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Published: 02 November 1995

400 Pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

ISBN: 9780195101126

Also Available As:


Bookseller Code (06)

Antisemitism in America

Leonard Dinnerstein

Gracefully written and monumental in scope, this important volume offers readers the first comprehensive history of antisemitism in the United States, from colonial times to the present. Written by one of the foremost experts on ethnic history, it traces American antisemitism from its roots in the dawn of the Christian era and the arrival of the first European settlers, through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to its peak during World War II, and its present day permutations, with separate chapters on antisemitism and Jewish anxieties in the South and African American attitudes from the 1830s to the 1990s. Author Leonard Dinnerstein argues convincingly that Christian viewpoints underly all American antisemitism. No matter what other factors or forces may have been in play at any given time, he insists, the basis for prejudice towards Jews in the United States, and in the colonial era before it, must be Christian teachings and Christianity's portrayal of Jews. Dinnerstein maintains that while the first settlers from Europe carried antisemitism as part of their intellectual and cultural baggage, antisemitism in America would never grow to be as strong and vitriolic in America as it was in Europe. Once separated from England, the United States never had an official church and the federal government never sanctioned antisemitic policies. Policies of legal equality, individual liberty and civil rights for white men, religious freedom for white men and women, and all of these ultimately for African-Americans, Native Americans, and Asians as well, developed. Unfortunately, however, the ancestral European Christian obsessions with Jews and their alleged attributes have also become an irrevocable art of the American heritage and periodically Jews have been accused of stubbornly refusing to embrace Jesus, plotting to undermine the American government, exploiting the economically less fortunate, being more concerned with their international brethren than with their American compatriots, and withholding patriotic fervor during the nation's battles with its enemies. Drawing on a wealth of sources with meticulous scholarship, Dinnerstein shows how the interplay of these various and mixed factors have contributed to Americans' perceptions of Jews over the last two hundred years, and have determined as well the experiences and opportunities that Jews have had in the United States.

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