The Associated Press has changed its spelling of the word “antisemitism,” now writing it without a hyphen — joining the leading experts of hatred against Jews who have long advocated that usage.
The Twitter account of the AP Stylebook — the leading reference for news publications — posted on Friday, “We now write antisemitism (n.), antisemitic (adj.), without a hyphen and with no capitalization.”
“This is a change from AP‘s previous style: anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic,” it added.
The Algemeiner has long used the spelling “antisemitism,” but the issue has been a subject of debate in the Jewish and scholarly communities.
The acclaimed Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt has been campaigning for some time to adopt the non-hyphenated spelling. She told Israeli daily Haaretz last year, “The hyphen is over. We are way overdue when it comes to losing the hyphen. Its presence completely distorts the meaning of the word.”
She said that the term is often misrepresented or misinterpreted as referring to all speakers of a Semitic language, when in fact it has only ever referred to Jews.
“Why do I spell antisemitism without a hyphen?” Lipstadt has asked. “Because anti-Semitism is not hatred of Semitism or Semites — people who speak Semitic languages. Antisemitism is Jew hatred.”
Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer agreed, writing in 1994, “Anti-Semitism is altogether an absurd construction, since there is no such thing as ‘Semitism’ to which it might be opposed.”
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance also supports the non-hyphenated spelling, stating that the hyphenated version “allows for the possibility of something called ‘Semitism,’ which not only legitimizes a form of pseudo-scientific racial classification that was thoroughly discredited by association with Nazi ideology, but also divides the term, stripping it from its meaning of opposition and hatred toward Jews.”
Some disagreed at the time, including the AP Stylebook. Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor-in-chief of the New York Jewish Week, told the Israeli outlet, “Although the case for ‘antisemitism’ is strong, we are sticking with anti-Semitism because it appears to be the preferred spelling among most of the Jewish institutions we cover, and because it is consistent with our own newspaper’s practices going back decades.”