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12 Pages

INTRODUCTION: THEMES, GOALS, PROBLEMS

Some time ago a graduate student I know remarked that when she was younger the history of anti-Semitism was like sex education: ‘No one taught it formally, all the students knew something about it any­ way, but the information we acquired was generally garbled and incomplete.’1 Some years before that, my seven-year-old son asked me, ‘Why do people hate the Jews?’ He had several Jewish playmates, had been to their homes, and had met their parents. ‘They’re so nice ... ,’ he added, genuinely puzzled.