1) Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (unabridged)
Anti-Semitism 1: hostility toward Jews as a religious or racial minority
group often accompanied by social, political or economic discrimination.
2: opposition to Zionism. 3: sympathy with the opponents of the state
2) Cambridge International Dictionary of English
Anti-Semitism is the strong dislike or cruel and unfair treatment of Jewish
3) Encyclopedia Juaica (Keter Publishers, 1966)
Anti-Semitism, a term coined in 1879, Greek anti, plus Semite, by the
German agitator Wilhelm Marr to designate the then current anti-Jewish
campaigns in Europe. “Anti-Semitism” soon came into general
use as a term denoting all forms of hostility manifested towards Jews
throughout history. It is often qualified by an adjective noting the specific
cause, nature or rationale of a manifestation of anti-Jewish passion or
action, i.e., “economic,” “social,” “radical”
4) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth
Anti-Semitism is hostility toward or prejudice against Jews or Judaism.
5) Rawson’s Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk
Anti-Semitic. Anti-Jewish. The euphemism was sanctioned by Israeli Prime
Minister Menachem Begin, e.g., “One-third of Mr. Begin’s prepared
text was devoted to what he termed anti-Semitic remarks in the Egyptian
press, although Arabs, too, are Semites” (New York Times, 1/24/78).
“Anti-Semitic” is preferred to “anti-Jewish” because
“Jew” is a loaded word.
6) The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia (1994)
Anti-Semitism, prejudice against Jews. Before the 19th century anti-Semitism
was largely religious, based on the belief that Jews were responsible
for Jesus' crucifixion. It was expressed in the later Middle Ages by sporadic
persecutions and expulsions (e.g., the expulsion of the Jews from Spain
in 1492), economic restrictions, (e.g., the restriction of Jews to unpopular
or taboo occupations), and personal restrictions. After the Jews’
emancipation during the Enlightenment, religious and economic anti-Semitism
was slowly replaced in the 19th century by racial prejudice, stemming
from the idea of the Jews as a distinct race. The cultural isolation of
Orthodox Jews, rising nationalism, pseudoscientific theories of Aryan
racial superiority, and spurious charges of Jewish domination encouraged
anti-Semitism. These beliefs, incorporated into Adolph Hitler’s
National Socialism, contributed to the extermination of six million Jews
in the Holocaust of World War II. Since the 1980’s anti-Semitic
nationalists have become more influential in Russia, Germany and other
European countries. In the U.S. anti-Semitism persists among the some
extreme right-wing groups and in the practice of excluding Jews from certain
clubs, schools and housing.
7) Wikipedia (a free, “open content” online encyclopedia)
Anti-Semitism is hatred directed against Jews. It typically takes the
- Hostility toward Jews in a degree that greatly exceeds any legitimate
grievances or resulting from no legitimate cause whatsoever; or
- Disdain for supposed physical or moral features of Jews.
8) Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
Anti-Semitism is theory, action or practice directed against the Jews.
9) Encarta World English Dictionary (1999)
Anti-Semitism is policies, views or actions that harm or discriminate
against Jewish people.
A form of prejudice against Jews, ranging from antipathy to violent hatred.
Before the 19th century, anti-Semitism was largely religious and was expressed
in the later Middle Ages by sporadic persecutions and expulsions notably
from Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella and in severe economic and personal
restrictions. However, since Jews were generally restricted to the pursuit
of occupations that were taboo, such as money-lending, the sentiment was
also economic in nature.
11) The Jewish Virtual Library, www.jewishvirtual.org
Anti-Semitism - Literally means opposed to Semites (which would include
Arabic and other Semitic peoples as well), but is usually applied specifically
to opposition to Jews (anti-Judaism).
12) When Hate Groups Come to Town: A Handbook for Effective Community
Anti-Semitism - Dislike, hatred, prejudice, discrimination or persecution
directed against people of Jewish descent or of the Jewish faith.
13) Anti-Semite and Jew by Jean Paul Sartre (1920)
Anti-Semitism is the attributing of all or part of one’s own misfortunes,
and those of one’s country, to the presence of Jewish elements in
the community, and proposing to remedy this state of affairs by depriving
the Jews of certain of their rights; by keeping them out of certain economic
or social activities, by expelling them from the country, by exterminating
14) Anti-Semitism: Causes and Effects Of A Prejudice by Paul
E. Grosser (1979)
Anti-Semitism is attitudes and actions against Jews based on the belief
that they are uniquely inferior, evil, or deserving of condemnation by
their very nature, or by historical or supernatural dictates.
15) The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Anti-Semitism is prejudice or discrimination against Jews or Judaism.
Although the term “anti-Semitism” is most-commonly used to
describe anti-Judaism, the term “Semite” actually refers to
all people believed to be descendants of Shem, son of Noah, which now
consists mainly of both Jews and Arabs and has historically included other
groups such as the Akkadians of ancient Babylonia.
16) TNT Teacher’s Guide
Anti-Semitism is a form of religious bigotry. It is prejudice or discrimination
against Jews, based on negative ideas about Jews’ religious beliefs
and practices and/or negative group stereotypes. Anti-Semitism can also
be motivated by racism. During the Holocaust, the Nazis murdered six million
Jews because they did not want to “contaminate” the “purity”
of what they called “the Aryan race.”
17) Random House Encyclopedia (1977)
Anti-Semitism, prejudice against Jews. Since ancient times, Jews were
persecuted for religious reasons. They refused to worship idols or emperors.
Almost from the beginning of the Christian era they were accused of being
Christ’s crucifiers. Denied access to other professions, Jews of
the Middle Ages turned to money-lending and other professions looked upon
with contempt, thus inadvertently adding economic prejudice. The growing
nationalism of the nineteenth century further isolated the Jews who now
became looked upon as racially separate or inferior. Tyrants such as Tsar
Alexander II of Russia and Adolph Hitler in the 20th century drew upon
all these separate currents of anti-Semitism to strengthen their own positions.
After World War II anti-Zionism among the Arabs and Soviet Union added
a new, political dimension to anti-Semitism.
18) Encyclopedia of Catholicism (HarperCollins, 1989)
Anti-Semitism, although the word “Semite” refers to Arabs
as well as Jews, is a term that has come to mean opposition to Jews specifically.
It can take any form from discrimination to the systematic arrest and
extermination associated with the Nazis during World War II.
Theories about why anti-Semitism has persisted include the Jewish claim
to exclusivity as God’s chosen people and Jewish dedication to the
Law, which isolated them from the society and culture in which they lived.
In the first century the relationship between Judaism and Christianity
broke down with the destruction of the Temple and the expulsion of the
Christian community from the synagogue. Jewish Christianity became numerically
insignificant while the number of gentile Christians increased. Throughout
the centuries, the relationship of the Church towards anti-Semitism has
been both positive and negative. Two faiths, both of which lay claim to
the exclusive election by the one true God, may find themselves unavoidably
in conflict. After Constantine’s conversion in 312 and the subsequent
links between the Church and state, the Jews were regarded as anti-Christian
and, therefore, a threat.
19) The New Catholic Encyclopedia (Catholic University of America,
Anti-Semitism, a term first used in 1879 by W. Marr, a German racist,
to designate antipathy to Jews on racial, pseudoscientific, and often
political grounds. Since then, however, it has become idiomatic and signifies
anti-Jewish attitudes or activities of all kinds and eras. It is a misnomer,
because it confuses the Semitic with the modern Judaic categories, which,
if comparable at all, contrast as much as they coincide. In modern scholarship
the term Semitic refers to a family of languages more than to a race of
men, and the theory of pure Aryan and Semitic races existent in the present
has been repudiated. It is recognized also that the Jews do not constitute
a race; from the earliest times they have commingled with other peoples.
The complex phenomenon of anti-Semitism derives its energies from many
areas of human experience—theological, social, political, and psychological.
But it is primarily a historical development in which these energies have
been combined anew in each succeeding era to produce differing anti-Semitic
reactions fairly continuously from the 3rd century B.C. to the present.
The Church, though its relations with Judaism have at times appeared ambiguous,
has always condemned every form of hatred and injustice. Its part in the
history of anti-Semitism must be carefully distinguished among the several
factors that make up the complex etiology of anti-Semitism.
20) The New Encyclopedia of Judaism (2002)
Anti-Semitism, a term coined in 1879 by Wilhelm Marr, an anti-Jewish propagandist
in Germany to describe hatred of the Jews. The term is a misnomer, since
it is used with reference to Jews only rather than to all Semites (including
Arabs). Quotations by Latin and Greek writers show that anti-Semitism
dates back at least to classical times. The Jews were accused, among other
things, of laziness because they rested on the seventh day. As have anti-Semites
throughout history, those of ancient times often condemned the Jews and
Judaism on the basis of false charges, hearsay, and distorted information.
Anti-Semitism was fueled to an extent by the fact that whereas the other
nations were willing to acknowledge foreign gods in addition to their
own, Judaism’s staunch monotheism totally rejected the worship of
other gods. Moreover, the Jewish code — especially the Dietary Laws
— restricted the Jews from engaging in full social discourse with
Gentiles. With the advent of Christianity, which regarded itself as the
“new Israel,” anti-Semitism entered a pernicious phase that
lasted until modern times. Now a Jew’s very life was in danger simply
because he was a Jew. Christian leaders charged “the Jews”
with responsibility for the death of Jesus, claimed that the Jews had
been rejected by God, and insisted that the “old Law” of Judaism
had given way to the “new covenant” of Christianity. Jews
would, therefore, remain permanently subservient until they chose to accept
Christianity as a Divine imperative.
21) Grolier Encyclopedia Americana (2001)
Anti-Semitism is prejudice and discrimination against, or persecution
of, the Jewish people. Although most Arabs and Ethiopians are classified
as Semites, “anti-Semitism” applies only to Jews. The term
itself was first used by the German writer Wilhelm Marr in 1879 in a diatribe
against the supposed dominance of the Jews of Germany. Anti-Semitism may
be said to have begun in the Diaspora, when the Jews were force to leave
their homeland. Wherever they settled, they were a minority people who
clung to their religion and way of life. The ancient Greeks and Romans
considered them alien and exclusive for refusing to assimilate. As Christianity
emerged, most Jews rejected the new faith. In the 4th century the church
charged them with deicide (crucifixion of Christ) and urged legislation
to segregate and humiliate them. In Islamic countries, Jews were tolerated
but restricted to certain quarters, forced to wear identifying clothing
and required to pay special taxes. For the most part, however, antipathy
towards Jews was mainly on religious grounds. The campaigns of hatred,
mass expulsions, pogroms, and extermination were later developments.
22) Simon Wiesenthal Center, Museum of Tolerance Multi-Media Learning
Anti-Semitism: Originally based on religious hatred, modern anti-Semitism
has come to mean any hatred or opposition to the Jews. It has been used
to blame Jews for economic, religious and political problems. Stressing
“racial” ideas, Nazi Germany had no place for Jews and its
anti-Semitic ideology led to the “Final Solution,
23) The Hutchinson Encyclopedia, twelfth edition (Helicon Publishing,
Anti-Semitism: prejudice or discrimination against, and persecution of,
the Jews as an ethnic group. Historically, this has been practiced for
almost 2,000 years by European Christians. Anti-Semitism was a tenet of
Nazi Germany and in the Holocaust (1933-1945) about six million Jews died
in concentration camps and in local extermination pogroms such as the
siege of the Warsaw ghetto. In Eastern Europe, as well as in Islamic nations,
anti-Semitism exists and is promulgated by neo-fascist groups. It is a
form of racism.