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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yellow badge worn by Zazou Gentiles in Vichy France in defiance of official antisemitism
Yellow badge worn by Zazou Gentiles in Vichy France in defiance of official antisemitism

Philo-Semitism (also spelled philosemitism) or Judeophilia is an interest in, respect for and an appreciation of Jewish people, their history and the influence of Judaism, particularly on the part of a gentile. Within the Jewish community, philo-Semitism includes an interest in Jewish culture and a love of things that are considered Jewish.


The controversial term "philosemitism" arose as a pejorative in Germany to describe the positive prejudice towards Jews, in other words a philosemite is a "Jew-lover" or "Jew-friend".[1]


The concept of philo-Semitism is not new, and it was arguably avowed by such thinkers as the 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who described himself as an "anti-anti-Semite."[2]

Philo-Semitism is an expression of the larger phenomenon of allophilia, admiration for foreign cultures as embodied in the more widely known Anglophilia and Francophilia. The rise of philo-Semitism has also prompted some[who?] to reconsider Jewish history, and they argue that while antisemitism must be acknowledged, it is wrong to reduce the history of the Jewish people to one merely of suffering (as has been fostered by well-meaning gentile philo-Semites).[citation needed]

The case of the myths created around the supposed special relationship between Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the founding father of Czechoslovakia, and influential Jews from the US or elsewhere, myths created by Masaryk and adopted in amended forms by Czechoslovak Jews, let cultural historian Martin Wein quote Zygmunt Bauman's and Artur Sandauer's concept of an "allosemitic" worldview, in which, in Wein's words, "antisemitism and philosemitism overlap and share stereotypes, producing exaggerated disregard or admiration for Jews or Judaism."[3] In this sense, Wein quotes Masaryk's statements about a decisive Jewish influence over the press, and him mentioning Jews and freemasons in the same breath, when it came to lobbies he allegedly managed to win over.[3]

Medieval Poland

Wojciech Gerson, Casimir the Great and the Jews
Wojciech Gerson, Casimir the Great and the Jews

From history, one notable example of philo-Semitism is that of the Polish king Casimir III the Great (r. 1333–1370). While the Jewish emancipation wouldn't begin in other countries until towards the end of the 1700s, in Poland Jews had been granted the freedom of worship, trade and travel in 1264 by Bolesław the Pious. In 1334 Jews persecuted across Europe were invited to Poland by Casimir the Great, who, in particular, vowed to protect them as "people of the king".[4] By the 15th century more than half of all diaspora Jews were living in Poland, which kept its status as the main center of Ashkenazi Jewry until the Holocaust.[5]


Very few Jews live in East Asian countries, but Jews are viewed in an especially positive light in some of them, partly owing to their shared wartime experiences during the Second World War. Examples include South Korea[6] and China.[7] In general, Jews are positively stereotyped as intelligent, business savvy and committed to family values and responsibility, while in the Western world, the first of the two aforementioned stereotypes more often have the negatively interpreted equivalents of guile and greed. In South Korean primary schools the Talmud is mandatory reading.[6] During World War II, Japan made efforts to help Jews escape their demise at the hands of the Nazis, despite the fact that the country was then a member of the Axis alliance. The Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and the lives of his family members; in 1985, he was honored by the State of Israel as Righteous Among the Nations. Annual surveys of a large number of countries conducted by the ADL have consistently shown very low levels of antisemitism in Southeast Asia, persisting only at permyriad levels (hundredths of a per cent, i.e. 0.02 per cent in 2014) in Laos. These surveys, others, and polling and analysis about Israel have shown that India has low levels of antisemitism[8] and relatively strong support for Israel, at the 55–65 per cent level, now surpassing the United States in the last respect.[9]

"The Kabbalah Centre" phenomenon

The American singer Madonna, although she does not practice Judaism, has studied Kabbalah with the Kabbalah Centre New Age-style organisation, has given her son a bar mitzva celebration and taken a Hebrew name: Esther (אסתר).[10][11] She once called herself an "ambassador for Judaism"—during a meeting with Prime Minister of Israel Shimon Peres, where they exchanged gifts, Madonna giving him a volume of the Zohar inscribed "To Shimon Peres, the man I admire and love, Madonna".[10]

See also


  1. ^ With Friends Like These Review of Philosemitism in History in the New Republic by Adam Karp
  2. ^ The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 4 by Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley
  3. ^ a b Wein, Martin (2015). "Masaeyk and the Jews". A History of Czechs and Jews: A Slavic Jerusalem. Routledge. pp. 44–50. ISBN 978-1138811652. Retrieved 2 July 2015 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "In Poland, a Jewish Revival Thrives—Minus Jews". New York Times. 12 July 2007. Probably about 70 percent of the world's European Jews, or Ashkenazim, can trace their ancestry back to Poland—thanks to a 14th-century king, Casimir III, the Great, who drew Jewish settlers from across Europe with his vow to protect them as "people of the king"
  5. ^ Schoenberg, Shira. "Ashkenazim". Jewish Virtual Library. Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 24 May 2006.
  6. ^ a b Alper, Tim. "Why South Koreans are in love with Judaism". The Jewish Chronicle. May 12, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  7. ^ Nagler-Cohen, Liron. "Chinese: 'Jews make money'". Ynetnews. April 23, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  8. ^ ADL 2014 Annual Report, accessed 2 July 2019
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "Madonna Says She's an 'Ambassador for Judaism'". The New York Sun. Associated Press. September 17, 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  11. ^ Madonna's son has bar mitzvah in NY, Times of Israel, 15 July 2013, retrieved 2 July 2019


External links

This page was last edited on 11 June 2021, at 18:22
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