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Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism is hatred or antipathy directed against Jews. It typically takes the form of

• 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.

The opposite of anti-Semitism is philo-Semitism: love and respect of Judaism and the Jewish people. The adjectival form is anti-Semitic.

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Wilhelm Marr coined the German word Antisemitismus in Germany in 1873, at a time when racial science[?] was fashionable but religious hatred wasn't. The term signified the transformation anti-Jewish sentiments and Jew-hatred ("Judenhaß") underwent in the 19th century, when the only Semitic people found in significant numbers in Germany were Jews. Anti-semitism was a new way to express and understand the old Jew-hatred, more adapted to 19th century beliefs in scientific progress and Nationalism. The related word semitism was coined around 12 years later, in 1885.

Different academics researching the subject of anti-Semitism use different definitions of the term. For example, in Christian Beliefs & Anti-Semitism, Charles Glock and Rodney Stark define anti-Semitism as "The hatred and persecution of Jews as a group; not the hatred of persons who happen to be Jews, but rather the hatred of persons because they are Jews".

Meanwhile, David Berger[?], a professor of history at Brooklyn College, said that "Essentially, anti-Semitism means either of the following: (1) hostility to Jews as a group which results from no legitimate cause or greatly exceeds any reasonable, ethical response to genuine provocation; or (2)a pejorative perception of Jewish physical or moral traits which is either utterly groundless or a result of irrational generalization and exaggeration".

A seemingly similar type of hostility has increased in Western Europe during the latter half of the 20th century, as a growing number of Arab and/or Muslim refugees and immigrants has arrived and come to constitute visible, often ghettoized, minorities in larger towns and cities. Several populist political parties have recently gained victories on anti-Muslim[?] and anti-Arab sentiments. Critics of politicians such as Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, Pim Fortuyn in The Netherlands and Pia Kjærsgaard in Denmark, sometimes brand them as "anti-Semites". Even if these political forces really are hostile towards the Jewry, which some of them without doubt are, such a usage is not advisable in English. It confuses the matter rather more than it contributes to clarity, as with many other emotionally charged words.

In the following text anti-Semitism is understood as a synonym to Jew-hatred or (strong) disapproval of Jews.

Historically, there have been a number of motivating factors that spurred anti-Semitism, including social, economic, national, political, racial, and religious factors and any number of combinations of the above. In the twentieth century, the most visible forms of anti-Semitism were:

• Racist anti-Semitism. Some people perceive Jews as people of a racially distinct origin from other peoples, and claim that discrimination on the basis of such distinctness is valid.
• Religious anti-Semitism. Like almost every other religion in history, Judaism has faced discrimination and violence from people of competing faiths and in countries that practice state atheism[?].

Some people have a disdain for Jews based on widespread mythical physical characteristics of Jews (e.g. Jews have hooked noses, or devil-like horns), or of mythical immoral teachings by Jews (e.g. Jews hate gentiles and love money.)

Many people (e.g. Dennis Prager) believe that the root cause of anti-Semitism is that Jews are socially and culturally different from the societies that they live in; in most eras Jews have not let themselves become assimilated into the majority culture. This led to belief that the Jews believed themselves superior to others, resulting in hatred towards Jews. Such phenomenon existed in ancient ancient Egypt, ancient Persia, and in the ancient Roman Empire. While other conquered peoples assimilated and joined the religion of the majority, Jews did not. Within Christian nations this phenomenon was greatly amplified; Christian theology demands that the Hebrew Bible be seen as a precursor to the Christian New Testament, and that the Christians have effectively becomes God's new chosen people. The very existence of Jews as a living independent entity was simply not possible from an early Christian theological point of view, yet the Jews existed nonetheless. Cognative dissonance allowed Christians to accept the fact that Jews, practicing Judaism, still lived, yet forced radical revisions of Christian theology. This led to the belief that Jews were to exist as a cursed people (see below), which was the only room for Jews to exist within classical Christian theology. Such teachings naturally led to discrimination; discrimination often led to hatred. These considerations led to social and political exclusions of the Jews, and left the Jews to enter professions which are socially inferior (tax-collectors, money-lenders, etc.) Over time, these professions engendered jealousy when the Jews eventually excelled in them. On the other hand, the Jews were considered a witness, and a pre-figuring of Jesus. Because of this, they were allowed to exist as a community, with public worship (this was not allowed to other pagans or heretics in medieval times). Thus, the Jews were not assimilated into the larger society, which led to even more tensions.

As with all ethnic conflicts, traditions developing separately find differences which are based on any number of triggers. The developped traditions of an ethnic group are called a culture, and religion is one aspect of culture which has historically proven volatile in creating fear, and hostility, when provoked by the presence of a foreign culture.

Disdain of Jews can be traced back to the Graeco-Roman period and the rise of Hellenistic culture. Most Jews rejected efforts to assimilate them into the dominant Greek (and later Roman) culture, and their religious practices, which conflicted with established norms, were perceived as being backward and primitive. Tacitus, for example, writes disparagingly of the refusal to work on the Sabbath, while there are numerous accounts of circumcision being described as barbarous.

Furthermore, throughout the Diaspora, Jews tended to live in separate communities, in which they could practice their religion. This led to charges of elitism, as appear in the writings of Cicero. As an ethnic minority, Jews were also dependent on the goodwill of the ruling imperial power, though this was considered irksome to the indigenous population, which regarded any vestiges of autonomy among the local Jewish communities as reminders of their subject status to a foreign empire. Nevertheless, this did not always mean that opposition to Jewish involvement in local affairs was anti-Semitic. In 411 A.D. an Egyptian mob destroyed the Jewish temple at Elephantine in Egypt, but many historians argue that this was provoked by anti-Persian sentiment, rather than by anti-Semitism per se--the Jews, who were protected by the imperial power, were perceived as being its representatives.

The enormous and influential Jewish community in the ancient Egyptian port city of Alexandria saw manifestations of an unusual brand of anti-Semitism in which the local pagan populace rejected the biblical narrative of the Exodus as being anti-Egytian. In response, a number of works were produced to provide an "Egyptian version" of what "really happened": the Jews were a group of sickly lepers that was expelled from Egypt. This was also used to account for Jewish practices--they were so sickly that they could not even wander in the desert for more than six days at a time, requiring a seventh day to rest, hence the origin of the Sabbath. It was these charges that led to Philo's apologetic account of Judaism and Jewish history, which was so influential in the development of early church doctrine.

Judaic traditions extend at least a thousand years BCE (before the common era), and are the historical predecessor for the religions of Christianity and Islam, both of whom hold some Judaic traditions and texts as sacred, though differ in aspects that are central to each distinct branch of religion.

Hence Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, each took different course in terms of beliefs, as well as traditional customs; each creating a separate and distinct culture, from the parent Judaism. Those who held to traditional Judaic belief were considered "deniers" of the newer beliefs and traditions, in much the same way that every religion considers people of other religions to be denying the truth.

Interestingly, while many more subtle manifestations of Church anti-Semitism can be traced to anti-Jewish sentiment in Egypt, these more blatant early accusations of anti-Egyptian sentiment and the rejection of the Exodus mythology were not coopted by the Church since they countered Christian doctrine.

Judaism is distinct in a more fundamental way; historically it has been an ethnic religion[?], and has been termed by some an evolving religious civilization.

Like Christianity and Islam, Judaism is universalist, and allows people from any heritage or background to convert to Judaism. Unlike Christianity and Islam, Judaism has a stronger ethnic component, and Judaism is usually considered to be passed down from the mother to the child, matrilineal descent. Conversion to Judaism differs from conversion to Christianity, in the sense that conversion to Christianity is purely religious, while conversion to Judaism legally is treated as a quasi-adoption, in which one choose to adopt not only Jewish beliefs, but Jewish ethnicity.

In 2002, the Israeli Supreme Court made a landmark decision saying in essence converted Jews are Jews - a decision which angered Orthodox Jews, but was met with praise by people who wished to convert to Judaism, but were relegated to 'Converted Jew' status, and not considered "Jews" by the Orthodoxy or the government.

Disagreement with the religion of Judaism, as such, does not constitute anti-Semitism. Christians, Hindus, atheists, and others are not considered antisemitic for believing that Judaism's tenets are not true. However, theological anti-Semitism is not merely a rejection of Judaism: it is a set of theological teachings which condemn the Jews as a people or tradition and which uses hatespeech to attack Jewish beliefs. Theological anti-Semitism is referred to by some historians and scholars as anti-Judaism to emphasize its relationship to the Jewish religion, and to distinguish it from racist anti-Semitism.

Theological anti-Semitism has been particularly prevalent in Christianity. Until 1965, for instance, the Catholic Church preached that "the wicked Jews", as a people, were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. This doctrine was repudiated as part of Vatican II. A small number of Protestant sects still teach it. A number of Christian preachers, particularly in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, additionally taught that religious Jews choose to follow a faith that they actually know is false out of a desire to offend God. Christian theological anti-Semitism was created by the New Testament's replacement theology, or supersessionism, which taught that with the coming of Jesus a new covenant has rendered obsolete and has superseded the religion of Judaism.

From the medieval era to the 1900s there were Christians who believed that some (or all) Jews possessed magical powers; depending on the culture, people believed that the Jews gained these magical powers from making a deal with the devil.

This was also often accompanied by beliefs that Jewish religious practice entailed devil worship, or "Satanic" actions such as drinking the blood of Christian children, in mockery of the Christian Eucharist. This latter belief is known as the blood libel.

• The Satanizing of the Jews: Origin and Development of Mystical Anti-Semitism Joel Carmichael, 1992

From the medieval era to today, many people believed that Jewish people unfairly took away jobs and money from Christians. One historical theory for the growth of this sentiment points to the medieval Christian prohibition of usury, then defined as the practice of loaning money at interest. Because there remained a demand for the receipt of loans, non-Christians were much more likely to practice moneylending. Furthermore, Roman-Catholic restrictions on what positions could be held by Jews closed off many alternatives, leaving banking as one of the few areas open to them. This connection became established as a social stereotype in many medieval minds, leading to unjustified resentment of "usurious" Jews. These feelings may well have been fanned by the cynical efforts of debtors to escape their debts. The play The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare contains a character that is an example of such a stereotype, and attitudes toward that character reflected by the play suggest the prevalence of this economic anti-Semitism in medieval and Renaissance Europe.

More commonly, there is prejudice against Jews largely on account of the fact that Jews are often, in spite of what ethnic and religious differences they have with the population at large, in positions of power and prestige. Hence, anti-Jewish prejudice is very often, by the defenders of Jews and Jewishness, ascribed to envy more than to any sort of religious concern.

Racial anti-Semitism, the most modern form of anti-Semitism, is a type of racism mixed with religious persecution[?]. Racial anti-Semites believe erroneously that the Jewish people are a distinct race. They also believe that Jews are inherently inferior to people of other races.

In fact the Jews are an evolving religious civilization that started out as a nationality in exile. Most historians, as well as most Jewish people, consider Jews to be an ethnic group with the religion of Judaism at its core.

Most anti-Semites are opposed to Zionism. Historically, however, there were anti-Semites who supported Zionism as a means of emptying their country of Jews; this is uncommon today. Some anti-Zionists are also anti-Semites. In the popular media of the Arab Middle East, the terms "Israeli", "Zionist" and "Jew" are often used interchangeably, indicating a conjoining of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The conflation of the three terms is false, as there exist non-Israeli Jews, and non- and anti-Zionist Jews.

Most Jews hold that in the vast majority of cases ideological anti-Zionists are also anti-Semites, combining the two concepts in a way that cancels the distinction between them. They hold that the conceptual denial of the right of Jews for a state is indicative of considering Jews inferior - which is anti-Semitism by definition. They further hold that self-proclaimed anti-Zionists almost always fail to distinguish between Israel the state, and Israelis and Jews as individuals; this often leads to anti-Semitic demonization.

Many people who consider themselves anti-Zionists do not oppose the concept of a Jewish state, but merely the fact that it was placed in Palestine. These people argue that the country was already populated by Palestinans, at whose expense a Jewish state should not be established.

Jews distinguish between anti-Zionism and specific criticisms of the Israeli government, or of a facet of Israeli society. For instance, most Israelis and Jews hold that one can oppose the occupation of the West Bank without being anti-Zionist. Anti-Zionism is recognized as anti-Semitism when groups repeatedly and publicly criticise the State of Israel for a specific policy, yet fail to do the same for other nations which have the same policy.

Jews hold that one's racial group had no relevance at all to his Judaism and therefore the ability to participate in the Jewish national revival. They claim that has been carried out in practice, as the State of Israel has allowed millions of people of all races and skin colors to become Israeli citizens including Hispanics, Vietnamese, Yemenites, Druze, Bedouins, black Africans, etc. Those belonging to another religion but still being Jewish face greater hurdles in citizenship and civil liberties in Israel.

One form of anti-Semitism is to exagerrate or fabricate the position(s) of the Jewish community, and use the false claim as a justification for criticising Jews and/or Zionists. In logic and debating circles, this is known as a strawman attack. Exaples:

In the years leading up to America's entry into World War II, Father Charles Coughlin, an anti-Semitic radio preacher, as well as many other prominent public figures, condemned "the Jews" because they were leading America into war. While most Jews in America supported the interventionist camp, not all did.

Similarly, Jews were condemned by populist politicians for their leftwing politics at the turn of the century. Many Jews were leftwing, but not most.

Today, the Jews as a whole are sometimes condemned for their supposed "high level of participation" in the slave trade. While some Jews participated in the slave trade, only a minority did so; the vast majority of slave traders and slave owners were Spanish or Portugeuse gentiles.

According to some advocates, attacks relating to the distinction between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism are the most common form of strawman attack in the last 40 years. See below.

References to the Protocols of Zion are also a strawman attack, because the Protocols are a forgery and do not reflect real Jewish opinions and actions.

All sides agree that some criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, or motivated by anti-Semitism, while some criticism of Israel is not. All major Jewish groups have statements on the distinction between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel, and many have themselves criticised Israel on various issues. Further, no Jewish group has ever stated that all disagreements with Israel are anti-Semitic. What is controversial is what proportion of criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, and how one can distinguish it. Also at issue is whether accusations of anti-Semitism suppress debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For example, Noam Chomsky holds that some Jews and some Jewish groups, in particular the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), see all criticisms of Israel as anti-Semitic attacks. For its part, in an essay entitled Activist's Guide to Advocating for Israel, the ADL states that "Criticism of particular Israeli actions or policies in and of itself does not constitute anti-Semitism". [1] (http://www.adl.org/israel/advocacy/advoc_misstate9.asp?xflag=1)

Salim Muwakkil[?] wrote a column in the Chicago Tribune in response to being "besieged by organized groups of Jewish readers who attribute bigoted motives to my opinions". While he accepted that "being charged with anti-Semitism is a risk any critic of Israeli policy must assume", he argued that "criticism of Israel's government and anti-Semitism are not necessarily the same thing", and went on to provide evidence against accusations of anti-Semitism. [2] (http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1125-04.htm) In response, the ADL wrote that "Over the past two years, Muwakkil's naive analysis, loaded language and one-sided perspective on the conflict have angered many readers, including this one", but stopped short of agreeing with the readers who wrote to Muwakkil accusing him of anti-Semitism. [3] (http://www.adl.org/israel/letter_chicago_tribune8.asp)

External link: Is criticism of Israel anti-Semitism? (http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article975.shtml) - a panel discussion sponsored by the electronic intifada

Anti-Zionism has been used to promote anti-Semitism include events in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the former Soviet Union. It is a common phenomenon in the Arab Middle East, where in most sources there is no distinction whatsoever between the terms "Zionist", "Zionist enemy" and "Jew"; this confluence of terms is held by definition to be anti-Semitic.

Some Anti-Semitism existed in Poland in 1956 when Gomulka rose to power, but only at minor levels. His government was opposed to anti-Semitism. During this time period many Jewish Poles were repatriated from the U.S.S.R., and many of them immigrated to the State of Israel or other nations. However, in line with the official policy of the Soviet Union, after the Six-Day War of 1967 the government of Poland turned against its Jewish citizens. Gomulka publicly warned Jews against becoming a "fifth column" against Poland, and merely expressing sympathy for Israel was stated as reason to believe that someone was a traitor. Thus, most Jews instantly became suspected of treason if they had expressed any support for Israel. Immediately following this was an explosion of anti-Semitic books and articles filled with anti-Zionism, all carrying traditional anti-Semitic overtones. Immediately following this was a nation-wide anti-Jewish purge, removing Jews from their jobs in the government, universities, and many other fields. This purge was directed by the minister of the interior, and head of the security police, Mieczyslaw Moczar.

Some Anti-Semitism existed in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s, but not much. Tolerance towards Jews in this nation was traditional. The situation began to change when strong differences emerged between the liberal regime in Prague and the more conservative Soviet Union. By August 1968 the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to destroy the liberal regime, and the Soviet's instituted an anti-Zionist campaign against the nation's Jews. Soviet propaganda claimed that Zionist attempted a "counter-revolution", which the Soviet Union had to save the nation from. Immediately following this invasion Jews were purged from many government and university positions.

Anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism has flourished in the republics of the former Soviet Union. Anti-Semitic pronouncements, speeches and articles are common, and usually appear in inverse proportion to the state of the economy. For example, State Duma Deputy Oleg Mashchenko recently gave an interview promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories. He states "The USA is declaring a war that could turn into a Third World War, and it doesn't understand that it is acting according to an alien, unseen order. The main enemy of the peoples of Russia and other states is Zionism....Jews are just as much hostages to Zionism as the Germans are to fascism. After all, you can't say that all residents of Germany are fascists! However, Zionism is a dozen, a hundred, a thousand times worse than fascism." Repeating a centuries old canard, he concludes that Zionism is a "centuries-old trend that aims at world domination". (Source: Krasnodar regional administration official newspaper "Kuban Segodnya, February 8, 2003)

FSU State Duma Deputy attacks Zionism (http://www.fsumonitor.com/stories/021203Russ2.shtml)

Krasnodar Governor Threatens Deportation of Non-Russian Migrants as Local MP Raves about Jews (http://www.fsumonitor.com/stories/111901Russia.shtml)

Recent examples of anti-Semitism in the Former Soviet Union (http://www.fsumonitor.com/indices/antisemitism.shtml)

Anti-Semitic Zionist conspiracy theories

Many people in fringe groups, such as Neo-Nazi parties and Hamas claim that the true aim of Zionism is world dominance; they call this the Zionist conspiracy and use this to support anti-Semitism. The idea of a Zionist conspiracy is one of the oldest conspiracy theories. This position has historically been associated with Fascism and Nazism. The most important text in this regard may be the false document the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

In addition, believers in Holocaust revisionism often claim that this "Zionist conspiracy" is responsible for the exaggeration or wholesale fabrication of the events of the Holocaust; critics of such revisionism point to an overwhelming amount of historical evidence that supports the mainstream historical view of the Holocaust. It should be noted that most academics also agree that there is no reliable evidence for any such conspiracy.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

One of the most damaging anti-Semitic tractates published is the infamous Russian literary hoax, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This subject has its own entry.

One of the most violent anti-Semitic outbreaks was the massacre of Polish Jews by the Cossack Bohdan Chmielnicki; over 100,00 Jews were murdered during a series of pogroms he initiated in 1648-1649.

Anti-Semitism, sponsored by church and state, is abundant in many Arab Middle-Eastern countries, even those with which Israel has followed a path of normalization. For instance, during Ramadan 2002, the Egyptian state television aired the series "Knight without a Horse", based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Saudi Arabia forbids the entry of Jews onto its territory; the Palestinian Authority has sponsored the sale of anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying materials.

There are two major causes of anti-Semitism in the modern Middle East: the religious and the nationalistic. Some Muslims resent Jews and Israel for religious reasons. Examples include followers of the Shi'a movement of Iran and Lebanon, and followers of the Wahhabi School of Saudi Arabia. According to their tractation of the Islamic law, all lands fall into one of only two possible legal categories (A) Land currently under Islamic control, and (B) Land once controlled by Muslims, that all Muslims worldwide are bound to re-conquer; such lands, including the State of Israel and Spain, are termed "lands under the sword".

The second cause is nationalistic: as in many other countries (for instance the 19th century Russia), a rise in nationalism is accompanied by increased xenophobia. The grievances caused to Arabs during the Arab-Israeli conflict give these feelings a powerful boost; Israel and Jews are often demonized - up to the extent that blood libel theories are routinely revived by Arab television networks. Some advocates explain the bitterness of Palestinian Arabs as a natural response to what they see as the unfair expulsion from their country (see Palestinian homeland).

There are a number of projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs; one of their common goals is to reduce anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world.

A phenomenom common to all ethnic and national groups is the existence of self-hatred. Depending on how this phenomenon is defined, one can find examples of this within Judaism.

"There is little doubt that psychologically, racism is harmful to its victims. The most profound effect associated with situations of extreme degradation (such as is found under slavery or in concentration camps or in racist states like South Africa) is the acceptance by the oppressed group of the dominant group's definition of the situation. This is the phenomenon of self-hatred found, for example, in cases of Jewish anti-Semitism or in the acceptance by blacks of white aesthetic criteria of having straight hair or a light skin. Self-hatred is often accompanied by symptoms of apathy, anxiety, and depression or by forms of self-destructive escapist reactions such as alcoholism or drug addiction or, in extreme cases, by paranoid, schizophrenic or manic depressive psychoses. In such situations of extreme degradation then, the oppressed group frequently reacts in an 'intropunitive' fashion; that is, it turns its frustrations inwardly against the self or the 'in' group at large." (Source: Racism And Its Effects, Shreya Khatau)

Examples of Jewish people who are sometimes called anti-Semites for their critical postures are Noam Chomsky and Israel Shahak. Referring to works by Israel Shahak and others, the ADL's report on The Talmud and Anti-Semitism states "In distorting the normative meaning of rabbinic texts, anti-Talmud writers frequently remove passages from their textual and historical context....Those who attack the Talmud frequently cite ancient rabbinic sources without noting subsequent developments in Jewish thought....Are the polemicists Anti-Semites? This is a charged term that should not be used lightly, but the answer, by and large, is yes. Now and then a polemicist of this type may have been born Jewish, but their systematic distortion of the ancient texts, always in the direction of portrarying Judaism negatively, their lack of interest in good-faith efforts to understand contemporary Judaism from contemporary Jews, and their dimissal of any voices opposing their own, suggests that their goal in reading ancient rabbinic literature is to produce the Frankenstein version of Judaism that they invariable claim to have uncovered."

Accusations of Jewish anti-Semitism are controversial and difficult to deal with, as different people use the word anti-Semitism in different ways. As in many other national, ethnic or religious groups, one sometimes finds that charges of self-hatred are motivated by political and religious beliefs, and are often not accurate. One can identify a small number of Jewish people on the extreme political or religious right-wing who view Jews on the extreme political or religious left-wing as "Jewish anti-Semites", and vice-versa. (We need an article on this subject as a general phenomenon in all groups.)

See also:

• The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust As Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Michael Berenbaum. Little Brown & Co, 1993.

• The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945 Lucy S. Davidowicz. Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub, 1991.

• Antisemitism in America, Leonard Dinnerstein, Oxford Univ. Press, 1995.

• Antisemitism in the New Testament, Lillian C. Freudmann, University Press of America, 1994.

• Jewish Self-Hatred: Anti-Semitism and the Hidden Language of the Jews, Sander L. Gilman, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990, ISBN 0801840635

• The Destruction of the European Jews Raul Hilberg. Holmes & Meier, 1985. 3 volumes

• Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory Deborah Lipstadt, 1994, Penguin.

• Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred, Robert S. Wistrich. Pantheon Books, 1992.

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