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Synopsis

Trials of the Diaspora is a ground-breaking book that offers the first ever comprehensive history of anti-Semitism in England. Anthony Julius identifies four distinct versions of English anti-Semitism, which he then proceeds to investigate in detail. The first is the anti-Semitism of medieval England, a radical prejudice of defamation, expropriation, and murder, which culminated in 1290, the year of Edward I's expulsion of the Jews from England, after which there were no Jews left to torment. The second major strand is literary anti-Semitism: an anti-Semitic account of Jews continuously present in the discourse of English literature, from the anonymous medieval ballad "Sir Hugh, or the Jew's Daughter" through Shakespeare to T. S. Eliot and beyond. Thirdly, Julius addresses modern anti-Semitism, a quotidian anti-Semitism of insult and partial exclusion, pervasive but contained, experienced by Jews from their "readmission" to England in the mid-17th century through to the late 20th century. The final chapters then deal with contemporary anti-Semitism, a new configuration of anti-Zionisms, emerging in the late 1960s and the 1970s, which treats Zionism and the State of Israel as illegitimate Jewish enterprises. It is this final perspective which, in Julius's opinion, now constitutes the greatest threat to Anglo-Jewish security and morale. This book, the first history of its kind, is sure to provoke much comment and debate, and comes as a timely reminder that English culture has been in no way immune to anti-Semitism - and in certain ways is still not to this day.

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