As I've been discussing with some Jewish friends on Facebook, I find this whole debate about whether "Anti-Semite" also means "Anti-Zionist" or whatever (both directions), too confusing. 

Because whereas I know what "Jewish" means (it's a world religion, one of several), the "Semite" meme traces to myths and various dubious shades of meaning involving genetic strains.

"Semite" has a holdover eugenics flavor, not unlike "Aryan". 

I consider myself pro Jewish and celebrate Planet Zion (so a zionist?), our Promised Land (the only one we're given, to treasure or to trash).

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In the context of the word "antisemite," yes, it definitely is a synonym for Jewish. My understanding is that the word "antisemitic" was coined by the Nazis to describe themselves.

Thanks for jumping in Mackenzie. I can see where the word "anti-semite" would appeal to Nazis, as they were all about racial theories ("Aryans") and "semite" as a concept seems mixed up with genetics.

I prefer to focus on languages versus dna. Some languages are semitic and some people speak and/or study semitic languages.

If there were no possibility of a Jew not also being semitic, and vice versa, that would argue for these being synonyms.  Dictionary definitions and common usage (which a dictionary is supposed to reflect) enter into these debates about semantics.

Within the Jewish community, a lot of intelligent debate goes on around the terms "semite" and "anti-semite".
https://www.tikkun.org/who-gets-to-define-anti-semitism

"We’d replace such terms with simple concepts that express clear and distinct meanings: Concepts such as anti-Jewish, anti-Arab, and anti-Islam come to mind. Of course, we have no illusions: Our wish will not be granted. "

I'm glad these debates are going on and I am choosing to participate.


Mackenzie said:

In the context of the word "antisemite," yes, it definitely is a synonym for Jewish. My understanding is that the word "antisemitic" was coined by the Nazis to describe themselves.

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-high-court-all...

Israeli High Court Allows DNA Testing to Prove Judaism

Aaron Rabinowitz
Jan 24, 2020 3:15 AM
Comment:
Seems harmless to come up with signature genetic sequences unless these someday get used against the will of those branded as Jewish.
I think of ethnicity as willingly adopted with bolstering evidence of authenticity where sometimes genes may play a part (other times irrelevant e.g. chess master or poet).
However I'm still confused in this specific case whether the DNA test has anything to do with tracing back to Noah's kids, pre Tower of Babel. The etymology of the term "Semite" would lead me to think so.
My guess is the rabbis will eternally debate this question and Jewish subcultures (cults) will not all end up on the same page (thanks to Babel, one could say).

No, Semite is not a synonym for Jew.  Jews are only from the tribe of Judah. There are 12 other Israelite tribes. Semites are descendants of Noah's son Shem which would include Israelites, Edomites, and Ishmaelites. 

Although, technically yes but you would need to include all those other people.

Jews are only from the tribe of Judah? By that logic, Levites (and Kohanim, who often carry the last name "Cohen"), who in ancient days took care of the Temple and in modern Orthodox Judaism still have special responsibilities, wouldn't be Jews, because they're descended from Levi, not from Judah.

Yeah, Judah's name is where the etymology of the word "Jew" comes from, but only 10 of the 12 tribes are lost. Which just gets back to my point that the etymology of a word doesn't determine its modern meaning.

Artificial used to mean artful, and awful used to mean awe-inspiring, after all!

Heidi Murdoch said:

No, Semite is not a synonym for Jew.  Jews are only from the tribe of Judah. There are 12 other Israelite tribes. Semites are descendants of Noah's son Shem which would include Israelites, Edomites, and Ishmaelites. 

Although, technically yes but you would need to include all those other people.

Hi Makenzie

That is correct. Levite Kohanim and non-Kohanim are not Jews. They are Israelite. So is the tribe of Judah. All of them are descended from Shem making them ALL Semite. Being Semite is not exclusive to Jews is what I am trying to convey.

The 10 northern tribes might not be as lost as we are led to believe.  Otherwise, the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 15:5 did not come to pass if we are only counting Jews. I think the Northern tribes still exist but they don't realize who they are. With the current trend of DNA testing, I think they will be identified. There are geographical hints.  Levites, both Kohanim and non-Kohanim were included in all other Israelite tribes as the Levite tribe was not to own land. You will not see geographical hints from them.

Not everyone subscribes to current word meanings. Anyone who wants can change them.  I tend to go backward to find the original meaning when I am studying and take heed of the warning of Isaiah 5:20 


I do appreciate your insight and comments. I find it refreshing to find a woman that I can discuss these things. 

Would you therefore also say that converts are not Jews, if it's only descendants of Judah?

(I suspect many a Cohen and a Levi would be surprised to hear they're not really Jews!)

I'll be interested to see to what extent the ancestry database, tracking genetic markers, goes back to anything like the bottle-necking in Genesis, where Noah's sons become the source of "races" (in racist thinking), though we may also say "tribes" (same race) or even "breeds" (usually used with animals or with humans regarded as animals e.g. "half breeds").

I tend to think of Judaism as a software thing, a programming language, and trace it independently of DNA, but that's just my private usage.  I understand "when in Rome" and should adapt my thinking to the more racialized patterns so important to WW2 era social Darwinists (Aryans as the new chosen or whatever). A lot of people want to think in those terms.

Who said: "some of my best Jews are Friends!"



William F Rushby said:

Who said: "some of my best Jews are Friends!"

A rabbi from Florida; I don't remember his name!

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