Stephens: Antisemitism is the hate that doesn’t know its own name

When historian Deborah Lipstadt defeated a libel suit brought against her in a British court by Holocaust denier David Irving in April 2000, it was almost possible to imagine that antisemitism might someday become a thing of the past, at least in much of the West. Taking a trip to Israel was not an ideologically fraught choice. Wearing a Star of David was not a personally risky one. College campuses did not feel hostile to Jewish students. Synagogues (at least in the United States) did not have police officers stationed outside their doors.

Not anymore.

The Anti-Defamation League recorded 751 antisemitic incidents in the United States in 2013. There were 3,697 in 2022. There was a nearly 400% increase in the two weeks after the Hamas massacre of Oct. 7 compared with the year before. Last week, “Jewish students specifically were warned not to enter MIT’s front entrance due to a risk to their physical safety,” according to a public letter from Jewish students there. In Montreal, a Jewish school was targeted by gunfire twice in a single week.

Today, Lipstadt is the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, and her battle against Irving (the subject of the 2016 film “Denial”) seems almost quaint. “I never imagined antisemitism would get this bad,” she told me when I spoke with her by phone Monday evening. “Something about this is different from anything I have ever personally seen.”

One of those differences, I suggested, is that antisemitism is the hate that doesn’t know its own name — that is, that many of those who call themselves anti-Zionists or chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” would vehemently deny that they are engaged in antisemitic behavior.

Lipstadt allowed that at least a few people have no idea what the chant means. But many more do: a call for “a purely Palestinian state without Jews.” She added, “You may want to redefine it, but what it has stood for, for decades, is quite clear.” (Yes, there are those who imagine Jews and Palestinians coexisting harmoniously in some future river-to-sea Palestine. Hamas murdered that fantasy, along with so much else, on Oct. 7.)

As for anti-Zionism (never to be confused with ordinary, even stringent, criticism of Israeli policy), “we have to make a historical distinction,” she said. A century ago, before the creation of the state of Israel, questions about Zionism were “more of a political or intellectual debate. But when you are talking about a state with 7.1 million Jews and when you are saying they have no right to exist and should all go someplace else, that’s something far more than an ideological point.”

What about more specific anti-Zionist arguments, such as the view that the Jews displaced native inhabitants to create Israel? Or that Israel is a racist state that practices apartheid?

Lipstadt made short work of those claims. If Israel ought to be abolished because it is guilty of displacing native inhabitants, then the same should go for the United States or Australia, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *