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The evolution of Antisemitism

19 January 2013, 14:23

The Evolution of Anti-Semitism: Is Anti-Zionism the new form of Anti-Semitism?

Racism is defined by the Oxford Dictionary of English as the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities or qualities specific to that race; so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. It is also defined as prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the above belief. 

Few nations have experienced the same level of racism as the Jewish people have through out history. Racism directed at Jews is termed anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has been perpetuated in every generation and recorded since the founding of the religion about 4000 years ago. Moses, in fact is strongly associated with the very earliest stirrings of systematic anti-Semitism. The Ur-Libel, the notion of Moses as an Egyptian priest who commanded the Jews to kill all the Egyptian sacred animals and set up an alien nation (Manetho circa 250 BC), became the fundamental matrix of anti-Semitism. This same passage for instance, is reproduced twice in anti-Semitic works by Karl Marx. 

The real galvanization of anti-Semitism as a mainstream idea began with the dawn of Christianity and in this article we will call it the first phase of anti-Semitism. The Catholic Church for many centuries labeled the Jews as the killers of their savior. In order to maintain this belief as to the sanctity of the savior, Jews were to be kept in abject poverty as evidence of the punishment bestowed upon them for their act. Jews were treated as subjects; they were afforded very few rights. They were kept uneducated and were not allowed to work. They were separated from society and often violently attacked with no form of recourse. 

 The second phase of anti-Semitism began during the European period of enlightenment. This period marked the disassociation of states from religion. It marked the age of scientific progress, of philosophy and placed man on a new pedestal. It believed in the unification of man and left little room for religious practice. Jews wanted to embrace this new enlightenment period as it allowed them greater access to higher learning and other rights but Jews’ stringent adherence to religious practices antagonized these beliefs. It made Jews a "nation within a nation" and this was little tolerated. It caused them to remain as outsiders and face persecution.

 The third phase of anti-Semitism began with the concept of races. This is the form of anti-Semitism perpetuated by Hitler and the Third Reich. The great change that occurred as a result of this third phase would prove to be catastrophic to Jewry. Previously during the first phase one could give up Judaism and convert to Christianity, as it was purely the religious belief that was the issue. During the second phase Jews could hide their religion and function normally within that society and practice behind closed doors because once again the religion itself and the resultant limitation in the assimilation to the ideals of unification of man were the concerns. With the third phase however, Jews were a race. Jews carried genetic material, which made them who they were. This could not be changed no matter what religion the Jew converted to, what his outside appearance was and how dilute his genetic material was through inter-marriage. This was not isolated to Jews, indeed blacks, gypsies etc. were all persecuted under the definition of race. 

 Following the horrors of the holocaust, the words racism and anti-Semitism became taboo in many societies. Is it possible that after all these centuries, indeed thousands of years, anti-Semitism would simply disappear? Is it possible that this resentment of Jews would dissolve into nothing and Jews would become a nation treated like any other? Sadly the answer to these questions is an emphatic NO!

Anti-Semites needed to find another outlet for this hatred, which has been ubiquitous throughout Jewish history. Unfortunately the wait would not be a long one. The gift of Zionism and Israel landed in the Jew haters lap. Before delving into this let us define Zionism. This is the desire Jews have had from the destruction of the second temple 2000 years ago and the exile that followed, to return to their homeland, the land promised to them in their bible. It is a dream of Jews to have self-determination, just as any other nation on earth has a right to. 

Today people use anti-Zionism and anti-Israel as a guise for anti-Semitism. They attempt to separate the Jew from Israel and Zionism to give plausibility to their thinly veiled anti-Semitism. People may ask, can one not criticize Israel without being deemed an anti-Semite? Of course one can, but that criticism must be examined. If the criticism is disproportional to criticism of similar or worse actions by other states then it is anti-Semitism. People who criticize Israel tend to ignore atrocities happening elsewhere. They demonize a democratic government while ignoring the dictatorships, which abound along the Israel's border and elsewhere. These people criticize Israel when she attempts to defend herself while ignoring the precipitating events and the threats to Israel's citizens. When one country, namely Israel, above all others is singled out for criticism, this is anti-Semitism.

 According to the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) definition, regardless of the motive, anti-Zionist and anti-Israel criticism become anti-Semitic when they entail:

• Denying the Jewish people their right to self- determination;

• Applying double standards to Israel;

• Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis;

• Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; or

• Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

 Holocaust denial has also become a very popular form of anti-Semitism and delegitimisation of the State of Israel. Numerous British Members of Parliament[1] have been deniers of the Holocaust and most recently and vehemently the President of Iran Ahmadinejad.

 According to the EUMC Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, contemporary examples of this form of anti-Semitism include:

·         “Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g., gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of Nationalist Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).”

·         “Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.”

In addition, according to the EUMC, an example of how anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel includes:

•“Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

 There are abounding examples of the above in mainstream media, governmental institutions and government sanctioned media, anti-Israel rallies etc. The Star of David, a symbol of Judaism and Israel, is equated to the Nazi Swastika. Traditional Jewish Anti-Semitic caricatures are used to depict Israel in a negative light. This occurs not only in the Middle East but in European media as well.

It is time this new anti-Semitism was recognized and labeled as such. Racist hatred has always started out in verbal and print before becoming institutionalized and violent. This must be put to an end. Liberal, left-wing academics hide behind the guise of human rights and their famous institutions while spewing vitreous hatred of a people and their land.

As Martin Luther King Jnr. Stated at Harvard University in 1968 "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism"

2 In the United Kingdom in July 2006, Sir Peter Tap- sell, a Tory Member of Parliament (MP), told the House of Commons that Israel’s actions against Hezballah in Lebanon were, “A war crime gravely reminiscent of the Nazi atrocity on the Jewish quarter of Warsaw.” In reply, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett rejected his allegations entirely. In October 2006, another Tory MP, Andrew Turner, suggested to the House of Commons that Israel’s actions in “at- tacking civilians from the air...were the tactics of the Nazis in 1939 and 1940...” In response to criticism, including from his fellow MPs, Turner later apologized for his comments 


1)     “A History of the Jews” by Paul Johnson

2)     “Why are Jews Liberals?” by Norman Podhoretz

3)     “Hadrian’s Echo: The Whys and Wherefores of Israel’s Critics” By Steve Apfel

4)     “Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism Report” Released by the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism,?U.S. Department of State For Full Report Click Here

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