Anti Semites hate Jews. However, I found it strange that they call their hatred anti semitism. Didn't they know that arabs are semites too?

Hitler seem to think that some race were destroying civilization (many would disagree, but that was his opinion). One such race is the Jews. Some say that Hitler hated Jews even more than blacks.

Hitler thought that blacks are civilization "helping" while Jews or Semites are civilization destroying. Or so I heard.

Yet Hitler was friendly toward Arab that are Semites too.


Some would say that semites in hitler eyes only means jews. I found this a bit strange. I mean the whole german didn't know that Arab are semites too? What?

Obviously racism, like any ideology and religion, is ridiculous in general. However, they must have some sort of explanation to justify this ridiculousness.

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    Because "anti-Semitism" is a scientific-sounding term for Jew-hatred, and has nothing to do with the Semites. Nov 23, 2015 at 13:04
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    yes to @congusbongus and you might want reserch and describe how exactly this 'friendlyness' looked like to further improve the question.
    – mart
    Nov 23, 2015 at 13:26
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    Why an individual felt hatred towards a group is a question for psychology, not history. Hitler was deranged; his belief were inconsistent, incoherent, hypocritical and wrong. It is difficult to "descriptively and objectively" understand incoherent demagoguery.
    – MCW
    Nov 23, 2015 at 14:05
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    Why Hitler liked or didn't some race is psychology. Why Nazi ideology was for or against some thing is politics. Whether or not the Nazi regime during WWII was for or against some thing during WWII might be historical. Perhaps you might work on the wording of your question?
    – CGCampbell
    Nov 23, 2015 at 14:48
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    Why the downvote? Look pal I am not even white or aryan. I am just confused with what happen in europe at that time. I do NOT hate jews.
    – user4951
    Nov 24, 2015 at 4:14

3 Answers 3


When the word "antisemitism" was first coined, it was a characterisation of a French linguist in the 19th century named Ernst Renan, who believed that Semitic peoples were inferior. "Semitic" was, of course, a language family; Semitic peoples were the peoples who spoke languages within that family. Such languages include Hebrew (which belongs to the Canaanite branch of this family), Aramaic, Phoenician, Arabic and Akkadian (amongst others). Renan believed that Jesus was a descendant of Sumerians, whose ancestors had been moved to the land of Israel by the Assyrians, and not like the Semitic peoples amongst whom he lived.

As you can tell, it's but a short step from there to the sort of race-motivated doctrines of the later 19th century, and by the time that the word "antisemitism" became popularised (by Wilhelm Marr, specifically, at the close of the century) it was synonymous with a hatred of Jews in particular.

As to why Hitler developed alliances with non-Aryan peoples, suffice it to say that he was a pragmatist as well as an ideologue. He granted the Japanese "honorary Aryan" status, for example, which is plainly absurd if being an Aryan is in some sense biologically determined. (It isn't, for the record; race itself is a social construct.)

Within this Nazi racial hierarchy, Jews inhabited the lowest rung - almost like a master race of their own, but placed diametrically opposite all that was good and healthy in the world. The fact that the word "antisemitic" originally denoted a dislike of all Semitic peoples was irrelevant - as was the fact that the word "Semitic" originally denoted speakers of particular languages. By the time that the Nazis ruled Germany, "antisemitism" had taken on a new meaning, and friendship with other Semitic peoples was no obstruction to it.


Although arabs are official "semites" historically, "Anti-semitic" is really meant in this context as "anti-Jewish".

That's slightly confusing, I know, but Hitler didn't dislike the historical semite people for a "the semitic people did xyz bad thing"... he "only" hated the Jews because he blamed them specifically for various problems in Germany at the time.

It's equivalent to if I today chose to hate Germany because I think their flag is silly: that doesn't necessarily mean I hate Germanic people (including Austrians, who's flag I like)... it's a semantic difference. You might then say I was anti-Germanic, which sounds correct but isn't really. I'm anti-Germany, not anti-Germanic

This is different from me saying "the historical Germanic people invaded my country and said mean things about my mother, so I hate both Germans, Austrians and anyone else descended from a Germanic tribe" in which case it would be true to say that I am anti-Germanic.

In short, we should really say Hitler was anti-Jewish not anti-Semitic: but in recent years "Semite" and "Semitic" have been primarily used to refer to the Jewish people, rather than all Semite-descended peoples.

  • You mean the whole german didn't know that arab are semites too? They honestly think that semites only mean jews? Seriously? I mean what's their explanation?
    – user4951
    Nov 24, 2015 at 4:19
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    That's my point: by the 1930s Jews and Arabs were different enough that it stopped making sense to call them both Semites. The meaning of Semite had changed and no longer really refers to Arabs unless talking strictly historically
    – Jon Story
    Nov 24, 2015 at 9:39

The use of “Semite” in Germany goes back to the 1860s and is a bit convoluted. During this period it developed that the Christian church was considered by some to be a Jewish sect, i.e. Jew being generic and Christian a species thereof. Since there were few Semites in Germany other than Jews, Jews were identified as Semites to distinguish them from nonSemite Christian (species) Jews (genus).

Outside of provincial Germany, this makes no sense. All descendants of Sem (Shem) were Semites.

This is submitted as an “answer” in that I don’t have standing to comment’

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