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Anti-Semitism has a problem – that hyphen in the middle

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Published: 22 May 2020

Last updated: 4 March 2024

Acclaimed historian Deborah Lipstadt is leading a fight to lose the hyphen from anti-Semitism, saying its presence ‘completely distorts the meaning of the word’

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE FAMOUSLY asked, “What’s in a name?” But when it comes to the conversation about anti-Semitism, the question is far more specific: What’s in a hyphen?

For Professor Deborah Lipstadt, the hyphen means a great deal – and she argues that it’s time to get rid of it.

In January 2019, the acclaimed historian published the book “Antisemitism: Here and Now.” Together with explanations of its history, background, resurgence and a playbook on how to battle the phenomenon, the book included a clarion call to change the way the word is written. Lipstadt wrote emphatically that it should no longer be written “anti-Semitism.” Instead, the hyphen and uppercase S should be banished and it should be one word: antisemitism.

But even as the issue has dominated headlines in recent years – following the Pittsburgh and Poway shootings, incidents in Europe and disturbing conspiracy theories – the hyphen has proved hard to dislodge.

FULL STORY Anti-antisemitism? A battle rages over the Jewish hyphen (Haaretz)

Photo: Deborah Lipstadt talking at a conference in Jerusalem, October 2019 (Olivier Fitoussi)

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