Resur­gent Anti­semitism: Glob­al Perspectives

  • Review
By – May 13, 2013

After the Holo­caust end­ed in Europe almost sev­en­ty years ago, one might think that its impact would have sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduced if not elim­i­nat­ed anti-Semi­tism by the twen­ty-first century.

It did not.

There has been a dis­turb­ing resur­gence of hatred in the past decade: anti-Semi­tism once again occu­pies a large glob­al pres­ence. It is expressed in the halls of gov­ern­ment and acad­e­mia, among elites and the com­mon peo­ple, in the media and in places of wor­ship, and it has led to a spike in vio­lence direct­ed at Jews and Jew­ish insti­tu­tions. Resur­gent Anti­semitism presents orig­i­nal research by some of the field’s lead­ing schol­ars attempt­ing to under­stand what is new” about the longest hatred.” The nine­teen authors includ­ed in this vol­ume write from a dozen dif­fer­ent coun­tries and demon­strate the unprece­dent­ed glob­al reach of this age-old social pathol­o­gy, with par­tic­u­lar focus on the social, intel­lec­tu­al, and ide­o­log­i­cal roots of the phenomenon.

Although there are dif­fer­ences among the schol­ars on def­i­n­i­tions of anti-Semi­tism, they all agree that con­tem­po­rary anti­semitism is dri­ven large­ly by ide­ol­o­gy and polit­i­cal bias­es rather than by reli­gious or racial hatred of Jews. The old­er forms of Jew-hatred are not total­ly gone, but they have been large­ly replaced by objec­tions to Jew­ish par­tic­u­lar­ism— espe­cial­ly in the efforts to demo­nize and dele­git­imize Jew­ish nation­al exis­tence in the State of Israel. Myths about Jew­ish mate­ri­al­ism and neg­a­tive per­cep­tions of Judaism have been replaced by aggres­sive fan­tasies that blame, accuse, exco­ri­ate, and demo­nize Jews. As sev­er­al of the authors demon­strate, aggres­sive anti-Jew­ish sen­ti­ments are espe­cial­ly per­va­sive today through­out the Mid­dle East and with­in Europe’s grow­ing Mus­lim communities.

Along with anti-Amer­i­can­ism, anti-glob­al­iza­tion, and anti-mil­i­tarism, anti-Zion­ism is now a famil­iar trope among intel­lec­tu­al and polit­i­cal groups on either extremes of their respec­tive spec­tra, Jews and Israel are iden­ti­fied with these glob­al ten­den­cies. The authors con­clude that anti-Semi­tism looms at its most threat­en­ing since the Holo­caust. Resur­gent Anti­semitism con­tributes to our under­stand­ing of this most vex­ing of prej­u­dices and is high­ly recommended.

Michael N. Dobkows­ki is a pro­fes­sor of reli­gious stud­ies at Hobart and William Smith Col­leges. He is co-edi­tor of Geno­cide and the Mod­ern Age and On the Edge of Scarci­ty (Syra­cuse Uni­ver­si­ty Press); author of The Tar­nished Dream: The Basis of Amer­i­can Anti-Semi­tism; and co-author of The Nuclear Predicament.

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