conflict & communication online, Vol. 21, No. 1, 2022
ISSN 1618-0747




Peter Ullrich
With and without Jews: Two families of concepts of antisemitism

Behind the dispute about definitions of antisemitism we can detect a deep conceptual divide. The paper outlines the development of two distinct and incommensurable families of concepts of antisemitism: substantial and abstract-formal concepts. The semantic core of substantial concepts consists in hostility towards Jews (or Judaism) as Jews (where Jews may also be replaced by substitutes like Israel). In the recent past, mediated by bridging concepts like communication latency, abstract-formal concepts of antisemitism have emerged. In certain forms of criticism towards Israel these concepts consider antisemitic they merely see a historical connection to hatred of Jews. However, hostility towards Jews is no longer a necessary property of the concept. This axiomatic divide blocks the research on and the fight against antisemitism on an analytical and ethical level. What is needed is transparency about the basis of the conversation and a recognition that these two families of concepts exist.


  englischer Volltext  

The author:
Peter Ullrich, Dr. phil. Dr. rer. med., sociologist, senior researcher in the research area “Social Movements, Technology, Conflicts” at the Center for Technology and Society and fellow at the Center for Research on Antisemitism (both at Technische Universität Berlin); research interests: political sociaology, social movements/protest and the police, sociology of knowledge approaches to antisemitism and public discourse about antisemitism.