- Term Papers and Free Essays

Anti-Semitism Since World War I

Essay by   •  November 20, 2010  •  3,060 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,565 Views

Essay Preview: Anti-Semitism Since World War I

Report this essay
Page 1 of 13

Anti-Semitism since World War I

Bert "Tiger" Whitehead

Grand Canyon University

Introduction: The differences among prejudice, discrimination, and scapegoating.

According to the booklet, 101 ways to combat prejudice (Barnes & Noble, n.d.), prejudice is "pre-judging, making a decision about a person or group of people without sufficient knowledge." Discrimination, on the other hand, is "the denial of justice and fair treatment by both individuals and institutions in many arenas, including employment, education, housing, banking, and political rights. Discrimination is an action that can follow prejudiced thinking." Finally, scapegoating is "the action of blaming an individual or group for something when, in reality, there is no one person or group responsible for the problem. It targets another person or group as responsible for problems in society because of that person's group identity."

An example of how people have shown prejudice, discrimination, and scapegoating against a particular group of people can be found in Hitler's persecution of the Jews in Germany during World War II. The Jews people of both a minority religion (Judaism) and a minority race (descendents of Jacob and the Israelites) within Germany.

Hitler was prejudiced against the Jews because he saw the Jewish people as a single body of people that posed a threat to Germany's national security and economic well-being. Instead of seeing each Jewish person as a "German," capable of the same nationalism, loyalty, and German pride as any other German, Hitler grouped Jews together based on their non-Christian religion and their non-German/non-European heritage and race. Because Jewish people were easily identified by birth records and/or religious practices, it was easy to "make a decision about" the Jewish people as a group based on facts that applied specifically only to some Jewish individuals alone. For example, if one "Jewish" man became a banker or another "Jewish" man was hired for a factory job instead of a "German" man, Hitler would generalize this as being a problem in which the "Jews are taking over the banks and the factory jobs." Had these men been viewed simply as "Germans" and not "Jews," then there would be no issue about one German becoming a banker, and another German taking the factory job of a less qualified German. As the grandfather pointed out to his grandson in 1970's TV commercial, "You are prejudiced then, because you consider Jimmy your 'Jewish' friend and not just your 'friend.'" Likewise, Hitler was prejudiced because he considered people of Jewish religion or race as "Jewish" people in Germany rather than simply "Germans".

Hitler also was guilty of scapegoating in that he blamed the "Jewish" population for many of Germany's ills. Hitler viewed Jews as 'inferior' people who were seen as a threat to the purity and strength of the German nation (BÑŒlow, n.d.). In his book, Mein Kampf (My Struggle), Hitler filled the book with hate for the Jewish people. He "blamed them for of all the German suffering, and declared them the natural enemy of the Aryan race. It was Hitler's belief that the Jews had too much money, land and the power of the press. They had, in his opinion, bad blood and would try to mix it with Aryans by marrying Christians, thereby turning their children into Jews. He believed that this would lead to the takeover of Germany by the Jews(Russell, 2000)."

Finally, Hitler was of course guilty of extreme discrimination. According to BÑŒlow (n.d.), "when the Nazis came to power they persecuted these people, took away their human rights and eventually decided that they should be exterminated."

How prevalent are anti-Semitic views in the workplace and in the US?

During World War II, anti-Semitic views were not only popular in Germany, but they were also popular in the United States (Dinnerstein, 1995). However, both Dershowitz (1997) and Dinnerstein (1995) believe that anti-semitism has rapidly declined in the United States, and even throughout much of the world (including Russia) outside of the Middle East. In fact, Dershowitz argues that there is no credible discrimination of Jews in either the U.S. government or corporate America:

Bill Clinton's presidency marked the end of discrimination against Jews in the upper echelons of government. For the first time in American history, the fact that an aspirant for high appointive office was a Jew became irrelevant in his or her selection. President Clinton--our first president who grew up in an age when anti-Semitism was unacceptable--selected several Jewish cabinet members, two Jewish Supreme Court justices, numerous Jewish ambassadors and other high-level executive and judicial officials. Nor, apparently, was Jewishness a bar to election to the United States Congress, which has ten Jewish senators and more than two dozen Jewish representatives, several from states with tiny Jewish populations. Though we have still not had a Jew at the top of either party's ticket, it is fair to say that in today's America, a Jew can aspire to any office, any job, and any social status.

Although Dinnerstein's book was written to shed the light on anti-semitism throughout the world, Dinnerstein concurs with Dershowitz's assessment that "after the war, with fresh economic opportunities and increased activities by civil rights advocates, antisemitism went into sharp decline [in the U.S.] -- though it frequently appeared in shockingly high places, including statements by Nixon and his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff." "It must also be emphasized," Dinnerstein writes, "that in no Christian country has antisemitism been weaker than it has been in the United States," with its traditions of tolerance, diversity, and a secular national government.

Despite its decline in America, Dinnerstein (1995) reveals in disturbing detail the resilience, and vehemence, of this ugly prejudice against Jews, a plague that refuses to go away in society (Dinnerstein, 1995), and that still rears its head periodically among fringe individuals or groups in America. Dershowitz (1997) admits anti-semitism is not extinct in America, but he too agrees it is no longer an institutional problem:

The thesis of this book is that the long epoch of Jewish persecution is finally coming to



Download as:   txt (19.3 Kb)   pdf (204.3 Kb)   docx (17.1 Kb)  
Continue for 12 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 11). Anti-Semitism Since World War I. Retrieved 11, 2010, from

"Anti-Semitism Since World War I" 11 2010. 2010. 11 2010 <>.

"Anti-Semitism Since World War I.", 11 2010. Web. 11 2010. <>.

"Anti-Semitism Since World War I." 11, 2010. Accessed 11, 2010.