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News ::
The new anti-Semitic fashion (english)
19 Nov 2003
The map of the new anti-Semitism does not follow
the contours of Jewish collective memory. Instead,
its lines overlap with those of dispersed Arab and
Muslim communities.

The map of the new anti-Semitism does not follow
the contours of Jewish collective memory. Instead,
its lines overlap with those of dispersed Arab and
Muslim communities. For instance, a small Jewish
community dwells in Sweden, and in 2000 the
country's prime minister initiated an
international task force for Holocaust studies;
the country has not until recently suffered any
bouts of anti-Semitism. Now Swedish newspapers
report on repeated attacks leveled by Arab and
Muslim groups. The Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter
reported on October 20 that there have been 131
attacks on Jews in the country during the past
year. The newspaper also disclosed that Arab and
Muslim pupils oppose Holocaust studies on the
grounds that they are "Zionist propaganda."

In contrast, Slovakia and
Romania, two countries not
exactly known historically
for philo-Semitism, have
witnessed virtually no
attacks on Jews during the
past two years. This can be
attributed to the small size
of the countries' Muslim

There is something ominous about this trend:
members of a religion that is a spiritual
cousin to Judaism are spearheading a hate
campaign against Jews; and no Arab or Muslim
leader is standing up to oppose this trend. As
Le Monde pointed out (October 19), the real
problem with the anti-Semitic declarations made
by Malaysia's then-prime minister, Mahathir bin
Mohamad, is that they were acceptable
throughout the Islamic world.

Put together, do these facts stem from issues
related to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and
not anti-Semitism? Leftist Jewish intellectuals
recently published a book about "Anti-Semitism:
The Insufferable Coercion," which argues not
all opposition to Israel is anti-Semitism.

True, it is possible, and sometimes obligatory,
to criticize Israeli policy, just as France and
the U.S. were attacked for their policies in
Algeria and Vietnam. The problem is that
criticism of the State of Israel ought not to
include attacks against the ethnic community
that is close to it. Were all Russians
everywhere subjected to attacks on account of
the destruction of Grozny? Were all Frenchmen
responsible for the war in Algeria?

An example of such collective accusation is
provided by the admired Portuguese writer, Jose
Saramago, a Nobel Laureate, whose incendiary
comments about Jews are cited in a volume
written by Phyllis Chesler, "The New
Anti-Semitism." Saramago refers to Jews who are
"spiritually blinded by the vision of Greater
Israel," who have a "monstrous confidence that
they are the chosen people, and that their
psychopathological, racist acts are justified,"
and who are "convinced that the suffering of
others, particularly the Palestinians, is
inferior, compared to the Holocaust."

Hatred of Israel and the Jewish people blinds
people who are in every other way models of
humanitarian tolerance. Italy's former
ambassador to the United Nations, and current
ambassador to the U.S., Sergio Vento, accused
Israel of allowing its soldiers to go to
Ramallah in October 2000 so that they would be
murdered in a cold-blooded act that would
repair Israel's image, after the killing of the
Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Dura.

Criticism of Israel is increasingly compulsive.
There is considerable similarity between blood
libels and a story published on Nov. 8, 2001,
in Le Nouvelle Observateur, according to which
Israel Defense Forces soldiers raped Arab women
at roadblocks so that they would be murdered by
their own families in honor killings.

This story was retracted after a month, but its
original publication reflects a willingness to
believe that Israelis are capable of any
abomination. The hysterical obsession with
Israel's "crimes" (both with and without the
quotation marks) is such that it loses all
sense of proportion, as though the Geneva
Convention hasn't been violated wholesale by
many other states. The claim is that more
should be expected from Israel - that is a true
claim. But Israelis also expect that the
anti-Semitic fashion will be contested by the
strong opposition of democratic states.
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