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Philo-Semitism

Philo-Semitism (sometimes Semitism) is love and respect of Judaism as well as the Jewish people and its achievements. It is an important phenomenon in the modern world, represented among other things in an unparalleled interest in Jewish culture[?] and history[?] as well as increasing university enrolment by Gentiles in courses relating to Judaism (including Judaism, Hebrew languagecHebrew[?] and Yiddish). While earlier some felt compelled to hide their Jewish ancestry for fear of discrimination, today many emphasize even distant Jewish heritage with pride.

The prominence of philo-Semitism has been the subject of a series of high profile books and journal articles (see partial listing below).

The rise of philo-Semitism has been met by a mixed response among world Jewry. Some warmly welcome it and argue that it must lead Jews to reconsider their identity. This viewpoint has been expressed by the leading liberal Jewish publication The Forward (http://www.forward.com) (Editorial, 11/10/00):

There are still anti-Semites in the world. It appears, however, that those who admire Jews outnumber them. [...] This is something new. Our world has changed. And this change carries both a blessing and a challenge. The challenge is to understand the new world we have entered. [...] We are outcasts no longer.

Others, reject philo-Semitism as they feel it, like its apparent opposite anti-Semitism, implicitly gives a special status to Jews. This contradicts the traditional goal of Zionism to make Jewry "a nation among nations". Daniel Goldhagen, Harvard scholar and author of the controversial Hitler's willing executioners, argues that philo-Semitists are often closet anti-Semitists. His detractor Norman Finkelstein, agrees. The thesis is that Jew haters feel a need to talk about Jews, and with anti-Semitism no longer being socially acceptable, they must instead make exaggerated positive statements.

The rise of philo-Semitism has also prompted some to reconsider Jewish history. While the significance of anti-Semitism must be acknowledged, they claim, it would be wrong to reduce the history of the Jewish people to one of suffering. Indeed, Jews have not only survived, but also often prospered throughout history. In many cases, this was helped by philo-Semitism among surrounding Gentiles. While the existence of so-called "righteous Gentiles" during Jewry's darkest hour, the Holocaust, has long been recognized, they were by no means a new phenomenon at the time. Throughout history, philo-Semitism has existed, representing what has been referred to as an unacknowledged harmony during otherwise troubled times.

Books

  • An Unacknowledged Harmony: Philo-Semitism and the Survival of European Jewry (Contributions in Ethnic Studies, ISBN 0313227543), by Alan Edelstein
  • Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England, Sixteen Hundred and Three Thru Sixteen Hundred and Fifty-Five (ASIN 0198218850), by David S. Katz, Leo Katz
  • Philosemitism: Admiration and Support in the English-Speaking World for Jews, 1840-1939 (Studies in Modern History, ISBN 031222205X), Hilary L. Rubinstein, William D. Rubinstein
  • The Whitewashing of the Yellow Badge: Antisemitism and Philosemitism in Postwar Germany (Studies in Antisemitism, ASIN 008040653X), by Frank Stern
  • Philo-Semitic and Anti-Jewish Attitudes in Post-Holocaust Poland (Symposium Series, Vol 33, ISBN 0773491767), by Marion Mushkat
  • Im Anfang war Auschwitz : Antisemitismus und Philosemitismus im deutschen Nachkrieg (ASIN 3883504599), by Frank Stern

See also: anti-Semitism, Israel Shahak



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