Anti-semitism Before the Holocaust

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Longman, 2000 - History - 144 pages
Summarizes the history of antisemitism from ancient times until 1933. Queries whether antisemitism is primarily the product of fantasies about Jews that were engendered by pre-Christian and Christian beliefs, or whether there is something about Jews themselves that has provoked hostility against them; emphasizes that explaining antisemitism does not justify it. Suggests that there is a middle ground between blaming the Jews and blaming the non-Jews. The relationship between the two is an interplay of fantasy and reality on the part of both. Many wild fantasies of antisemites were sometimes fed by realities. Notes that the Jews were not always a persecuted minority. In some periods their situation was good; in other periods, conflicts between Jews and non-Jews did not exceed "normal" conflicts of the time. Chimerical beliefs concerning the Jews (including racism and "Jewish communism") could be not only antisemitic but also philosemitic. Antisemitism surged in 19th-century Europe as a by-product of Jewish demographic, economic, and political expansion. World War I and the Russian Revolution brought on myths about the Jews' striving for world power - a myth that had a touch of reality. Objects to applying the Nazi paradigm to pre-Nazi antisemitism. No anti-Jewish writer of the late 19th-early 20th centuries can be regarded as a proto-Nazi - none of them called for the extermination of the Jews.

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