Anti-Semitism (also spelled antisemitism), and derivative words such as anti-Semitic, are labels applied to various opinions, facts, individuals, organizations, and actions perceived as politically incorrect and negative for Jews.
The word first appeared in the later half of the nineteenth century. It has a somewhat complicated early history, with different users using the word different ways. It was sometimes initially used by critics of phenomena such as Jewish influence and the word was thus not initially perceived as necessarily implying an incorrect view or an incorrect criticism. The word may even originally have been intended to be a relatively neutral term for such views and criticisms. See the article on Wilhelm Marr, the first who used the word.
Etymologically the word would seem to indicate opposition to Semitic peoples, a group characterized by speaking or earlier speaking Semitic languages. This is problematic, since there are other Semitic peoples than Jews. This was originally somewhat less of a problem, since there were few Semites except for Jews in Europe when the word was coined. Proponents of the Khazar theory may consider the word to be etymologically incorrect, since some Jewish groups are argued to descend from the Khazars and not from Semitic populations.
"Semitism" may by analogy with words such as "racism" possibly be interpreted as meaning "Jewish supremacism", which would make "Anti-Semitism" opposition to Jewish supremacism/racism. This is not a politically correct interpretation of the word, but may be similar to how some early users used the word.
Politically correct users often prefer the spelling "antisemitism", which may be related to this spelling to some degree obscuring the etymological problems with the word.
The reasoning involved in labeling something as "anti-Semitism" or "anti-Semitic" may be quite convoluted, unclear, and/or involve double standards. Thus, phrases such as "Hitler did not kill six million Jews" and "There are many Jewish directors and producers in Hollywood" may often be labeled as anti-Semitism, despite containing no negative statements about Jews.
Criticizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish homeland has been labelled as anti-Semitism. However, Whites arguing for the right of Western countries to exist as White homelands are not similarly defended and may well instead be accused of "White supremacism".
Anti-semitism is, apart from recent leftist criticisms of Israel, sometimes viewed as something not associated with the left. However, several early and influential socialists have been described as anti-Semitic, for expressing views such as very negative views on the relationship between Jews and capitalism. Such socialists include Karl Marx (despite being Jewish) and Pierre Leroux (who created the term socialism). Some other examples are Mikhail Bakunin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Alphonse Toussenel, and Henry Hyndman.
Some examples of what have been claimed to be anti-Semitism if criticized, or argued to exist, or argued to possibly exist, or argued to possibly have existed in the past:
- Jewish influence
- Israel lobby
- Israel or Zionism
- Holocaust revisionism
- Jewish ritual slaughter
- Jews and intelligence
- Jewish group evolutionary strategy
- Jewish ritual murder, host desecration, and well poisoning
- Conspiracy theories involving Jews
- Jewish supremacism
Descriptions of argued anti-Semitism tend to be completely one-sided, with the argued offender depicted as acting out of pure evilness and with the argued victim depicted as completely blameless with no responsibility for the events. In reality, the circumstances, interactions, and/or motives of the two sides may be more complex. For example, some cases of anti-Semitism have been argued to have developed as responses to intense resource competition between Jews and non-Jews (see the Jewish group evolutionary strategy).
Claims of anti-Semitic persecutions have been argued to be exaggerated and misrepresented, notably in the case of the Holocaust, but also in other cases, such as pogroms, as discussed in the articles on these topics.
An "antisemitic canard" (with canard meaning "hoax") is an anti-Semitic false claim.
A common tactic is to label, for example, statements on Jewish influence as antisemitic canards, such as by labeling the statement "Jews control all media" as an anti-Semitic canard. However, what may be actually argued is that the Jewish influence in media is high and not that every aspect is controlled. Another example is by labeling the statement "Jews control Communism" as an anti-Semitic canard. Again, what may be actually argued is that the Jewish influence was/is high (see Jews and Communism) and not that every aspect was/is controlled.
Such tactics can be seen as straw men.
Well, it's a trick, we always use it. When from Europe somebody is criticizing Israel, then we bring up the Holocaust. When in this country people are criticizing Israel, then they are anti-Semitic. And the organization is strong, and has a lot of money, and the ties between Israel and the American Jewish establishment are very strong and they are strong in this country, as you know. And they have power, which is OK. They are talented people and they have power and money, and the media and other things, and their attitude is "Israel, my country right or wrong", the identification. And they are not ready to hear criticism. And it's very easy to blame people who criticize certain acts of the Israeli government as anti-Semitic, and to bring up the Holocaust, and the suffering of the Jewish people, and that is justify everything we do to the Palestinians.—Shulamit Aloni, a former Israeli Knesset and cabinet member.
...Jews invented the libel charge of “anti- Semitism” in the 1880s. It was first published in the Jewish Encyclopedia (1901 Vol. 1, p. 641), and has been built up with Jewish money, organizations, propaganda and lies (such as the Holocaust — Holohoax), so that now the word is like a snake venom which paralyses one’s nervous system. Even the mention of the word “Jew” is shunned unless used in a most favorable and positive context.—Charles A. Weisman.
- How Four Influential Socialist Anti-Semites Shaped the Left http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/98702/how-four-influential-socialist-anti-semites-shaped-daniel-greenfield
- Former Israeli MP: The Anti-Semitism/Holocaust "Trick" http://vfpdissident.blogspot.de/2012/05/former-israeli-mp-anti.html. Citing Democracy Now, Israel’s First Lady of Human Rights: A Conversation with Shulamit Aloni, http://www.democracynow.org/2002/8/14/israels_first_lady_of_human_rights
- Who is Esau-Edom?, Weisman Publications, 1966.