What is “the new anti-Semitism?”

I want to start with a question: do you know of another name for the current pandemic other than the coronavirus? No, I am not talking about COVID-19.

I think many people will be surprised to learn that the coronavirus is called the “judeovirus”. Jews were thus accredited due to accusations that the virus had been developed and was being spread by Jews and Israelis. After all, they were supposed to find a vaccine against the disease, sell it to the sick world, and make a fortune.

Is this a new anti-Semitism? Not really. This episode echoes an ancient form of anti-Semitism that accused Jews of spreading disease and other tragedies.

Here is a contemporary story that followed the arrival of the Black Death in Europe in the spring of 1348: “On the day a pestilence or famine occurs, the people cry out: ‘All this is happening because of the sins of Jacob! Destroy this nation, kill them! And during the disaster […] they set out in a violently thoughtless manner to destroy the unfortunate Jews.

How old is old anti-Semitism?

Haman, the prime minister of Persia in the 4th century BCE, persuaded King Achashverosh to issue an edict of extermination of all Jews in the empire. The excuse was: “There are a certain people scattered and scattered among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other peoples, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore, it is not appropriate for the king to let them stay … for a decree to be written to eliminate them. We were saved, however, thanks to the beauty and wisdom of Queen Esther.

But wait. Haman was not the first anti-Semite. According to the Talmud, Haman was a descendant of Agag, king of Amalek, who attacked the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land for no obvious reason, killing those who were left behind.

Yet this was not the start of anti-Semitism either. Even before the Israelites became a nation, Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all newborn males.

Haman’s plan to exterminate the Jewish people was almost achieved over the past century when the Nazis succeeded in destroying a third of all Jews.

If there was any hope that the Holocaust would end anti-Semitism, we were totally wrong. Anti-Semitism has intensified and has spread around the world. What fuels anti-Semitism from the 15th century BCE to the present day?

I won’t pretend to have the ultimate answer and instead move on to our theme: the new anti-Semitism.

Before we do so, let’s not overlook the fact that classical anti-Semitism continues to flourish, as evidenced by attacks on Jews and synagogues around the world.

But let’s move on to what is called the “new anti-Semitism”. There is a positive side and a negative side behind this phenomenon. On the positive side, it shows that people are somewhat worried about anti-Semitism. The negative aspect is that the same people have found a way to stick to anti-Semitism without admitting it. Anti-Semitism is thus clothed with anti-Zionism and an anti-Jewish state.

THE BEST manifestation of a new anti-Semitism appears to be United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted on November 10, 1975 by a large majority of 72 to 35, declaring Zionism to be a form of racism and racial discrimination . It is remarkable that Zionism was distinguished from all national liberation movements to bear the mark of Cain. And who blamed Zionism? Gaddafi’s Libya, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Idi Amin’s Uganda, etc.

Yet the UN resolution was not the first slander against Jews accusing them of conspiring to rule the world. As early as 1903, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were published in Russia and distributed throughout the United States thanks to the generosity of Henry Ford. These fabricated protocols purported to describe a Jewish plan for world domination. Although they have turned out to be false, the Protocols continue to exert influence and fuel what is known as a new anti-Semitism.

So what is the new anti-Semitism?

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) has adopted the following working definition which enjoys popular consent: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which can be expressed as hatred of Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed against Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and / or their property, at institutions of the Jewish community and religious establishments … Protests could include targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish community.

This definition is broad enough to encompass both old and new anti-Semitism.

In the words of Abba Eban, Israel’s former foreign minister, “The distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is not at all a distinction. Anti-Zionism is just the new anti-Semitism. Old classical anti-Semitism declared that equal rights belong to all individuals in society, except Jews. The new anti-Semitism says that the right to establish and maintain an independent sovereign national state is the prerogative of all nations, as long as they are not Jewish.

But why quote an Israeli minister? This is what British Lord Chancellor Michael Gove said in 2016: “In the Middle Ages, anti-Semitism was religious, ending with the closure of Jews in ghettos and forced conversion. At the turn of the 20th century, anti-Semitism led to the worst atrocity that humanity has ever witnessed under horrific scientific pretexts. Anti-Semitism has shifted and finds expression today in opposition to the national collective Jewish identity and the existence of the State of Israel.

Under the new anti-Semitism, we can include denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, asserting that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist enterprise, and applying double standards by demanding of it a behavior that is not expected or required of any other democratic nation. .

Allegations have been made that the new definition of anti-Semitism restricts the right to freedom of expression. This claim is totally false.

In the words of the IHRA, “the protests could include targeting the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, a criticism of Israel similar to that directed at any other country cannot be considered anti-Semitic. “

There are endless examples of targeting the State of Israel using a double standard.

IT IS ENOUGH to mention a recent case. On May 27, the UN Human Rights Council adopted an unprecedented resolution to create a permanent “Commission of Inquiry” to investigate the “Occupied Palestinian Territory”, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all allegations. This would be the first such commission with a “permanent” mandate.

Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger said she “continued the unfortunate practice of singling out Israel for criticism at the Human Rights Council.”

It should be noted that the draft resolution was proposed by Pakistan, which is undoubtedly a human rights loving state.

And let’s not forget the World Conference on Racism held in Durban in 2001, which turned into one of the ugliest anti-Semitic events in history. The draft resolution for this event was drawn up in Tehran, from all places. Those who unfortunately missed the conference may be lucky enough to attend the UN Durban Conference anniversary event later this year.

It should come as no surprise to learn that 36% of Council resolutions over the years 2003-2017 condemned Israel, the remaining 64% were distributed among states as just as Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Afghanistan, while similar states like Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and Lebanon have not been condemned once.

It should be mentioned in this regard that Freedom in the World’s 2013 annual survey and report, which attempts to measure the degree of democracy and political freedom in each nation, ranked Israel as the only free country in the Middle East. .

It is a suitable place to discuss the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. Those leading the campaign claim that it is the result of the Israeli occupation after the Six Day War of 1967. This is not true. Boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses were organized by Arab leaders from 1922, 26 years before the establishment of the State of Israel and 45 years before the 1967 war. From 1945, the Arab League led the boycott, which members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation joined.

Interestingly, the boycott harms the Palestinians no less than the Israelis. After the 1967 war, several Israeli companies established projects on the West Bank border, hiring Palestinian workers. Following the development of BDS, many of them returned to Israel, leaving behind thousands of people without jobs.

Obviously, the occupation is not the cause of the BDS campaign but rather its excuse. Even if Israel withdraws from all territories, the boycott will not end as long as the State of Israel exists.

In Gove’s words, “The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel is anti-Semitic. They hate Israel, and they wish to wipe out the home of the Jewish people, not because of what Israel does, but because of who Israel is – free, democratic, liberal and Western. We must remember that defending Israel’s right to exist is defending our common humanity. Now more than ever. “

In summary, classic or modern, old or new, anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism and one of the ugliest manifestations of racism.

The writer is professor of law, dean of the law faculty of the Peres Academic Center and vice-president of the International Association for the Defense of Religious Freedom. This article is based on a presentation at the Foundation for Religious Liberty and Enterprise Forum.

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