There are various ways to define antisemitism. Basically it refers to acts that discriminate against people just because they are Jewish. (Based on the root of the word, it could refer to acts against all semitic peoples, but that's not the way it's generally used.)
Antisemitism had deep roots in Western Civilization for centuries, from the Christianization of the Roman Empire to Nazi Germany in the early 20th Century.
When things go wrong in a wide range of different areas Anti-Semites frequently start false rumours and the like blaming the Jews. In Mediaeval Europe Jews were routinely accused of murdering Christians, especially Christian children. Such rumours typically lead Christian mobs to set out and murder Jews and murders of Jews were not considered evil in the same way as supposed murders of Christians. The blood libel was a common false accusation against Jews which sadly is still propagated today.
Blaming Jews without reason continued over the centuries, one notable example was the Protocol of the Elders of Zion in the 19th Century. Jews in the 20th Century were blamed for supposedly making Germany lose the First World War among other accusations.
Whenever world events are difficult to explain or understand, Jews are the most convenient scapegoat," Economics is a difficult subject and not an exact science, therefore when economic problems develop experts may have difficulty understanding or agreeing precisely what is happening and economists have even greater trouble explaining what they know to ordinary people. By contrast when anti-Semites come up with something like, “The Jews caused it” that is easy to understand so people suffering from the crisis have someone to blame. Surprisingly or unsurprisingly when economic conditions are good the general public is far less inclined to ask how far Jewish financiers and Jewish industrialists are involved in that success.
- adjective: antisemetic
- antisemetic person: antisemite
- Antisemitism Research Resources
- Antisemitism Holocaust Encyclopedia
- Jewish bodies found in medieval well in Norwich
- Ten years after 9/11, anti-Semitic conspiracies 'still going strong'
- The poisonous Protocols, Umberto Eco on the distinction between intellectual anti-semitism and its popular counterpart
- What does 'blood libel' mean?
- Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Spread Globally As World Markets Grapple With Financial Crisis
- Living with the J-word