Anti-Semitism is a social problem that has not been eradicated.
Last month, the JN launched “The Anti-Semitism Project,” a yearlong inquiry and analysis of one of the world’s oldest prejudices. It is a social problem that has not been eradicated.
At one time, there was hope that anti-Semitism would fade away. In 1884, the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary even excluded “anti-Semitism” because it was thought that the word would have a very short shelf life. It can be found in any English dictionary today.
Anti-Semitism is certainly not as rampant as it was during certain historical eras like the 1930s. But, just as one begins to perceive a dramatic drop in anti-Semitic thought and practice, the bias against Jews rises again.
We are in the midst of another swell of anti-Semitism as we witness its rise in Europe, continued hatred of Jews in the Middle East, shootings at synagogues in the United States, BDS on college campuses and Nazi symbols freely displayed at recent protests in Lansing and Chicago, to name just a few indicators.
I certainly want to do my part to support the JN’s project. So, I explored the discussions and reports of anti-Semitism that might be found in the historic pages of the Detroit Jewish Chronicle and the Detroit Jewish News in the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History.
The term appears on a whopping 26,426 pages in the Archive. Anti-Semitism was mentioned in the first issue of the Chronicle on March 3, 1916, and in the first issue of the JN on March 27, 1942. Indeed, anti-Semitism is mentioned, discussed or reported upon on about 8% of all Chronicle and JN pages over the years. If the pages that were entirely devoted to advertisements were left out of this calculation, the percentage of those including reference to anti-Semitism would be much higher. In short, anti-Semitism was, and still is, a critical topic of interest to Detroit’s Jewish community.
The ebb and flow of anti-Semitism is well documented in the Davidson Archive. Stories in Detroit’s Jewish newspapers are wide-ranging and fascinating, as well as sobering, disgusting and/or sad. For example, see the item in the June 23, 1916, issue of the Chronicle: “Anti-Semitism in the National Guard.” Or 100 years later, see the commentaries in the JN on Aug. 3, 2017: “Special Envoy Needed to Combat Anti-Semitism” or in the Feb. 15, 2018, issue: “Today’s Anti-Semitism.” In between those dates, there is a story in the March 30, 1945, issue of the Chronicle that cited the National Commander of Jewish War Veterans, who warned about “The Threat of Political Anti-Semitism.” And many, many more.
Abe Foxman, former longtime national director of the Anti-Defamation League, spoke in Detroit on Nov. 20, 2019, and noted that anti-Semitism “is a virus without an antidote or a vaccine. It serves so many masters for so many reasons.”
Unfortunately, the fight against anti-Semitism must still be waged. The Davidson Archive holds proof that the JN has, and always will, do its best to be part of the solution.
First, the study of anti-Semitism is not an exact science and, second, it has no one single cause.
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.