Anti-Semitism is the political, social and economic activities directed against Jewish people. The term is now used to denote anti-Judaic acts or sentiments based on any grounds, including religious ones. The word Semitic derives from the decedents of Shem, the oldest son of Noah. Around 1880, the term anti-Semitism was used to denote hostility only towards Jews. This hostility is supposedly justified by a theory developed in Germany in the mid nineteenth century, that people of the so-called Aryan stock are superior in physique and character to those of Semitic stock. This belief was forgotten by many but in Germany and France was made public knowledge. The theory of racial superiority was used to justify the civil and religious persecution of Jews that had existed throughout history. During the difficult times during and after the Great Depression economic frustration was deflected onto scapegoats, usually an isolated minority, and mainly Jews. The practice of anti-Semitism became widely practiced during World War II but it has now reached a different generation, the grandchildren of Nazis, during the 1990s. (Random House)
Although the term anti-Semitism is less than a century old, anti-Jewish agitation has existed for several thousand years. In the ancient Roman Empire, for example, the devotion of Jews to their religion and special forms of worship was used as a pretext for political discrimination against them, and very few Jews were admitted to Roman citizenship. With the rise and eventual domination of Christianity throughout the Western world, discrimination against Jews on religious grounds became universal, and systematic and social anti-Judaism


made its appearance. Jews were massacred in great numbers, especially during the Crusades, segregated in ghettos, required to wear identifying marks or garments, and economically crippled by the imposition of restrictions on the business activities open to them. In the 18th and 19th centuries, which saw the French Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment, increasing separation of church and state, and the rise of modern nation-states, Jews experienced less religious and economic persecution and were gradually integrated into the economic and political order. (Jesus in the New Testament)
In Germany, the process of Jewish emancipation was completed with the formation of the German Empire in 1871. Although legal reforms put an end to discrimination on religious grounds, hostility, falsely based on racism, grew. Racist theories that had been formulated during the preceding decades provided the basis for a new grouping of anti-Semitic political parties after the Franco-German War and the economic crash of 1873. The German political scene was marked by the presence of at least one openly anti-Semitic party until 1933, when anti-Semitism became the official policy of the government under National Socialism (Nazism). (Random House)
The pattern of German anti-Semitism was followed in other parts of western and central Europe. In Austria, for example, a Christian Socialist party advocated more or less anti-Semitic programs. In France, anti-Semitism became an issue in the larger problem of the separation of church and state. Clerical and royalist factions generally adopted anti-Semitic principles based on the racist theories formulated in Germany and fostered in part by the publication of numerous anti-Semitic publications, notably the newspaper La Libre Parole, started in 1892 by the French

anti-Semitic journalist and author Edouard Drumont. Anti-Semitism in France culminated in the
Dreyfus affair between 1894 and 1906. With the liberation of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army who was imprisoned for alleged treason, anti-Semitism almost disappeared as a political issue in France. (Random House)
Russian anti-Semitic propaganda was also circulated in the U.S., where prejudice against Jews previously had assumed such forms as covert social discrimination. In the U.S., the upsurge of anti-Jewish feeling was part of a general wave of resentment of minority groups, including also Roman Catholics and blacks, that swept the country after World War I. Another element in U.S. anti-Semitism in the 1920s was its identification of Jews with political radicalism. A notable event was the temporary embracing of anti-Semitism by the American automobile manufacturer Henry Ford, who reprinted the discredited Protocols of the Elders of Zion in his newspaper the Dearborn Independent. Condemned widely, he later apologized for this action. The immigration legislation enacted in the U.S. in 1921 and 1924 was interpreted widely as being at least