/ Israel at War

The New Antisemitism

"Antisemitism has mutated once again."
Ted Eytan via Flickr
Ted Eytan via Flickr
Dr. Tomer Persico is a research fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute. He was the Koret Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish and Israel Studies at U.C. Berkeley, where he was also a Senior Research Scholar in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Dr. Persico is a social activist advocating for freedom of religion in Israel. A leading thinker about secularization, Jewish Renewal and forms of contemporary spirituality, Persico writes the most popular blog in Hebrew

“According to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the threat the Jews pose to the world is closely tied to liberal values.

The Jews want to demolish old hierarchies and convince the common people that equality is good, to destroy the aristocracy, to spread democracy, to establish universal human rights, to uphold freedom of speech, to encourage secularism, even to introduce a progressive tax on property. According to the tract, injecting ‘the poison of Liberalism’ will weaken humanity, allowing the Jews to take over the world.

The Protocols are an early 20th century fabrication feigning the instructions of a cabal of Jews seeking world domination. Their preoccupation with liberal values stems from the fact that for the creators of that paradigmatic antisemitic text—one assumption is that it was written by Tsarist secret police—the most lethal threat was Enlightenment values and the ascending liberal order. Since that for them was the greatest moral evil, that was what the Jews were up to.

Antisemitism is like that. It’s not simply hatred of Jews, but the identification of Jews with the gravest depth of sin. If it’s not the killing of the messiah, it’s the ritualistic slaughter of children in medieval blood libels. If it’s not the greedy exploitation of the poor, it’s defiling the pure, superior Volk. If it’s not capitalism, it’s communism. If it’s not rootlessness, it’s colonialism.

When former British Labour MP Chris Williamson tweets that ‘Israel has forfeited any right to exist’ on the assumption that Hamas’ propaganda about Israel bombing the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza is true, he expresses antisemitism, inasfar as Israel is here singled out to be abolished, while the very right to exist of other states in the world, no matter how severe their crimes are, is rarely called into question.

But the problem is yet deeper than applying a moral double standard. What we are witnessing with Williamson, as with protesters chanting ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ or tearing down notices about Israeli civilians held captive by Hamas, is the perception of the Jewish State as the single most malevolent country in the world. As the root of all evil.

Antisemitism has mutated once again.”

Read the full article on Persuasion.

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