Legal Battle over Oed Definition of Jew Ends in Moral Victory

The four-year-old legal fight by a Manchester businessman to have the Oxford English Dictionary drop what he considered derogatory definitions of the word “Jew” has been lost. But a moral victory was won when Robert Burchfield, editor of the dictionary, said the 1975 supplement would include an historical note explaining the origin of the disputed definitions.

Rumanian-born Marcus Shlotmovitz had objected to definitions of Jew as “to cheat or overreach in the way attributed to Jewish traders or usurers” and “a grasping or extortionate usurer, or a trader who drives hard bargains and deals craftily.”

High Court Judge Sir Reginald Goff ruled that the 66-year-old textile merchant had not proved he suffered personally from the definitions. Shlotmovitz said he would not appeal the ruling but would leave the matter to public opinion.

Clarendon Press, publisher of the dictionary, promised not to collect the $3000 in costs the court awarded against Shlotmovitz.

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