties in Imperial Germany. New Haven, Conn., 1975.
——. Antisemitism in the Modern World: An Anthology of Texts. Lexington, Mass., 1991.
Lindemann, Albert S. Esau's Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews. New York, 1997.
Marrus, Michael. The Politics of Assimilation: The French Community at the Time of the Dreyfus Affair. Oxford, U.K., 1971.
Mendes-Flohr, Paul, and Yehuda Reinharz, eds. The Jew in the Modern World. New York, 1980.
Poliakov, Léon. The History of Anti-Semitism. Vol. 3: From Voltaire to Wagner; vol. 4: Suicidal Europe, 1870–1933. New York, 1975; Philadelphia, 1977.
Pulzer, Peter. The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria. New York, 1964.
Rogger, Hans. Jewish Politics and Right-Wing Politics in Imperial Russia. Berkeley, Calif., 1986.
Slezkine, Yuri. The Jewish Century. Princeton, N.J., 2004.
Zimmermann, Moshe. Wilhelm Marr: The Patriarch of Anti-Semitism. New York, 1986.
Hatred of Jews, expressing itself in racist prejudice, discrimination, and sometimes violence.
The term antisemitism (also anti-Semitism), first coined by German pamphleteer Wilhelm Marr in 1879, denotes a modern form of Jew-hatred based on emerging theories of racial superiority and inferiority. Mistakenly appropriating terminology from linguistics (i.e., the "Semitic" language grouping), the term has become commonly understood to mean hatred of Jewish people, whether defined as a religious or as a racial group, and not hatred of "Semites."
Although the term antisemitism is relatively modern, the roots of Jew-hatred lie in folklore and popular prejudices dating back to antiquity. Perhaps the most serious contributions to antisemitism can be found in early Christian religious teachings. The first Christians blamed the Jews not only for rejecting Jesus Christ as the savior and messiah, but also—and more ominously—for killing him. Although not as widespread as it once was, the charge of deicide has persisted in some quarters in spite of the fact that Christ was crucified not by the Jews but by the Roman rulers of the Holy Land. Many, but not all, Catholics have accepted the 1965 Vatican ruling (Nostra Aetate) that the Jews neither then nor now should be blamed for Jesus' death.
A second Christian anti-Jewish motif introduced in medieval times was the "ritual murder" accusation, according to which Jews would supposedly kidnap an innocent Christian child so as to obtain drops of blood to bake unleavened bread (matza). This infamous "blood libel" has incited hatred and fear of Jews for centuries and has resurfaced in recent times even in Islamic societies, enjoying a resurgence thanks to racist Internet Web sites.
Apart from deep-seated theological rationalizations for despising Jews, situational factors such as political or economic rivalries and jealousies often help to account for overt expressions of antisemitism. Because of the Christian church's prohibition on usury, Jews—who were forced to live in ghettos and forbidden to own land in medieval Europe—became money-lenders who ended up wielding unexpected power over Christian borrowers, causing resentment and jealousy, and creating the long-enduring stereotype of all Jews being wealthy and greedy.
Many antisemites also believe in the existence of a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world, directed by a secret council of which all Jews are agents. This myth, which first appeared toward the end of the eighteenth century, is fueled by the frequently re-published hoax entitled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (also The Jewish Peril ). Despite the fact that the Protocols were shown in the 1920s to be a forgery (actually, a plagiarized version of a French anti-Freemason pamphlet), many antisemites continue to regard this text as an authentic document "proving" the evil intentions of the Jews. The Protocols and most other modern expressions of antisemitism were imported into the Middle East through European powers that came to dominate the region in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The ritual murder accusation was raised against Jews in Damascus (1840) and has resurfaced periodically ever since.
Anti-Jewish motifs were also present in early Islamic teachings, some originating in the tensions that existed between Muhammad and the Jewish tribes of Arabia. Early Muslims accused the Jews of having broken their covenant with God and of having corrupted the divine teachings. Along with positive references to Christians and Jews as the "people of the book," the Qurʾan also contains a number of verses warning believers of the "wretchedness and baseness" of the Jews (Sura 2:61) and accusing the Jews of having "schemed" against Jesus (Sura 3:54). Despite such theological warrants and despite their status as dhimmis (minorities), Jews living under Islamic rule were never subjected to the same level of hateful and demonic stereotyping characteristic of Christian antisemitism.
Antisemitism has played a role in, and has been fueled by, the protracted Arab–Zionist and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. Early Zionist thinkers saw the creation of an independent Jewish nation-state in the Middle East as a response to European antisemitism in the sense that this would normalize the Jewish people as having their own country instead of being strangers everywhere. On the other hand, some Middle Easterners and Muslims have come to regard the establishment of the state of Israel, and the corresponding defeat of the Arabs and the Palestinians, as being connected to a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world. In 2002 and 2003, major Egyptian and Lebanese television networks screened several historical-fiction series based on this theme as well as on the blood libel story.
The Palestinians' struggle to maintain the Arab character of their country against Jewish immigration, settlement, and political control has on occasion expressed itself in antisemitic terms. For example, Palestinian leaders Musa Kazim al-Husayni (addressing Winston Churchill in 1921) and Muhammad Amin al-Husayni (testifying before the Peel Commission in 1937) invoked the spectre of a world Jewish conspiracy when arguing their case against Zionism during the period of British mandatory rule over Palestine. Since the late 1940s, this view has been strengthened by the widespread perception throughout much of the Arab-Islamic world that Israel and U.S. Jews have wielded undue influence over the making of U.S. foreign policy.
The true extent and depth of antisemitism in the modern Middle East remain a matter of contemporary controversy. There is a tendency among some commentators to equate criticism of Israel's policies or military actions against the Palestinians with antisemitic intentions or beliefs, and this has the effect of inhibiting open discussion and debate. The unresolved Arab–Israeli and Israeli–Palestinian conflicts have elicited extreme antisemitic statements from some quarters, such as the resolutions of the Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research (Cairo 1969) or Syrian president Bashshar al-Asad's welcome address to the pope (Damascus 2001), both of which attacked world Jewry as an ominous force in the course of expressing their support for Palestinian rights. While some intellectuals and leaders are careful to distinguish between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, escalations of violence involving Israel, the Arabs, and the Palestinians are often accompanied by hostile press and public comment not only directed against Israel as a belligerent country but also fanning antisemitism through the demonization of its leaders and Jews in general as sinister and evil.
Carroll, James. Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, a History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
Lewis, Bernard. Semites and Anti-Semites: An Enquiry into Conflict and Prejudice. New York: Norton, 1986.
Wistrich, Robert S. Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred. New York: Pantheon, 1991.
ANTI-SEMITISM and the fight against it have played a small but significant role in American history. During the colonial period, the most serious incident of anti-Semitism occurred not in a British colony, but in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (later New York), where in 1654 Governor Peter Stuyvesant attempted to bar Jews from the city. In the British colonies, Jews generally faced no worse treatment than did Catholics or other Christian minorities. The main obstacles they faced were religious requirements for holding political office.
In the colonial and early confederation period, every one of the thirteen colonies except for New York required all office holders to take a Christian oath. Some went even further—in South Carolina, belief in Protestant Christianity was a voting requirement. But by 1877, the last Christian voting requirement had been eliminated, and the United States offered many attractive incentives to Jewish immigration.
The Early Twentieth Century
By the early twentieth century, the United States had become the immigration destination of choice for Jews from all over the world. Yet vestiges of anti-Semitism remained. In order to combat these, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) was formed in 1906. Their goal was to protect Jewish civil rights, not only in the United States, but also internationally. A few years later, in 1913, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith was formed. This organization focused on combating negative media stereo-types of Jews and economic discrimination.
The strength of these Jewish defense groups demonstrated that although the United States had problems with anti-Semitism, these problems could be redressed by organization within the political system. These opportunities helped the United States remain the main destination for Jewish immigrants until the second decade of the twentieth century. Palestine was then only a distant second.
Between the 1910s and 1930s, the Jewish population of Palestine tripled to nearly 30 percent. This population explosion was directly connected to anti-Semitism and nativism in America. In 1921, the U.S. Congress clamped down on immigration from Eastern Europe, where a majority of European Jews lived. After the United States was closed off, more Jewish immigrants moved to Palestine than any other country. This would eventually have a profound impact on anti-Semitism in America. In the meantime, however, domestic American anti-Semitism was growing more visible.
During the 1920s, automaker Henry Ford, an early financial supporter of Hitler, was quite effective in promulgating anti-Semitic material, both at home and abroad. His anti-Semitic articles in his newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, were mainly for domestic consumption. But his anti-Semitic book, The International Jew (1922), found a wide readership not only in the United States, but in Germany as well. (Hitler kept Ford's book at his office, with a portrait of Ford above his desk.) Ford also disseminated an older anti-Semitic work, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This notorious and fraudulent work claimed to expose a secret Jewish conspiracy to rule the world.
In the 1930s, one of the places where people were most concerned with this mythical Jewish conspiracy was in Germany. The Nazi campaign against the Jews was an international development with links to American anti-Semitism. After Kristallnacht, many German Jews tried desperately to emigrate to the United States. They were kept away because of U.S. immigration quotas that the government refused to relax. The ostensible reason was fear of Nazi infiltrators hidden in a sudden flood of Jewish refugees. A more covert reason was the anti-Semitism of upper-level state department officials such as Breckenridge Long.
During this period, as fascism became a strong minority movement in America, anti-Semitism became more common. One of the most visible far-right anti-Semites was Charles Coughlin, the popular "radio priest" who referred to Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal as "The Jew Deal."
Although his administration was characterized by some of its enemies as "philo-Semitic," one aspect of Roosevelt's military policy during World War II (1939–1945) has since been labeled anti-Semitic: U.S. complicity in the joint allied decision not to bomb the railways leading into major concentration camps such as Auschwitz, even when the Allies had clear proof of the Holocaust.
After the Holocaust
It was postwar knowledge of the Holocaust, more than anything else, that made anti-Semitism socially and morally unacceptable in almost all parts of postwar America. This new sentiment was given concrete expression by a major Hollywood film of 1947, Gentleman's Agreement. A scathing indictment of anti-Semitism, it not only did well at the box office, but was given the Oscar that year for best picture.
Then, one year later, in 1948, the Jews in Palestine declared that they were an independent nation. Within fifteen minutes of their declaration, President Harry S. Truman made the United States the first nation to recognize the existence of Israel. From that moment on, the United States became the key supporter of Israel in the Middle East.
The international importance of Israel to America's interests in the Middle East, combined with the moral opprobrium attached to the Holocaust, made American Jewish defense groups such as the AJC even more ambitious in their aims. Essentially, they went from defensive strategies to offensive operations. More specifically, leaders of Jewish defense groups in the 1940s developed an ideology centered upon what they called a new "unitary theory of prejudice." This was the then-radical idea that prejudice itself, no matter what group it was directed at, was a major social problem. This allowed Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League to move beyond strictly Jewish issues to work with other minority groups, especially African Americans in the civil rights movement.
Their efforts came to a triumphal climax of sorts with the 1950 publication of the book The Authoritarian Personality, by Theodor Adorno and others. This widely read and tremendously influential work successfully attempted to present prejudice—prejudice against any minority—as a personality disorder.
Ironically enough, at the start of the new millennium one of the few American groups that still noticeably exhibited anti-Semitism was one that had previously been helped tremendously by the Jewish campaign against prejudice: African Americans. Certain African American leaders, notably the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan, revitalized old myths about a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world. In the process, these leaders not only reopened old wounds, but created new and bitter antagonisms between American minority groups that had once worked together as allies.
Dinnerstein, Leonard. Anti-Semitism in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Gurock, Jeffrey S., ed. Anti-Semitism in America. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Jaher, Frederic Cople. A Scapegoat in the New Wilderness: The Origins and Rise of Anti-Semitism in America. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1994.
Kaufman, Jonathan. Broken Alliance: The Turbulent Times between Blacks and Jews in America. New York: Touchstone, 1995.
Anti-Semitism during the Depression and into World War II reached levels that had not been seen before in the United States and have not been seen since. The fear and insecurity that accompanied the severe economic downturn exposed and fueled a hostility and distrust of Jews that escalated as the economy tumbled. Moreover, the hatred in the United States was intensified by Adolf Hitler's assumption of power in Germany in 1933. The viciousness of hate mongering on both sides of the Atlantic grew throughout the 1930s, only to abate in the United States well after the fall of Hitler and the end of the World War II.
Anti-Semitism in the United States was not a new phenomenon. Immigrant Americans had not been immune to the prejudices of Christian Europe that saw the Jews as perverse and stubborn in their rejection of Christ and ultimately responsible for his death. These notions had led over the generations to all manner of discrimination, persecution, and outright violence. Yet the United States was different. Ancient prejudices had been submerged in the business of nation building. Although negative religious images had persisted, the promise of American democracy and opportunity had lured Jews and so many other immigrants to its shores. However, the levels of anti-Semitism escalated in the last two decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century as several million Jews from Eastern Europe came to the United States fleeing Russian persecution. Americans of various stripes, including Henry Ford, had raised their voices against Jews, who were increasingly seen as unassimilable and even a threat to the United States.
Yet the anti-Semitism of the 1920s was to pale in comparison to its shrillness in the 1930s. The Depression set the stage for the search for scapegoats and for extensive Jew baiting by a variety of demagogues, such as William Pelley, the leader of the Silver Shirts, who fancied himself the American counterpart of Hitler. Gerald B. Winrod headed up the Defenders of the Christian Faith, another of more than one hundred anti-Semitic organizations formed mostly after 1933. One of these organizations, the German American Bund, was directly financed by the Nazis. An exposé by Look magazine in 1939 indicated that there were sixty-two offices in the United States that were distributing material coming from Hitler's propaganda ministry in Germany.
The most popular anti-Jewish preacher of the era however, was a homegrown product, Father Charles Coughlin. Through his weekly radio program and his publication Social Justice, Coughlin reached millions of people. By 1938 he was attacking Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, and claiming that the United States and Christianity were being threatened by a vast conspiracy of bankers and Communists whom he increasingly identified as Jews. His Christian Front organization urged sympathizers to "buy Christian," and his followers on occasion attacked Jews on the streets of several cities and desecrated synagogues. Since Coughlin was not silenced by his Church superiors until after the war started, his words carried weight, particularly among many Catholics.
Jew baiting was not just a phenomenon of the streets; it was a practice in upper-class circles, in the halls of Congress, and in American political discourse in general. Anti-Roosevelt partisans, in their attack on the New Deal, blasted it as the "Jew Deal." Moreover, in what they deemed a smear on Roosevelt, they claimed he was of Jewish origin (which he was not). The 1936 presidential election and particularly the 1940 election were rife with allegations of a Jewish conspiracy and untold Jewish power endangering the United States. Charles Lindbergh and other members of the America First organization accused Jews, along with the British and the Roosevelt administration, of trying to push the United States into an unnecessary and illadvised war against Hitler.
Although card carrying anti-Semites numbered in the thousands rather than in the millions, their hate literature was widely disseminated in the United States. Jews were likened to octopuses controlling much of American government, industry, and public opinion. They were seen as Communist conspirators bent on takeover. The so-called "Jewish problem" became a topic in the general press. The level of anti-Semitism reached such proportions that Fortune magazine in 1936 investigated the extent of "Jewish control." They found that, to the contrary, Jews had virtually no control in major manufacturing and banking sectors, and they represented no more than 15 percent of the members of the Communist Party. In fact, Jews faced discrimination in getting jobs in corporate America and there were quotas limiting the number of Jews in many institutions of higher learning.
But despite the reality of American Jewish life, suspicions persisted. In a public opinion poll in March 1938, 41 percent of Americans believed that Jews had too much power in the United States. When asked what to do about it, 18 percent were in favor of restricting Jews in business, 24 percent believed Jews should be kept out of government and politics, and 20 percent were ready to drive Jews out of the United States. By April 1940, the percentage of those in favor of restricting Jews in business had risen to 31 percent. In August 1940 the question was "what nationality, religious, or racial groups in this country are a menace to America?" Jews were cited by 17 percent of the respondents, whereas Germans were cited by 14 percent and the Japanese by 6 percent. Ironically even at the end of the war, after six million European Jews had been brutally murdered, 20 percent of Americans still believed that Jews in the United States had too much power.
For the 4.5 million American Jews, many of whom were immigrants or second-generation Americans struggling like other Americans to earn a living during hard times, the anti-Semitism that accompanied the Depression and the rise of the Nazis in Germany provoked profound anxiety. How different was the United States after all? Could the persecution evidenced in Europe take hold here? What did the future hold? How much would pushing for the cause of Jews overseas subject American Jews to charges of disloyalty and provoke an even greater anti-Semitic backlash in the United States?
The Jewish community in the United States faced serious challenges as it sought not only to respond to anti-Semitism at home, but to events overseas as the number of Jewish refugees desperately trying to escape Hitler and find a new home dramatically escalated. Over a decade earlier, in response to what was perceived as unwanted hordes of Jews and Catholics coming in from Southern and Eastern Europe, Congress had passed the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act, which not only had sharply curtailed the total numbers of immigrants allowed into to the United States, but had specified where they had to come from. Countries from Eastern Europe were only allotted several thousand immigrants each, while the total German-Austria quota was about 27,000 places. There was no special allowance for refugees fleeing persecution. During the 1930s, when refugee advocates wanted to urge Congress to liberalize the immigration law, they were warned that if anything, an unsympathetic Congress would act to cut the numbers, not increase them. Neither Congress nor the American public had an interest in increasing immigration into the United States, particularly if some of those immigrants would be Jews. Thus, the indifference, suspicion, and outright anti-Semitism palpable to so many American Jews in the 1930s had an impact on the country's response to Hitler and the Holocaust. Ultimately, American Jews were stymied in this cause by their own fears and impotence, and by the determined opposition of the American public to offering any more Jews a refuge in the United States.
Dinnerstein, Leonard. Antisemitism in America. 1994.
"Jews in America." Fortune (February 1936): 79-144.
Mueller, William A. "Hitler Speaks and the Bund Obeys." Look (October 10, 1939).
Scholnick, Myron I. The New Deal and Anti-Semitism in America. 1990.
Shapiro, Edward S. "The Approach of War: Congressional Isolationism and Anti-Semitism, 1939–1941. American Jewish History 74, no. 1 (1984): 45-65.
Strong, Donald S. Organized Anti-Semitism in America: The Rise of Group Prejudice During the Decade, 1930–40. 1941. Reprint, 1979.
Barbara S. Burstin
Anti-Semitism is most easily defined as “hatred of Judaism and the Jewish people.” It is possibly the world’s oldest hatred, having inspired aberrant behaviors ranging from simple social distancing to outright murder and mass exterminations for thousands of years.
The term anti-Semitism itself is a misnomer that originally came out of the German world of nineteenth century pseudo-scholarship. anti-Semitismus replaced the word Judenhaas (hated of the Jews), and it is usually associated with the writing of the failed journalist Wilhelm Marr (1819–1904) in his book The Way to Victory of Germanicism over Judaism, published in 1879. Marr was attempting to coin a term with a certain “scientific” or rational quality, and he borrowed the word Semitic from the field of language study, where it refers to those languages spoken in the Middle or Near East (i.e., Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic). The term was translated into English as “anti-Semitism,” though some scholars now prefer to spell it “anti-Semitism, without the hyphen and capital “S,” to highlight that this phenomenon of hatred and prejudice has no opposite equivalent whatsoever.
Early on, in the books of the Torah, or Hebrew Bible, the enemy of the Jews is given voice on numerous occasions, echoing concerns that still exist in the twenty-first century. In the book of Exodus, for example, the Pharaoh of Egypt remarks to his courtiers, “the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country” (Exodus 1:9–10 [New International Version]). In the book of Esther, the prime minister of Persia, Haman, says to King Ahashuerus, “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business” (Esther 3:8–9). In both instances, such characterizations may be termed forms of xenophobic, or social, anti-Semitism; that is, they reflect a collective uncomfortability of these peoples with Israelites or Jews in their midst, as well as the governmental power to do something about it (either enslavement or annihilation). Such views were the norm not only in Egypt and Persia prior to the Christian period, but in Greece and Rome as well. Indeed, this view was held in all locations where Jews resided in larger numbers outside of ancient Palestine.
With the appearance of Christianity approximately 2,000 years ago, and commensurate with the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 90 CE, a shift towards religious, or theological, anti-Semitism presented itself. Here, both Jews and devotees of this new religion attempted to make sense of what, most assuredly, must have been a holocaust-like tragedy. For normative Judaism, self-reflection and introspection saw the destruction of their sacred Temple as a Judaic failure to observe the condition of the b’rith, their covenant with their God. For adherents of Christianity, who were becoming increasingly “gentilized,” this horrific destruction of God’s central sanctuary was seen as the result of Jewish perfidy, particularly in the collective failure of Jews to accept Jesus as their own messiah. This failure was highlighted by the complicity of the Jewish religious leadership and for some, Jewish manipulation of the Romans to accomplish a Judaic agenda regarding Jesus.
As Christianity became increasingly successful, it allied itself with the power of the state. By the time of Emperor Constantine (280–337) in the third century, the negative view of Jews as “the enemies of God” became normative, with Judaism perceived as an inferior and rejected path to God. The Jews were subjected to miserable living conditions, ongoing economic deprivations, unsuccessful attempts at mass conversions, and increasing ghettoizations. However, they were allowed to survive as a reminder to others of the consequences of the failure to embrace the Christ, as determined by the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church, its cardinals, its archbishops, its bishops, and its Pope. This remained the prevailing understanding of Western (Christian) civilization until the period of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century.
With the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century, the walls of the various European ghettos were breached, and Jews began their slow, uneven, and often painful integration into Western society. While religious anti-Semitism was no longer dominant, it was still very much present in eastern Europe and places where the Roman Catholic Church held sway. Further, Jews experienced a renewed form of social anti-Semitism, despite their successes in business, government, university education, and even the military.
Building upon a historic foundation of 2,000 years of animus, the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) saw “the Jew” as a different and powerful creature (though still inferior), one that was mercilessly intent on either destroying Western civilization or subjugating it for his own exploitation. Hitler viewed the Jewish people as the cause of all of civilization’s problems and difficulties over the generations. This view was also held by those who allied themselves with him and shared his vision, as presented in his autobiographical and political testament Mein Kampf (“My Fight” or “My Struggle”). These individuals also adopted a reinterpretation of Charles Darwin’s thinking on evolution, particularly the concept of “survival of the fittest,” and injected this “social Darwinism” onto the plain of history, whereby the physical conflict between Germans and others and Jews was now understood akin to the battle amongst various species within the animal kingdom itself. Such an understanding may, therefore, be termed either biological anti-Semitism or racial anti-Semitism, the poisoned fruit of which was the Holocaust, or Shoah, of World War II (1939–1945), which saw the murders of approximately six million Jewish men, women, and children throughout Europe and Russia.
Manifestations of all of these understandings of anti-Semitism remain present in the twenty-first century, even in places where Jewish populations are notoriously small (e.g., Poland) or essentially nonexistent (e.g., Japan). In the latter half of the twentieth century, a new form of anti-Semitism made its appearance in the Middle East, both prompted and encouraged by a renewal of anti-Semitic expressions throughout several European countries (e.g., Britain, France) and associated with the State of Israel and its ongoing conflicts with other nation-states in that region.
Carmichael, Joel. 1992. The Satanizing of the Jews: Origin and Development of Mystical Anti-Semitism. New York: Fromm International.
Harrison, Bernard. 2006. The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and Liberal Opinion. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
Jacobs, Steven Leonard, and Mark Weitzman. 2003 Dismantling the Big Lie: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Los Angeles: Simon Wiesenthal Center in association with KTAV Pub. House, Jersey City, NJ.
Lerner, Michael. 1992. The Socialism of Fools: Anti-Semitism on the Left. New York: Institute for Labor and Mental Health.
Mamet, David. 2006. The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-hated, and the Jews. New York: Schocken Books.
Schoenfeld, Gabriel. 2004. Turn of Anti-Semitism. New York: Encounter Books.
Steven Leonard Jacobs