|Wilhelm Marr, inventor of ‘antisemitism’|
To start on a note that may strike some as trivial or pedantic, I favor writing “antisemitism” in the British way, as one word without a hyphen. Antisemitism–a term invented by a 19th century German (Wilhelm Marr) to label his Jew-hating belief system–is an ideology, but “semitism” is not; there is no such thing as “semitism.” Furthermore, antisemitism is not about the hatred of all people who speak a Semitic language—the linguistic family that includes Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic; to speak of “Semites” and “Aryans” as distinct ethnic groups or “races” is (whether inadvertently or not) to accept the Nazis’ racist classification system. Consequently, it’s not a misnomer to refer to Arabs who hate Jews as antisemites—as some people, who downplay the problem of antisemitism, claim.
(most especially noted among Muslim immigrant communities in France). So on occasion, what Jews do, or are seen to do, does matter.
This is a point I made in a somewhat controversial op-ed article in The Forward in 2003. I noted that if some pivotal singular events had not happened–e.g., Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of Arabs in Hebron, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv during the election campaign of 1996–the peace process of the 1990s would likely have succeeded and there would have been no wave of antisemitic incidents in Europe in the early 2000’s.
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