Antisemitism in the United States

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Antisemitism in the United States has existed for centuries. In the United States, most Jewish community relations agencies distinguish between antisemitism, which is measured in terms of attitudes and behaviors; and the security and status of American Jews, which are measured by specific incidents. FBI data shows that Jews were the most likely group to be targeted for religiously-motivated hate crimes in every year since 1991, the Anti-Defamation League said in 2019. [1] Despite this, however, antisemitic incidents were following a generally decreasing trend in the last century along with the general reduction in socially sanctioned racism in the United States since World War II and the Civil Rights Movement.

Contents

Most Americans who have been surveyed express positive viewpoints with regard to Jews. [2] An ABC News report in 2007 recounted that about 6% of Americans reported some feelings of prejudice against Jews. [3] According to surveys by the Anti-Defamation League in 2011, antisemitism is rejected by clear majorities of Americans, with 64% of them lauding Jews' cultural contributions to the nation in 2011, but a minority of them still hold hateful views towards Jews, with 19% of Americans supporting the antisemitic canard that Jews co-control Wall Street. [4] Additionally, Holocaust denial has only been a fringe phenomenon in recent years; as of April 2018, 96% of Americans are aware of the facts of the Holocaust. [5]

A protest against Jews, held by the Westboro Baptist Church. Baptists-against-jews.jpg
A protest against Jews, held by the Westboro Baptist Church.

American viewpoints on Jews and antisemitism

Roots of American attitudes towards Jews and Jewish history in America

Krefetz (1985) asserts that antisemitism in the 1980s seems "rooted less in religion or contempt and more rooted in envy, jealousy and fear" of Jewish affluence, and the hidden power of "Jewish money". [6] [ citation needed ] Historically, antisemitic attitudes and rhetoric tend to increase when the United States is faced with a serious economic crisis. [7] Academic David Greenberg has written in Slate , "Extreme anti-communism always contained an anti-Semitic component: Radical, alien Jews, in their demonology, orchestrated the Communist conspiracy." He also has argued that, in the years following World War II, some groups of "the American right remained closely tied to the unvarnished anti-Semites of the '30s who railed against the 'Jew Deal'", a bigoted term used against the New Deal measures under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. [8] American anti-Semites have viewed the fraudulent text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a real reference to a supposed Jewish cabal out to subvert and ultimately destroy the U.S. [9]

Stereotypes

The most persistent form of antisemitism has been a series of widely circulating stereotypes that construct Jews as socially, religiously, and economically unacceptable to American life. They were made to feel marginal and menacing. [10]

Martin Marger wrote, "A set of distinct and consistent negative stereotypes, some of which can be traced as far back as the Middle Ages in Europe, has been applied to Jews." [11] David Schneder wrote, "Three large clusters of traits are part of the Jewish stereotype (Wuthnow, 1982). First, [American] Jews are seen as being powerful and manipulative. Second, they are accused of dividing their loyalties between the United States and Israel. A third set of traits concerns Jewish materialistic values, aggressiveness, clannishness." [12]

Stereotypes for Jewish people share some of the content for Asians: perceived disloyalty, power, intelligence, and dishonesty overlap. The similarity in content between stereotypes of Jews and Asians may stem from the fact that many immigrant Jews and Asians both developed a merchant role, a role also historically held by many Indians in East Africa, where their stereotype content resembles that for Asians and Jews in the United States. [13]

Some of the antisemitic canards cited by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL) in their studies of U.S. social trends include the claims that "Jews have too much power in the business world," "Jews are more willing to use shady practices to get what they want," and "Jews always like to be at the head of things." Other issues that garner attention is the assertion of excessive Jewish influence in American cinema and news media. [2]

Statistics of American viewpoints and analysis

Polls and studies point to a steady decrease in antisemitic attitudes, beliefs, and manifestations among the American public. [2] [14] A 1992 survey by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL) showed that about 20% of Americans — between 30 and 40 million adults — held antisemitic views, a considerable decline from the total of 29% found in 1964. However, another survey by the same organization concerning antisemitic incidents showed that the curve has risen without interruption since 1986. [14]

2005 survey

The number of Americans holding antisemitic views declined markedly six years later when another ADL study classified only 12 percent of the population—between 20 and 25 million adults, as "most antisemitic." Confirming the findings of previous surveys, both studies also found that African Americans were significantly more likely than whites to hold antisemitic views, with 34 percent of blacks classified as "most antisemitic," compared to 9 percent of whites in 1998. [14] The 2005 Survey of American Attitudes Towards Jews in America, a national poll of 1,600 American adults conducted in March 2005, found that 14% of Americans—or nearly 35 million adults—hold views about Jews that are "unquestionably antisemitic," compared to 17% in 2002, Previous ADL surveys over the last decade had indicated that antisemitism was in decline. In 1998, the number of Americans with hardcore antisemitic beliefs had dropped to 12% from 20% in 1992.

The 2005 survey found "35 percent of foreign-born Hispanics (down from 44% [in 2002])" and 36 percent of African-Americans hold strong antisemitic beliefs, four times more than the 9 percent for whites." [15] The 2005 Anti-Defamation League survey includes data on Hispanic attitudes, with 29% being most antisemitic (as opposed as 9% for whites and 36% for blacks), being born in the United States helped alleviate that attitude: 35% of foreign-born Hispanics and only 19% of those born in the US. [15]

The survey findings come at a time of increased antisemitic activity in America. The 2004 ADL Audit of Antisemitic Incidents reported that antisemitic incidents reached their highest level in nine years. A total of 1,821 antisemitic incidents were reported in 2004, an increase of 17% over the 1,557 incidents reported during 2003. [16] "What concerns us is that many of the gains we had seen in building a more tolerant and accepting America seem not to have taken hold as firmly as we had hoped," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "While there are many factors at play, the findings suggest that antisemitic beliefs endure and resonate with a substantial segment of the population, nearly 35 million people."

After 2005

In 2007 an ABC News report recounted that past ABC polls across several years have tended to find that about 6% of Americans self-report prejudice against Jews as compared to about 25% being against Arab Americans and about 10% against Hispanic Americans. The report also remarked that a full 34% of Americans reported "some racist feelings" in general as a self-description. [3]

A 2009 study entitled "Modern Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israeli Attitudes", published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2009, tested new theoretical model of anti-Semitism among Americans in the Greater New York area with 3 experiments. The research team's theoretical model proposed that mortality salience (reminding people that they will someday die) increases anti-Semitism and that anti-Semitism is often expressed as anti-Israel attitudes. The first experiment showed that mortality salience led to higher levels of anti-Semitism and lower levels of support for Israel. The study's methodology was designed to tease out anti-Semitic attitudes that are concealed by polite people. The second experiment showed that mortality salience caused people to perceive Israel as very important, but did not cause them to perceive any other country this way. The third experiment showed that mortality salience led to a desire to punish Israel for human rights violations but not to a desire to punish Russia or India for identical human rights violations. According to the researchers, their results "suggest that Jews constitute a unique cultural threat to many people's worldviews, that anti-Semitism causes hostility to Israel, and that hostility to Israel may feed back to increase anti-Semitism." Furthermore, "those claiming that there is no connection between antisemitism and hostility toward Israel are wrong." [17]

The 2011 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America released by the ADL found that the recent world economic recession increased some antisemitic viewpoints among Americans. Abraham H. Foxman, the organization's national director, argued, "It is disturbing that with all of the strides we have made in becoming a more tolerant society, anti-Semitic beliefs continue to hold a vice-grip on a small but not insubstantial segment of the American public." Specifically, the polling found that 19% of Americans answered "probably true" to the assertion that "Jews have too much control/influence on Wall Street" while 15% concurred with the related statement that Jews seem "more willing to use shady practices" in business. Nonetheless, the survey generally reported positive attitudes for most Americans, the majority of those surveyed expressed philo-Semitic sentiments such as 64% agreeing that Jews have contributed much to U.S. social culture. [4]

A 2019 survey by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that 73% of American Jews feel less secure since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. Antisemitic attacks against synagogues since 2016 have contributed to this fear. The survey found that combatting antisemitism is a priority issue in domestic politics among American Jews, including millennials. [18]

Antisemitism within the African-American community

Surveys which were conducted by the ADL in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013 all found that the large majority of African-Americans who were questioned rejected antisemitism and expressed the same kinds of generally tolerant viewpoints as other Americans who were also surveyed. For example, their 2009 study reported that 28% of African-Americans surveyed displayed antisemitic views while a 72% majority did not. However, those three surveys all found that negative attitudes towards Jews were stronger among African-Americans than among the general population at large. [19]

According to earlier ADL research, going back to 1964, the trend that African-Americans are significantly more likely than white Americans to hold antisemitic beliefs across all education levels has remained over the years. Nonetheless, the percentage of the population holding negative beliefs against Jews has waned considerably in the black community during this period as well. In a 1967 New York Times Magazine article entitled "Negroes are Anti-Semitic Because They're Anti-White," the African-American author James Baldwin sought to explain the prevalence of black antisemitism. [20] An ADL poll from 1992 stated that 37% of African-Americans surveyed displayed antisemitism; [2] in contrast, a poll from 2011 found that only 29% did so. [19]

Personal backgrounds play a huge role in terms of holding prejudiced versus tolerant views. Among black Americans with no college education, 43% fell into the most antisemitic group (versus 18% for the general population) compared to that being only 27% among blacks with some college education and just 18% among blacks with a four-year college degree (versus 5% for those in the general population with a four-year college degree). That data from the ADL's 1998 polling research showed a clear pattern. [2] Although the 1998 ADL survey found a strong correlation between education level and antisemitism among African Americans, blacks at all educational levels were still more likely than whites to accept anti-Jewish stereotypes. [21]

Holocaust denial

Austin App, a German-American La Salle University professor of medieval English literature, is considered the first major American Holocaust denier. [22] App wrote extensively in newspapers and periodicals, and he also wrote a couple of books which detailed his defense of Nazi Germany and Holocaust denial. App's work inspired the Institute for Historical Review, a California center which was founded in 1978 with the sole purpose of denying the Holocaust. [23]

One of the newer forms of antisemitism is the denial of the Holocaust by revisionist historians and neo-Nazis. [24]

A survey which was conducted in 1994 by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) found that Holocaust denial was only a tiny fringe position, with 91% of respondents agreeing with the validity of the Holocaust and only 1% saying that it was possible that the holocaust had never happened. [25]


Antisemitic organizations

White supremacists

The flag of the Knights Party, the political branch of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Knights Party flag.PNG
The flag of the Knights Party, the political branch of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

There are a number of antisemitic organizations in the United States, some of them violent, which emphasize white supremacy. These include Christian Identity Churches, White Aryan Resistance, the Ku Klux Klan, and the American Nazi Party, among others. Several fundamentalist churches, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, also preach antisemitic messages. The largest neo-Nazi organizations in the United States are the National Nazi Party and the National Socialist Movement. Many members of these antisemitic groups shave their heads and tattoo themselves with Nazi symbols such as swastikas, SS, and "Heil Hitler". Additionally, antisemitic groups march and preach antisemitic messages throughout America. [26]

Nation of Islam

A number of Jewish organizations, Christian organizations, Muslim organizations, and academics consider the Nation of Islam to be antisemitic. Specifically, they claim that the Nation of Islam has engaged in revisionist and antisemitic interpretations of the Holocaust and exaggerates the role of Jews in the Atlantic slave trade. [27] The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) alleges that the NOI Health Minister, Abdul Alim Muhammad, has accused Jewish doctors of injecting blacks with the AIDS virus. [28] [ non-primary source needed ]

In December 2012, the Simon Wiesenthal Center put the NOI leader Louis Farrakhan on its list of the ten most prominent antisemites in the world. He was the only American to make the list. The organization cited statements that he had made in October of that year in which he claimed that "Jews control the media" and "Jews are the most violent of people". [29]

Farrakhan has denied charges of antisemitism, although his denial included a reference to "Satanic Jews." After he was banned from Facebook, he stated that those who consider him a hater don't know him personally. However, he admitted that Facebook's designation of him as a "dangerous individual" was correct. [30]

New antisemitism

Poster held by a protester at an anti-war rally in San Francisco on February 16, 2003 AntiWarRallyFeb162003.jpg
Poster held by a protester at an anti-war rally in San Francisco on February 16, 2003

In recent years some scholars have advanced the concept of New antisemitism, which is simultaneously being espoused by far leftists, far rightists, and radical Islamists, and tends to focus on opposition to the creation of a Jewish homeland in the State of Israel, and these same scholars also argue that the language of Anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel are used to attack the Jews more broadly. In their view, the proponents of the new concept believe that criticisms of Israel and Zionism are often disproportionate in degree and unique in kind, and they attribute this to antisemitism.

In the context of the "Global War on Terrorism" statements have been made by both the South Carolina Democrat Senator Ernest Hollings and the Republican populist columnist Pat Buchanan which suggest that the George W. Bush administration went to war in order to win over Israel's supporters. In 2004, a number of prominent public figures accused Jewish members of the Bush administration of tricking America into war against Saddam Hussein in order to help Israel. Hollings claimed that the US action against Saddam was undertaken "to secure Israel." Buchanan said that a "cabal" had managed "to snare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests." [31] Hollings wrote an editorial in the May 6, 2004 Charleston Post and Courier, where he argued that Bush invaded Iraq possibly because "spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jewish vote from the Democrats."[ citation needed ]

Noted critics of Israel, such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein (themselves both also Jewish), question the extent of this new antisemitism in the United States. Chomsky wrote Necessary Illusions that the Anti-Defamation League casts any question of pro-Israeli policy as antisemitism, conflating and muddling issues as even Zionists receive the allegation. [32] Finkelstein stated that supposed "new antisemitism" is a preposterous concept advanced by the ADL to combat critics of Israeli policy. [33]

Antisemitism on college campuses

Many Jewish intellectuals who fled from Nazi Germany after Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s arrived in the United States. There, they hoped to continue their academic careers, but barring a scant few, they found little acceptance in elite institutions in Depression-era America with its undercurrent of antisemitism, instead, they found work in historically black colleges and universities in the American South. [34] [35]

On April 3, 2006, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced its finding that incidents of antisemitism are a "serious problem" on college campuses throughout the United States. The Commission recommended that the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights protect college students from antisemitism through vigorous enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and further recommended that Congress clarify that Title VI applies to discrimination against Jewish students. [36]

In February 2015, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law and Trinity College [37] presented the results of a national survey of American Jewish college students. The survey had a 10-12% response rate and it does not claim to be representative. The report showed that 54% of the 1,157 self-identified Jewish students at 55 campuses nationwide who took part in the online survey reported having experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the Spring semester of the last academic year.

A 2017 report by Brandeis University's Steinhardt Social Research Institute indicated that most Jewish students never experience anti-Jewish remarks or physical attacks. The study, "Limits to Hostility," notes that even though it is often reported in the news, actual antisemitic hostility remains rare on most campuses and it is seldom encountered by Jewish students. [38] The study attempts to document the student experience at the campus level, by adding more detailed information to national-level surveys like the 2015 Brandeis and Trinity College Anti-semitism reports. [39] :5 The report summary highlights the finding that, even though antisemitism does exist on campus, "Jewish students do not think their campus is hostile to Jews."

The National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students provided a snapshot of the type, context, and location of anti-Semitism as it was experienced by a large national sample of Jewish students on university and four-year college campuses. [40] Inside Higher Ed focused on the more surprising findings of the report, like the fact that high rates of anti-Semitism were also reported at institutions regardless of their location or type, that the data which was collected after the survey suggests that discrimination occurs during low-level, everyday interpersonal activities, and Jewish students feel that their reports of anti-Semitism are largely ignored by the administration. [41] However, not all of the reception was positive, and The Forward argued that the study only documented a snapshot in time rather than a trend, that it did not survey a representative sample of Jewish college students and it was flawed because it allowed students to define anti-Semitism (leaving the term open to interpretation). [42]

Hate crimes

  Private residence (22%)
  College Campus (7%)
  Jewish Institution / School (11%)
  Non-Jewish School (12%)
  Public area (35%)
  Private Building / Area (12%)
  Cemetery (1%)

In April 2019, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported that antisemitism in the U.S. was at "near-historic levels," with 1,879 attacks recorded against individuals and institutions during 2018, "the third-highest year on record since the ADL started tracking such data in the 1970s." [43]

This followed data from earlier in the decade which showed a multi-year slide in antisemitism, including a 19% decline in 2013. [44]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) organizes Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) which are designed to collect and evaluate statistics of offenses which are committed in the U.S. In 2014, 1,140 victims of anti-religious hate crimes were listed, of which 56.8% were motivated by offenders' anti-Jewish biases. 15,494 law enforcement agencies contributed to the UCR analysis. [45] [46]

However, low numbers of hate crimes against Jewish targets are also related to the relatively small size of the Jewish population in the U.S. when it is compared to the population sizes of other minority groups. According to the American Enterprise Institute, Jews were the most likely of any group, religious or otherwise, to be targeted for hate crimes in the U.S. in 2018 [47] , 2016 [48] , and 2015. [49] While The New York Times reported that Jews were the most targeted in proportion to their population size in 2005 [50] , and they were the second most targeted individuals after LGBT individuals in 2014 [51] [52] .

On Saturday, October 27, 2018, an antisemitic shooter murdered 11 Jewish people in an attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during Shabbat services. It was the deadliest antisemitic act in US history. [53] The number of antisemitic hate crimes rose sharply in New York City in 2018. [54]

On April 27, 2019, a gunman killed one and injured three inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California. [55] [ circular reference ]

The NYPD reported a 75% increase in the amount of swastika graffiti between 2016 and 2018, with an uptick observed after the Pittsburgh shooting. Out of 189 hate crimes in New York City in 2018, 150 featured swastikas. [56] On February 1 2019 graffiti which read "fucking Jews" was found on the wall of a synagogue in LA. [57] During Hanukkah festivities in December 2019, a number of attacks which were committed in New York were possibly motivated by antisemitism, including a mass stabbing in Monsey. [58]

See also

Related Research Articles

Antisemitism is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism.

Nation of Islam and antisemitism

A number of organizations and academics consider the Nation of Islam to be antisemitic, stating that it has engaged in Holocaust denial and antisemitic interpretations of the Holocaust, and exaggerates the role of Jews in the African slave trade. The Nation of Islam has repeatedly rejected such charges as false and politically motivated.

New antisemitism Forms of antisemitism emerging in the late 20th and early 21st centuries

New antisemitism is the concept that a new form of antisemitism has developed in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, tending to manifest itself as opposition to Zionism and criticism of the Israeli government. The concept is included in some definitions of antisemitism, such as the Working Definition of Antisemitism and the 3D test of antisemitism.

History of the Jews in Sweden aspect of history

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Universities in many countries have been the site of antisemitic policies and practices at different times in their history often well into the 1960's. Several universities have restricted the admission of Jewish students, as well as the hiring and retention of Jewish faculty. In some instances, universities have supported antisemitic government, or social policies and condoned the development of an antisemitic cultures on campus. In most democratic countries, officially sanctioned university antisemitism was phased out in the years after World War II, however antisemitic cultural values still persists on many campuses.

Antisemitic canards are unfounded rumors or false allegations that are defamatory toward Judaism as a religion, or defamatory toward Jews as an ethnic or religious group. Since at least the Middle Ages, they often form part of broader Jewish conspiracy theories.

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History of antisemitism in the United States

There have been different opinions among historians with regard to the extent of antisemitism in America's past and how American antisemitism contrasted with its European counterpart. Earlier students of American Jewish life minimized the presence of antisemitism in the United States, which they considered a late and alien phenomenon that arose on the American scene in the late 19th century. More recently however, scholars have asserted that no period in American Jewish history was free of antisemitism. The debate about the significance of antisemitism during different periods of American history has continued to the present day.

Antisemitism —prejudice, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews has experienced a long history of expression since the days of ancient civilizations, with most of it having originated in the Christian and pre-Christian civilizations of Europe.

Antisemitic incidents escalated worldwide in frequency and intensity during the Gaza War, and were widely considered to be a wave of reprisal attacks in response to the conflict.

Antisemitism in Canada is the manisfestation of hostility, prejudice or discrimination against the Canadian Jewish people or Judaism as a religious, ethnic or racial group. This form of racism has affected Jews since Canada's Jewish community was established in the 18th century.

<i>Defamation</i> (film) 2009 documentary film directed by Yoav Shamir

Defamation is a 2009 documentary film by award-winning filmmaker Yoav Shamir. It examines antisemitism and, in particular, the way perceptions of antisemitism affect Israeli and U.S. politics. A major focus of the film is the Anti-Defamation League. Defamation won Best Documentary Feature Film at the 2009 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

Anti-Defamation League international Jewish non-governmental organization based in the United States

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), formerly known as the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, is an international Jewish non-governmental organization based in the United States. It was founded in late September 1913 by the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith, a Jewish service organization. ADL subsequently split from B'nai B'rith and continued as an independent U.S. Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit. In its 2017 annual information Form 990, ADL reported total revenues of just over $70 million, from contributions and grants. ADL states that its mission is a dual one: "To stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all" via the development of "new programs, policies and skills to expose and combat whatever holds us back." Opposing antisemitism and extremism, ADL describes its "ultimate goal" as "a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate."

Antisemitism in France has become heightened since the late 20th century and into the 21st century. In the early 21st century, most Jews in France, like most Muslims in France, are of North African origin. France has the largest population of Jews in the diaspora after the United States—an estimated 500,000–600,000 persons. Paris has the highest population, followed by Marseilles, which has 70,000 Jews, most of North African origin. Expressions of anti-semitism were seen to rise during the Six-Day War of 1967 and the French anti-Zionist campaign of the 1970s and 1980s. Following the electoral successes achieved by the extreme right-wing National Front and an increasing denial of the Holocaust among some persons in the 1990s, surveys showed an increase in stereotypical antisemitic beliefs among the general French population.

Since World War II, antisemitic prejudice in Italy has seldom taken on aggressive forms.

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Evidence for the presence of Jewish communities in the geographical area today covered by Austria can be traced back to the 12th century. In 1848 Jews were granted civil rights and the right to establish an autonomous religious community, but full citizenship rights were given only in 1867. In an atmosphere of economic, religious and social freedom, the Jewish population grew from 6,000 in 1860 to almost 185,000 in 1938. In March 1938, Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany and thousands of Austrians and Austrian Jews who opposed Nazi rule were sent to concentration camps. Of the 65,000 Viennese Jews deported to concentration camps, only about 2,000 survived, while around 800 survived World War II in hiding.

AMCHA Initiative organization

The AMCHA Initiative is a nonprofit organization based in California which seeks to investigate, document, educate about, and combat antisemitism at institutions of higher education in the United States. The Initiative was founded by University of California Santa Cruz lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and University of California Los Angeles Professor Emeritus Leila Beckwith.

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Further reading