Usage of 'Anti-semite'

Sun Jan 11 20:50:19 UTC 2009

        Although there are of course Semitic peoples other than Jews, my
understanding is that "anti-Semitism" refers exclusively to anti-Jewish
beliefs and behaviors.  The Wikipedia article on anti-Semitism discusses
this and links to a couple of essays by Bernard Lewis that make this
point, and I am not aware of any examples or serious arguments to the

        The Wikipedia article also discusses the views of those who
think that it should always be "antisemitism," unhyphenated, because
there is no Semitism to be opposed to.  That strikes me as silly.  An
anti-Semite is simply a person who is opposed to Jews, Jews being the
only familiar Semites when the term arose, and anti-Semitism then is the
belief expressed by anti-Semites.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Arun K Raman
Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2009 1:46 AM
Subject: Usage of 'Anti-semite'

I've been looking at Semitic culture recently. Anti-semite/anti-semitism
or whatever other combination that can be thought of is interesting as
it deals only with a very specific issue in relation to the semites.
Well, the popular usage is to denote something negative about Jews. My
question is whether the word combination seems to be used for the other
semitic groups as well even if it is in lesser amounts.
Arun K Raman

The American Dialect Society -

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