Anti-Judaism is ancient, while the term “antisemitism” is relatively new. It was coined in the last third of the 19th century and was first used to great political and cultural effect by the German radical writer and activist Wilhelm Marr in 1879. It signaled a turning point in the history of Jew-hatred, marking a division — though never firmed up, and always commingling and overlapping — between the classical, Christian hatred of Jews and modern, politically-rooted racist attitudes.
The term emerged and gained popularity as a reaction to the newly-won equality of Jews in Germany and other European countries. Antisemitism was a rallying cry against the rights of Jews, who were a defenseless minority, much as the movement against antisemitism was a movement for minority rights. With all the complexity of the term — as it manifested in politics, society, and culture — there was broad agreement among Jews and Jew-haters about its meaning: antisemitism meant the denial of Jews’ rights as a minority — whether their legal rights or even their right to live at all. There was, in other words, a consensus about what the term antisemitism meant — especially after the Holocaust.
How, then, has “antisemitism” evolved into such a contested term over the last generation, particularly among Jews? Indeed, there is perhaps no term whose definition so divides Jews these days. At the same time, among some European and American non-Jews there has
— source 972mag.com | Alon Confino | Feb 2, 2023