The Nature of Antisemitism: Commonalities and Manifestations
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Undergraduate honors thesis / Opt-out
In this thesis, I will elaborate on and expand the construct proposed by Lipstadt that antisemitism is a typical conspiracy. In doing so, I will demonstrate through a survey of various forms of antisemitism throughout history that, while aspects of this nefarious hatred are “essentially irrational, delusional, and absurd,” there is a certain understandable and common thread between them; that is, the Jews’ pronounced differences from the rest of society present them as vulnerable and easy targets. These differences are generally aspects that separate Jews from the mainstream populous based on the most prevalent ideologies at a given time. These ideologies have changed throughout history, but specific examples include religious, cultural, racial, or political ideologies. That these differences consistently become the pretexts for hatred shows that antisemitism isn’t entirely irrational. It certainly has irrational elements to it, as Lipstadt suggested, but at each respective epoch that will be surveyed, a coherent justification for the hatred based on some level of rationality is presented by antisemites. Further, I will demonstrate that Antisemitism is able to persist so effectively because, like Lipstadt posited, it is not entirely bound by rules of rationality.¶ This paper will survey the precise differences that get exploited while formulating antisemitic ideologies and show that they change at a rapid pace. In our historical survey, we will address various time points in a roughly chronological order, beginning with the early stages of Christian development in Rome in the fourth century CE and ending with an analysis of college campuses today. We will see the component of Lipstadt’s hypothesis which says that antisemitism is an irrational conspiracy by showing that at one time point Jews can be hated for one aspect of their being that is different from society and just years later be hated for the exact opposite. By showing commonalities between the antisemitisms and describing that there are, indeed, elements of rationality, we will build upon, and perhaps refine, Lipstadt’s hypothesis. [from Introduction]
Israeli, Z.J. (2022, January). The Nature of Antisemitism: Commonalities and Manifestations. (Undergraduate honors thesis, Yeshiva University).
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