Why does Semitic refer to several groups of people, including Babylonians, Assyrians, Arabs and Jews, whereas anti-Semitic only refers to Jews?
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NOAD defines anti-Semitism thus:
And here is the relevant entry from the Online Etymology Dictionary:
Anti-Semitic is Jewish-specific for historical reasons, as revealed by the Etymology Dictionary. In its most literal sense, anti-Semitic should relate to all Semitic cultures, but this is not the case—a great example of how history, politics, etc, shape English usage.
Because when the word was coined and came into use, Jews were the only Semitic people encountered in modern European (and American) society.
protected by tchrist Sep 5 '15 at 16:08
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