I think we need a new, punchier word in our lexicon to describe “antisemitism.” I think we need an easy, contemporary word that all kinds of people will feel comfortable using.
I arrived at this conclusion after listening to yesterday’s extensive coverage of the EHRC Report on antisemitism in the Labour Party.
I’m not planning to rehearse or discuss any of it, by the way. Anyone reading this is almost certain to be more au fait with the sordid details than I am. What I will say is that “antisemitism” really doesn’t cut it as a way to describe the level of hate that the Jewish community was subjected to in the UK – and continues to be subjected to – online and in many places around the world.
I know there is “Jew-hate” but that is such a stark and ugly phrase, that reporters, presenters and commentators all noticeably shied away from using it in their coverage of the EHRC report. “Antisemitism” was conspicuously their noun of choice. If “Jew-hate” occurred in, say, a quote from an individual or an organisation, it clearly landed as a quote. And if a presenter or commentator was forced to use it, they did so with very obvious reluctance, uttering the phrase in a way that placed ostentatious – if invisible –quote-marks around it.
Also, there is the etymological difficulty that, technically, “antisemitism” can imply prejudice against other Semitic peoples, such as Arabs. I doubt that I’m the only person who has heard the most vile anti-Jewish hate spewed by people who then justify themselves by saying they could not possibly be antisemitic because they are Semites, too.
So, we need a word that won’t underplay hate; that won’t allow haters to dissemble; and that won’t stick in the throats of broadcasters.
With “homophobia” and “Islamophobia” already in wide used, I suggest that Judeophobia, or possibly Judeaphobia, would do it.
I’ve Googled, so know I haven’t created a new word. But in all the decades of coverage of antisemitism I have read and heard I am not aware of ever having seen it used in this context. I’m not suggesting dispensing entirely with the word, “antisemitism,” just offering an optional term to please the delicate.
I suggest, therefore, that it’s high time that Judeophobia/Judeaphobia took its place in the lexicon alongside “homophobia” and “Islamophobia”. Its common use might also serve to remind those racists who hide behind “anti-Zionism” that their type of prejudice is no different from any other kind.