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July 10, 2015 10:10 am

Ralph Nader Targets ‘The Jews’ and Linguistically Hijacks Anti-Semitism

avatar by Rafael Medoff /

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Ralph Nader. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Ralph Nader. Photo: Wiki Commons. – Ralph Nader, the famous crusader against fraud and corruption, believes he has uncovered a horrific new injustice—and the perpetrators are “the Jews.”

“You never avoid using the word anti-Semitism when Arabs and Arab-Americans are discriminated against, are arrested without charges, are exposed to all kinds of swears and bars against employment and all kinds of discrimination that goes on, and that is anti-Semitism. The Semitic race is Arabs and Jews and the Jews do not own the phrase anti-Semitism,” Nader declared at the recent annual convention of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), where he was a featured speaker.

The five-time unconventional U.S. presidential candidate added that “anti-Semitism against Arab-Americans is a serious problem, and of course it’s much more serious around the world.”

Nader, the son of Lebanese immigrants, rose to fame in the mid-1960s with his campaign to expose safety problems in automobiles. His efforts led to stricter regulation of the auto industry and the adoption of many new safety mechanisms. But in leaping into the debate over anti-Semitism, Nader has ventured far from his areas of expertise.

Is the Semitic race “Arabs and Jews,” as Nader asserted? Actually, it’s not. “Semitic” refers to a group of Middle Eastern languages. There’s no such thing as a “Semitic race.”

In his critically acclaimed 1986 book, “Semites and Anti-Semites,” Bernard Lewis (professor emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University) wrote, “‘Semitic’ is a linguistic and cultural classification… It has nothing whatever to do with race in the anthropological sense that is now common usage.”

So where did the term “anti-Semitism” come from? Why not just say “anti-Jewish” instead?

Until the late 1800s, hatred of Jews in Europe was rooted in religious bigotry—resentment of Jews for rejecting Christianity, and allegations about various Jewish religious practices. But in the latter part of the 19th century, a number of German nationalists began shifting their attacks on Jews to more secular accusations: that Jews are not loyal to the countries in which they live, that Jews cheat non-Jews, or that Jews are a harmful influence on modern culture. Unlike the medieval “solution” that Jews should convert to Christianity, this modern Jew-hatred promoted legal restrictions and other types of governmental action against Jews.

Seeking to distinguish this new criticism of Jews from the medieval religious variety, the German anti-Jewish agitator Wilhelm Marr in 1879 coined the term “antisemitism” (“antisemitismus” in German). His target was still Jews; he simply believed the new phrase would make his brand of hatred sound more legitimate and even scientific. The organization he founded to further these aims was called the Antisemiten-Liga, or League of Antisemites.

As the term gained currency in English, it was commonly spelled “anti-Semitism,” with the hyphen and capital “S,” thus implying that it refers to hatred of “Semites,” although most of the public has always understood that it refers to hatred of Jews. In recent years, many scholars have adopted the spellings “antisemite” and “antisemitism,” without the hyphen or capitalization, in order to make it clear that they refer to beliefs or actions against Jews, not against “Semites” or “Semitism”—neither of which exists.

Ralph Nader’s real aim, however, is not linguistic accuracy. As he explained to the ADC convention, he wants to use language as a tool to advance the Arab campaign against Israel.

“Once you use that word, you have equivalence with the other use of that word. It’s anti-Semitism against Arabs, anti-Semitism against Jews—why ignore one to the other?” Nader said.

According to this formula, Arabs would gain victim status just like Jews.

Nader seems to be particularly sensitive to the fact that some hatred of Israel is perceived as anti-Semitic—and he wants to prevent that perception from taking hold.

“[Supporters of Israel] know how to accuse people of anti-Semitism if any issue on Israel is criticized, even though the worst anti-Semitism in the world today is against Arabs and Arab-Americans and they know how to use the language,” he complained. “I suspect AIPAC spends more money on hotels for their national meeting in five hours than ADC’s entire budget, so it’s important to ask the question: ‘What does it take in terms of human hours and resources to get things turned around?’”

“Getting things turned around”—that is, turning Americans against Israel—is what Nader and his cohorts seek. Whether claiming that Israelis are “the real Nazis,” as Arab propagandists often do, or that Arabs are “the real victims of anti-Semitism,” as Nader is now recommending, it all boils down to just another way to try to get people to hate Israel—and if it takes a little linguistic trickery to facilitate that goal, so be it.

Dr. Rafael Medoff is the founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and co-editor of the “Online Encyclopedia of America’s Response to the Holocaust.”

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  • David Webman

    Zionists are so used to having ultimate political power than any move towards neutrality enrages them. Scientifically, Arabs and Jews are genetically the same on the father’s side. On the mother’s side Jews share more with Europeans. So it’s a fact that modern day Arabs are more Semitic than Jews. Granted the term antisemite was created specifically for Jews at the time of inception, in today’s application it is used to create the illusion that Arabs are in no way related to them and therefore not semites. This has turned the phrase into a racist standpoint in which antisemitism is worse than any other kind of racism and there is no difference between criticizing Israel/Zionism or actual racism towards Jews while leaving it okay to slander Arabs and Islam. The word has become such a powerful tool to the Israeli government and pro-Zionist organizations (ADL, AIPAC, etc.) that it has become impossible to criticize Israel, Zionism, or American foreign policy in the Middle East. The fact is that racism should not be given special treatment for certain races regardless of circumstance. And even more importantly it should not be used as a tool to further a political agenda.

  • Michael

    “Is the Semitic race ‘Arabs and Jews,’ as Nader asserted? Actually, it’s not. ‘Semitic’ refers to a group of Middle Eastern languages. There’s no such thing as a ‘Semitic race.'”

    Hey dumbass, here’s the definition of “Semite”:

    a : a member of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs
    b : a descendant of these peoples
    : a member of a modern people speaking a Semitic language

    Adjective form is “Semitic,” so you’re wrong and everyone knows it.

  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    Nader is a loser!

  • Mandrake

    Thank you Dr. Medoff for shedding light into this issue. Just look at Lebanon and compare to Israel. Resentment from Mr. Nader? Envy?

  • Ralph Nader does not know what he is talking about:

    “The term antisemitism was coined by the German agitator and publicist, Wilhelm Marr in 1879 [CE]. In that year, Marr founded the Antisemites League and published a book called Victory of Jewry over Germandom.”


    Notice that the person who invented the word antisemitism hated Jews, not Arabs.


    “All anyone needs to know about the Middle East conflict is that:

    The Jews want peace and the Arabs don’t, because the Arabs hate Jews for religious reasons and they want them dead. Politics and territory are just excuses.”

    Why I support Israel by Pat Condell

    Pat Condell is an atheist, who was born in Ireland around 1950 CE, and raised in England as a Roman Catholic, and educated in Church of England schools.

  • Beth Singer

    Good article. Sad that someone who used to be one of my heroes has turned to this.

    How about instead of: Don’t Run Ralph.

    “Don’t open your mouth, Ralph.”

    • miriam peletz

      I.m not really surprised to hear this from an Arab viewpoint. I always thought Ralph Nader was a crack pot. he really should stick to cars and forget politics etc

  • Yale

    Nader is proposing a further hijacking of the English language by people who have no interest of any kind in dealing with reality and truth.

  • The perceived basis for antisemitism was religious. But, that was just an excuse for looting Jewish wealth.
    Read B. Netanyahu ‘s (senior) study of the Spanish Expulsion and the problems with the ‘Maranos’. HK

  • Vivienne Havalant (Leijonhufvud)

    Semitic Arabs were originally Nomadic desert dwellers, they stole their so called culture from ancient Hindu India – slaughtering as they went. Omar Khayam was classified even at this time as an infidel since he was Persian and arose out of the Indus Valley. So Nader take your rubbish anti-arab eleswhere. Arab money derived from Oil dug out of the ground by the West allows every Arab/Islamic nation to bribe, corrupt and pay off any damn person they please. Those who wheel and deal with them are no better than the Arabs themselves. So I am anti-Arabic/Islam for all the evil that has been wrought upon the rest of us.

  • judithg

    obsession sometimes results in doing good. this bizarre targeting of the Jews reveals that ralph nadar is a nutcase driven by mental illness. this latest gambit is intentionally bad and anti semitic. someone should tell him that what he’s conjuring up is what anti-semitism is. ralph, get a clue dude.

  • Enufisenuf

    Most arabs are not racially Semites at all, but merely acquired their Semitic language from the invading Arabian barbarians. Neither Egyptians, nor Babylonians, nor Syrians nor Persians AND ESPECIALLY NOT the Lebanese, who are descended from Phoenicians, are Semites, none of them! Ralph Nadir(!)is particularly not a Semite as he’s boring and unimaginative beyond even the biggest nebbish one could ever find amongst the Jews. He’s also almost wrong about everything he has ever said.

  • Isaac Semaya

    It is now very clear Ralph Nader has just climbed on to the band wagon of ANTI-JEWISH, ANTI-ISRAEL world of bigots. His claim that the Arab’s are the only people who should be identified by the use of the term ANTI-SEMITISM. Mr Nader the world “DOES NOT THINK SO”



  • Ephraim

    First he was a stooge, bought off by the GOP to ensure W’s success, now he is moving into Jew hatred. Is he senile? Or he just decided this is much more important than consumer protection? As to Muslims obtaining victim status, there are 1.6 billion Muslims, far too many of whom are racists and bigots, as opposed to about 13 million Jews. Somehow, everything is the fault of the Jews. If a Jew is successful, it is due to a trick of some kind. If a Jew is unsuccessful, it shows that things ‘are right with the universe.’ Why don’t these vermin state straight out what they mean: They hate Jews, period. No rhyme nor reason, no facts, just pure hatred, which is what they believe after all.

  • brenrod

    lets just hope these anti semites keep killing each other

  • Eve

    He’s not dead yet? Too bad.

  • If you revere a mass murderer of Jews( ie Muhammad) this is the crap you spew.

  • Tony Rice

    Nader should limit himself to something he knows a little about, cars and their safety and not show his ignorance in matters beyond his intellectual capacity. Manual matters are more in his capability.

    • shloime

      and what makes you think he knows anything about cars? his biggest claim to fame was, as a political staffer, killing the chevy corvair, which was so similar to the volkswagen beetle that it ended up in the courts. so if the corvair was so unsafe, why was the vw the longest-running production car in history?

      what he did best is called “media manipulation”.

  • Kerry Berger

    Sadly Ralph Nader has reduced himself to irrelevance and he is attempting reassert himself in ways that are divisive and bigoted. Enough is enough of this kind of trope.

  • Theodore Sternberg

    I’ll bet he riled up that audience plenty, by saying that Arabs and Jews are of the same “race”. Nader was evidently unaware of the party line there, which is that the Jews are just a bunch of Russians or Khazars who have no historical connection to Eretz Israel.

    I say, if they want to own “antisemitism”, let ’em. (Just as they borrowed “Palestinian”.) As you so ably point out, “antisemitism” started as a euphemism: we would do well to drop the euphemism and go with the real thing: anti-Jewish.

    • shloime

      or “joo-hatred”, which better reflects the ignorant bigotry that drives much of it.