Your argument about translation is indeed an important point. Next time I speak with the friend in question I will ask him for sources, if I remember. It is something I have never investigated, simply because it is a period of history in which I am not that interested, but along the same lines, some of my American Jewish friends can get quite excited about the anti-Semitism of Edison and others.
My own suspicion is that the Jews were simply an easy, convenient target: 'other' enough to attack, but not so 'other' that they were out of the experience of the majority of people.
It is also easy to forget the extent of what one might call 'casual' anti-Semitism, though I believe (and hope) it has declined since I was a boy. When I was at school, I once heard a boy say, "I think Dennis [the housemaster] is Jewing me, so I've started keeping all my money in a Jew-box and writing it all down on a Jew-sheet." No-one (except apparently me) appeared to think his vocabulary unusual, and everyone understood what he meant: 'to Jew', to cheat; 'Jew-box', cash-box; Jew-sheet, accounts. This was a minor public school in England some 40 years ago.
And yet, there was extraordinarly little linking of this sort of thing with personalities. I doubt there were more than a couple of dozen Jews at my old school (out of about 600 -- which was probably a fair reflection of the overall religious balance of the region and social class at the time). But the only person I can remember actually noticing to be Jewish was a girl at the nearby girls' school whom I rather fancied; and I noticed her because her parents clearly preferred she should go out with a nice Jewish boy. By my university days I was sometimes mistaken for the latter but that's another story.