About a week ago, Eboo Patel, the creator of the Interfaith Youth Core, wrote a brief article for The Washington Post and Newsweek's On Faith project: On Muslim Antisemitism. In short, the piece discusses the voices in Islam condemning Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
The title of the article caused my brain juices to percolate (always dangerous and slightly messy): Muslim Anti-Semitism. It seemed to me that that phrase was linguistically ironic, at the very least, considering that the world's Muslim population are, by and large,* Semites themselves.
The use of "Anti-Semitism" as "Anti-Jewish," which was the term's original, if etiologically confusing, meaning, obscured the meaning of "Semite": a label that covers Jews and Arabs alike.
To clarify, a Semite is "A person belonging to the race of mankind which includes most of the peoples mentioned in Gen. x. as descended from Shem son of Noah, as the Hebrews, Arabs, Assyrians, and Aramæans. Also, a person speaking a Semitic language as his native tongue." (Thanks, OED)
So, technically, to be anti-Arab is also to be anti-Semitic.
The whole thing reminded me of the conversation that I had with the Afghani cab driver about the nature of modern anti-Semitism.
All of which just made me realize how the forms may appear to shift, but, functionally remain the same. Which is really to say: think carefully about those unfair epitaphs you before hurling them at others.
*I'm using a broad definition of Semitism extrapolated from the reach of Semitic languages in the late ancient period. Using that matrix, the Middle East and Asia Minor are both considered geographically Semitic areas, where Semitic languages are still in use. This area is also the geographic area where counties with a Muslim majority are concentrated. It should be noted, for the purposes of intellectual honesty, that by numbers, the highest populations of Muslims live in South and East Asia (which also includes Iran and Afghanastan), but constitute a minority, proportionately, in those regions.