As the “new anti-Semitism” (hostility against Jews, linked more closely than ever in recent decades to antipathy toward the existence of the Jewish State) “goes global” in the age of international terrorism and the internet, so has the critical study of anti-Semitism had to become global in its reach, in response. Or nearly so. For, as Kenneth L. Marcus (famed civil rights attorney and President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law) explains, there is still a long way to go for scholars, working in this “growth industry” of anti-Israel bigotry, to catch up with their metastasizing subject matter.
And, whether KLM himself would agree with us or not (we don’t know), Kestrel says that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. After all, when you single out one nation to declare, “Thou shalt not be a sovereign state,” and it’s the long-suffering Jewish nation–what is that, some kind of a coincidence? Jew-haters of today mostly know better than to come right out and say that Yids are avaricious, devious, cloistered among their own, etc. It wouldn’t be “PC.” So, instead, they say that Zionists are…. The Kestrel takes exception to such remarks–seeing little difference between hating a diaspora people and hating a post-diaspora nation-state largely made-up of the very same people, and in the wake of the worst human rights crime in history to boot.
While it may be that in modern times, as the poet bemoans, “the falcon cannot hear the falconer,” Zionist Entity (and by the way, what if China started referring to Tibet as the “Buddhist Entity”?) knows what today’s “new anti-Semites” are talking about, sub rosa, sotto voce, or now and then, all-too-often at the top of their lungs.
As Marcus explains below (and this we know he does agree with us on), no one has done more to confront the grotesque reality of neo-anti-Semitism, post-millennium, than the great Alvin Rosenfeld, of Indiana University’s Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Board of Directors. Rosenfeld’s latest edited volume, bringing together the very best of anti-anti-Semitism scholarship, is out now–and is a must-read for all non-Jew-haters of the world.
The following book review is re-posted, by kind permission, from today’s edition of the LDB website.
- Reviewing Alvin H. Rosenfeld, ed., Resurgent Antisemitism: Global Perspectives (Indiana University Press: 2013).
- By Kenneth L. Marcus.
- Source: The Brandeis Brief.
Since the turn of the new millennium, academia has responded to the global resurgence of anti-Semitism with several notable scholarly efforts, but the sum of this work has thus far not been sufficient to the task at hand. Some fine scholars are now focused on the issue, a handful of research centers have been established, some conferences are held, and a scholarly journal now exists. As important as these efforts have been, they pale in comparison to the academic industries that have emerged in response to far lesser challenges. The sluggish development of Anti-Semitism Studies as a scholarly field has created several problems. Manifestations of anti-Semitism remain difficult to address, because they are not fully understood. The extent of the problem has been too easy to deny, because it is not sufficiently documented. And solutions are hard to implement, because no consensus exists. The Louis D. Brandeis Center is working to strengthen the academic response, largely through its research initiative, and several other institutions are now also doing excellent work along this line. Professor Alvin H. Rosenfeld, a legend at Indiana University and a member of LDB’s Board of Academic Advisors, continues his leadership with a new edited volume on Resurgent Antisemitism: Global Perspectives. More than an excellent survey, Resurgent Antisemitism heralds the emergence of an international study of anti-Semitism, replete with both grand established figures and emerging young stars.
The first wave of academic research on anti-Semitism began in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust. Inaugurated by Max Horkheimer and Theordor Adorno’s hallmark Studies on Prejudice series, the key publication was Adorno’s volume on The Authoritarian Personality. During these early post-War years, scholars pursued a wide range of sociological, psychological, and historical studies, largely informed by a single pressing question: How could a civilized, enlightened people commit the barbarities which Nazi Germans visited brought upon the Jews? Over time, however, this research petered out, as researchers turned to other forms of prejudice. During the second half of the twentieth century, as anti-Semitism declined in the Western world, scholars drifted to studies of racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc. Meanwhile, the academic study of anti-Semitism virtually disappeared, except perhaps along the peripheries of Holocaust-related historical research.
Since the turn of the new millennium, however, the dramatic global surge in anti-Semitic incidents has called for new research. Today the unifying questions have less to do with etiology than with definition, to wit: What is this new Jew-hatred, how is it related to earlier manifestations, where does it come from, and how is it connected with the kinds of Israel-hatred with which it is so often interwoven? Several institutions have risen to the challenge of examining these questions, including not only the Louis D. Brandeis Center in Washington, D.C., but also research centers in Berlin, Bloomington, Jerusalem, London, New Haven, New York, Tel Aviv, and Winnipeg. Yale famously established a major center; then infamously shuttered it; then set up another one. The field now has one scholarly journal, The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, and occasional scholarly conferences and workshops.
But the field is still very much understudied. There are, for example, no academic chairs to be found. One cannot pursue a Ph.D. in this study as one could, for example, if one’s interest were in Holocaust studies. Even post-doctoral fellowships are hard find. The result is that we know much less than we should about the current global outbreak of anti-Semitism. The relative paucity of academic attention is ironic, given that some of the worst manifestations of anti-Semitism in twenty-first century North American have occurred on university campuses. And the absence of scholarship makes it all too easy for bureaucrats to deny its scope or dangerousness, to conflate it with a harmless form of political activism, or to insist that the only proper response to anti-Semitism is to insist on its protection as free speech.
Alvin Rosenfeld has done more than just about anyone to encourage the development of a new interdisciplinary field of anti-Semitism. Rosenfeld has long been known as a key figure in the field of Jewish studies, having built Indiana University’s program into a world-class operation. As an influential advisor to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, he guided that institution’s cautious but critical examinations of anti-Semitism in the post-Holocaust world. As a writer, he has penned key texts in the study of both Holocaust studies and the new anti-Semitism. Now, as founding director of Indiana University’s Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, Rosenfeld is actively working to forge a new international, inter-disciplinary study of contemporary global anti-Semitism.
The first fruits of Rosenfeld’s new venture can be seen in his splendid new edited volume, Resurgent Antisemitism. Collecting the best papers from Rosenfeld’s April 2011 IU conference in Bloomington, Resurgent Antisemitism features the work of nineteen scholars from a dozen countries, each addressing a different facet from the alarming recent surge of anti-Semitism around the world.
Among its grandees, Resurgent Antisemitism includes not only Rosenfeld himself but also leading historians Robert Wistrich and Dina Porat and philosophers Bernard Harrison and Elhanan Yakira. Porat’s contribution is particularly notable for its elucidation of the relationship between Holocaust denial and chimerical images of the “Jew” throughout history. Other prominent figures include Matthias Küntzel, Emmanuele Ottolenghi, and Bruno Chaouat. Among the younger generation of scholars, Gunther Jikeli contributes a fascinating and important study of anti-Semitism among young European Muslims. Scholars of particular regions or nations give the volume welcome breadth with country-specific studies of Hungary and Romania (Szilvia Peremiczky), England (Paul Bogdanor), Poland (Anna Sommer Schneider), Turkey (Rifat N. Bali), Spain (Alejandro Baer), and Iran (Jamsheed Choksy). LDB Academic Advisor Tammi Rossman-Benjamin contributes a provocative essay on “Identity Politics, the Pursuit of Social Justice, and the Rise of Campus Antisemitism.”
This notable volume highlights the emergence of an international cadre of first-rate scholars to examine the problem of contemporary global anti-Semitism. But far more is needed than an occasional conference or volume. The key question now is whether sufficient resources will be provided to support the research that is now needed. If contemporary anti-Semitism is to be fought effectively, it must be studied thoroughly, and this requires much more research on the sociology, psychology, politics, philosophy and legal dimensions of this ancient, resurgent evil.
Wasn’t that great? Now click here to discover more of what Marcus and LDB have to offer for today’s well-informed anti-anti-Zionist. And remember, Kestrel says, “Birds of a feather…awk!, awk!“
A controversial new exhibit celebrates mass murderers and raises war propaganda to the level of high art.
This Summer the French National Museum, the Jeu de Paume, once famous for its display of Impressionist paintings, is hosting an astonishing photography exhibit, Phantom House. The work of an Israeli Bedouin woman, Ahlam Shibli, it assembles an eclectic series of photographs that depict a number of different groups whose homes are really not theirs, or who do not have homes—people who “live under oppression.” These include Bedouin “Trackers” who enlist in the IDF, “Palestinians” living in the Galilee and Jordan, Polish children in orphanages, Middle Eastern LGBTs who live in Western countries, the French of Corrèze during the Nazi occupation, and, in by far the most elaborate of the exhibits, the Palestinian families of “martyrs” who “resisted” the “occupation,” standing with the pictures, posters, and graves of their “disappeared” relatives.
The exhibit has elicited predictable controversy. These alleged “martyrs” who “took control of their own deaths,” the object of loving devotion by their families, are actually mass murderers who killed themselves in order to murder as many children, women, civilians as they could. Like so much of the Palestinian narrative, these photos give no place to the “other” except as faceless colonial oppressors. For one Jewish woman, a patron of the museum, the experience was horrifying. Looking at these pictures of “martyrs,” she recognized people who had blown up restaurants and buses, which were chosen precisely because there were children there.
Outraged objections poured in. The museum’s response was to post a notice that insisted that this was not propaganda and quoted the artist insisting that she was “not a militant, not judgmental.”
Of course, all of this is nonsense. If not propaganda (like the famous pipe that is not a pipe), it is a display of lovingly presented photographs of propaganda. The artist is decidedly judgmental, presenting her fellow Bedouin who serve in the IDF as pathetic sell-outs to a colonial regime (they appear strikingly comfortable and secure with themselves in the photos), peppering her exhibit on French victims of the Nazi occupation with comments on how they turned around after liberation and became colonial oppressors in Indochina and Algeria. The unalloyed admiration for the “resistance to occupation” of the Palestinians, juxtaposed with that of the French resistance to the Nazis, plays on a common, if grotesque, theme of Palestinian propaganda—that the Israelis are the new Nazis and the Palestinians the new Jews.
How can the French, who know what Nazi occupation was like, compare their experience to that of Palestinians in the West Bank? How they could not notice that while the Nazis killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in occupied Europe as part of their deliberate policy of collective punishment, the Palestinians kill thousands of civilians as part of their “resistance”? How could they miss the difference between an “occupation” that kills 6 million Jews and one that produces a Palestinian population with the highest standard of living in the non-oil-rich Arab world? How can they glorify a movement that embraces and intensifies Nazi Jew-hatred? And why do they view Jews who attempt to protect themselves from that aggression through the eyes of those who foment hatred? How did such a profound moral disorientation occur, and why has it been elevated to the level of high art?
Continue reading the rest of this article, here.
Reza Aslan’s Ethnic-Literary Cleansing of “the Modern Middle East”: The Real Scandal is Not His New Book on the Historical Jesus
Seen in the wider context of a scholar’s career, a new book about that stone mason, Yeshua, raises the question, When did its author become aware that Jews, and Hebrew literature, are a part of the Middle East?
While TV and the blogosphere are all a-Twitter tonight over FOX NEWS’s purported anti-Muslim bias/ignorance/ineptitude (no argument here), in view of the network’s bumbling treatment of Professor Reza Aslan and his new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth–the real scandal concerning this author goes unreported. The Nation‘s Corey Robin, for instance, declares hysterically on his personal blog that FOX’s interview with Aslan proves definitively that “Islam is the Jewish Question of the 20th Century.” Exsqueeze me? You’re suggesting an equivalence between the condition of Muslims in the liberal-democratic multicultural West today, and that of Jews in the old Europe–either before they were emancipated by law or shortly thereafter, just prior to the Holocaust?
Pretty much everyone else seems to be following suit. Piers Morgan, for instance, had Aslan on CNN tonight to essentially apologize to him, knowingly (chuckle, chuckle), on behalf of the real (tolerant, “PC”) Christendom. The Daily Show, a program that makes fum of everything, won’t touch this except to refer to Aslan repeatedly as “the fantastic Reza Aslan.”
But what neither TDS, FOX NEWS, Piers, Corey, nor anyone else that we’re aware of either seems to know, or think important enough to mention (whatever the merits of the new page-turner on Yeshua, which ZE hasn’t yet had a chance to study closely…more soon on that one), is that his previous book, an edited anthology of fiction called, misleadingly, Tablet and Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, is completely Judenrein. Yep. That’s right. Sans les Jouifs.
Not so much as a lonely sand dune, let alone even a single oasis or dried-up wadi featured on Aslan’s “map” of the of “the Modern Middle East” is marked “Jewish” or “Hebrew” territory–never mind “Israeli.” Arabic, Turkish, Persian and Urdu literatures–to be sure–are all well represented. As they should be (!), in a book ostensibly interested in representing what the “literary landscape” of the region has looked like over the past century. Yet the naive tourist who begins her journey in 1910 (a year after Tel-Aviv was founded as a Jewish community under the Ottomans, incidentally) and faithfully follows her guide all the way to 2010 (the year before the volume was published) would never know that Hebrew was in fact, of course, one of the languages spoken (and indeed, penned) in the “modern Middle East”–at least if all she had to go on was the excerpts listed in the volume’s sanitized Table of Contents.
To insult an author on TV by bringing up his religious affiliation in order to question his scholarship (Aslan is a Muslim, who as a boy emigrated from Iran with his family: the interviewer seemed to imply that this was suspicious for someone writing about the Christian Savior) is egregious–because it’s ignorant and rude. To intentionally expunge by omission all of the wealth of modern Hebrew-language literature from a fat doorstopper of over 600 pages, a tome that looks very much as if it aspires to be assigned in college classrooms (the thing’s published by Norton), is nothing less than a blatant act of textual “ethnic cleansing”–far stupider and vastly more insulting than anything FOX News’s ill-prepared interviewer ever could have said to such a book’s editor about his more recent book. And that is what calls into question Aslan’s scholarship–not his religion, his education, or his opinion of Jesus.
Aslan (who teaches Creative Writing at UC Riverside) may declare insistently, condescendingly, to said interviewer that he has several postgraduate degrees, is fluent in biblical Greek, and is an “expert” on JC–but, when all is said and done, had said Moshiach come to town a couple of millennia later…. And Aslan were responsible…. We never would have heard of him. (ZE knows full well that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and probably some koine Greek, but he at least read Hebrew literature!)
So, instead of asking (lamely and impertinently) words to the effect of, “How come a Muslim wrote a book about Jesus?,” what FOX–and everyone else–should be asking is, “Why would anyone, of any faith, choose to publish a purported ‘anthology’ of Middle Eastern literature that systematically excludes Hebrew and Israelis? Including not only Jews in this ban but also–that is to say, excluding as well–Arab Israelis writing in Hebrew, such as Anton Shammas, the author of Arabesques, for example?” Such unasked (unaskable?) questions–contra Corey Robin et al–would be far more relevant to the real “Jewish Question” of today.