The term ‘anti-Semitism’ indicates how far the anti-Jewish literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was charged with themes, figures, and stereotypes from contemporary discourses on the Orient. An increasing tendency to ‘orientalise’ the European Jews had raised questions about the supposed origin of the Jewish people in the Near East and its relationship to other – current or historical – peoples. Focusing on the Nazi racial scientist Ludwig Ferdinand Clauß, the article draws attention to the impact of Near Eastern anthropology, ethnology, and archaeology in the Age of Empire on modern anti-Semitism and sheds light on structural convergences and differences between colonial or ‘Orientalist’ discourses and anti-Semitism in general. With reference to the scholarly literature of the time, Clauß made a sharp distinction between ‘Oriental’ or ‘Semitic’ Arabs and ‘Near Eastern’ Jews. Thereby, the romanticised Arab Orient served as an antipole to a ‘Nordic’ Europe, and as such was finally able to advance to a positive alternative. The Jewish Orient, on the other hand, embodied a threatening ambivalence and contrariety, which from the very beginning precluded romanticisation and identification.