Synopses & Reviews
Today e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter are sometimes used to spread hateful messages and slurs masking as humor. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries postcards served this purpose. The images collected in this volume make it painfully clear that anti-Semitic propaganda did not simply begin with the Nazis. Nor was it the sole province of politicians, journalists, and rabble-rousers. One of the most virulent forms of anti-Semitism during this time was spread by quite ordinary people through postcards. Of the millions of postcards exchanged during their heyday of 1890 through 1920, a considerable percentage carried the anti-Semitic images that publishers churned out to meet public demand, reflecting deep-seated attitudes of society.
Over 250 examples of such postcards, largely from the pre-Holocaust era, are reproduced here for the first timeand#8212;selected, translated, and historically contextualized by one of the worldand#8217;s foremost postcard collectors. Although representing but a small sample of the many thousands that were in print, these examples nonetheless offer a disturbing glimpseand#8212;one shocking to the modern sensibilityand#8212;into the many permutations of anti-Semitism eagerly circulated by millions of people. In so doing, they help us to better understand a phenomenon still pervasive today.
and#8220;Hatemail, with its powerful visuals and brief explanations that contextualize these visuals, is a work to be treasured. It is also one to be dreaded and feared.and#8221;and#8212;Michael Berenbaum, director of the Sigi Ziering Institute at American Jewish University and author of Not Your Fatherand#8217;s Anti-Semitism
and#8220;Among the best ways to determine the nature and degree of bigotry in a society is through its popular folk culture, and there are few better sources of such culture than picture postcards. As a postcard collector myself, I can only marvel at what Salo Aizenberg has collected in this volume. These remarkable postcards will make you laugh, cry, and clench your fist in anger.and#8221;and#8212;Alan Dershowitz, author of The Trials of Zion
"These postcards are a powerful and disturbing reminder that hatred can be as marketable as a commodity as a scenic view."and#8212;Historical Novels Review
"Hatemail is highly recommended for academic libraries and synagogues. The pictures also may be suitable for high school libraries as a classroom supplement."and#8212;Association of Jewish Libraries Review Newsletter
"This book belongs in the collection of any library interest in Judaica cultural studies, the history of hate speech, and media studies in general."and#8212;Steven M. Wasserstrom, Oregon Historical Quarterly
andquot;This is a book that teaches us how easy it was to spread hatred in the absence of critical thinking and questioning. This is a lesson for us all that we ignore at our own peril.andquot;andmdash;Marty Zelenietz, Israel Philatelist
The persistence of anti-Semitism is a phenomenon that challenges Jewish historians to make ethical judgments a part of historical analysis. This comprehensive collection meets that challenge as its authors provide fresh insight into the complexities of anti-Semitism. The eight essays included in this volume are by noted scholars, each an expert in a specific historical period—from the ancient world to the twentieth century.
About the Author
Salo Aizenberg, one of the leading collectors of Judaica picture postcards, is the author of Postcards from the Holy Land: A Pictorial History of the Ottoman Era, 1880and#8211;1918.