Entry in progress—B.P.
Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is prejudice against or hostility towards Jews, often rooted in hatred of their ethnic background, culture, or religion. In its extreme form, it “attributes to the Jews an exceptional position among all other civilisations, defames them as an inferior group and denies their being part of the nation[s]” in which they reside.
Antisemitism may be manifested in many ways, ranging from individual expressions of hatred and discrimination against individual Jews to organized violent attacks by mobs or even state police or military attacks on entire Jewish communities. Extreme instances of persecution include the First Crusade of 1096, the expulsion from England in 1290, the Spanish Inquisition, the expulsion from Spain in 1492, the expulsion from Portugal in 1497, various pogroms, the Dreyfus Affair, and perhaps the most infamous, the Holocaust under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
While the term’s etymology might suggest that antisemitism is directed against all Semitic peoples, the term was coined in the late 19th century in Germany as a more scientific-sounding term for Judenhass ("Jew-hatred"), and that has been its normal use since then.
The word antisemitic (antisemitisch in German) was probably first used in 1860 by the Austrian Jewish scholar Moritz Steinschneider in the phrase “antisemitic prejudices” (German: “antisemitische Vorurteile"). Steinschneider used this phrase to characterize Ernest Renan’s ideas about how “Semitic races” were inferior to “Aryan races.” These pseudo-scientific theories concerning race, civilization, and “progress” had become quite widespread in Europe in the second half of the 19th century, especially as Prussian nationalistic historian Heinrich von Treitschke did much to promote this form of racism. In Treitschke’s writings Semitic was synonymous with Jewish, in contrast to its usage by Renan and others.
In 1873 German journalist Wilhelm Marr published a pamphlet “The Victory of the Jewish Spirit over the Germanic Spirit. Observed from a non-religious perspective.” (“Der Sieg des Judenthums über das Germanenthum. Vom nicht confessionellen Standpunkt aus betrachtet.”) in which he used the word “Semitismus” interchangeably with the word “Judentum” to denote both “Jewry” (the Jews as a collective) and “jewishness” (the quality of being Jewish, or the Jewish spirit). Although he did not use the word “Antisemitismus” in the pamphlet, the coining of the latter word followed naturally from the word “Semitismus”, and indicated either opposition to the Jews as a people, or else opposition to jewishness or the Jewish spirit, which he saw as infiltrating German culture. In his next pamphlet, “The Way to Victory of the Germanic Spirit over the Jewish Spirit”, published in 1880, Marr developed his ideas further and coined the related German word Antisemitismus - antisemitism, derived from the word “Semitismus” that he had earlier used.
The pamphlet became very popular, and in the same year he founded the “League of Antisemites” (“Antisemiten-Liga”), the first German organization committed specifically to combatting the alleged threat to Germany and German culture posed by the Jews and their influence, and advocating their forced removal from the country.
So far as can be ascertained, the word was first widely printed in 1881, when Marr published “Zwanglose Antisemitische Hefte,” and Wilhelm Scherer used the term “Antisemiten” in the January issue of “Neue Freie Presse”. The related word semitism was coined around 1885.
Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary
Main Entry: an·ti–Sem·i·tism
Pronunciation: \ˌan-tē-ˈse-mə-ˌti-zəm, ˌan-ˌtī-\
: hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group
— an·ti–Se·mit·ic \-sə-ˈmi-tik\ adjective
— an·ti–Sem·ite \-ˈse-ˌmīt\ noun
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Theory, action, or practice directed against the Jews. Hence anti-Semite, one who is hostile or opposed to the Jews; anti-Semitic a.
1881 Athenæum 3 Sept. 305/2 The author, apparently an anti-Semite. Ibid., Anti-Semitic literature is very prosperous in Germany.
1882 Athenæum 11 Feb. 184/1 In these days of anti-Semitism.
1935 Economist 24 Aug. 366/1 The Nazi Party stalwarts..have all been leading an anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant..crusade.
1941 J. S. HUXLEY Uniqueness of Man ii. 50 Germanic nationalism on the one hand and anti-Semitism on the other.
15 December 1879, New York (NY) Times, pg. 2, col. 3:
In the month of September last, a few Berliners, anxious to attract attention to their own insignificant personalities, got up a club—the “Anti-Semitic”—for the purpose of provoking an agitation against the Jews. Its President was an individual named Marr, whose factotum, Groussillier, occupied the Vice-Presidential chair. Groussillier was an unsucceful dramatic author, who had failed, not only in finding a theatre where his lucubrations would be accepted, but also with a society which he had founded, under the title of the Lessing Bund, whose aim was to blackmail theatrical managers and force his own and his colleagues’ pieces upon the stage. Exasperated by his defeats, this worthy cast about him for some one on whom he could vent his spleen, and finding a willing co-operator in M. Marr, the pair determined to “go for” the Israelites, who had already been held up to public animadversion by the sermons of the court preacher, M. Stocker. The Anti-Semitic League, not numbering a great many members, it assumed an appearance of mystery, so as to excite curiosity; but as, unluckily, some of the adepts were necessitous, the secrets of the association were sold to the Tageblatt, which newspaper figured at the head of the anti-Smeitic-proscription list. Great was the ire of Marr & Co., who attempted to deny the Tageblatt’s revelations, but all in vain, as this journal brought facts in support of the assertions. Thereupon M. Marr became blood thirsty, and sent a challenge to the editor for a duel with triply-loaded revolvers at three paces. Grousillier, who was the second, expected that these deadly conditions would be refused, whereupon he proposed to call the other party “a coward and a slanderer,” and was horrified when the adversary’s friend called upon him to arrange about the “hour and the spot.” Three visits to his lodgings did not find him, he declined to reply to a written request for an interview, and, finally, backed out altogether, alleging that it would be infra dig. to fight a journalist who had bought a secret from a traitor. So ended this phase of the agitation, but not the agitation itself, to continue which a species of review has been founded, and, strange to say, finds a ready sale. Among the measures recommended in this publication, are: Interdiction to attend any theatres owned by Jews, or numbering Jews among their employes; to be present at any performances of Sara Bernhardt—who is not a Jewess—or Marie Heilbronn; to patronize concerts where the works of Mendelssohn or Mayerbeer are given upon the programme; to enter any church in which “are sung the Psalms of the Jew David.” Nor is the New York Herald to be read, because it is affiliated with the Daily Telegraph, whose owner is an Israelite; finally, it should be made a penal offense to peruse Lord Beaconsfield’s novels, or Heine’s poems, and, in short, anything and everything either written or published by a Jew.
22 November 1880, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, pg. 1:
BERLIN, November 22.—On the resumption of the discussion of the anti-Semitic movement in the lower house of the Prussian Diet to-day Bachem, of the Centre party, accused the Jews of acquiring wealth by disgraceful means.
22 January 1881, Cincinnati (OH) Daily Gazette, pg. 5:
CRUSADE ON THE JEWS.
AN ALBANIAN’S ACCOUNT OF THE EXCITEMENT IN GERMANY.
You must have learned through the papers of the “Anti-Jewish,” or as we call it here, “Anti-Semitic” excitement.
2 February 1881, Times (London), pg. 5, col. d:
THE ANTI-SEMITIC AGITATION IN SAXONY. DRESDEN, FEB. 1.
April 1881, Catholic World, pg. 131:
THE PRUSSIAN ANTI-SEMITIC LEAGUE.
2 October 1881, New York (NY) Times, pg. 10, col. 4:
THE JEWS IN GERMANY
EXTENT AND PROGRESS OF THE
NEW ANTI-SEMITIC MOVEMENT.
CHARACTER OF THE MEN WHO HEAD AND
WHO ARE BEHIND IT—WHAT THEY
PROFESS TO DESIRE- - THE HEBREWS
ACCUSED OF EVERY KNOWN CRIME--
THEIR REAL OFFENSE—BISMARCK AND
COMPANY—A GLANCE BEHIND THE
MUNICH, Sept. 9—The anti-Semitic movement—the Jewish question—is to-day in Germany the one great subject of discussion.
All during the six weeks of his service Herr Kaufmann was continually and contemptuously spoken of by the non-commissioned officers as “Mauschel,” a term which corresponds, as nearly as possible, to “Sheeny.”
OCLC WorldCat record
Anti-Semitism : a discourse delivered before the Chicago Sinai Congregation
Author: Emil Gustav Hirsch; Sinai Congregation (Chicago, Ill.)
Publisher: Chicago : E. Rubovits, 1882.
Edition/Format: Book : English
OCLC WorldCat record
Gegen die Anti-Semitism : eine Streitschrift
Author: J S Bloch
Publisher: Wien : D. Löwy, 1882.
Edition/Format: Book : German
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