Philosemitism 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. Philosemitism in Europe saw a great increase in the aftermath of the Holocaust, reshaping the relationship between Jews and European societies. Historian G. Daniel Cohen states that philosemitism "can indeed easily recycle antisemitic themes, recreate Jewish otherness, or strategically compensate for Holocaust guilt".[1]


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".[2]


The concept of philosemitism 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."[3]

Philosemitism 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 philosemitism 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 philosemites).[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."[4] 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.[4]


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[5] and China.[6] 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.[5] According to Mary J. Ainslie, philosemitism in China is "part of a civilizationist narrative designed to position China as globally central and superior". [7]

United StatesEdit

Mark Twain's essay Concerning the Jews has been described as philosemitic. Israeli scholar Bennet Kravitz states that one could just as easily hate Jews for the reasons Twain gives for admiring them. In fact, Twain's essay was cited by Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s. Kravitz concludes, "The flawed logic of 'Concerning the Jews' and all philo-Semitism leads to the anti-Semitic beliefs that the latter seeks to deflate".[8]


  1. ^ Cohen, Daniel (2020). "Good Jews". S: I.M.O.N. Shoah: Intervention. Methods. Documentation. 7 (1): 118–127. doi:10.23777/SN.0120/ESS_DCOH01. ISSN 2408-9192.
  2. ^ With Friends Like These Review of Philosemitism in History in the New Republic by Adam Karp
  3. ^ The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 4 by Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b Alper, Tim. "Why South Koreans are in love with Judaism". The Jewish Chronicle. May 12, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  6. ^ Nagler-Cohen, Liron. "Chinese: 'Jews make money'". Ynetnews. April 23, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  7. ^ Ainslie, Mary J. (2021). "Chinese Philosemitism and Historical Statecraft: Incorporating Jews and Israel into Contemporary Chinese Civilizationism". The China Quarterly. 245: 208–226. doi:10.1017/S0305741020000302. ISSN 0305-7410.
  8. ^ Kravitz, Bennett (2002). "Philo-Semitism as Anti-Semitism in Mark Twain's "Concerning the Jews"". Studies in Popular Culture. 25 (2): 1–12. ISSN 0888-5753.


Further readingEdit

  • Samuels, Maurice (2021). "Philosemitism". Key Concepts in the Study of Antisemitism. Springer International Publishing. pp. 201–214. ISBN 978-3-030-51658-1.

External linksEdit