Antisemitism: The Definitions

“An antisemite is one who hates Jews more than absolutely necessary”.

In many cultures antisemitism is a given. This is exemplified by the above statement, believed to have originated in Hungary.

The fact of antisemitism may be a constant. Its form, however, morphs and adapts from age to age and culture to culture.

By most accounts, the term anti-Semitism was first coined by German journalist Wilhelm Marr in 1879 as a functional equivalent to Judenhass – Jew hatred. While the term is modern, the hatred itself dates back more than 3000 years.

The spelling antisemitism is to be preferred to anti-Semitism for at least two reasons:

1. there is no such thing as Semitism, except in linguistics.

2. to dull the impact of those who engage in the etymological fallacy by insisting that Arabs cannot be anti-Semites because they too are Semites

Hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group is the definition provided by Merriam-Webster.

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition begins as follows:

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.

The non-binding definition is significantly strengthened by an accompanying set of examples considered to form part of the definition.

Antisemitism has proven to be remarkable in its persistence, pervasion, and versatility. It will reinvent itself as the need arises.

Sources: International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

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