Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Ever Changing Face of Anti-Semitism

Gary Fouse

"The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"
19th century forgery of czarist Russia that purported to tell of a secret meeting of Jewish leaders to plot the takeover of the world. Still a best-seller in the Middle East

Being an amateur scholar of the Third Reich and getting involved in the issue of anti-Semitism in recent years, it is fascinating-and quite sad-to watch how this form of hatred has evolved over time from religious-based hate to hate based on economic jealousy to racial hate and back full circle.

Centuries ago in Christian Europe, Jews suffered religious persecution based on a belief that they were Christ-killers. Eventually, they were targets of oppression based on economic and professional competition and jealousy. Under Hitler, it was mostly about their racial identity vis-a-vis the "pure Aryan race". Conversions made no difference to the Nazis. It was all about race. Even after the Holocaust, Jews, even in America, were discriminated against and held in contempt by many because of their success in education, economic well-being and dominance in certain professions, such as law, medicine, banking and the movie industry. That jealousy still exists in some quarters.

The Israel/Palestine conflict has exacerbated anti-Semitism greatly. The term, "Zionist", has become an epithet to millions of people, especially in the Muslim world. For millions, it is a convenient code word that enables them to condemn millions of people and still claim to have nothing against Jews, per se.

While Christian anti-Semitism based on the Christ-killer concept has largely receded in the past century or so, Islamic hatred of Jews, based on Koranic teachings, is back in full force. Here in America, it is muted by our principles of equality and rejection of hate. In the Middle East, it is not muted. This, coupled with the conflict over Israel, has produced a deadly situation that may have no solution.

The stereotype of the wealthy and devious Jew has never left, unfortunately, as if they should be embarrassed over their success in certain professions. Modern anti-Semitism still abounds as Jews are accused of having too much influence. Israel is accused of having too much influence over US foreign policy in the Middle East-at the expense of our Arab friends. If you peruse the anti-Semitic web sites (I come across them usually by accident) what you see are constant references to the alliance between Israel and American Jews. You also see references to Jews that have nothing to do with Israel.

According to these voices, the American Jewish lobby puts too much pressure on the American government in support of Israel. First of all, it is inaccurate to think that American Jews are a monolithic force. They are as varied in their attitudes and beliefs as the rest of us. Many don't even support Israel and have taken the Palestinian side.

In spite of the above, one of the more recent talking points we hear in America revolves around the so-called "Neo-Cons", who just happen to be all Jewish when names are given. Now we are hearing more and more about the so-called "dual-loyalties" of Jewish Americans. Time's writer Joe Klein, himself Jewish, has written on this line during the past week.

Also in the past week, another blog (left of center) that I contribute articles to has featured an article by another contributor that links an article and radio interview of some retired professor who takes the same line. What is really scary is when you get to the comments section, that is where the word "Jew" starts appearing all over the place. I won't repeat them here, but they can only be described as anti-Semitic. More than one of the writers maintain that 9-11 was perpetrated not only by the Bush administration, but by the Mossad. One loon even opines that Israel killed JFK. Now that the Bush administration is gone, these folks are honing in on Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff. Emanuel, a Jew, has even served with the Israeli Defense Forces, thus he is a convenient target. Many still hold to the canard that there is a conspiracy by Jews to control the world.

Those readers not familiar with Europe may not realize that the few thousand Jews who still live there are being subjected to anti-Semitism on a regular basis, usually by young male Muslim immigrants. One example is Malmo, Sweden, of which I have previously written. A long-standing Jewish community is leaving in droves as they can no longer tolerate the persecution on the streets coupled with the disinterest of the mayor.

As I perceive it here in North America, anti-Semitism is becoming a staple on university campuses, driven by radicalized Muslim Student Associations in their fervent campaigns against Israel and backed by far-left students, professors and community activists. They, of course, deny being anti-Jewish-they are only anti-Zionist they say. Many of their invited speakers show us otherwise when they cross the line into anti-Jew hate speech. Of course, they have learned that one effective technique is to drag in Jewish figures who are themselves anti-Israel, useful idiots like Norman Finklestein, a discredited ex-professor from DePaul University, who now makes his living on the anti-Israel university lecture circuit. There are many others like him.

Some observers, like author Robert Wistrich, call this "anti-Semitism without Jews". How else can you describe a hatred towards a people who are so small in numbers. Their presence in Europe is infinitesimal (and we all know why, don't we?) Even their percentage in the US is tiny. Some people think that only if Israel would go away, there would be no more anti-Semitism.

They are naive. There are those who still want to see Jews disappear from the face of the earth. In my view, that is still a possibility-a second Holocaust, if you will. It must not be allowed to happen.

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