The incorrect spelling of antisemitism is getting to me more and more of late. I feel the need to write about it in order to get people to spell it correctly by learning the meaning of the words and where they originated.
Somewhere, somehow in recent years the spelling has changed from antisemitism to anti-Semitism, though lately it appears to be returning to the original.
In 1879 German anti-Jewish journalist and political agitator Friedrich Wilhelm Adolph Marr, known as Wilhem Marr, published a pamphlet, Der Sieg des Judenthums über das Germanenthum. Vom nicht confessionellen Standpunkt aus betrachtet (The Victory of the Jewish Spirit over the Germanic Spirit. Observed from a non-religious perspective.) in which the word Semitismus was used interchangeably with the word Judentum to denote both “Jewry” and “jewishness”.
This use of Semitismus was followed by a coining of antisemitismus which was used to indicate opposition to the Jews as a people and opposition to the Jewish spirit, which Marr interpreted as infiltrating German culture.
His intention was to replace the German word Judenhass (Jew-hatred) with a term that would make Jew-haters sound less vulgar. Marr thought that by replacing Judenhass it would make hatred of the Jews seem rational and sanctioned by scientific knowledge.
Wilhelm Marr hated Jews with all his heart and apparently also did not think that the German word Judenhass was strong enough.
In his next pamphlet, Der Weg zum Siege des Germanenthums über das Judenthum (The Way to Victory of the Germanic Spirit over the Jewish Spirit, 1880), he presented a development of his ideas further and likely was the first published use of the German word antisemitismus, “antisemitism”.
The pamphlet became very popular, and in the same year he founded the Antisemiten-Liga (League of Antisemites), which was the first German organisation committed specifically to combating the alleged threat to Germany and German culture posed by the Jews and their influence, and advocating their forced removal from the country.
The similar term antisemitisch was first used in 1860, by Jewish scholar Moritz Steinschneider.
Out of this came antisemitism and antisemite. By hyphenating it to anti-Semites, gives it a whole other meaning – to be against Semites.
A few spelling examples:
The two words make a very good advocacy discussion point.