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Response to “The Uses and Abuses of Modern Anti-Semitism”

Norman Hanscombe has written a thoughtful post on anti-Semitism. I say “thoughtful” because he has obviously put much thought and effort into his post. Having said that, I must respond to some of his statements, which I believe are either lacking in truth or requiring further elucidation.

Norman writes:

Jewish citizens, even after the worst of Christian Ideologyís idiosyncrasies had either disappeared or lost much of their credibility, continued to see themselves as separate from the rest of the community in which they lived. Understandable as their desire for separation may have been, however, it didnít help them when it came to gaining acceptance among the wider community.

While this may have been true of the Orthodox Jews, for whom continuation of the Jewish faith and people was of primary importance, this was absolutely not the case for the secular Jews, who very much desired to fit into mainstream society. In fact, the “Jewish enlightenment” was very strong in Germany, its “intellectual father” having been born there. Yet the Holocaust occurred less than a century later.

Norman also writes:

..in the 19th-20th Centuries, a series of events combined to create significant problems for many Jewish populations, more so in some parts of the world than others. First and foremost among these changes were the rapidly increasing number of Jews in particular regions, towns or cities, and the clearly impressive rise in fortune enjoyed by a small, but highly successful, group of prominent members of the Jewish Faith.

—-

The rise of Jewish influence was real then, and it was this, no matter how reasonable in itself the rise may have been, that helped engender both fear and envy among many who saw themselves as “victims” of this upsurge in Jewish good fortune and power.

The final image of the all powerful Jewish conspiracy held by many, may have been an absurd fantasy; but its strength lay in the fact here had been real, often dramatic, increases in the fortunes of a group whose talents previously had been prevented from flourishing.

I believe that this is only part of the story. Historian William Korey attributes the spread of Jewish conspiracy theories in places like Russia to something else.

That the Jews were particularly suspect in a totalitarian structure impregnated with a distinct chauvinist character is not surprising, for they indeed were a minority with an international tradition and a worldwide religion. Jews everywhere had cultural, emotional and even family ties that transcended national boundaries.

Furthermore, Hannah Arendt has noted that totalitarianism requires an ìobjective enemyî who, like the “carrier of a disease,” is the “carrier” of subversive “tendencies.”

This aspect of totalitarianism had a distinctive impact on the state’s relationship to the Jews. The very nature of a system which claims both a monopoly on truth and the control of the “commanding heights” by which the preordained may be reached precludes human error or inadequacy. Only plots and conspiracies by hidden forces could interrupt, hinder or defeat “scientifically” planned programs.

In other words, while Jewish success may have played a part in the propogation and acceptance of these theories, you cannot discount the strength of the Jewish religion and culture, which transcends nation states. This “transcendental” nature is illustrated by the fact that people have a difficult time defining what a Jew is. Is it a race, religion or nation?

Finally, Norman brings up an old argument.

An increasingly prevalent use of the term “anti-semitic” is as a weapon to intimidate those who donít give enthusiastic support to any action Israel takes. Obviously, anti-semites will not support Israel; but the irrational leap from this to claims that those who donít support Israel are anti-semitic, is such a clear breach of the principles of logic, that it shouldnít even be necessary to point out the flaw in this irrational “argument”. The practice of using bogus claims of anti-semitism as a weapon to discredit opponents has become so widespread that many are reluctant to discuss some issues.

There is no doubt that while some may cry “anti-Semitism” all too readily, this should not obfuscate the fact that anti-Zionism is regularly being used as a smokescreen for anti-Semitism. I have blogged about this at length, so rather than repeating myself, I will refer you to the following posts:

  • Criticism of Israel = Anti-Semitism?
  • Anti-Semitism From Syria

    In addition, you should read my exchange with Michael Talismann, who began by stating that he should be as “anti-Israel” as he wanted without being branded an anti-Semite, yet then proved himself to be anti-Semitic (in the sense of hating Judaism, Jewish culture and Jews).

  • About the author

    Picture of David Lange

    David Lange

    A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
    Picture of David Lange

    David Lange

    A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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