Anti-Semitism in America

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9780195037807: Anti-Semitism in America

Is antisemitism on the rise in America? Did the "hymietown" comment by Jesse Jackson and the Crown Heights riot signal a resurgence of antisemitism among blacks? The surprising answer to both questions, according to Leonard Dinnerstein, is no--Jews have never been more at home in America. But what we are seeing today, he writes, are the well-publicized results of a long tradition of prejudice, suspicion, and hatred against Jews--the direct product of the Christian teachings underlying so much of America's national heritage.
In Antisemitism in America, Dinnerstein provides a landmark work--the first comprehensive history of prejudice against Jews in the United States, ranging from its foundations in European culture to the present day. Dinnerstein's deeply documented book reveals how non-Christians were excluded from voting, for example, in Rhode Island until 1842, North Carolina until 1868, and in New Hampshire until 1877. The Civil War, Dinnerstein writes, brought a new wave of antisemitism as both sides assumed that Jews supported with the enemy. The decades that followed marked the emergence of a full-fledged antisemitic society, as Christian Americans excluded Jews from their social circles. Antisemitic fervor climbed higher after the turn of the century, accelerated by eugenicists, fear of Bolshevism, the publications of Henry Ford, and the Depression. Just before our entry into World War II, the author tells us, it reached a climax, as Father Coughlin attacked Jews over the airwaves (with the support of much of the Catholic clergy) and Charles Lindbergh delivered an openly antisemitic speech to an isolationist meeting. Dinnerstein devotes individual chapters to antisemitism in the South and among African Americans, showing that prejudice among both whites and blacks flowed from the same stream of Southern evangelical Christianity. After the war, with fresh economic opportunities and increased activities by civil rights advocates, antisemitism went into a sharp decline--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. This book, however, reveals in disturbing detail the resilience, and vehemence, of this ugly prejudice. Penetrating, authoritative, and frequently alarming, this is the definitive account of a plague that refuses to go away.

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About the Author:


About the Author:
Leonard Dinnerstein is Professor of History at the University of Arizona. His books include The Leo Frank Case, America and the Survivors of the Holocaust, and Natives and Strangers.

Review:


"Will stand for a long time as the definitive treatment of its topic."--Jack Wertheimer, Commentary


"The most comprehensive and up-to-date history of American anti-Semitism....Concise, highly readable....A major contribution."--Philip Perlmutter, The Boston Globe


"No other historian of the subject has done anything approaching this monumental, narrative synthesis of previous scholarship in many different disciplines, melded with original research in impressive depth. The variety of sources the author draws upon, and the engrossing detail he has extracted from them, continually surprised and impressed me. The treatment of complex events is nicely rounded and generally nuanced....A major work of scholarship."--John Higham, author of Send These to Me: Immigrants in Urban America


"Antisemitism in America would be a valuable addition to most church libraries, because of its factual handling of a persistent tendency toward antisemitism in mainstream Christian culture."--Church and Synagogue Libraries


"Informative."--Perspectives on Political Science


"Dinnerstein has produced a genuinely definitive history and one which is readable and consistently interesting."--Journal of American Ethnic History


"[C]ertainly a richly sourced, incisively written book....It is a remarkable accomplishment, a survey and sensitive analysis wrapped in an accessible package."--KLIATT


"The author shows how war and economic crises have often caused Jews to be cast as scapegoats, while evangelical Christianity has portrated them as enemies."--The New York Times Book Review New & Noteworthy Paperback, January 14, 1996


"[Dinnerstein] doesn't pull any punches about the forces in and outside churches who keep the theme of Jewish villainy alive....a challenging book that deserves attention."--The New York Times


"As a record of one of the country's dirty secrets, Antisemitism in America has real value."--Chicago Tribune


"No other historian of the subject has done anything approaching this monumental, narrative synthesis of previous scholarship in many different disciplines, melded with original research in impressive depth. The variety of sources the author draws upon, and the engrossing detail he has extracted from them, continually surprised and impressed me. The treatment of complex events is nicely rounded and generally nuanced....A major work of scholarship."--John Higham, author of Send These to Me: Immigrants in Urban America


"Antisemitism in America is a tour de force--comprehensive, thoughtful, and highly readable. Dinnerstein's is a well-documented narrative and cogent analysis of antisemitism in America, from its roots in European Christianity to the present day. Dinnerstein resists the easy temptations prevalent in other studies of antisemitism. Instead, he portrays American antisemitism in its complex and nuanced history in the context of a keen understanding of American democratic pluralism."--Jerome A Chanes, National Affairs Director, National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council


"In an enlightening history of anti-Semitism in the U.S. Dinnerstein argues that deeply ingrained hostility towards Jews embedded in Christian teachings is the mainspring of this prejudice....Offers an illuminating analysis of black anti-Semitism since WW II, tracing its roots in many instances to Protestant theology."--Publishers Weekly


"Dinnerstein presents a landmark history of anti-Semitism in America in a fine, readable manner."--Library Journal


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