Orde Wingate, a notable Christian Zionist and hero of the Yishuv, loved by leaders who trained under him such as Zvi Brenner and Moshe Dayan who claimed that Wingate "taught us everything we know"

Philo-Semitism (also spelled philosemitism) or Judeophilia is an interest in, respect for, and an appreciation of the Jewish people, their historical significance, and the positive impacts of Judaism on the world, particularly on the part of a gentile.

Within the Jewish community philo-Semitism includes the significance of Jewish culture and the love of everything Jewish.


The concept of philo-Semitism is not new, arguably avowed by such thinkers as 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who described himself as an "anti-anti-Semite,"[1] though he also criticized the historical Jewish people for their role in forming modern morality. [2] Enjoying a recent surge, it is characterized by an interest in Jewish culture and history and manifested in increasing university enrollment by non-Jews in courses such as Judaism, Hebrew, and Jewish languages.

Philo-Semitism has been met by a mixed response from the Jewish community. Some warmly welcome it and argue that it must lead Jews to reconsider their identity.[3] Others, citing the special status that it implicitly gives to Jews even as its apparent opposite anti-Semitism does, reject it as running contrary to the Zionist goal of making Jewry "a nation among nations."

Philo-Semitism is an expression of the larger phenomenon of allophilia, admiration of foreign cultures as embodied in the more widely known Anglophilia and Francophilia. The rise of philo-Semitism has also prompted some to reconsider Jewish history, and they argue that while anti-Semitism 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).

Even though a non-Jew is not required to convert to Judaism or may even be advised against doing so, Halakha (Jewish religious law) does require all non-Jews to abide by certain commandments. These are the Seven Laws of Noah, and gentiles who accept the Seven Laws in their traditional interpretation identify as Noahides.

From history, one notable example of philo-Semitism is that of the Polish king Casimir III the Great. While the Jewish emancipation wouldn't begin in other countries until toward 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]

Wojciech Gerson, Casimir the Great and the Jews

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 in 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] In World War II, Japan put efforts into helping Jews escape demise by 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 his family's lives; in 1985, he was honored by the State of Israel as Righteous Among the Nations. Annual surveys of a large number of countries done by the ADL have consistently shown very low levels of anti-Semitism in South-East Asia, including 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 India having low levels of anti-Semitism and also relatively strong support for Israel, in the 55-65 per cent level, now surpassing the United States in the last respect.

The American singer Madonna 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".[8] Although she herself does not practice Judaism, she has studied Kabbalah, given her son a bar mitzva celebration and taken a Hebrew name: Esther (אסתר).

The controversial term "philosemitism" arose as a pejorative in Germany to describe positive prejudice towards Jews, in other words a philosemite is a "Jew-lover" or "Jew-friend".[9]

See also


  1. The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 4 by Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley
  2. "The Genealogy of Morals", Part I, Section 16, tr. Walter Kaufmann
  3. The Forward, (Editorial, 10 November 2000)
  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 Ashkenazi, can trace their ancestry 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. 1 2 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. "Madonna Says She's an 'Ambassador for Judaism'". The New York Sun. Associated Press. September 17, 2007. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  9. With Friends Like These Review of Philosemitism in History in the New Republic by Adam Karp


External links

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