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March 29, 2003

The New Anti-Semitism
by Melanie Phillips - March 22, 2003

"Want to make yourself really, really unpopular if you are a Jew? Try saying that the world is witnessing a terrifying firestorm of hatred directed at Israel and the Jewish people, in which the British and Europeans are deeply implicated. Since it is now a given in many circles that Israel is a threat to the world equal to North Korea, and that Ariel Sharon is a cross between Martin Bormann and Hendrik Verwoerd, you will find yourself accused of using the Holocaust to avoid any criticism of Israel?s behaviour. Because, well, you know, you Jews always stick together and are mighty quick to deal that persecution card.
Anyone who holds that view may as well skip what follows. More objective and fair-minded souls, however, might be deeply alarmed to learn of the evidence provided at a recent conference on anti-Semitism and the media at the Vidal Sassoon Centre for the Study of Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem.
This was scarcely a gathering of the Ariel Sharon fan club. Among academics and journalists from Israel, Europe, Britain and America were several left-wingers and liberals who were deeply hostile to Israel?s Likud government, believed that the settlements should be dismantled, and were troubled by the behaviour of some of Israel's military. There is no doubt that Israel is committing human-rights violations on the West Bank, said Professor Yehuda Bauer, the distinguished Holocaust expert.

But there was equally no doubt, from what he and others said, that anti-Zionism is now being used to cloak a terrifying nexus between genocidal Arab and Islamist hatred of the Jews and deep-seated European prejudices.

Anti-Semitism is protean, mutating over the centuries into new forms. Now it has changed again, into a shape which requires a new way of thinking and a new vocabulary. The new anti-Semitism does not discriminate against Jews as individuals on account of their race. Instead, it is centred on Israel, and the denial to the Jewish people alone of the right of self-determination.

This is nothing to do with the settlements or the West Bank. Indeed, the language being used exposes as a cruel delusion the common belief that the Middle East crisis would be solved by the creation of a Palestinian state.

The key motif is a kind of Holocaust inversion, with the Israelis being demonised as Nazis and the Palestinians being regarded as the new Jews. Israel and the Jews are being systematically delegitimised and dehumanised, a necessary prelude to their destruction, with both Islamists and the Western media using anti-Zionism as a fig-leaf for prejudices rooted in both medieval Christian and Nazi demonology".

Read this whole piece even if you think you already heard enough about the new antisemitism.