Todd M. Endelman
Historical accounts of the development of anti-Semitic ideas in the modern period make tedious reading regardless of their intellectual merit. The fault rests not so much with the authors -- who include some distinguished scholars -- as with the materials with which they must contend. Despite the inflammatory character of anti-Semitic writings and their murderous consequences, the intellectual arsenal of anti-Semitism has been relatively impoverished, containing only a very limited number of themes lacking both sophistication and complexity. Reduced to its bare essentials, modern anti-Semitism has rested on a handful of accusations about Jewish character and behavior: Jews are malevolent, aggressive, sinister, self-seeking, avaricious, destructive, socially clannish, spiritually retrograde, physically disagreeable, and sexually overcharged. This brief catalogue of Jewish shortcomings and vices exhausts the ideological battery of anti- Semitism at its most basic level; most anti-Semitic polemic has been little more than a reworking of these themes.
In addition, the same assertions about Jews have cropped up regularly everywhere in the West. In country after country, the same libels and reproaches have been heard in one forum or another. Even in the most liberal states of the West -- Great Britain and the United States -- where relations between Jews