Friday, February 05, 2010

An obsession that will not go away

Jeffrey Herf reviews the new Robert Wistrich book about modern anti-Semitism in Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad.

Wistrich is certainly aware that not all criticism of Israeli policy is inspired by hatred of the Jews and Judaism, but the logic and the structure of influential arguments attacking Israel have been ominously identical to the imputations of vast power and enormous evil attributed to world Jewry by European anti-Semites of old. The lethal obsession of the recent past, according to Wistrich, has been a melange of the old conspiracy theories of that infamous forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,with Marxism-Leninism, secular third worldism, and Islamism. In this period, the center of gravity of anti-Semitism has shifted from Europe to the Middle East and Iran. Although the cultural sources of the anti-Semitism of recent decades differ from those in Europe, the publicly articulated policies of the government of Iran and its
proxies Hamas and Hezbollah, are no less lethal. Far from clearly recognizing the danger, too much of the political mainstream in Europe has failed to acknowledge the anti- Semitic resurgence. And in certain precincts of the Muslim diaspora in Europe, radical anti-Semitism has been re-exported back to Europe and on occasion enters the mainstream of political, journalistic, and intellectual life.

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