Monday, February 23, 2009


Irwin Cotler, one of the more knowledgeable experts on human rights anywhere, has published a long but worthy article about the new form of antisemitism: denial of the Jew's right to have a nation state. The term Judenstaatrein seems to have been coined by Per Ahlmark, a former Swedish Deputy Prime Minister.

I'd have preferred the article to have been published in the NYT to the Jerusalem Post, which has a smaller and less influential readership, and also tends to hide articles after a few days, but I wasn't asked.

Cotler's article follows a meeting of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA), a new organization which just had its first meeting in London. So far as I can tell from the Guardian search engine, they had one single article on the conference (did I mention it was in London, and was addressed by Gordon Brown?); it's an article by one Antony Lerman, and on its own offers a legitimate tone of caution of getting carried away when discussing antisemitism. Had his been one of three viewpoints, say, it wold have been fine. But it wasn't.

And then there are the responses of readers, the article having been posted at the Comment is Free (CiF) section of the Guardian's website. My favorite response (before I gave up) was this one:

I'm gonna be real careful today and not get anyone too angry with me. But couldn't some aspects of anti-semitism be caused by the part of the torah that says the Jews are gods chosen people, therefore making everyone else second class citizens? Doesn't racism breed racism?


Anonymous said...

Cynthia Ozick, in the November, 1974 issue of Esquire magazine, wrote a famous essay called "All The World Wants The Jews Dead." She was called an alarmist, but in light of recent events, maybe she was just a bit premature.

Unknown said...


Anti-Semitism began with Pharaoh, at the beginning of our existence as a collected people, and it has plagued our history. It is almost as if our existence causes the world to make a choice: Jews or no Jews.

The State of Israel came into existence in the face of anti-Semitism, and it's plausible that only reaction to what WWII wrought on the world made it possible for the establishment of the State. It's reasonable to think that the world of anti-Semitism has been trying to undo that decision since Israel's inception, and today we're merely seeing the sophistication of that anti-Semitism.

I offer this comment. That an organization like the ICCA exists says something, but that Jews are now prominent in the so-called 'new anti-Semitism' also says something. What their significance is I don't know, but while I am wise enough to be concerned I am also intelligent enough to be perplexed.