On anti-Semitism, difficult questions and contested answers

editor - 28 February 2017

By Ben Cohen/ In his magnum opus “A Lethal Obsession,” the late Robert Wistrich, one of Israel’s finest scholars of the murderous pathways of Jew-hatred, elegantly summarised the character of anti-Semitism at the turn of this century… writes Ben Cohen/ “The old-new anti-Semitism can itself be as inventive as it is repetitive,” Wistrich wrote. “It often appears to imply that Jews are never victims but always victimisers, which may sound original to some but is clearly false. It generally avoids positions that smack of deliberate political or economic exclusion of Jews qua Jews from the national community or that echo the discourse of a discredited biological racism. On the other hand, depicting Zionism and the Jewish lobby as a world power is not considered racist or defamatory. There is no law against suggesting that Zionists deliberately provoke wars and revolutions, even though this is a classic anti-Semitic fabrication that has been widely propagated by Nazis, Communists and Islamists.”


Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist in the anti-Israel BDS movement, helped raised more than $100,000 to repair the desecrated Chesed Shel Emet cemetery in St. Louis. Columnist Ben Cohen asks: Can the enemies of Israel be, at the same time, the friends of Jewish communities outside the Jewish state? Credit: Festival of Faiths via Wikimedia Commons.

From this short paragraph, we can deduce some general observations. Anti-Semitism adjusts itself to the sensibilities of the surrounding society. It develops themes that invariably portray Jews as a collectivity in the worst possible moral light. It is fixated with the distinct character of Jewish power—“this small people,” in the words of the Greek composer Mikos Theodorakis, a communist, in 2004, or “the root of evil.” And it is politically and theologically promiscuous, penetrating the salons of the nationalist right and the progressive left, creeping into Presbyterian churches, leading the thundering discourse of political Islam. Read the full story.


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