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Babel

The return of the J-word in Germany and whether "Hey Jude" is anti-Semitic

By Melvin J Lasky   April 1997

It is not only in the official philo-Semitism of post-Hitler Germany, that the noun Jew has been replaced by the adjective Jewish. In the Jewish communities of Britain and the US, the softer adjective is preferred to the noun, which is associated with shouts and insults.

In Germany, there are occasional lapses, such as “the Jew Rifkind,” with the resultant shock and alarm. Optimists think of them as edi- torial inadvertancies of no import; pessimists see ideological turning points and a sinister sign of recrudescent racism.

The most dramatic incident pre-Rifkind, which got much less coverage, involved the controversy over…

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