Antisemitism – Spelling & working definition with petition from Honest Reporting.

Anyone who follows Jews Down Under knows that I have a huge mission in life which is to correct spelling of antisemitism.

Some how over the past, maybe ten years, antisemitism has become a hyphenated word, which I am sure emanates from the USA, which in turn, has been adopted by Israel along with Google and Microsoft spell checker.  All you have to do is to change the English on your devices to any other English listed, other than American and it will give you the correct spelling.

In March 2016 I wrote an article called Antisemitism v anti-Semitism which was re-posted and also amended in October 2018 when I happened upon a memo from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance on the spelling of antisemitism from the IHRA Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial.

credit: Wikipedia.

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”.

Moritz Steinschneider was a Bohemian bibliographer and Orientalist. He received his early instruction in Hebrew from his father, Jacob Steinschneider, who was not only an expert Talmudist, but was also well versed in secular science.

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 the word to anti-Semites, gives it a whole other meaning – to be against Semites.

A few spelling examples below  (note which are all one word) which  make a very good advocacy discussion point.



From the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance on the spelling of antisemitism from the IHRA Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial.

Is as follows:

With this memo, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) would like to address the spelling of the term antisemitism , often rendered as ‘anti-Semitism’ and Microsoft’s auto-correct feature.

IHRA’s concern is that the hyphenated spelling allows for the possibility of something called ‘Semitism’, which not only legitimizes a form of pseudo-scientific racial classification that was thoroughly discredited by association with Nazi ideology, but also divides the term, stripping it from its meaning of opposition and hatred toward Jews.

The philological term ‘Semitic’ referred to a family of languages originating in the Middle East whose descendant languages today are spoken by millions of people mostly across Western Asia and North Africa.

Following this semantic logic, the conjunction of the prefix ‘anti’ with ‘Semitism’ indicates antisemitism as referring to all people who speak Semitic languages or to all those classified as ‘Semites’.

The term has, however, since its inception referred to prejudice against Jews alone.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the derived construct ‘Semite’ provided a category to classify humans based on racialist pseudo-science.

At the same time the neologism ‘antisemitism’, coined by German journalist Wilhelm Marr in 1879 to designate anti-Jewish campaigns, was spread through use by anti-Jewish political movements and the general public.

The modern term gained popularity in Germany and Europe incorporating traditional Christian anti-Judaism, political, social and economic anti-Jewish manifestations that arose during the Enlightenment in Europe, and a pseudo-scientific racial theory that culminated in Nazi ideology in the twentieth century.

Although the historically new word only came into common usage in the nineteenth century, the term antisemitism is today used to describe and analyse past and present forms of opposition or hatred towards Jews.

In German, French, Spanish and many other languages, the term was never hyphenated.

The unhyphenated spelling is favoured by many scholars and institutions in order to dispel the idea that there is an entity ‘Semitism’ which ‘anti-Semitism’ opposes .

Antisemitism should be read as a unified term so that the meaning of the generic term for modern Jew-hatred is clear.

At a time of increased violence and rhetoric aimed towards Jews, it is urgent that there is clarity and no room for confusion or obfuscation when dealing with antisemitism.

Given that most communication today is electronic, and that Microsoft is a giant in that field, the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial is concerned that Microsoft’s default spelling in English is ‘anti-Semitism’. Thus the Committee strongly recommends changing the default spelling of antisemitism so that it does not autocorrect to the hyphenated version of the word.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is an intergovernmental body whose purpose is to place political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance and research both nationally and internationally. IHRA’s Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial was created to address the upsurge in antisemitism and Holocaust denial and trivialisation.

With this memo, IHRA expresses its concern over possible confusion of a clear understanding of the word ‘antisemitism’.

Now Honest Reporting has joined my personal crusade!!


Time for the Media to Adopt Antisemitism Definition.

With antisemitism on the rise, it’s vitally important to have a respected definition of what constitutes anti-Jewish hatred and intolerance. In recent years, one definition of antisemitism is gaining traction. Drawn up by the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, this definition has been adopted and endorsed by a growing number of governments — most recently France. See for yourself the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism.

With the guidance of a coherent definition, lawmakers can devise more nuanced policies, police and prosecutors can more effectively respond to hate crimes, and colleges can more adequately deal with campus antisemitism. Local activists don’t have to flounder with feeble “I know it when I see it” arguments.

The media, too, should be tied down to a clear definition of what’s unacceptably anti-Jewish.

The definition has already served as a powerful tool for public accountability: Last year, Britain’s Labour Party sought to adopt a watered-down version of the definition, but the controversy it sparked proved too embarrassing. Labour adopted the full definition — but a dark cloud still hangs over the party.

The controversy stirred by Labour’s waffling highlights one aspect of the IHRA definition that many Israel-bashers can’t accept. Examples of antisemitism listed by the IHRA include “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” “claiming that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour” and “applying double standards by requiring of it behavior not expected or demanded by any other democratic nation.” Anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism. People who cross that line can no longer say, “I’m anti-Zionist, not antisemitic.”

One can criticize the policies of Israel’s government without crossing the line into antisemitism, and the IHRA acknowledges that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

While the IHRA’s definition isn’t legally binding, more countries and organizations will hopefully join the UK, Germany, France, Holland, the European Parliament, the US departments of State and Education, the Greek Ministry of Education, (and HonestReporting) and others who are already on board.  Read more here: Honest Reporting




Send the media a message: click  to sign our petition and give us the backing to demand that the international media adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism and help clean up the discourse on Jews and Israel.

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MYTH: Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.

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