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Antisemitism Explained [Paperback]

Steven K. Baum , Shimon Samuels

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Book Description

December 22, 2011 0761855785 978-0761855781
"Beneath the surface [of our society]," writes historian Robert Wistrich, are "ancient myths, dark hatreds, and irrational fantasies [that] continue to nourish antisemitism." But the larger question has to do with why we are so prone to believe them. To that end, Steven K. Baum has an answer. In this book, Baum carefully guides the reader through the social mind and explains how the formation of social beliefs can be used as a narrative to determine reality. He offers a new perspective regarding how antisemitic legends and folk beliefs form the basis of our ongoing social narrative. Baum asks the reader to consider a social unconscious-the cauldron of cultural fantasies that consists of superstitions, magical thinking, and racial tales. This witches' brew concocts a Social Voice that can be loud or quiet, benign or hostile, fleeting or permanent. Most importantly, this voice is undeniably antisemitic and racist. As is often the case in the court of public opinion, those who own the narrative, win. In Antisemitism Explained, Baum reminds us to think critically about our own social narrative and to be careful about what we choose to believe.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Steven Baum has written an insightful study of the social psychology and pathology of the world's oldest hatred, antisemitism. That it has returned virulently to many parts of the world, within living memory of the Holocaust, is a phenomenon of great significance and danger. This book could not have appeared at a more fateful time. (Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth)

This important book is a meritorious contribution to our understanding of anti-Semitism . . . [and is] a lively and interesting read. . . . This very original and caring work tells a basic story about the psychology of our very species. In this very intelligent and humane work, psychologist Steven Baum teaches us that the subject is no light matter, neither for the victims, nor for the perpetrators, and that depending on its severity, antisemitism constitutes a diagnosable state of developmental retardation and/or a major psychopathological condition. (Israel W. Charny, editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide and author of Fascism and Democracy in the Human Mind)

Baum provides a fascinating and relatively concise history of anti-Semitic legends, myths, laws, and policies....Baum's book is a good step in the direction of advocating that anti-Semitism is a viable and crucial field of research for psychologists and sociologists that is too often ignored or overlooked. It serves as a call for everyone to recognize that ethnic and religious prejudice is a wider and deeper problem than is often recognized by the social sciences, both in terms of the groups involved as targets and perpetrators and the explanations provided for the behavior.
(PsycCRITIQUES)

About the Author

Steven K Baum is a psychologist and editor of the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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