Antisemitism is hatred directed against Jews, and we must first be clear what is meant by this entity ‘the Jews’.
The term ‘Jew’ is derived from ‘Judah’ which was the name of a prominent tribe of the Israelites. In about 975 BCE, the Israelites became split into two kingdoms, the Northern (called Israel, containing ten tribes) and the Southern (called Judah, containing only the tribe of Judah and half the tribe of Benjamin, together with the priestly tribe of Levi, of which one section was the Kohanim or priests, descendants of Aaron). In 740 BCE, the Northern Kingdom ceased to exist, having been destroyed by the Assyrians. The ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom (or at least their upper classes) were sent into exile in remote regions of the Assyrian Empire, and their fate is unknown, though many legends about their continued existence in India, Africa and even England and America arose in the course of subsequent centuries. Only the Southern Kingdom of Judah remained as a national entity. Consequently, the nation that had been known for about 600 years as the Israelites now began to be known as Judahites, or Jews (Hebrew, yehudim; Greek, Iudaioi; Latin, Judaei). When the Southern Kingdom too was destroyed by the Babylonians in 588 BCE, the Jews who were exiled to Babylonia retained their identity; and when they returned to their land in the two migrations of 536 and 457 BCE, it became again the land of Judah. Even the remnants of the population of the Northern Kingdom, who eventually became reunited with the commonwealth of the South, were now known as Jews, and the name ‘Israelite’ fell into disuse (except for certain religious purposes), only to be resuscitated with the birth of Israel in 1948 CE. By a strange historical inversion, Israelites (or Israelis) are now a sub-class of Jews, whereas originally, Judahites (or Jews) were a sub-class of Israelites.