Rise in antisemitism and an updated spelling

by | Jun 10, 2021 | Homepage Posts

The Virginian-Pilot printed two political cartoons that I found stunning on Monday, June 7. Both were commentaries on the recent surge in antisemitism with messages that the prejudice has just been hiding in the United States…that it’s never really disappeared.

What surprised me? Certainly, not the existence of antisemitism. As the editor of Jewish News, I’m aware of antisemitic incidents wherever they take place throughout world, and especially within the U.S. What surprised me was that the problem has reached such levels that even our local newspaper, not just Jewish News, chose to focus on its ugly rise.

Until recently, antisemitism was something that only Jewish communities spoke and wrote about. Fortunately, because of the widespread unfortunate, that is changing. In recent weeks many elected officials and celebrities—Jewish and Gentiles, alike—are speaking out against this noticeable shift in brazen antisemetic acts.

Another not-so-important shift is the spelling of antisemitism, the hatred of Jews. Until now, the word or term has been commonly spelled anti-Semitism. It has become the norm, however, to move to antisemitism.

On its website, the Anti-Defamation League the leading anti-hate organization that was founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry, explains, “The word “Semitic” was first used by a German historian in 1781 to bind together languages of Middle Eastern origin that have some linguistic similarities. The speakers of those languages, however, do not otherwise have shared heritage or history. There is no such thing as a Semitic peoplehood. Additionally, one could speak a Semitic language and still have anti-Semitic views.”

ADL continues: “And in 1879, German journalist Wilhelm Marr coined “Antisemitismus” to mean hatred of the Jewish “race,” adding racial and pseudo-scientific overtones to the animus behind the word. But hatred toward Jews, both today and in the past, goes beyond any false perception of a Jewish race; it is wrapped up in complicated historical, political, religious, and social dynamics.”

And, so, in keeping with the times, Jewish News will now eliminate the hyphen in antisemitism. While we don’t anticipate the hyphen’s removal to stifle the hatred, it does appear to clarify the term.

– Terri Denison