Arguments over whether or not there is a “new” antisemitism – and if so, what constitutes it – have obscured our understanding of contemporary antisemitism. The urge to ensure that 21st Century antisemitism is seen to have moved on from its previous modes, may even have inadvertently served to make antisemitism less well understood today than at any time in the last hundred years. This breakdown in understanding has played an important role in legitimising anti-Israel hatred and boycotts, and in fostering a mass “anti-Zionist” hysteria. As ever, Jews are the physical target for this vitriol, as witnessed by the significant post-2000 escalations in antisemitic attacks in Britain, and in most Jewish communities around the world.
We are witnessing, at the very least, a new vocabulary of antisemitism, which retains its “old” impact of increasing the vulnerability of Jewish communities across the world. The crucial distinction between “old” and “new” antisemitic vocabulary is that the hateful image of “Zionism” and “Zionists” has now replaced the psychological scapegoat role that was traditionally filled by the antisemitic image of the Jew. In this respect, there is nothing “new” at all. Contemporary antisemitism has always built upon pre-existing antisemitic themes, recast within the paradigms and context of the modern day. So, antisemitism is always “new”, yet always builds upon the “old”.
This is a multifaceted situation that presents new political opportunities and new dangers for local Jewish communities, as their allies and enemies now firmly re-categorize them alongside existing establishment and so-called “neoconservative” circles.
The overall scenario within which the global and UK post-2000 surge of antisemitic incidents, boycotts and rhetoric has occurred is wholly contemporary, and must be understood in order to better facilitate responses. It is premised, above all else, upon the modern day, post-Holocaust, post creation of Israel, construct of “the Zionist”: a fundamentally antisemitic creation for a supposedly post antisemitic age. In this, “Zionists” and “Zionism” are synonymous with all that is evil in the modern, American-led unipolar world, including imperialism, racism, capitalism, globalism, militarism and war.
To these evils, we must also add the widely held belief that Israel is the root cause of Muslim anger and Islamist terrorism, and the concomitant allegation that Zionists manipulate American foreign policy to propel a “Clash of Civilisations” war between the West and Islam. As in so many previous wars and revolutions, Jews lurking in the shadows of power are charged with manipulating Gentiles to fight and die for their physical benefit and financial profit.
Put simply, the “new” Jew (now “the Zionist”) is still the “old” scapegoat for the world’s ills. But how did this come about?
After the Holocaust, Western society entered an age in which explicit racism – especially antisemitism – was forbidden. Nevertheless, the deeply rooted antisemitic hatreds that fuelled Auschwitz existed because of what Jews were alleged to do, not because of what they actually did. In today’s troubled and complex times, younger generations are rediscovering the captivating appeal of antisemitism, only this time in its newly-branded 21st Century version: “anti-Zionism”.
This “anti-Zionism” is a global product that is Jew-free, yet packed full of age-old antisemitic charges and motifs that are now directed against “Zionists” instead of “Jews”. It is a comprehensive ideology that owes everything to the antisemitic compendium, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and nothing to Zionism, as this term is understood and practised by Diaspora Jewish communities around the world.
Complaints about Zionist Federation charity tins for Israel, and Jews holidaying in Eilat at Passover, do not carry the same chilling cosmic cachet as alleging that concealed all-powerful alien Zionists run the world via their control of global media and American and European Governments.
Common understanding of antisemitism centres upon “old” antisemitic modes that are generally agreed to include two millennia of Christian religious Jew hatred; the socio-economic exclusion of Jews from the rest of society; nationalist and xenophobic Jew hatred; and, transcending all of these in the popular imagination, Nazi race theory that culminated in the Holocaust.
There has, however, never been particularly widespread understanding or agreement about other “old” antisemitic modes that now underpin what many hold to be the “new” antisemitic discourse: Islamic and left wing anti-Jewish prejudice and practise, both of which are routinely defended, minimised or wholly denied by their modern day adherents, who angrily and self righteously insist – and often sincerely believe – that Jews receive special protection under both systems.
They neglect, of course, to acknowledge that this protection is entirely contingent upon Jews behaving and self-identifying in the manner demanded of them, rather than in ways that Jews themselves actually choose. Self proclaimed anti-Zionists from both the left and Islamist camps angrily insist (and believe) that they are not antisemitic. They say that they hate Israel and Zionists for what they do, and not for their Jewishness.
Their current position inadvertently mimics that of veteran British Nazi John Tyndall, who wrote in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War (1): “This harmful state of affairs is accountable to one thing and one thing alone: the colossal weight of Zionist influence and power within Britain and throughout the Western world, which has bent British policy to its will in one great international situation after another. To state the fact of this Zionist power is not to be anti-Jewish.”
Left wing anti-Zionists are desperate to de-couple Zionism from Jews. They parade Jewish anti-Zionists as good Jews, repeatedly depict Jews as the primary victim of Zionism, and echo Tyndall’s insistence that Zionist power is a fact, and that saying so is not antisemitic.
There is, however, an intellectual conceit that now enters the left anti-Zionist discourse: the banal assumption that we live in a post antisemitic era in which the supposed anti-racist separation of Israel and Zionism from Jews is a reality, and that anti-Israel and anti-Zionist hatred has no basis in Jew hatred. Tyndall, however, a Nazi who is unencumbered by post holocaust guilt or any concept of political correctness, simply takes for granted the fact that Zionists are the new Jewish conspirators. He continues:
“The Jews are to be commended for intelligently and single-mindedly working for their own interests. From their own point of view their policies are entirely right.”
Note how Tyndall’s all powerful Zionists have now seamlessly become “the Jews”. This is how most people see things, despite the wide eyed self serving antisemitism denials of today’s “anti-Zionists”.
Nevertheless, the revolutionary left’s urge to deny the nature of antisemitism, and the attendant claim that it can be quarantined apart from anti-Zionist and anti-Israel hatred, is also increasingly influential within mainstream liberal left media, most notably the Guardian and Independent newspapers, as well as the BBC.
Some Jews have focussed on the nature of these media outlets’ Israel coverage, and hold it to be biased and obsessive, and therefore implicitly antisemitic. Journalists and editors have furiously objected to the unsophisticated and noisy complaints to the media from a small number of non-representative (yet sincerely concerned) Jews, and the resulting cycle of argument, cynicism and distrust has served to distort the actual statements of mainstream Jewish community groups, leaders and commentators on their concerns regarding antisemitism, and what they believe constitutes it.
This depressing cycle was exemplified by the Guardian coverage of the 2006 UK Parliamentary Inquiry Into Antisemitism, which carried the headline, “Accusations of anti-semitic chic are poisonous intellectual thuggery. Attempts to brand the left as anti-Jewish because of its support of Palestinian rights only make it harder to tackle genuine racism”. (2)
The Guardian headline was a gross misrepresentation of Jewish concerns as they are expressed by communal representatives – but the allegation of Jews crying wolf to guard Israel has now become a comprehensive, self-serving mantra for anti-Israel media commentators and political activists alike. These attitudes, largely propelled by a genuine and deepening loathing for Israel, now influence many mainstream “progressive” circles, and utterly pervade much of what passes for today’s anti-racism movement.
Jewish representative bodies, community leaders and activist groups such as Engage have repeatedly and sincerely stated that it is entirely legitimate to criticise Israel, and that Israel is not above criticism. When Jewish representative bodies complain of antisemitism it is because they are concerned about antisemitism, not because of mere “criticism” of Israel: which is a real nation-state with boundaries, citizens and policies – rather than a mythical plot against humanity, in which every Jew may be a co-conspirator.
For the purpose of clarity then, it is not merely “criticism” of Israel to scapegoat it for the world’s ills; to allege a Zionist plot to control the world; to claim that Zionism is a uniquely evil ideology directed against the rest of the planet; to broadcast television programmes that show Jews murdering non-Jews to use their blood for matza; to deny the Holocaust; and to hold Israel as the only country in the world deserving of boycott, isolation, hatred and destruction.
It is not mere “criticism” of Israel to blow up Turkish synagogues with truck bombs, just as it is not “criticism” of Israel when Jews and Jewish property around the world are physically attacked every time there is an escalation in Middle East tensions involving Israel, and even events beyond Israel, such as the 9/11 terror attacks, and the US-led invasion of Iraq.
These occurrences (and not criticism of Israel) are the real subjects that cause Jews and Jewish groups to identify (and be concerned about) a resurgent antisemitic impact in the 21st Century. The development of the liberal left’s self-serving mythology, coupled with its denial of what Jewish communities actually mean when they discuss antisemitism, is central to a widespread suspicion and rejection of mainstream Jewish perspectives – a phenomenon that is at complete odds with how other minority groups are treated.
This reinforces antisemitic allegations that Jews cry persecution, and are powerful and malicious conspirators who are set against the rest of society and simply cannot be trusted. Like so many other aspects of contemporary antisemitism, the nature of its denial thereby reinforces the very prejudices that are denied to even exist.
The rejection of mainstream Jewish community concerns was exemplified by Paul Foot, who trashed Jewish communal concerns of the post-2000 surge in antisemitic incidents in his Guardian column (6 March 2002): “Especially pathetic on the part of our apologists for Israeli oppression is their bleating about anti-semitism. For the sort of oppression they favour is the seed from which all racialism, including anti-semitism, grows.” (3)
Foot’s words show how British Jews are reduced to the status of local agents of a malevolent foreign power, and are then blamed for their own persecution. It is inconceivable that such a champion of the left would ever have written about Blacks or Muslims as apologists for overseas governments, or would accuse them of bleating about racism.
The exceptional treatment afforded to Jews by some on the left was also displayed by Tam Dalyell MP (Labour), who infamously accused “a cabal of Jewish advisors” of influencing Tony Blair. Dalyell was the longest serving Member of Parliament, “the father of the house”, and Paul Foot was quick to defend him, writing in his Guardian column: (4)
“Obviously he [Dalyell] is wrong to complain about Jewish pressure on Blair and Bush when he means Zionist pressure. But that’s a mistake that is constantly encouraged by the Zionists. The most honourable and principled Jews, here, in Israel and everywhere else, are those who oppose the imperialist and racist policies of successive Israeli governments.”
Foot’s reaction displays many of the prominent features of contemporary antisemitism: it powerfully stresses that antisemitic connotations and accusations can be made entirely accurate and wholly legitimate by swapping the word“Zionist” for the word “Jewish”; it asserts that Zionists encourage antisemitism; and it categorises British Jews as good or bad depending upon their opposition to Israel.
The position of Tam Dalyell, Paul Foot and many others is a 21st Century echo of the 1930s “Big Jew / Little Jew” position of Britain’s own original far right, the British Union of Fascists. In 1996, veteran Blackshirt, Ronald Creasy, was interviewed for “The Rune”, a far right publication edited by Nick Griffin (and for which he was convicted for incitement to racial hatred). The interview included this illuminating exchange:
[The Rune]: “Mosley used to make the distinction between “Big Jews” and “Little Jews.” What did he mean by this and how did he view the future of the latter? “
[Mr Creasy]: “Big Jews” referred to Jewish financiers and the Organised Jewish presence in the press and other positions of influence over British affairs. We are against the “Big Jews” for what they do, not for what they are. Had we come to power we would have divested Jewry entirely of its wealth in the banking houses…But what we would have done we would not have done in spite…If Mosley had come to power and broken the power of Jewish money, the little Jews would have been left in peace.” (5)
Now try re-reading the fascist’s interview, swapping “Zionists” for “Big” and “Organised” Jews.
Jews have long considered antisemitism as a warning sign of deeper problems and fractures within society. The hatreds that begin against the Jews will certainly not end with them. One side-effect of the anti-Zionist denial of antisemitism, is that the invaluable universal lessons are being consigned to the scrapheap, and antisemitism is now being re-defined as something that has no relevance to the wider society. It is an effort to reduce antisemitism to an esoteric study of Jewish paranoia and Zionist scaremongering.
Even those left wing intellectuals who deign to accept that something must be done about antisemitism will often do so, not to fight the problem itself, but simply to deny its alleged utility to Israel and Zionists. This was summarised by the headline of leading anti-globalisation author, Naomi Klein, in her Guardian article, (6) “Sharon’s best weapon. Anti-semitism sustains Israel’s brutal leader – the fight against it must be reclaimed”. Again, such an approach restricts antisemitism into a mental Jewish ghetto, rather than using its warnings for the benefit of society as a whole. It also serves to distort and destroy Israel’s links with World Jewry.
Ignorance is a vital yet often overlooked feature of contemporary antisemitism and the debate surrounding it. The weekly New Statesman magazine is one of the most influential mainstream publications in the entire left wing political spectrum. Its cover of 14 January 2002 featured a golden Star of David piercing a Union Jack, sparking fury and dismay from Jews of all political persuasions. This imagery is not new, and is not the preserve of left wing magazine designers: the golden Star of David piercing a map of the world is also on the cover of at least one English-language Muslim version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that has been available in the UK in recent years. (7)
The then editor of New Statesman, Peter Wilby, subsequently apologised for having unwittingly used antisemitic imagery, but the episode showed the difference between Jewish awareness of antisemitism, and the collapse of general understanding of the subject by the much of the British left in the 21st Century. The difference will continue to grow for as long as the left’s movers and shakers blissfully believe themselves to be magically inoculated against antisemitism. Furthermore, public displays of blatant antisemitism have been utterly taboo for decades, so how can younger generations recognise the phenomena, when, by supposedly innocent coincidence, they find themselves mimicking its earlier forms?
Wilby did, however, know that in left theory the Jews deserved special protection from antisemitic imagery, writing: (8)
“To call somebody a ‘white bastard’ is just not the same as calling somebody a ‘black bastard’, with all its connotations of humiliation and enslavement. Given the distribution of power in our world, discrimination by blacks or Asians against whites will almost always be trivial.
Jews are a different case. They no longer routinely suffer gross or violent discrimination: indeed, in the US and Europe at least, Jews today are probably safer than most minorities. But the Holocaust remains within living memory, as do the language and iconography used by the Nazis to prepare the way for it. We have a special duty of care not to revive them.”
Wilby’s explanation shows another underpinning feature of contemporary antisemitism and the debate around it: the principle that the fight against antisemitism is contingent upon a hierarchy of oppression through which the left decides its responses to racism. Attacks against Jews retain a special relevance to the left because of the immensity of the Holocaust, even if Jews are held to be better treated by society today than other minority groups. This also shows why Nazi-like expressions of antisemitism are furiously condemned by the left, whilst non-Nazi antisemitism from Islamist, Arab and Black Power groups are simply brushed aside. It is also obvious that the left’s already highly selective concerns about antisemitism will further diminish as the Holocaust recedes from public memory and significance.
This ‘hierarchy of oppression’ approach is not intentionally antisemitic; but it has an innate ideological inability to deal with any form of racism that does not fit its oppressor-victim paradigm. Antisemitism differs from most other forms of racism in that the victim (i.e., the Jew) is accused of having demonic power, rather than pitiful helplessness. Antisemitism has never neatly fitted into the left’s anti-racism paradigms, and the closer Jews are identified with oppressors (as Israelis, as bankers and capitalists, as “Zionists” controlling the White House etc), the less sympathy the left will display, leaving many Jews feeling isolated and ultimately betrayed by the left to which they have often contributed so much, and in which they invested so much of their political and social hopes. This sense of betrayal, however, is a two-way street. Many left wing commentators have expressed their dismay that Israel and Zionism should have transformed the public image of Jews from moral champions into moral degenerates. This perception acknowledges heightened antisemitism, whilst mainly blaming it upon hateful Israel and Zionism, and the refusal of mainstream Jewish communities to condemn their heinous crimes.
Even those who do agree with the existence and seriousness of the “new antisemitism” lack a consensus on what it actually means or what actually constitutes it. The reasons for such disagreement are due to ideological or political bias, often spurred by intellectual rivalry, and, within Jewish circles, a dollop of the ‘Two Jews, Three Opinions’ phenomenon: All this is greatly intensified by the ultimately subjective nature of what constitutes persecution in the eye of the beholder.
Pedants may also point to the fact that the term “new antisemitism” was used as long ago as 1949 to describe “The New Anti-Semitism of the Soviet Union” (9) , and the term has been common since at least Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. This raises the semantic argument as to how long the term “new” can be employed before it becomes analytically meaningless.
None of this should be allowed to obscure the essential fact that today’s 21st Century antisemitism remains what it has always been: it still reflects the condition of Jewish and non-Jewish society; it is still transmitted by whatever is modern; it still depicts Jews (especially “Big” and “Organised” ones) as powerful, alien and conspiratorial; it still impacts against any random Jew or Jewish community, regardless of their politics and actions; it still acts as a glue to unite otherwise disparate ideological and political factions; and it is still an early warning to the rest of society about division, irrationalism, anger and extremism.
Those who belatedly enter into the ongoing debate about “old” and “new” antisemitism generally subscribe to one of two conflicting perspectives: they either regard it as a largely irrelevant historical hangover, or, alternatively, as having “new” perpetrators and “new” incentives that have superseded the “old” – and are both novel and increasingly vital.
Both of these perspectives are partly wrong; at the same time, they are also partly right. As stated previously, contemporary antisemitism is always built upon pre-existing antisemitic themes and always develops those themes within the paradigms and context of the modern day. It is also intrinsically shaped by the contemporary connotations and paradigms of Jews in non-Jewish society.
The fact that many centuries of antisemitic hatreds culminated in the Holocaust did not mean that the underpinning mass psychological motivations, antisemitic motifs and hatreds would simply end just because Nazi Germany was militarily defeated and politically disgraced. Instead, many of the underlying themes resonate within the tenets of “anti-Zionism”, resuscitated by Israel’s wars, the ongoing Palestinian tragedy, an overpowering dose of anti-Americanism, and most recently, by the War on Terror and the US-led occupation of Iraq.
“Jews” have been recast as “Zionists” by today’s conspiracy nuts and political extremists, but new communications technologies and a deep suspicion of Government media sources have combined to ensure that the crazies are reaching far more people than would have been thought possible even ten years ago.
There is also the thrill of breaking the generational taboo by showing that the Holocaust no longer means that Jews are ‘off limits’ for attack – that forbidden fruit already relished by the terrorist fringes of the European, Japanese and South American far left in the 1970s and 80s. (Often in partnership with revolutionary far Left Palestinian terror groups, many of which operated under the tutelage of the Soviet bloc.)
Younger generations are entirely self-assured that their “anti-Zionism” is not antisemitic because they instinctively associate antisemitism with the Holocaust, and believe it to be a closed chapter of history. Besides, they sincerely condemn the Holocaust and greet any modern Nazi manifestations with authentic shock and horror, all of which proves to themselves and each other that they are philosemitic and actively opposed to antisemitism. This modern philosemitic self-image is taken as self-evident proof to reinforce the charge that Zionists cry antisemitism in order to shield Israel from criticism. The anti-Zionist now affirms himself as the true friend of the Jews, and the urgency of his philosemitic anti-Zionist mission is reinforced, as is his egotistically appealing role as the brave defender of Jewish human rights, courageously shrugging off the supposedly deadly accusations of those who allegedly kill free speech in order to further oppression.
In those circumstances where the antisemitism can no longer be concealed or denied, anti-Zionists state that it is instead actively encouraged by the Zionists, who allegedly need antisemitism to scare Jews into their control. Hence the accusations of Zionist-Nazi collaboration during the Holocaust, and more recent allegations of Mossad responsibility for Al Qaeda attacks upon Diaspora synagogues.
The widespread notion that it is courageous to be anti-Israel or anti-Zionist reveals a very disturbing psychology. Authors, journalists, politicians and activists never seem to tire of telling each other how brave they are to “stand up” to Zionism, and supposed accusations of antisemitism. For instance, anti-Zionist writers on the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ blog are fawningly praised for their courage in the sad, mad and bad comments threads that follow their articles. This reflects the commentators’ own paranoias about antisemitism, and about the supposed all-seeing, all-reaching, all-powerful tentacles of Zionism: a trope that only makes sense when compared with antisemitic mythology about vengeful Jews. When compared with reality, this so called bravery can be seen as an absolute sham. Jenny Tonge is one of very few public figures to have suffered in their career because of excessive “anti-Zionism”, and even she ended up in the House of Lords.
Even the most ignorant extremists who prefer the “old” form of antisemitism are influenced by the language of the “new” strain and its modern setting. One striking example of the “old” being influenced by the “new” occurred in the Internet chat-room of the British neo-Nazi group, Combat 18, where an outraged neo-Nazi complained that a comrade had received a six-year jail sentence for “merely damaging a Zionist graveyard.” (10)
The actual modus operandi of antisemitic incidents has also changed in recent years. Surveys have shown that in the popular imagination, antisemitism is instinctively associated with the Nazi era. But analysis of antisemitic incidents in the UK shows that whites and non-whites are now equally likely to employ Nazi epithets as abuse against British Jews.
One example of this counter-intuitive phenomenon occurred in 2000. A synagogue in North East London was desecrated: a swastika was daubed on the rabbi’s lectern and a Union Jack flag – which belonged to the congregation – was propped against it. The media assumed that this was a far Right attack, as it involved a swastika and a British flag. Nevertheless, the Jewish community was not so sure. Swastikas have become a common expression of Islamist anti-Israel hatred; the synagogue was the nearest one to the most infamous mosque (Finsbury Park) in the whole of Britain. Other Diaspora Jewish communities (especially in France and Belgium), were also suffering a wave of attacks on synagogues by local Muslims, triggered by overseas Israeli-Palestinian violence. Nobody was ever arrested for the attack, but the Police investigation strongly suggested that the Jewish community’s suspicions were most likely to have been correct.
The vast majority of interlocutors who want to discuss “new” antisemitic perpetrators really mean “new” as a supposedly polite metaphor for Muslim. “New” or “different” have become coda for alleging that it is Muslims who are now largely responsible for antisemitism.
In Britain, the statistics of actual antisemitic incidents – hate crimes displaying antisemitic intent – show that Muslims are considerably over-represented as perpetrators per head of population. Muslims, however, are manifestly not the majority perpetrators. In 2006, for instance, the (Jewish) Community Security Trust knew of 205 incidents where a perpetrator had been identified. (11) In those cases, 49 percent of the perpetrators appeared to be white; 29 percent appeared to be Pakistani, Indian or Bangladeshi; 8 percent appeared Arab; and 14 percent appeared black. This suggests Muslims are approximately 10 times over-represented as perpetrators (based on the fact that Muslims comprise 3.1 percent of the UK population.)
Closer analysis reveals that Muslims are less over-represented than first appears. Most antisemitic incidents occur in neighbourhoods that are far less white than the average, as those are often the neighbourhoods in which most Jews live. For example, the highest number of antisemitic incidents occurs in the London local authority area of Barnet, where 14.8 percent of the population is Jewish, and 6.2 percent of the population is Muslim. Additionally, the Muslim population is younger than most other ethnic groups, and younger age cohorts are most likely to perpetrate antisemitic incidents, as they are more likely to be on the streets. So, Muslims are over-represented as perpetrators, but they are certainly not the majority of perpetrators. Most certainly, they are not as starkly over-represented as a superficial analysis of the UK population would initially imply – and as some commentators would like to allege.
Analysis also shows that perpetrator profiles will reflect the events that trigger surges in antisemitic incidents. If Israel is the trigger, then Muslims will be over-represented as perpetrators. Alternatively, when Jewish organisations received hate mail in the aftermath of a press furore about Prince Harry wearing a Nazi uniform, the hate mail appeared to have been written by various white British Army veterans from World War Two. (12)
Nevertheless, the post-2000 surge of antisemitic incidents distinguishes a “new” type of antisemitism from the previous wave of antisemitic violence that struck across Europe in the early 1990s. That was essentially “old” antisemitism, fed by xenophobia and nationalism after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The early 1990s surge occurred in the context of a rise in far right inspired attacks against minority groups, in which Jews were also targeted. In the 2000s, however, the rhetoric of contemporary antisemitism occurs in the context of an ideological (and often would-be revolutionary) struggle against the state itself, but which declares itself to be in alliance with minorities and in defence of civil and human rights. This is all played out on the streets in demonstrations that unite much of the campaigning left with Islamist groups, and have attracted millions of participants. In cyberspace, the hatred builds through unrestricted groupthink and then spills into supposedly respectable spaces such as the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog, leading to comments such as this being posted : (13)
“Zionists, like Nazis in the past will be brought to their knees. Zionist sympathisers are nothing more then devil worshipers, they like to suck your blood dry.”
It is unthinkable that the Guardian could have published such a comment in its print edition, but the profusion of new communications technology allows such hatred to repeatedly appear on mainstream media websites. It is not only “comment” that is allowed to run free these days, but rank hatred and rage too, in what were previously respectable media. The fact that such postings will eventually be removed if intelligently framed complaints are received by the moderator, is very small comfort indeed. The onus for policing the limits of hate speech in respectable media, is now transferred from the publisher to the victim.
The profusion of new electronic and satellite media has also resulted in news and comment becoming a matter of customer choice, whereby consumers will watch and read media that reflect and confirm their views and prejudices, without the moderating influences found in traditional media outlets. The growing impact of diffused media choice will only serve to deepen current divisions and attitudes. If, for example, British Muslims chose Hizbollah’s Al-Manar TV as their news feed, then it would certainly put concerns about alleged liberal left BBC bias into a whole new perspective.
The “anti-Zionist” criticism, hatred and rage in the electronic media and on street demonstrations have become part of the contemporary package of opposition to the Iraq War, and criticism of the so called ‘War on Terror’. This state of affairs is brutally punctuated by successful mass-casualty terror attacks by Al Qaeda and its supporters, including apparently assimilated second or third generation European Muslims, and displaced veterans of the Global Jihad. State symbols and infrastructure are subject to deadly attacks, and Jews are also explicitly singled out for murderous bombings, as seen in Tunisia, Morocco and Turkey. Many other pro-Al Qaeda attacks have been thwarted by police, and evidence of further anti-Jewish targeting has been shown in many countries around the world, including Britain, Spain, Hungary, Norway, the Czech Republic and Germany.
In previous decades, the Cold War was the global security framework through which political debate was filtered. American support for Israel was demonstrably similar to that for any number of ‘front line’ countries around the world. Hatred of America, and anti-imperialist championing of third world causes, initially focussed upon opposition to the Vietnam War. In time, South African apartheid became the universal cause célèbre symbolising the struggle of good versus evil. Today, Israel has largely taken over the Vietnam and South Africa mantle, greatly to the detriment of the image of Israel’s real and imagined supporters. (i.e., Jews).
This is not intentionally antisemitic, as international causes célèbre have never been dictated by millions killed, only by their utility for self-serving political activists and the emotions that they spark.
Hypocrisy is universally and equally applied by the bulk of the campaigning far left. Campaigning against General Pinochet, for instance, was (and remains) greater than that against Pol Pot, or the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Serbian atrocities against Bosnian Muslims were denied by sections of the far left. Kurds ceased being worthy victims when America turned against Saddam Hussein. Jewish campaigning for Soviet Jews was not exactly matched by left wing and NGO campaigns for the occupied nations of central and eastern Europe, to say nothing of Tibet, minorities in Burma, and countless other far away places in Africa and elsewhere, where the victims and perpetrators simply fail to excite the bulk of the far Left, and hold no emotive appeal for the mass media and the general public. There is an old media saying, “Jews are news”. The case still holds, and it is generally not to the benefit of the Jewish community.
Today, however, US support for Israel is seen as paradigmatic of America’s role as the global bully, dedicated to securing oil and power by expanding its commercial and military domination at the expense of authentic, local, humanistic and ecological interests. This anti-American hostility is a major component in encouraging the left’s anti-Israel rage, but the disappearance of the USSR as the USA’s visible enemy encourages the idea that American support for Israel can only be explained by a supposed Zionist stranglehold over Capitol Hill. There is debate within the left as to whether or not the Israeli tail actually wags the American dog, but the very question shows how much power and malice is now commonly ascribed to “Global Zionism”.
Hatred of America (in Iranian revolutionary parlance, “The Great Satan”) also finds a convenient target in Israel, because it is plainly unrealistic for anyone to advocate a boycott of American products, or American academics, or American sporting and cultural figures. So, the hatred is projected onto Israel, (“The Little Satan”) as a more convenient, more isolated, and more easily demonised target. The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) depicts Israel as “America’s Attack Dog in the Middle East”, but it is the dog that its activists raise boycotts against, not its master. Is this political expedience or political cowardice? And what (presumably sub-conscious) role does the European tradition of isolating and economically restricting Jews play in the SWP’s love of anti-Israel boycotts?
Beyond the displaced anti-American hatred, a deeper and even more complex aspect of self-loathing is being transferred onto Israel and Jews. In this regard, the philosemitic image of the Jew; the proposition that the Jew ‘is one of us’ – perhaps even an idealised example of ‘what is best about us’ – actively intensifies the hatred of Israel and her supporters, and makes them ideal scapegoats. European post-colonial guilt is heaped upon Jews for backing Zionist colonialism; guilt for centuries of antisemitism is assuaged by equating Zionism with racism; and post-Holocaust guilt is eased by ascribing Israel as the inheritor to Nazi Germany. The Zionism equals Nazism slur is an obscenity that very few respectable commentators would ever make directly, but Jews are still confronted with the regular utilisation by the media and politicians of Nazi metaphors for Israel’s actions: so for instance, Gaza becomes the Warsaw Ghetto, Jenin becomes Dresden, Israeli settlements are a drive for lebensraum, Palestinian terrorists are the inheritors of resistance against the Nazis, and, as former PLO London head, Afif Safieh, used to put it, Palestinians become ‘the Jews of the Israelis ‘.
All of these factors infuse the self-described “anti-Zionists” with a revolutionary urgency that compulsively derides and opposes mainstream Jewish narratives on antisemitism, self-identity, self-expression and links with Israel. The hateful rhetoric, particularly that which is directed against “Zionists”, fuels violent acts and other hate crimes against all Jews per se. This is an obvious consequence of contemporary “anti-Zionist” rage and hysteria, but it is denied, ignored, or excused by the “anti-Zionist” camp that simultaneously believes itself to be philosemitic.
The controversial Danish cartoons of Muhammad are a case study of the “new” Islamist agitators, the impact of “new” global communications technology and the importance of the increasingly fraught international backdrop. These cartoons were deliberately distorted and worsened by Danish Islamists, who then globally re-transmitted them, eventually resulting in a much delayed sparking of anti-Danish violence that affected Danes, Europeans and Christians. Suddenly, everyone from Pakistan to Gaza had Danish flags to burn in what was often a spuriously spontaneous outbreak of public Muslim outrage. (There was also space for an “anti-Zionist” component, as the Danish newspaper’s parent media group was alleged to be Zionist.)
The Danish controversy was a trigger event with a new and specific trajectory of targets: Danes, Europeans, Christians and – almost as a Pavlovian response – Zionists. Now consider how many trigger events are genuinely sparked by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on an annual or monthly basis. This is why there are so many antisemitic incidents; they, and the Danish example, exemplify the quote in Joel Fishman’s essay on the Cold War origins of contemporary antisemitic terminology, where Lenin’s political agitation is explained as being “to designate visible and accessible hate-targets within the community.” (14)
In the case of so-called “anti-Zionism”, it is the Jewish community that is inevitably perceived as the “visible and accessible hate-target.” The trajectory of physically attacked anti-Zionist “hate targets” rarely, if ever, travels beyond Jews and Israelis.
Rhetorically, Zionist “hate targets” include leading non-Jewish world figures such as George Bush and Tony Blair, and the “Zionist” appellation is increasingly used to denote any person or institution deemed hostile to Islam. This furthers the far left-Islamist claim that Israel is responsible for Muslim anger and Al Qaeda-inspired anti-Western terrorism. The combination of these contemporary, entirely non-Jewish, uses for the word “Zionist” enables the constant (and extremely debilitating) drip feed of a new antisemitic consciousness to the majority population, the slogan of which ought to be “The Zionists Are Our Misfortune.”
In summary, the post-1967 Soviet and Arab onslaught against the word “Zionism” has eclipsed all other modes of antisemitism, wherever there are sizeable Muslim communities and active far left movements. This was by no means the first time that “Zionist” was employed as a supposedly non-antisemitic metaphor for “Jew”, but Israel’s shattering success in the Six Day War triggered the propaganda drive that after four decades has permeated much of the Muslim world, and many minds within left liberal elites; and this has ensured that reflexive anti-Jewish bias is no longer the exclusive preserve of right wing reactionary forces within society.
The warning bells about the creation of a new anti-Jewish bias were rung loud and clear in the July–August 1967 issue of Patterns of Prejudice (15) , in what has proved to be a brilliantly insightful article, entitled “the image of the Jew after the Arab-Israeli war”. This analysis, published one month after the war, examined the potential antisemitic impact of the sudden transformation of the popular image of the Jew from a weak victim into an oppressor. Quotes included Colin MacInnes in the Sunday Telegraph of 18th June 1967:
“Myths, by essence, have nothing to do with reason. A myth can only be defeated by another more potent myth which destroys the old one in the collective subconscious mind. And the question now is, will the Jewish victories of the past weeks destroy the element in English antisemitic myth that arises from an irrational belief in Jewish cowardice…
If the antisemitic myth of Jewish passivity will now vanish, might it not be replaced by another fear? For in the past few weeks we have witnessed an extraordinary transformation of the English Gentile towards Jews. Before the battle started most Englishmen thought of Jews only as the oppressed, the victims, ‘Little Israel’; surrounded by foes dedicated to its destruction. After their swift victory, the Jews seemed transformed into the conquerors, even oppressors. And Arabs, who were thought of as arrogant attackers, seemed to have become overnight the victims, the wronged, the weak.”
MacInnes thought it “likely that many who rejected antisemitism will nevertheless now regard Israel as the new imperialism, the danger, and whilst not becoming antisemites, will become vociferously anti-Israel…much of the anti-imperialist Left is already hostile to Israel, while much of the ex-imperialist Right is sympathetic.” This article, published eight days after the ceasefire, shows the power of the (then) “new” image of Jews. This “new” negative image of Jewish power is now, in our politically correct age, largely expressed against “Zionists”. Nevertheless, if these themes had already been seized upon a mere eight days after the ceasefire, it is little wonder that they should now be so ferocious after forty years of Israeli “occupation” and repeated rounds of war, violence and bloodshed that now repeat throughout the region and challenge global security.
The verbal onslaught against “Zionism” is best encapsulated in the infamous “Zionism is racism” United Nations resolution of 1975. In hindsight, this now looms as the Soviet Union’s legacy to the “new” antisemitism, in much the same way as The Protocols of The Elders of Zion were Tsarist Russia’s legacy of codifying the “old” antisemitism. (Both Russian systems would collapse less than twenty years after their antisemitic propaganda coups.)
University graduates from the 1970s and 1980s are now assuming power in government, media, business, and throughout the NGO world. These are the best educated and most influential members of the new post-World War II generations, but how many of them now sympathise with the new “anti-Zionist” worldview? These are the “new perpetrators” of anti-Zionism. They obviously condemn Nazi-style “old” antisemitism and are shocked by antisemitic violence, but how many of them essentially accept the notion that “Zionism is racism”, and thereby accept the corollary that Zionists must be racists? This charge lacks the gut-wrenching punch of “Zionism is Nazism”, but it is certainly far more plausible. It demands, in the name of morality, suspicion and hatred of all (real and imagined) supporters of Israel; and it demands cultural, economic and academic boycotts of Israel that can only be enforced by the continual scrutiny and hostile suspicion of Israel’s actual and potential supporters (i.e., Jews). It may also lead some to reason that Israel’s backers deserve a good kicking every now and then.
Where the “old” antisemitism exemplified its adherents’ commitment to racism, its “new” variant takes the opposite approach, claiming that anti-Zionism exemplifies their commitment to anti-racism, human rights and the fellowship of man. The claimed morality and social positioning of these “new” actors lends respectability to the considerably more extreme anti-Zionist rants of the genuine hard core Islamist and revolutionary far left movements, ranging from Al Qaeda to Swedish anarchists. The closer Jewish communities publicly ally themselves with Israel, the more they are perceived as legitimate objects of hatred for everyone from every part of that spectrum.
The “new” anti-Zionists also include the first generation of Muslims who are an educated, politicized, and fully acculturated European minority. Successive Muslim generations will most likely rise in political, media and economic power, all of which will be premised upon an underlying demographic shift in their favour. It is of course their undeniable right to fully participate in every aspect of the societies to which they belong, but this may have a considerably negative impact on Jewish communities that identify (or are identified) with Israel.
In London, for example, Mayor Ken Livingstone has made common cause with local branches of global Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and London government is perceived by many observers as being institutionally hostile to the mainstream Jewish (i.e. allegedly Zionist and pro-Israeli) community per se. The situation in France, however, is not so theoretical. Over 12,000 French Jews have left for Israel, Canada and the USA in recent years, in large part influenced by the levels of antisemitism that they encounter, and by their fears that things will only get worse because of demographic projections.
The entire range of political and psychological reasons for anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, and self loathing provide the glue that holds the green-red alliance together. These are mass ideologies that are only united by their common hatred and scapegoating of America and Israel. For as long as they fail to succeed in changing American policies, or in destroying Israel, the only thing that they can actually deliver is an ongoing escalation of fury and hateful rhetoric. The ongoing development of such an all-embracing and increasingly refined “anti-Zionist” narrative has fuelled left wing and Islamist institutional hostility against practically all Jews and Jewish institutions. (The occasional exception being Jews who define themselves by public condemnations of Israel and Zionism; but even this exception is diminishing as objections are now heard to the interference of “Jewishness” in anti-Zionism.)
In 1954, Isaac Deutscher, the renowned Marxist thinker, bitterly reflected that, “If instead of arguing against zionism in the 1920’s and 1930’s I had urged European Jews to go to Palestine, I might have helped save some of the lives that were later extinguished in Hitler’s gas chambers”. (16) (17)
Today’s anti-Zionist attitude to the Holocaust is a denial of the essential truth of Deutscher’s statement. Their frantic drive to delegitimise Zionism compels them to assault the obvious fact that support for Zionism is an entirely natural reaction to the Holocaust. So, the Holocaust is often airbrushed out of anti-Zionist histories of the creation of Israel, or is given no weight whatsoever in comparison with the importance of Zionism’s alleged pact with devilish imperialism.
Where the Holocaust is explicitly addressed, it often reads as if the Zionists licked their lips at the mountains of Jewish ashes, and then cunningly tricked the world into accepting the idea that Israel’s creation was a viable and natural reaction to the near successful genocide of European Jewry. This may not constitute Holocaust denial per se, but it is certainly a bitter and twisted perversion of Zionism’s relation with the Holocaust and reduces the Holocaust to something that is to be defined by its potential utility to Zionists. This is the same rationale that causes plays such as “Perdition” – alleging Zionist collaboration in the Nazi slaughter of Hungarian Jewry – to be performed on Holocaust Memorial Day by the Scottish branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
The compulsion to deny the central lessons and impact of the Holocaust also drives a parallel anti-Zionist mission to deny the reality of contemporary antisemitism. In the 1920s and 1930s, it was entirely rational and reasonable for Deutscher and his leftist colleagues to argue that the best defence from antisemitism lay in helping to ensure the workers revolution. Indeed, historically, the acknowledgement of antisemitism was a key component in defining what the revolutionary left stood for, and what it stood against. This was a useful recruitment tool, but more crucially, it was also an inherent part of revolutionary left ideology and behaviour.
Today, however, there is no rational possibility of a workers revolution in the foreseeable future, and so there is no reasonable potential for a revolutionary leftist solution to antisemitism. Deutscher even said as much,
“I have, of course, long since abandoned my anti-Zionism, which was based on a confidence in the European labour movement, or, more broadly, in European society and civilization, which that society and civilization have not justified.” (18)
Besides, hatred of Zionism has long ago surpassed hatred of antisemitism within most revolutionary left movements. The combination of the demonstrably failed revolution, along with a compulsive hatred of Israel and her supporters, has inexorably led almost all of these revolutionary leftist movements and ideologues into a resolute denial of antisemitism as a contemporary force. After all, if living in Israel is the sole remaining practical way for Jews to escape antisemitism, then how can the revolutionary left be seen to validate the existence of antisemitism in any way?
Taken in its totality, then, the “new” vocabulary of contemporary “anti-Zionism” retains its “old” antisemitic impact, because:
• Anti-Zionist rage fuels antisemitic race hate attacks. It finds its physical expression in everything from Al Qaeda bombings of synagogues, to Greek communists placing photographs of Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon on a Holocaust memorial in Thessalonika.
• It is inescapably informed, shaped and rooted by all previous modes of antisemitism.
• It shapes all contemporary modes of antisemitism.
• It perverts and denies Jewish definitions of Zionism, and replaces them with an exclusively hateful mythology
• It negatively influences attitudes to all Jews and all Jewish issues per se.
• It focuses its activities and arguments against mainstream Jewish communities who provide the backbone of “Zionism”.
• It attacks, subverts, insults and debilitates Jewish morale, self identity and communal pride.
• It reduces mainstream Jews to what Stalin called “ideological immigrants.”
• It prevents mass anti-racism movements from acknowledging, understanding and confronting contemporary antisemitism.
• It provides an ongoing and adaptive apologia for antisemitic attacks and rhetoric
• It defines the Holocaust and historical and contemporary antisemitism by their potential utility to “Zionism”, and reacts to them on that basis.
In confronting contemporary antisemitism, Jews must also deal with the counter-intuitive fact that at least some of the new anti-Zionists, including the vast majority of those from the left, genuinely believe themselves to be philosemitic, and that they are saving Jews from the machinations of Zionism. This philosemitism is reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition saving Jewish souls, and then immediately killing Jewish bodies so the souls can go straight to heaven. It is a newly revived component of antisemitism today, and it is something that Jewish representative bodies must address rather than instinctively reject as doublespeak and lies.
Addressing anti-Zionist philosemitism is further complicated by the very active involvement of Jewish anti-Zionists and pro-Palestinian activists, whether from the left, or from Neturei Karta. Historically, most antisemitic movements have embraced those few noisy Jews who shunned and condemned their fellow co-religionists as being too stubborn or too evil to ‘see the light’. Nevertheless, most of these activists are entirely sincere in their Jewish identities and their would be philosemitic missions; and are showing their Islamist and far left partners that there are indeed some “good” Jews. The breaking down of psychological and physical barriers is critical to defeating racism, and a coherent argument may be made for the benefits of such an approach: as long as it genuinely changes attitudes, and doesn’t merely help to camouflage them in order to better assault the rest of the Jewish community, as is normally the case. In some instances, the most overtly antisemitic language of the Islamists may even have been moderated by their contacts with the far left at the UN anti-racism conference in Durban (2001), at international conferences in Cairo and Beirut, and by contact with Jewish pro-Palestinian activists on numerous anti-Israel and anti-Iraq War protests held on streets around the world.
This international green-red alliance, with the public involvement of Hamas and Hizbollah, is the highly visible “new” motor of antisemitic violence. On 30 April 2003, two British Muslims travelled to Tel Aviv and then blew up a bar, murdering two people. (19) Hamas released their martyrdom video one year after the attack, in which one of the bombers declared that it was “a great honour to kill these people. A great honour.” This case exemplifies the interaction of “new antisemitism” with international terrorism. These are extremists from within any society, and they can join the Global Jihad, the Global Revolution or the Global Race War in any place and at any time. These two Britons had supposedly flown to Damascus in order to travel to Iraq and fight Americans there, but they seized the chance to become Hamas suicide bombers – “martyrs” – in Israel.
The propaganda value of their deed was in many ways the most important aspect of the entire attack. And the transmission of the video, one year after it occurred, showed yet again how new modes of propaganda and asymmetric warfare have left Israel and Jewish communities in a blind rage of impotence. Instant global communications are key to this. Consider how quickly the allegation spread that Jews had not turned up for work in the Twin Towers on 9/11. Or imagine how complex it would have been 20 years ago to communicate and explain the claim that Zionist provocateurs are responsible for the Darfur crisis, and the allegations of genocide against its perpetrators.
Add to this the murderous antisemitic and anti-Western components of global Islamist terrorism, and you have an increasingly perfect storm of antisemitism, to which regional and local conflicts from Iranian nuclear weapons to French housing estates can add the most vicious of spins.
This storm is globally transmitted by new generations of modern perpetrators. Yes, neo-Nazis and rabid nationalist and Christian extremists are still present, and in Central and Eastern Europe, they pose a very real political and physical threat. They, however, are not as global in their transmission and impact. Furthermore, it is possible that the new generations of Nazis will increasingly focus on newer, more visible and more populous immigrant groups, rather than the remnants of European Jewry. Indeed, some of the new generation of far right leaders already regard Jews as natural allies in the current scenario, and some far left groups have excitedly declared that this exposes the inherent racism of Zionism.
As shown, the bastardization of the word “Zionism” is key to all of this. It has been stripped of all original meaning and refashioned as an empty vessel into which every bit of hatred and paranoia can be poured. “Anti-Zionist” hate is now an ever-expanding mythology of historical denial, half-truths and explicit lies that transcends reasonable criticism and analysis. The hatred defines Zionism in terms that have nothing to do with how its adherents see themselves and the world. It is a propaganda drive that can only be rationalized by reference to Lenin on the purpose of political agitation, “The wording is calculated to provoke in the reader hatred, disgust, contempt. The phrasing must be calculated not to convince but to destroy, not to correct the adversary’s mistake, but to annihilate his organization and wipe it off the face of the earth.” (20)
Instant global communications, shifting demographics and the foetid politics of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” have fostered this newly globalized ideology that many Jews instinctively perceive as a new antisemitism, but which antisemites, anti-Zionists, and many non Jewish observers depict very differently. George Galloway MP was expelled from the UK Labour Party for his extreme opposition to the Iraq War, and made common cause with British Islamists in forming the Respect political party. Despite his ideological hinterland, Galloway has repeatedly appeared on the anti-establishment American far right radio show of survivalist conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones. Galloway patiently explained philosemitic anti-Zionism to Jones and his right wing audience:
“Well, this is the thing about Zionism. It has nothing to do with Jewishness. Some of the biggest Zionists in the world are not Jews. Anybody who thinks George Bush likes Jews has never been to his golf club.” (21)
Galloway (who has stressed that it is the American dog that wags the Israeli tail) then explained why anti-Zionism is such a vital ideological struggle in the world today:
“The reality is that these people [Zionists] have used Jewish people, and they have used them with this ideology of Zionism, to create this little settler state on the Mediterranean, to act as an advance guard for their own interests in the Arab world, and we’re all paying for it. The Palestinians have paid for it, the Arabs are paying for it, and now the American people and the rest of the people in the world are paying for it, and why should we? We don’t want to live our lives in a state of permanent warfare and division and hatred.”
Where the far Left imbues anti-Zionism with an entirely modern urgency, many Islamists are prone to allowing ancient theological enmities to enter their discourse. This in no way, however, detracts from the urgency of their message, as vividly shown by the example of British based Tunisian Islamist exile, Rachid Al-Ghannouchi, who’s essay “Palestine as a Global Agenda” (22) disassociates Zionism from Judaism (but not entirely from Jews), makes Zionism the embodiment of conspiracy and evil, and elevates the struggle against Zionism to critical importance. The inclusion of powerful Islamist anti-capitalist rhetoric also sheds further light on the ideological anti-Zionist and anti-American convergence of the far left with Islamists:
“The founding fathers of the Zionist adventure were not in any way believers in Judaism, not even in its distorted, rabbinical form: they were in essence pragmatists who exploited the Jewish heritage as a means to achieve their nationalistic goals… Zionism can be seen as hostile to every element rooted in ethical and religious principles…
…The Islamic project, by contrast, is its polar opposite, representing the hope that human civilization can be rescued from this new worship of the golden calf. To speak of saving Palestine from the Zionists is to speak simultaneously of one’s hope for a global liberation…
… What the heroes of the Intifada have appreciated, albeit not always with the requisite clarity, is that their enemy is not an isolated aberration of history, but represents an intensified form of a global undertaking which today spreads octopus-like over the whole planet, embracing and transforming every aspect of existence by means of its economics, communications, arts, and literature, or – more crudely – through the presence of its fleets, intelligence agencies, and the recruitment of local converts…
…The men and women who are struggling for freedom within Palestine itself, which is, as we have suggested, the central front, are entitled to expect instant and automatic assistance from those who are working on other fronts, however seemingly remote. For Israeli Zionism, itself draws eighty percent of its income and prosperity from Jewish organizations abroad. To keep this central front open and operational in the heart of the enemy is a responsibility and a trust falling on the shoulders of all Muslims and other free people around the world…
…No project undertaken on this tremendous scale can be ‘regional,’ or ‘Palestinian,’ or Arab.’ It is far broader. It represents nothing less than a struggle which is at once cultural, Islamic, and humanitarian. We must, therefore, light the fires of longing, resistance, and sacrifice everywhere on earth. For Palestine will not be retrieved until there is war against oppression in all its forms throughout the world.”
So, the new vocabulary of anti-Zionism is not just “new” in the sense of coalescing ideologies and perpetrators. Far more importantly, it is also “new” once again in its centrality to events that are of the most urgent global importance. That centrality to world events is the most crucial factor in the multiplicity of hostile forces that affect Jews today, and was illustrated in 2003 by a European Union survey of 7,515 people in 15 EU countries. This showed that 59 percent of respondents believed Israel to be the greatest threat to world peace. (Iran, North Korea and the USA came next, with 53 percent.)
European Commission President Romano Prodi, said that the results “point to the continued existence of a bias that must be condemned out of hand. To the extent that this may indicate a deeper, more general prejudice against the Jewish world, our repugnance is even more radical.” (23)
Prodi seemed keenly aware that blaming Jews for wars and revolutions has been a staple antisemitic charge for centuries. It underpinned Hitler’s 30 January 1939 “warning” of the coming Holocaust,
“Today I will once more be a prophet: If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!”
Today, Zionists have replaced Hitler’s “international Jewish financiers” and Mosley’s “Big Jews”, but it is plainly obvious that the “new” lingo is fundamentally premised upon “old” motifs.
In 1945, Theodor Adorno summarised antisemitism as “the rumour about the Jews”. (24) The rumour persists throughout the world in the 21st Century, and, as ever, the rumour has adapted to meet the immediate psychological needs of its adherents and recipients. Once again it is the role of the Jews (this time Zionist ones, and their Zionist non-Jewish collaborators) to be held essentially responsible for the world’s ills, and so, once again, they must be defeated for the good of humanity.
The packaging is “new”, the branding and salesmen are utterly contemporary, and the transmitters are wholly modern; but the urgent motivation and scapegoating content are depressingly familiar, and the demand that Jews repent and transform their evil, misguided ways, is of course as “old” as antisemitism itself.
Mark Gardner is director of communications for the Community Security Trust, which performs security functions for the British Jewish community, including the recording of antisemitic incidents.
(1) John Tyndall, “Spearhead” no71, December 1973 “What We Think – Roots of Middle East trouble.”
(2) David Clark, “The Guardian”, 06 March, 2006. “Accusations of anti-semitic chic are poisonous intellectual thuggery. Attempts to brand the left as anti-Jewish because of its support of Palestinian rights only make it harder to tackle genuine racism.”
(3) Paul Foot, “The Guardian”, 05 March 2002. “In defence of oppression”.
(4) Paul Foot, “The Guardian” 14 May 2003. “Worse than Thatcher”.
(5) Page 8, Issue 12, The Rune. (Nick Griffin was convicted of inciting racial hatred on the basis of his editing this issue of The Rune.)
(6) Naomi Klein, The Guardian 25 April 2002. “Sharon’s best weapon. Anti-semitism sustains Israel’s brutal leader – the fight against it must be reclaimed”.
(7) Jewish Conspiracy and the Muslim World by Misbahul Islam Faruqi, with the complete text of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Published by Thinkers Library 1991, Malaysia.
(8) Peter Wilby, “New “Statesman” 11 February 2002. “The New Statesman and anti-Semitism”.
(9) Solomon M. Schwartz. Commentary magazine, June 1949. “The New Anti-Semitism of the Soviet Union. Its Background and Its Meaning”.
(10) Posting by “John from Scotland” 15 February 2005. “The Combat 18 Blood and Honour Guestbook”
(11) Community Security Trust “Antisemitic Incidents Report 2006”.
(12) Community Security Trust “Antisemitic Incidents Report 2005”
(13) Comment is Free website 14 March 2006
(14) Joel Fishman, Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs. “Jerusalem Viewpoints No. 517, 11-25 Iyar 5764 / 2-16 May 2004. The Cold-War Origins Of Contemporary Antisemitic Terminology”.
(15) Patterns of Prejudice, Vol 1 No 4, July-August 1967. (No author listed). Publisher, Institute of Jewish Affairs.
(16) Written in 1954. Isaac Deutscher (1968) The Non-Jewish Jew and other essays, London: Oxford University Press
(17) Numerous press reports, January 2007
(19) Various news reports. Only one of the bombers succeeded in blowing himself up. The other fled and was later found dead on the Tel Aviv seafront.
(20) Lenin. January 1907 pamphlet, “The St Petersburg Elections and the Hypocrisy of the Thirty-One Mensheviks”
(22)http://www.missionislam.com/nwo/globalagenda.htm. See also IslamOnline, and MPACUK. “Palestine as a global agenda” Rachid Al-Ghannouchi, 1994.
(23) Numerous news reports, 3rd November 2003, includinghttp://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3237277.stm
(24) Minima Moralia by Theodor Adorno