The Origins Of “Anti-Semitism”

The Origins Of “Anti-Semitism” December 31, 2023



To understand the origins of “Anti-Semitism” we must first find the origins of “Semitism.”

We find the first use of the term semitic in a 1781 work about the Chaldeans by the German historian, August Schlözer. The word was derived from the presumed ancestor for the “Semites,” Shem, one of the three sons of Noah.[1] The prevailing opinion among western scholars at the time was that Hebrew was the original language of mankind, and that all European languages were to be traced back to Japheth, another son of Noah.[2] The story of how “Japhetites” became “Aryans” begins two years later.

In 1783, William Jones, a philologist employed by the British East India Company (EIC,) arrived in Madras. He was tasked with compiling a digest of “Hindu Law” with which the EIC would use to adjudicate legal cases pertaining to the Hindu population that was now under the company’s control.[3] After consulting with local Brahmins, Jones translated the Laws of Manu, and used it as the basis for the EIC Hindu-Indian legal system.[4] After a methodical study of South Asian languages, Jones delivered a ground-breaking lecture in 1788 in which he suggested that “Greek, Latin, Celtic, French, and Germanic languages had definite affinities with the Sanskrit.”[5] In 1792 he would declare that Hebrew was not the original language of mankind.[6] The greatest epoch in Comparative Philology had begun.




While Jones was busying himself with ancient texts, the French Revolution changed the playing-field of European politics. It was during this time that we find the terms “left-wing” and “right wing” entering the political discourse. It was based on the seating arrangements of the first French General Assembly in 1789, when supporters of the political ideas by the Enlightenment sat on the left side of the president of the Assembly, while those who supported the ancien régime sat to his right.[7] Domestically, many French peasants were able to purchase the former real estate of the royalty and the Church with deflated paper currency, and by mortgaging their land.  1791 saw the emancipation of Jews who, for generations, had been confined to ghettoes. The Revolution turned against all religion in 1792, however, and the Jews were targeted for their adherence to religious practices. In 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte assumed control of France, and conditions gradually stabilized in the country. Many peasants found they were unable to pay their debts in the new stable currency and were anxious that they might lose their land to the money-lenders, many of whom were Jewish. By 1805 a strong anti-Jewish sentiment percolated in France, which Napoleon could not ignore. In May 1806, he issued his first Decree on the Jews, which saw the creation of a new Sanhedrin, a once important Jewish political body from Greco-Roman times.[8] One outcomes of this council was the integration of Jews into wider European culture.[9]

In the months that followed, Napoleon would defeat the Prussian army at Jena, and on October 27, 1806, he rode triumphantly through the Brandenburg Gate. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved. The national humiliation of Prussia caused a bitter hatred of foreigners to ferment.[10]

It was in this milieu that Hegel, a philosopher from Stuttgart, published his Phenomenology of Spirit (1807.) In this work Hegel argues that the state should be national, and the nation should be a unit comprised of the same racial origin, with individuals who spoke the same language.[11] Heterogeneous elements might be absorbed, the Hegelians argued, but if they could not be reduced to the national type, they should be eliminated.[12] If Prussia was comprised of Germans, then it stood to reason, that Prussia should be “Germany.” By this same line of reasoning, “Germans” outside of Prussia belonged in the hypothetical united national state envisioned by the “Pan-Germans.” A nationalist sentiment soon developed, a “revolt” initiated, principally, by the middle-class; by the intellectuals and the University students. The superiority of the German people was proclaimed in the educated circles in the fields of history, science, and philosophy, who argued for the subordination of the individual to the power of the state.[13]




Like their academic counterparts in the other fields, German philologists made their case for German superiority. At this point Sanskrit’s consanguinity with (broadly) European languages was widely accepted. Friedrich von Schlegel made a study of Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, Celtic, old Teutonic, Lithuanian, Slavonic, and Avestan, and declared that these languages belonged to the same linguistic family. In Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (1808,) Schlegel argues that these languages came from India, where, according to him, the progenitors of European culture originated.[14] By connecting several words from the various languages, Schlegel found that the people of Persia referred to themselves as Iranians, a named derived from the Middle Persian Ērān, which itself stemmed from the Old Persian/Avestan Ariya (likely meaning “compatriot.”) Schlegel then found the unchanged variant, “Arya,” in Sanskrit, where it referred to the upper echelon of ancient Indian society. Schlegel concluded that “Arya” was the origin for the German word “Ehren” (“honor,”) and Éire/Erin (the ancient word for Ireland.) Schlegel suggested these proto-Europeans referred to themselves as the “Aryans,” or “the honorable people.”[15]

The term “Indo-European” was first used in 1813 by Thomas Young in the Quarterly Review. Later that year Napoleon was defeated in Lepzig, and the term “Indo-European” was replaced with “Indo-German” by J. Von Klaproth.[16] Schlegel and other like-minded scholars began to envision a great mythic past “the fruitful home of the great progenitor” of the “Indo-Germans.” The proponents of the “Indo-Germanic” theory made their appearance “with unfailing regularity in every work that pretended to be up to date.” This “was not so kindly received across the Rhine, or to the east of the Vistula,” so in an ironic twist, the word Aryan was championed by philologists in an effort to de-center the “German” of “Indo-German.”[17]




The hopes of the Pan-Germans were deflated after the Napoleonic Wars. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Holy Roman Empire was replaced with the Deutscher Bund, a loose confederation of thirty-nine German-speaking states. After many long years of fighting, Germans sank into a political torpor.[18]  Displays of “German racial pride” manifested largely in scholarship  not politics. This was most evident in 1819 with Heinrich von Stein’s The Monumenta Germanice Historica.[19] The impulse for modern nation-states were felt in populations all over Europe (and elsewhere.) The Serbians fought (and won) independence from the Ottomans 1817, the Greeks following suit in 1832.[20] The Poles tried in 1830 but lost to Russian a year later.[21] In the midst of this, came the next significant philological contribution, Franz Bopp’s A Comparative Grammar (1833.) It was the most comprehensive comparison between Sanskrit and classical European languages produced up till that time.[22] The science of language was now a crucial element to the various independence movements, especially the burgeoning “Pan-Slavic” movement. Works like František Palacký’s History of the Czech Nation in Bohemia and Moravia (1832,) and P.I. Chafarik’s Slav Antiqaities (1837,) supporting their claims with the theories of savants.  Croatian intellectuals made a push to have their unique identity recognized on the world stage. They put forward an ideology of Yugo-Slavism (Southern-Slavism,) as an ideology of brotherhood and political cooperation between all Slavs in the Balkan peninsula. They called themselves “Illyrians,” after the (alleged) name of the old pre-Roman inhabitants of the region.[23] The French historian of religion, Ernest Renan, speaking contemptuously of this “scientific offensive,” declared such efforts to be “comparative philology transported into the political field.”[24]




In 1840s Britain the term “progressive” and its connection with Liberal politics became more common place, being associated policies such as free trade, etc. It was rooted in the Scottish Enlightenment and its inquiry into the historical phases of commercial society. The progressive state was a dynamic, rich, and happy state. The conservative state was stagnant, and impoverished. Agrarian capitalism was dethroned by industrial capitalism, Manchester Liberalism was ascendant.[25]

Jewish emancipation was incrementally occurring throughout Europe, which saw new economic mobility among the Jews as they migrated to predominantly non-Jewish residential areas. Many Jews found their traditional Orthodox religious service to be incongruous with their new social position and cultural identity and joined Reform congregations. The Liberal or Reform movement in Judaism began in Germany at the end of the eighteenth century, and the first Reform temples opened in German cities by the second and third decades of the nineteenth century. Reform Judaism reached Britain in the 1840s, and it would soon become the dominant expression of Jewish religiosity among prosperous, urban Jews of  Germany, Austro-Hungary, Moravia, Bohemia, Britain, and the United States.[26] The movement, roughly analogous to Protestantism, emphasized the necessity for decorum during services, and prayers in the vernacular. Sermons with a mixed choir and organ replaced the prayers that referred to the coming of the Messiah and the return to Zion with universalistic ones. The reform movement abandoned the idea of a personal Messiah and discarded the national idea for the restorationist ideal of a progressive “Messianic age” in which humanity worshipped the true God and lived in peace and good will.[27] There were a few exceptions.

Mordecai Noah, a prominent Jewish politician who published Discourse on the Restoration of the Jews (1845.) The substance of Noah’s ideas was not outside the realm of Jewish discourse of the time, but he differed in his call for political sponsorship. Noah was among the first to suggest that Christians solicit the Ottoman Sultan, on behalf of the Jews, for permission to legally purchase the land. The decaying Ottoman Empire had paid little attention to malaria-ridden province of Palestine in the past. It was such a low priority in fact that it did not even have the status of an independent colony, rather, it was considered the southern part of the Damascus district.[28] Noah reminded his Christian compatriots that according to Scripture, the “great events connected with the millennium” would occur only after the restoration of the Jews.[29] What Noah was referring to was the ascendant Millennialist impulse of Christians in the west, particularly Germany and England. Turning their attention to Ottoman Palestine, these Millennialist urged a “peaceful crusade” in the Holy Land “[to] liberate Palestine from the Muslim infidels,” through “philanthropic activities.”[30] The Jerusalem Bishopric was established in 1841 with the support of Wilhelm Friedrich IV (the King of Prussia,) who shared Britain’s interest in ensuring the Christ’s “Second Coming” would occur in a Protestant Palestine. Samuel Gobat , bishop of the Anglo-Prussian Episcopal See, would establish twenty-five Protestant schools in Palestine in the coming years.[31] It was in spirit of the age that the Jewish Disability Removal Bill of 1847-48 was put before Parliament. (The question was whether a Jew would hold the office of Lord High Chancellor of England.)[32]




On the Continent the Revolution of 1848 swept across the German kingdoms (the last and greatest of the middle-class revolutions which periodically convulsed Europe since 1789.) Galvanized by an optimistic faith in human capacity for self-government, the revolution released a torrent of energy which overwhelmed the existing conservative political order. It was the “springtime of nations,” when barricades were erected in the capitals of Europe. Angry mobs vandalized royal palaces; unpopular ministers resigned and went hurrying into exile; and exiled revolutionaries hurried home as heroes. To liberals, it seemed as though a new world was being born, and a new era of liberty, justice, and religious freedom had begun.[33] It was in this political atmosphere that Karl Marx broke ties with some of Hegel’s major theories, inverting idealism into materialism and questioning the Hegelian conception of state in his Communist Manifesto.[34]  One result of the Revolution of 1848 was the Basic Rights of the Frankfurt Parliament which declared that civil rights were not conditional on religious belief. This marked the emancipation of the Jews in many parts of Europe, and an assurance that their religious and cultural autonomy could be expressed under a new system of equality.[35] (The more conservative regions of Europe still prevented Jewish integration.)[36]

As Germans looked with uncertainty to the future, and their role in it, some looked to the past. It is probably not a coincidence that the folklore-philologist, Jacob Grimm (of Grimm’s Fairy Tales,) addressed German mytho-history in his Geschichte Der Deutschen Sprache (1848.) When discussing the history of the Germans, Grimm states: “Few will be found to question that all the nations of Europe migrated anciently from Asia, their forward march from east to west being prompted by an irresistible impulse whose precise cause is hidden in obscurity.”[37]

A year later, Max Müller, the father of Religious Studies, entered the conversation.[38] Müller stating: “We may learn much more of the intellectual state of the primitive and undivided family of the Aryan nations if we use the materials which Comparative Philology has placed at our disposal.”[39] Next came Count de Gobineau’s four-volume Essai Sur L’ine’galite Des Races (1853-1855,) where he reflects on the myth of the ancient Aryan race, and attributes superiority to those descendants of the Aryans “whose blood was least degraded by mixture with inferior stocks.”[40]




The Crimean War had (nominally) been fought over the protection of Christian Holy Places in Jerusalem, and the aftermath had opened the empire’s borders to outside influence.[41] Though the Sultan was compelled to sign a decree of religious freedom, he remained sensitive to threats of invasion (overt or subtle,) from Western powers, and was adamant about enacting strict measured on purchasing land. The “peaceful crusade” had now become closely connected with the economic expansion and political designs in the Levant by Western powers. It was, in a sense, a means by which they could get a foothold in Palestine. European powers would sponsor a local Christian community and “protect” its interests through special provisions extracted from the Sublime Porte. France “adopted” the local Roman Catholics, while Russia “adopted” the Orthodox Church. For Anglican Britain, which had no Christian community in Palestine to “adopt,” they had to be more creative. The British claimed the right to extend their “umbrella of protection” to the Jews and their “restoration” to Palestine. This political hermeneutics could be justified in as much as Anglican cosmology held that the ingathering of the Jews in the Holy Land, and their conversion to Christianity, was a prerequisite for the Second Coming.[42] As one newspaper article at the time (“An Englishman’s Opinions On The Restoration Of Israel”) stated: “I believe that throughout England a feeling is growing up that, if a distribution of the  Ottoman Empire is to take place, those who have been so long deprived of it should have the first claim.”[43]

In Germany, a drought and famine visited the state of Württemberg, leading thousands of peasants to join a pietistic offshoot of the Evangelische Kirche that called themselves the “Templars.” Among the more charismatic elements of their theology was the belief that they were heirs to the Jewish people, consequently the rightful inheritors of the “Promised Land.” (The movement more or less died down after the drought, but those who remained would establish one of the first colonies in Palestine in 1868.)[44]




The religious response to the material world manifested in other ways. The Church and State in France were competing for the hearts and minds of the people. The “left” had Marianne, the symbol of the Republic, while the “right” had Mary, the virgin mother.[45] During this period, France, was experiencing what would later be called the “epidemic of apparitions,” so-called because of the unprecedented number of supernatural religious sightings which occurred, particularly manifestations of the Virgin Mary, who appeared as a reassuring figure. In 1854 the Immaculate Conception of Mary became official dogma of the Catholic Church.[46] The most famous example of this occurred at the end of the 1850s.

On the evening of the January14, 1858, an assassination attempt was made on Napoleon III by Felice Orsini. The would-be assassin had come to France from Britain under an assumed name. Having been exiled by the Sardinian Government in 1853, he had spent some years in London with Giuseppe Mazzini and the other leading European revolutionaries who took refuge in that city. Orsini came to believe that Napoleon III was the greatest obstacle to Italian independence. On March 13, Orsini breathed his last in the lunette of a guillotine.[47] In the month sandwiched between the assassination attempt and Orsini’s execution, a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous saw the first of her many vision of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes, France.

Had Orsini been more patient, he would have seen the creation of a united Italy. The seeds of which were planted in the summer of 1859, in the Battle of Solferino, between the allied forces of Piedmont and France and Austro-Hungary[48] The carnage witnessed in this battle inspired the Swiss businessman, Henry Dunant, to form the Red Cross, an organization designed to provide indiscriminate relief to the wounded during times of war. In 1864 he helped organize the first Geneva Convention. In homage to the host country, Durant adopted the Swiss flag as the emblem of the Red Cross, changing only the colors.[49] There was probably more going on here behind the scenes, especially since the name of that organization predates the adoption of the symbol. We get some sense of what this might be, as  Durant was an “itinerant advocate [for] the re-settlement of Palestine by the Jewish people.”[50] Perhaps there was some Templar aesthetic in that flag. Durant wrote a letter to Napoleon III appealing for French protection in a mass colonization scheme of Palestine: “The most important outcome […] would be the liberation of the ‘Holy Land’ from the yoke of the Turks, the peaceful termination of Islam.”[51]




By this time, the ideas of Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking work, On The Origin of Species (1860,) were well-ventilated, forever changing humanity’s understanding of itself, and its place in the world. Darwin writes that the dominant species of the larger groups left many modified descendants, with new groups (and sub-groups) formed. “As these are formed, the species of the less vigorous groups, from their inferiority inherited from a common progenitor, tend to become extinct together, and to leave no modified offspring on the face of the earth.”[52] When Darwin’s theory of evolution entered the marketplace of ideas, it was soon used as a political tool, most notably in multi-cultural states like the United States. In 1861 the American race-theorist George Fitzhugh (author of the first English-language work to use the term “Sociology,”) popularized the phrase “Master Race.”[53] In his essay “The Message, The Constitution, and the Times,” Fitzhugh conceptualized the “Master Race” as a way of differentiating between the anglophone colonies/states of the American North and South.[54] According to Fitzhugh, the colonies established in the Americas, and their varieties of religious expression, were continuing a conflict which stretched back to the English Civil War. “If [the Puritans] wished to worship God according to their own tenets,” Fitzhugh writes, “it was with that spirit which […] banishes freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, in all that pertains to religious toleration.” Regarding the “Master Race,” Fitzhugh states: “The Cavaliers, Jacobites, and Huguenots of the South naturally hate, condemn, and despise the Puritans who settled the North. The former are master races, the latter a slave race, the descendants of the Saxon serfs.”[55]




In January 1866 war broke out between Prussia and Austro-Hungary over jurisdiction of the jointly-administered region of Schleswig-Holstein. The Kingdom of Italy allied with Prussia, opening another front. The Austro-Hungarian defeat meant their exclusion from German politics.[56] Another result of the war was the near complete unification of Italy under King Victor Emanuel.[57] During this turning point in German Imperial history, two Jews named Ludwig Bamberger and Edward Lasker, would play a key role in Prussian Minister, President Otto von Bismarck’s plan for unification by seceding from the Fortschritts-Partei to found the National Liberal Party. With their support, Bismarck was able to announce the dissolution of the Deutscher Bund, and the creation of the new Prussian-led North German Confederation.[58]

By 1868, the “racial” model of “survival of the fittest” was supported by the German zoologist, Ernst Haeckel, who, citing Darwin, claimed that “in the struggle for life the more highly developed, the more favored and larger groups of forms, possess the positive inclination and the certain tendency to spread more and more at the expense of the lower, more backward, and smaller groups.”[59] Anthropologist J.W. Jackson claimed in his 1869 essay, “The Aryan and the Semite,” that the greatest wars that ever occurred within the Caucasus region were a result of the “Semite struggle with the Aryan for the supremacy of civilization,” adding that the “great racial conflict has not yet terminated—in truth it has scarcely paused.”[60] It was during this time that an obscure Hamburg journalist named Wilhelm Marr articulated his gloomy racial anxieties of the German state in sensational pamphlet titled “The Victory of Judaism over Germanism.” It was the first piece of literature to use the term “Anti-Semitic.”[61]

The next war of German “racial determinism” occurred in July 1870, when rumors swirled that a scion of the Prussian royal house, Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringe, would mount the vacant Spanish throne. The great European powers feared this would disturb the balance of power, the French being particularly aggrieved. In an effort to keep the peace, Prince Leopold withdrew his candidature, but this did not save the situation. Days of saber-rattling and intrigue followed until the French declared war on Prussia on July 19, 1870. The Prussians were ultimately victorious, resulting the fall of the Bonaparte dynasty (and the creation of Third French Republic.) The Prussians acquired Alsace and Lorraine. Bismarck was now able to complete his Prussian hegemony in Germany by incorporating the dependent South German states into a new German Empire.[62] The French biologist, Jean Louis Armand de Quatrefages, laments at this time:


Entire history, that of our own days, that of Europe itself, shows only too well what are wars of races […] Thanks to the idea of the antagonism of races, set going and worked with Machiavellian skill, the whole of Germany rose. In the name of Pan-Germanism, they declared they would reign over the Latin races; and seeing in France the highest exponent of these races, they hurled themselves on our country with the loudly-proclaimed intention of reducing it to irremediable impotency.[63]




King Wilhelm I of Prussia was crowned German Emperor. The unification of the disparate Germans under Prussian-Protestant hegemony, meant excluding Catholic Austria from the new Reich.[64] It was a question of loyalty. The confessional divide of German Catholics and Protestants was particularly heightened, as the Vatican Council announced the doctrine of papal infallibility on July 18, 1870 (the day before war broke out.) Bismarck was determined to consolidate the unity of the Reich against Catholics and Poles, who, he believed were likely to be influenced by interests (local, religious, and ethnic) that were in opposition to those of the new Germany.[65] Bismarck’s response would be “Kulturkampf” (“Culture Struggle.”)[66] It was “supported by the whole body of Jewish liberalism,” or so it was claimed.[67]

The unification of Germany, and the rapid payment of the enormous French War indemnity, produced an unprecedented impulse to both industrial and financial activity throughout the Reich. It was at this time that the famous Deutsche Bank was founded by the Siemens family. Money was cheap and speculation was universal. “Company mania” spread, favored by the Government which “granted railway and other concessions with a prodigal hand.”[68] German liberalism was defeated by Bismarck.[69] Opposition was encouraged to leave the country, as emigration was regarded as a way for Germany to export its “social problems.”[70] It was not just dissenters who took advantage of the unrestricted outward migration policy, not a few of Bismarck’s supporters found their way to America as evidenced in the town of Bismarck, North Dakota. Founded in 1873, the town was named in honor of the German Chancellor by railroad tycoons in order to attract German immigrant settlers.[71] The “Teutonic families” that were seen “scattered over the Western States” could not be “too eagerly welcomed,” the papers said, as they were “aiding in building up the country.”[72]



On January 14, 1873, Edward Lasker called the attention of the Prussian Diet to certain dangers facing the economy. Ludwig Bamberger likewise condemned the policy “which had permitted the milliards to gut the country instead of being paid on a plan which would have facilitated their gradual digestion by the economic machinery.” Lasker conducted an inquiry into the causes of the economic downturn and discovered a litany of company scandals in which “financial promoters and aristocratic directors were chiefly involved.”[73] The lead culprit in these abuses was Henry Bethel Strousberg, the son of a Jewish merchant from East Prussia, who promoted fraudulent companies.[74] Lasker delivered a dramatic speech announcing his discoveries. As predicted, the great Vienna “Krach” occurred in May 1873, and bubble of speculation brought global financial ruin.[75] Anti-Jewish sentiment soon followed.

A month after the “Krach” a German archaeologist named Heinrich Schliemann, would discover the ancient city of Troy, unintentionally unleashing a powerful semiotic in the world.[76] The inhabitants of Troy “were certainly Aryans,” Schliemann claimed. A fact supported he supported with examples of the “earliest Aryan religious symbols, upon the terra-cotta disks—especially the two forms of the Cross.” Schliemann named this “Aryan Cross,” the “swastika” the “sign of ‘good wishes.”[77]

The Catholic clergy, “smarting under the Kulturkampf,” joined “heartily” in the new anti-Jewish cry.[78] More sensational pamphlets were produced, notably Otto Glagau’s Der Boersen Und Grundergeschwindel In Berlin (1876,) which was a detailed exposé of the scandal Lasker first revealed. The agitation ballooned, its growth “being helped by the sensitiveness and cacoëthes scribendi of the Jews themselves,” it was said, as they irritated the public by “contributing two pamphlets and a much larger proportion of newspaper articles for every one supplied by their opponents.” This was initially more literary agitation than political agitation and was “generally regarded only as an ephemeral craze or a passing spasm of popular passion.”

In 1877 relations between Bismarck and the National Liberals grew strained. A deficit in the budget compelled the Government to enact new taxes, and in order to carry them through the Reichstag, the support of the National Liberals was solicited. Lasker and Bamberger countered by pressing their own constitutional demands. Bismarck subsequently dissolved the Reichstag and came forth with a new fiscal policy (a combination of protection and state socialism.) Lasker and Bamberger directed a great secession of the National Liberals into opposition. Bismarck found a new majority among the ultra-Conservatives and the Roman Catholics, and recognized in the anti-Jewish rhetoric, “a means of ‘dishing’ the Judaized liberals, and to his creatures who assisted him in his press campaigns.” He even began speaking of a new “Kulturkampf” against the Jews. Bismarck’s final breach with National Liberals occurred in July 1879. This was immediately followed by anti-Jewish demonstrations which “spread with sudden fury over the whole of Germany,” seemingly out of nowhere.  Wilhelm Marr’s pamphlet, “The Victory of Judaism over Germanism,” was reprinted, going through nine further editions within a few months. Many suspected that Bismarck himself was behind this schema.




It was at this time that a twenty-one-year-old medical student in Paris, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, penned the article “A Weighty Question” for the Hebrew periodical Ha-Shahar. The article discussed the future of the Hebrew language in Europe, which was a semi-dead language at the time.[79] It also discussed the future of the Jewish people, claiming that only when the Jews emigrated en masse and settlement in Palestine would they finally have a secure home of their own free from outside influences. What was unique about the article was the introduction of a new Hebrew word (and new concept,) “leomut,” or “nationalism.” After discussing the term within its European context as indicating a people’s shared sense of common homeland, history and destiny, Ben Yehuda made the case for its easily translatable applicability to the Jewish people and the land of Palestine. If a common language was the criterion of nationalism and nationhood, Ben Yehuda claimed, “We have a language in which we can write everything we want to and we can speak it if we only want to.” The nascent Jewish nationalism necessitated the secularization of what had previously been the holy language of the Jews.[80] This marked the beginning of the modern revival of Hebrew, and its transformation into a spoken language again. Yehuda would marry and go with his wife to Palestine 1881, where they settled in Jerusalem. Yehuda vowed to only speak in Hebrew with the Jews whom he encountered. In 1882 their first child would be born, Ittamar Ben Avi, who would be the first person in nearly two thousand years to have Hebrew as their native tongue.[81]




The final breach with the National Liberals occurred in the summer of 1879, and that was immediately followed by a violent revival of the Anti-Semitic agitation. Marr’s pamphlet was reprinted, and within a few months ran through nine further editions. A number of Socialists, “being forbidden to agitate against the rich,” began occupying their involuntary leisure by inciting the populace against the Jews. By the autumn of 1879, the “Anti-Semite League,” had formed.[82] Its stated aim was to unite all non-Jewish Germans (of all persuasions, all parties, and all stations,) into one common league, and setting aside all separate interests, endeavored to prevent the “German fatherland from becoming completely Judaised, and render residence in it supportable to the posterity of its aborigines.” It claimed to operate in a strictly legal manner in its pursuit “to thrust the Semites back into a station corresponding to their numerical strength.” Wherever the Anti-Semites looked, they complained that they saw their country “weighted with Jewish influence.” Everything from German universities (“deeply tinged with Jewish teachings,”) to their philosophers and popular journalists were Jews. German aspirations and opinions, they claimed, were asphyxiated by Jewish predominance. They stated:


Foreign nations should know that the German people allows its Press to be written and its public opinion formed by Jews , that our authors and artists sigh under the censorship of a Judaistic literature, and that the real beat of the national German pulse cannot be felt because the Hebrew critic hampers it […][83]


The 1902 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica states:


In the political struggles of the concluding quarter of the 19th century an important part was played by a religious, political, and social agitation against the Jews, known as “Anti-Semitism.” The origins of this remarkable movement already threaten to become obscured by legend.[84] The Jews contended that it was a mere atavistic revival of Medieval “Jew-hatred.” The extreme section of Anti-Semites (who gave the movement its quasi-scientific name) declared that it was a racial struggle—an incident of the eternal conflict between Europe and Asia—and that the anti-Semites were engaged in an effort to prevent what was called the “Aryan Race” from being subjugated by a Semitic immigration, and to save Aryan ideals from being modified by an alien and demoralizing oriental Anschauung. There was no essential foundation for either of those contentions, however. Anti-Semitism was exclusively a question of European politics, and its origin was to be found, not in the long struggle between Europe and Asia, or between the Church and the Synagogue, (which filled so much of ancient and medieval history) but in the social conditions resulting from the emancipation of the Jews in the middle of the 19th century.[85]



[1] Philip Schaff (ed.) A Religious Encyclopedia: Or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology. Vol. IV. Funk & Wagnalls. New York, New York. (1891): 2153.

[2] Lubelsky, Isaac. Celestial India. Equinox Publishing. Sheffield, England. (2012): 15.

[3]  Johnston, Charles. “Lovers of the East: Sir William Jones (1746-1794.)” The Oriental Department Papers. No. 23. (May 1895): 141-144; Master, Alfred. “The Influence of Sir William Jones upon Sanskrit Studies.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Vol. XI, No. 4 (1946): 798-806.

[4] Jones states: “The legislature of Britain having […] an intention to leave the natives of these Indian provinces in possession of their own Laws, at least on the titles of contracts and inheritances […] Whatever opinion in short may be formed of Manu and his laws in a country happily enlightened by sound philosophy, and the only true revelation, it must be remembered that those laws are actually revered as the word of the Most High by nations of great importance to the political and commercial interests of Europe, and particularly by many millions of Hindu subjects whose well-directed industry would add largely to the wealth of Britain, and who ask no more in return than protection.” [Jones, William. Institutes of Hindu Law. Rivingtons and Cochran. London, England. (1825): vii-xxii.]

[5] Dunlap, Knight. “The Great Aryan Myth.” The Scientific Monthly. Vol. LIX, No. 4 (October 1944): 296-300.

[6] Jones states: “The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious [having more cases] than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of the verbs and in the forms of the grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason […] for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic […] had the same origin with the Sanskrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same Family […] It seems to follow, that the only human family after the flood established themselves in the northern parts of Iran; that, as they multiplied, they were divided into three distinct branches, each retaining little at first, and losing the whole by degrees, of their common primary language; but agreeing severally on new expressions for new ideas; that the branch of [Japheth] was enlarged in many scattered shoots over the north of Europe and Asia, diffusing themselves as far as the western and eastern seas, and, at length in the infancy of navigation, beyond them both […]”[Jones, William. Discourse the Ninth: “The Origin and Families of Nations.” Delivered February 23, 1792, at a meeting of the Asiatick Society of Bengal.]

[7] Bienfait, H.F; van Beek, W.E.A. “Right and Left as Political Categories. An Exercise in ‘Not-so-Primitive’ Classification.” Anthropos. Bd. 96, H. 1. (2001): 169-178.

[8] Cohen, Shaye J. D. From The Maccabees To The Mishnah. Westminster John Know Press. Louisville, Kentucky. (2006): 36.

[9] Newman, Aubrey. “Napoleon and The Jews.” European Judaism: A Journal for the New Europe. Vol. II, No. 2 (Winter 1967): 25-32.

[10] Henderson, W.O. “The Pan-German Movement.” History. Vol. XXVI, No. 103 (December 1941): 188-198; Masur, Gerhard. Imperial Berlin.  Basic Books, Inc. New York, New York. (1970): 31-33.

[11] The New Volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. (Tenth Edition.) Vol. XXV. London, England. (1902): 470-482.

[12] Hegel writes: “The national spirits, which find their being in the form of some particular animal, coalesce into one single spirit. Thus it is that the separate artistically beautiful national spirits combine to form a Pantheon, the element and habitation of which is Language. Pure intuition of self in the sense of universal human nature takes, when the national or tribal spirit is actualized, this form: the national spirit combines with the others (which together with it constitute, through nature and natural conditions, one people) in a common undertaking, and for this task builds up a collective nation, and, with that, a collective heaven. This universality, to which spirit attains in its existence, is nevertheless merely this first universality, which, to begin with, starts from the individuality of ethical life, has not yet overcome its immediacy, has not yet built up a single state out of these separate national elements. The ethical life of an actual national spirit rests partly on the simple confiding trust of individuals in the whole of their nation, partly in the direct share which all in spite of differences of position, take in the decisions and acts of its government. In the union, not in the first instance to secure a permanent order but merely for a common act that freedom of participation on the part of each and all is for the nonce set aside. This first community of life is, therefore, an assemblage of individualities rather than the dominion and control of abstract thought, which would rob the individuals of their self-conscious share in the will and act of the whole.” [Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. The Phenomenology of Mind, Vol. II. Swan Sonnenschein. London, England. (1910): 738-739.]

[13] Henderson, W.O. “The Pan-German Movement.” History. Vol. XXVI, No. 103 (December 1941): 188-198.

[14] Dunlap, Knight. “The Great Aryan Myth.” The Scientific Monthly. Vol. LIX, No. 4 (October 1944): 296-300.

[15] Watkins, Calvert. “Aryan.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) Houghton Mifflin. New York, New York. (2000): 103.

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[17] Beard, John Relly. Self-Culture. John Heywood. Manchester, England. (1859): 363; Johnston, Charles. “The Aryans.” The Madras Weekly Mail. (Madras, India) March 21, 1895.

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[19] Mousset, Albert. “Slav Solidarity in the Balkans.” International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1931-1939.) Vol. XIII, No. 6 (November-December 1934): 772-791

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[43] “An Englishman’s Opinions On The Restoration Of Israel.” The Sword of Truth and Harbinger of Peace. Vol. II, No. 6 (April 15, 1864): 4-5.

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[52] Darwin, Charles. On The Origin of Species. D. Appleton and Company. New York, New York. (1860): 300.

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