History and Hate: The Dimensions of Anti-Semitism

By David Berger | Go to book overview
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American Anti-Semitism

Jonathan D. Sarna

The fact that a volume on the history of anti-Semitism includes a brief American perspective is itself noteworthy. Earlier surveys of anti-Semitism, whether found in the American Jewish Year Book or in as scholarly a volume as Koppel Pinson's Essays on Antisemitism ( 1946), studiously avoided including any mention of America in the context of worldwide Judeophobia. To speak of American anti-Semitism and European anti-Semitism in the same breath seemed almost blasphemous. Even to speak of American anti- Semitism on its own took courage. As late as 1947, a scholarly article dealing with anti-Semitism that appeared in the Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society began with an elaborate justification. "We can," it explained, "no longer dismiss anti- Semitism with a wave of the hand or a flourish of the pen. As an influence in American Jewish life -- although a negative one to be sure -- its study comes within the scope of this Society's activities."1

Today nobody would think that undertaking a study of American anti-Semitism requires advance justification. Not only has the subject acquired legitimacy, but also it has now become one of the most intensely examined aspects of American life, the subject of innumerable books and monographs,2 and the focus of full sessions at the annual meetings of such prestigious scholarly

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