How Anti-Semitism Became a Social Movement

Anyone can join—even Jews.

October 20, 2014 | Ben Cohen
About the author: Ben Cohen, a New York-based writer, has contributed essays on anti-Semitism and related issues to Mosaic and other publications.
This is a response to Summer in Paris, originally published in Mosaic in October 2014

A protester displays a burning Israeli flag during a demonstration in Paris on July 26, 2014. AP Photo/Benjamin Girette.

“Anti-Semitism was born in modern societies because the Jew did not assimilate himself,” wrote the French-Jewish thinker Bernard Lazare in 1894, a few months after the arrest of Captain Alfred Dreyfus on charges of treason. “But,” Lazare continued, “when anti-Semitism ascertained that the Jew was not assimilated,” it reacted in two conflicting directions, simultaneously “reproach[ing] him for it and . . . [taking] all necessary measures to prevent his assimilation in the future.”

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now