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The Return of Anti-Semitism By: Arnold Beichman
Washington Times | Monday, February 09, 2004


THE RETURN OF ANTI-SEMITISM
    By Gabriel Schoenfeld
    Encounter Books, $25.95, 193 pages 

Had anyone predicted in 1945 that six decades after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism would be a metastasizing global phenomenon and that Jews would in the 21st century be facing a jihadian future in democratic countries like France, he would have been regarded as wildly paranoid. 

Had anyone predicted in 1945 that anti-Semitism would one day become both acceptable journalism in prestigious newspapers, magazines and news channels like the BBC, he would have been looked upon as someone badly in need of the couch that cures. 

Yet physical violence against Jews has become a pan-European phenomenon, says Gabriel Schoenfeld, senior editor of Commentary magazine. And the epicenter of this violence is France, where Muslims, who now comprise nine percent of the population, are expected to make up a quarter of the population by 2025. 

In the face of this anti-Semitism, we have President Jacques Chirac spluttering: "There is no anti-Semitism and [there are] no anti-Semites." Perhaps Mr. Chirac ought to read the Le Monde editorial of January 20, "Vulgate anti-semitisme," which supplies a contradictory view. 

Mr. Schoenfeld's searing description of the spread of this sanguinary racist doctrine raises some startling questions. It has been a widely held belief that racism would diminish with the downfall of totalitarianism and the globalization of democracy. In 1946, there were a dozen or so democracies. As of 1995, there were 114 democracies out of 191 states, yet anti-Semitism is more widespread today, as Mr. Schoenfeld documents, than it was at any time in modern history. 

A second unique feature of 21st-century anti-Semitism, he points out, is that it seems to have infected not merely as was once the case the downtrodden of society but rather the most successful, educated and "progressive" members of society, the so-called best people. 

This is true, of course, in the Islamic world, but what is new is that this phenomenon is observable in the West, particularly Western Europe. The anti-Semitism of socialists, progressives, liberals, environmentalists, pacifists, anarchists, populists, and anti-globalists today parallels and even exceeds right-wing anti-Semitism, says Mr. Schoenfeld. 

A similar phenomenon seems to be evident among terrorists; close to 60 percent of Palestinian suicide bombers have either attended college or acquired university degrees. In fact, according to an article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (Fall 2003), between 1966 and 1976, two-thirds of more than 350 terrorists from across Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East had some form of university training or an undergraduate degree. 

All kinds of paradoxes are to be found in this globalized anti-Semitism, especially in the world of Islam. Egypt, which signed a peace pact with Israel a quarter of a century ago in March 1979 is, says Mr. Schoenfeld, the world leader in disseminating hatred of Jews. The country's clerics foster Islamist propaganda based on two contradictory statements about the Holocaust. 

According to the first, there never was a Holocaust; according to the second, yes, there was a Holocaust, but the Final Solution didn't complete the job of total extermination — six million victims were not enough. 

In the face of the denial that there was a Holocaust it is ironic that in Islamic protest parades there are signs which read, "Stop the Palestinian Holocaust" and then as a topper Ariel Sharon is compared to Hitler. 

In short, the victims of Nazism have been transformed into Nazis, writes Mr. Schoenfeld, particularly in Western countries. As evidence, there is Gretta Duisenberg, whose husband, Wim, is president of the powerful European Central Bank. She is quoted thus: "Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is worse than the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands." 

Most of the 22 Arab countries no longer have any known Jewish residents. In Egypt, Iran, Iraq, all of which once had sizable Jewish populations, there are fewer and fewer with each passing year. So we have a phenomenon, anti-Semitism without Jews. 

Israel is the immediate focus of this hatred and the author cites Fiamma Nirenstein's much-discussed essay on the Arab view of this small country. In the Arab consciousness, she wrote, democratic Israel "has been transformed into little more than a diabolical abstraction, not a country at all but a malignant force embodying every possible negative attribute — aggressor, sinner, occupier, infidel, murderer, barbarian." 

Confirmation of this statement is easily obtained. Arab school texts, Friday mosque sermons, Arab television broadcasts and print media routinely sound this theme with Koranic verses to support the allegations. And the focus of attack is not Israel or Zionism alone but Jews as an ethnic group. And I would add that the heart of anti-Semitism is to be found in the UN General Assembly. 

"To criticize Israel for its policies," writes Mr. Schoenfeld, "is a perfectly legitimate enterprise. To target the Jewish state as if it were somehow the most flagrant human rights transgressor in the world, the single country in need of sanctions, is nothing more than unadorned bigotry." 

Mr. Schoenfeld asks two crucial questions: Can anti-Semitism spread to the United States? Has it already? His answers are indeed troubling. The influx of immigrants from the Middle East, once mainly Christian Arabs, today consists mainly of Muslims. In fact, there was an eightfold increase from 1970 to 2000 of Muslim immigrants and it is projected to double from an estimated four million by the end of the decade. 

Muslim schools in the United States, says the author, are teaching anti-Semitism. He cites a three-month survey in the New York Daily News of textbooks used in Muslim elementary schools. The books contained attacks on Jews over and above the usual hostility to Israel. 

What is startling is Mr. Schoenfeld's indictment of American universities which, he charges, "have become prime propagators of anti-Semitism in the United States." He quotes a statement of Harvard's president Lawrence Summers that "Serious and thoughtful people [on the Harvard campus] are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent." 

And there is the libel, says Mr. Schoenfeld, about "the Jewish plot to plunge the country into war" with Iraq, a libel spread by conspiracy-mongers like Chris Matthews, the host of TV show "Hardball," and developed by writer Michael Lind. Mr. Lind writes in the British magazine Prospect that Jews in America (according to Mr. Schoenfeld's summary) have "managed to create an atmosphere of intimidation not unlike the one fomented by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s." 

Paul Craig Roberts, a widely syndicated columnist, has proposed as a solution: "[E]vacuate the Jews, leave the Muslims to themselves, and focus on saving our own country." Like give America back to the Indians? 

And for the first time in our history we have seen an outspoken anti-Semite, the Rev. Al Sharpton, as a candidate for the U.S. presidency, and, writes Mr. Schoenfeld, "treated by the Democratic Party as a member in good standing and by the media as a respectable politician." 

The author of course is dealing with anti-Semitism, but I think he could have usefully added another chapter about the Islamist's more powerful enemy: Christianity. While Islam may be targeting the Jews, its ultimate target of opportunity is what are euphemistically called in the mosques the "Crusaders," namely Christian civilization, regarded by the imamate as a far more formidable foe than the Jews. 

But that's for another time; we now have a book which needs the widest possible audience. When I laid the book down I was reminded of the words of the Rev. Martin Niemoeller, the German pastor whom Hitler sent to a concentration camp, about the failure of Germans, himself included, to speak out against the Nazis: 

"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me." 
    
 
Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.


Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is a columnist for The Washington Times.


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