This project was born on June 4, 2011, when I clicked on the link “Glenn Beck and Anti-Semitism” on the www.AOL.com homepage. Mr. Beck is a popular conservative talk show host. The link took me to Mr. Beck’s on-air programming on Anti-Semitism through the ages. I, like millions of other Jews, have lived with various forms of Anti-Semitism, but I had never before focused on the time periods the Official Anti-Semitic laws covered, or the geographical area in which they occurred.
A few days later, I asked my assistant to transcribe Mr. Beck’s online information about Anti-Semitism. When I looked more closely at the information and did a bit of initial research, it was clear that Mr. Beck’s information, although useful as a starting point, barely touched on the number of the Official Acts of Anti-Semitism in the past.
I decided to aggregate and publish as many Official Anti-Semitic Laws as I could find. Locating the Official Anti-Semitic Acts seemed an achievable goal, as opposed to trying to document countless other unofficial Acts against Jews–private, antidotal, personal, rumored and lower court decisions.
It seemed that a collection or book covering Official Anti-Semitic Acts, would be a useful and educational resource for many, and adding the source of each law or Act would let any reader verify the accuracy of my collection efforts.
As my compiling of Official Acts of Anti-Semitism progressed, during July of 2013, I contacted Professor Shaye J.D. Cohen, Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Prof. Cohen informed me that the word “Anti-Semitic” was a relatively recent term coined by Wilhelm Marr in the 1870s. Based in part on his statement, I changed the name of this work to “Official Anti-Jewish Acts Throughout History.”
I hope that historians, those involved with or interested in the Acts collected, or just curious souls will use the Official Anti-Jewish Acts as a foundation from which to expand into the many questions that seem to spring naturally from these Official Acts.
Such questions might include: why Jews have been the brunt of so much discrimination for so many years; how the discrimination of the Jews compares to the discrimination of other groups; and why non-Jews, sometimes at their great peril, fought anti-Jewish discrimination and shielded Jews from horrific treatment or death.
In sum, I hope this assemblage of information will encourage and lubricate the study of these important but ugly Official Acts of history.
Steven C. Markoff
Copyright 2020, 2021