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Anti-Semitism

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Different forms of antisemitism may be distinguished:

  • Religious antisemitism is also known as anti-Judaism. As the name implies, it was the practice of Judaism itself that was the defining characteristic of the antisemitic attacks. Under this version of antisemitism, attacks would often stop if Jews stopped practicing or changed their public faith, especially by conversion to the “official” or “right” religion, and sometimes, liturgical exclusion of Jewish converts (the case of Christianized Marranos or Iberian Jews in the late 15th and 16th centuries convicted of secretly practising Judaism or Jewish customs). [4]
  • Racial antisemitism is the concept that the Jews are a distinct and inferior race. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it gained mainstream acceptance as part of the eugenics movement, which categorized non-whites as inferior. It more specifically claims that the so-called Nordic Europeans are superior. Racial antisemites emphasize the Jews’ “alien” extra-European origins. (See the numerous anthropological theories on if the Jews possessed any Arabic-Armenoid, African-Nubian or Asian-Turkic ancestries.) Today, racial antisemitism has lost general credibility and appears most often among Neo-Nazi and white supremacist movements.
  • New antisemitism is the concept of a new form of 21st century antisemitism coming simultaneously from the left, the far right, and radical Islam, which tends to focus on opposition to Zionism and a Jewish homeland in the State of Israel, and which may deploy traditional antisemitism motifs.[5] Proponents of the concept argue that anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism, anti-globalization, third worldism, and demonization of Israel or double standards applied to its conduct may be linked to antisemitism, or constitute disguised antisemitism.[6][7] Critics of the concept argue that it conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism, defines legitimate criticism of Israel too narrowly and demonization too broadly, trivializes the meaning of antisemitism, and exploits antisemitism in order to silence debate.
  • Though the general definition of antisemitism is hostility or prejudice towards Jews, a number of authorities have developed more formal definitions. Holocaust scholar and City University of New York professor Helen Fein defines it as “a persisting latent structure of hostile beliefs towards Jews as a collective manifested in individuals as attitudes, and in culture as myth, ideology, folklore and imagery, and in actions – social or legal discrimination, political mobilisation against the Jews, and collective or state violence – which results in and/or is designed to distance, displace, or destroy Jews as Jews.”Professor Dietz Bering of the University of Cologne further expanded on Professor Fein’s definition by describing the structure of antisemitic beliefs. To antisemites, “Jews are not only partially but totally bad by nature, that is, their bad traits are incorrigible. Because of this bad nature: (1) Jews have to be seen not as individuals but as a collective. (2) Jews remain essentially alien in the surrounding societies. (3) Jews bring disaster on their ‘host societies’ or on the whole world, they are doing it secretly, therefore the antisemites feel obliged to unmask the conspiratorial, bad Jewish character.”
  • defines antisemitism as a special case of prejudice, hatred, or persecution directed against people who are in some way different from the rest. According to Lewis, antisemitism is marked by two distinct features: Jews are judged according to a standard different from that applied to others, and they are accused of “cosmic evil.” Thus, “it is perfectly possible to hate and even to persecute Jews without necessarily being anti-Semitic” unless this hatred or persecution displays one of the two features specific to antisemitism.[15]There have been a number of efforts by international and governmental bodies to define antisemitism formally. The United States Department of State defines antisemitism in its 2005 Report on Global Anti-Semitism as “hatred toward Jews — individually and as a group — that can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity.”[16]In 2005, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), a body of the European Union, developed a more detailed discussion: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for ‘why things go wrong’.”The EUMC then listed “contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere.” These included: “Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews; accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group; denying the Holocaust; and accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations. The EUMC also discussed ways in which attacking Israel could be antisemitic, depending on the context, while clarifying that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

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