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According to Lewis, antisemitism is marked by two distinct features: Jews are judged according to a standard different from that applied to others, and they are accused of "cosmic evil." Thus, "it is perfectly possible to hate and even to persecute Jews without necessarily being anti-Semitic" unless this hatred or persecution displays one of the two features specific to antisemitism.There have been a number of efforts by international and governmental bodies to define antisemitism formally.Late in 2013, the definition was removed from the website of the Fundamental Rights Agency.A spokesperson said that it had never been regarded as official and that the agency did not intend to develop its own definition.It also lists ways in which attacking Israel could be antisemitic, and states that denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g.by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor, can be a manifestation of antisemitism—as can applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, or holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the State of Israel.Because of this bad nature: (1) Jews have to be seen not as individuals but as a collective.(2) Jews remain essentially alien in the surrounding societies.
Although the term did not come into common usage until the 19th century, it is now also applied to historic anti-Jewish incidents.The Jewish Encyclopedia reports, "In February 1881, a correspondent of the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums speaks of 'Anti-Semitism' as a designation which recently came into use ("Allg. Though 'antisemitism' has been used to describe prejudice against people who speak other Semitic languages, the validity of such usage has been questioned.The term may be spelled with or without a hyphen (antisemitism or anti-Semitism).a number of authorities have developed more formal definitions.Holocaust scholar and City University of New York professor Helen Fein defines it as "a persisting latent structure of hostile beliefs towards Jews as a collective manifested in individuals as attitudes, and in culture as myth, ideology, folklore and imagery, and in actions—social or legal discrimination, political mobilization against the Jews, and collective or state violence—which results in and/or is designed to distance, displace, or destroy Jews as Jews." Elaborating on Fein's definition, Dietz Bering of the University of Cologne writes that, to antisemites, "Jews are not only partially but totally bad by nature, that is, their bad traits are incorrigible.