What does Antisemitism Mean?

Anti-Semitism is the hostile prejudice that discriminates against Jews both as a racial group and their religion.

The word anti-Semitism derives from the prefix anti- which means ‘against’, a Semitic that refers biblically to the descendants of Shem (Arabs and Jews), and the suffix -ism that refers to a type of ‘tendency, theory or doctrine’.

It is in the nineteenth century that the word Semitic begins to be increasingly confusing, since it is not distinguished between ethnic group, language or religion, and is used with a connotation of discrimination and racism exclusively to refer to persons of Jewish origin or those who profess Judaism.

The Semitic denomination was coined by the German August Ludwig Schlozer in 1781 in his research on Biblical and Eastern literature to refer to the Syrian-Arabic linguistic family that encompasses those who speak Hebrew, Syrian, Arabic and derivatives, and in no way refers to the biblical reference of the descendants of one of Noah’s sons: Shem. He has been intensely criticized for introducing this confusion.

The word anti-Semitism was first used as a prejudiced concept in 1879 by the German Wilhelm Marr to refer to the anti-Jewish campaigns that were emerging in central Europe due to political differences where Jews were accused of defending the Republic.

Anti-Semitism relies on the memory of years of religious conflicts between Christians and Jews due to differences in their spiritual beliefs about the Bible (divided into the Old and New Testaments) and about the divine character of Jesus.

The Jews were persecuted since the beginning of the Christian crusades in the Middle Ages. Only at the end of the 18th century, in the year 1791, the French grant Jews the role of citizens equal to others, but discrimination against Jews arises for all the ills of society.

Antisemitism and Nazism

Nazism was a fascist ideology with a strong feeling of anti-Semitism that led to one of humanity’s greatest crimes: the Holocaust.

The Nazis justified their anti-Semitism in the superiority of the Aryan race, being “Aryan” and “Semitic” terms used to refer to linguistic and cultural groups. Aryan refers to the Indo group, which are languages ​​derived from Sanskrit and Persian, and Semitic refers to the Indo-European group, which are languages ​​derived from Hebrew, Punic and Arabic.