The New Anti-Semitism
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About the Author
"a prophetic, and necessary, warning to us all."
You can't say she didn't warn us.
In 2003, the liberal feminist Phyllis Chesler published The New Antisemitism. It was partly a reaction to the events of 9/11, partly a protest against the left's anti-Israel posture posture amidst the terror of the second intifada. But it was also the culmination of a lifetime of struggle as Chesler was forced, again and again, to confront the unique bigotry that had been embraced by those she had regarded as comrades in the push for women's rights.
Chesler, a Breitbart News contributor, is re-releasing The New Antisemitism a decade later, as a third intifada looms, and as the hatred of Jews that motivates radical critics of Israel no longer feels the same need to hide behind the "anti-Zionist" label. Since 2003, Israel built its security barrier and withdrew from Gaza, only to be targeted by Hamas rockets and tunnels; Iran has made dramatic advances in its quest to become a nuclear power; and the Palestinians have refused to come to terms.
What has remained constant throughout is the refusal of Western elites to defend their own principles against the Islamist threat in general, particularly in the Israeli-Palestinian case. In their effort to accommodate the "other," they are prepared to sacrifice Israel, and so enable a bloodthirsty form of Jew-hatred that is supported by Palestinian officials and found gruesome expression in Tuesday's terror attack on rabbis praying in a West Jerusalem synagogue.
I asked Chesler if she blamed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the attack, as Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu has done.
"Abbas and the Palestinian state-run media both in the West Bank and Gaza are wholly responsible for the ceaseless incitement which is meant to justify and lead to the genocidal slaughter of Jews," she said, noting that much of The New Antisemitism is devoted to exposing that propaganda. "I hope and pray that the world is more receptive to this analysis than it almost was fifteen years ago when I first began working on this."
Does President Barack Obama--as some have alleged--share the blame?
"President Obama is certainly culpable in his purposeful and yet oddly detached 'even-handedness, '" she replied. "In his speech condemning [Tuesday's] atrocity, by stating that there have been 'Palestinian deaths and Israeli deaths, ' that 'most Palestinians and most Israelis want peace...' he fails to tell the truth.
"The highly indoctrinated Palestinians, who live under the rule of barbaric tyrants, do not want peace with infidels, certainly not with infidel Jews, definitely not with Jewish Israel... Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza were celebrating the heroic martyrdom of the two murderers, cousins, who worked in a nearby grocery store in Har Nof. Only people incited and indoctrinated could enter a synagogue and start hacking as well as shooting people to death."
Chesler is a keen observer of propaganda and its power in the Middle East. She has seen far more deeply than most into the contemporary realities of life in the Islamic world, having once been married to--and trapped by--a Muslim man in pre-Soviet, pre-Taliban Afghanistan. Yet her most poignant insights, perhaps, in The New Antisemitism are her stories of antisemitism on the American and European left, as the oldest hatred enjoyed a new renaissance in a new guise.
"These kedoshim [saints] who were murdered while at prayer...were murdered because they were Jews, religious Jews," she says. "[Palestinians] are allowed to do so by a world that has been completely brainwashed by Big Lies which in turn have been funded for more than sixty years. The war of ideas, what Richard Landes and I call "cognitive warfare" is the hottest war we face."
Chesler's book is a compelling and highly readable chronicle of a journey through the hypocrisy of the left as its irrational hostility to Israel has grown. She still considers herself part of that broad political alignment, particularly feminism, though she is frustrated and wounded by her colleagues' blind anti-Israel--and, in many cases, antisemitic--prejudice.
"What some feminists have done is to misapply feminist concepts in the service of demonizing Israel," she notes, pointing out an example of a feminist who likened the Israelis to "pimps" and "johns," describing Palestinians as the world's exploited "prostitutes." ("I could not make this up and it gives me no joy to share this information with you)," Chelser adds.
What frustrates her most deeply is the futility of the left's anti-Israel obsession--since, Chesler says, what happens to Israel and the Jews will soon happen to Christians, secularists, and the West in general at the hands of an Islamist fundamentalism that has no interest in dialogue, much less feminism.
"The American and European Left have made a marriage in hell with their Islamic terrorist counterparts," she writes. "The same Left that still has never expressed any guilt over its devotion to communist dictators, who murdered 100 million of their own people in the service of a Great Idea, has now finally, fatefully joined the world jihadic chorus in calling for the end to racist Zionism and to the Jewish apartheid state."
What the left and the jihadists share, she says, is self-criticism expressed as rage, a rebellion against some authorities but worship of others.
In seeking to criticise--and yet safe--a tattered internationalism, Chesler embraces her "tribal" identity as a Jew and an American. Her book contains foreign policy facts, but is also written in a personal tone, drawing on encounters with old friends (and new adversaries).
Even 11 years later, though a bit dated by events, Chesler's book remains a prophetic, and necessary, warning to us all.
"The new anti-Semitism is the marriage of the evilfar-right to the slaveringfar-left. It is ugly and it is increasingly ubiquitous." "An additionalreason you should read Chesler's book is her writing. While much of the book provides historical accounts of the old and the new anti-Semitisms, all of these reflections come in Chesler's inimitable style: conversational, dramatic, engaging." "For those who finally realize they are not getting the full story from the mainstream media, Chesleroffers a panoply of web sites to visit for accurate information." "This bookis not just a road map, it is a survival tool." -- (01/11/2015)
The author takes to task those who spout anti-Semitism. She calls out the radical racists. She castigates the media. She skewers academics who deride Israel and do not entertain the idea that Israel is defending itself.
And then Phyllis Chesler gives her read¬ers tools with which they, too, can combat anti-Semitism. She provides a list of suggested reading, internet resources, and even films.
This is a book well worth reading and taking to heart.
When I began reading Professor Phyllis Chesler's updated book "The New Anti-Semitism", I seemed to hear a collective sigh saying "this hasn't come a minute too soon." And thanks to the excellent research and prophetic analysis of the acclaimed author, lecturer and activist, the reader is afforded the necessary context and perspective with which to understand the invidious phenomenon of contemporary Jew hatred.
Originally written over a decade ago, Chesler's premise was and still is that classical anti-Semitism as espoused by such nihilists and evil madmen as Hitler and the scores that preceded him has now been deemed to be "politically correct" by the trendy denizens of Western academia and the "intellectual" crowd.
Chesler was among the first to have seen and denounced the suicidal alliance between Western intelligentsia and fundamental Islam. The anti-Semite needed a new and more acceptable veneer and the tiny place on the globe known as Israel could serve as the perfect cover. So Zionism does not equal racism, but anti-Zionism does. In fact, it is part of what makes the new anti-Semitism "new."
The al Aqsa intifada and the traumatic events of 9/11 served as the impetus for Dr. Chesler, as she drew a correlation between the kind of terrorism that had become endemic to the state of Israel and the Jihadic terrorism that was let loose upon the world. "War and a new kind of anti-Semitism had been declared," she writes.
In the decades prior to 9/11 and the advent of al Qaeda, Chesler was acutely aware of the festering increasingly ubiquitous anti-Semitism and details major events that she personally encountered during her years as part of the vanguard of the second wave feminist movement. The reader can palpably feel the resentment she encountered from those who championed the "politically correct" cause against Israel, now known as liberalism.
Always sensing a strong undercurrent of such bigotry in the various human rights movements that had cometo define her raison d'etre, Chesler is most disheartened when women's conferences and forums such as Copenhagen are hijacked by Jew hating agendas. She justifiably laments the fact that some important conferences are cancelled because of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bias. "Women, you see, cannot be accused of racism - unless, of course, they are Jewish women," she sardonically writes.
Because Chesler is keenly aware that anti-Semitism may start with the Jews but never ends with the Jews, she makes the logical connection between the opprobrium that is harbored for both America and Israel by those who assign the blame for all forms of human oppression to colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism. "The Palestinian uprising has increasingly been seen as the uprising of all oppressed peoples against their colonial oppressors, that is, Jews, Zionists and Americans," she observes.
And, she notes, few understand that it is Muslim history that is replete with imperialism, colonialism, conversion by the sword, gender and religious apartheid, and slavery. Only the post enlightenment Judeo-Christian West is cast as the mighty sinners.
Chesler's meticulous research is evident as she explores the genesis of post 9/11 Islamic terrorism specifically directed against the West and its global interests in her compelling, easy to read and free flowing style, .
Israel is now viewed as "the little Satan" by the retinue of pro-Palestinian apologists and their Western lackeys and Chesler takes the Big Lies and bold propaganda to task by exposing their motives. Case in point: The unfortunate Mohammed Dura incident and the use of "fauxtography" are given more than an ample dose of sunlight as she reveals how one of the most egregious anti-Israel hoaxes was sold to the public.
While reading this book, one digests a seemingly endless litany of horrifying anti-Israel and anti-Jewish events at university campuses that took place in the first decade of the new century and then, shockingly, reads on to realize how much worse they are today. The BDS movement and physical and verbal violence against pro-Israel Jewish students have gained a dangerous degree of momentum, power and economic viability in many institutions of higher learning.
Chesler cites the palpable but surreal bellicosity that has become an endemic part of campus life for Jews who wish to express pro-Israel sentiments. Physical attacks, heckling of speakers, academic boycotts, incendiary street theater predicated on distortions, the lies being promulgated at the annual Jew roasting, better known as "Israel apartheid week" and the infinite amount of Orwellian rhetoric being circulated in every facet of academic life are just a few. "The New McCarthyism on campus consists of the anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian point of view. No other view will be tolerated," she writes.
Chesler is under no illusions and does not attempt to sugarcoat the obvious. European anti-Semitism is at pre-World War II levels, she asserts, and the flames of destruction are being consistently fanned not only by the "usual suspects" but by the formidable fourth estate. The European media "have continuously held Israel accountable for Palestinian terrorism, and justified human homicide bombing as a function of Palestinian 'despair'."
This book is easy to read yet it is filled with a voluminous amount of facts drawn from concrete and verifiable data. What causes the words to leap off the pages, however, and to embed themselves in our collective psyches are the nuanced and urbane analyses proffered both by Chesler and by an extensive array of experts. Frightening as it may be, they provide us with the kind of perspective we need to tackle anti-Semitic diatribes.
Professor. Chesler cautions us to grant this matter the gravitas it deserves and not to dismiss it out of hand. In the expanded last chapters of the book she prodigiously confronts the Big Lies and blood libels as she challenges the sheer mendacity of pseudo and lethal Palestinian narratives in ways that are both comprehensible and thought-provoking.
On an uplifting note she provides us with ways in which each of us can support Israel and Judaism, through economic empowerment against boycotts of Israeli products and through development of community and college based pro-Israel programs connecting with individual Israelis to make them part of our families.
Chesler has stumbled upon what may be the most important component in staying afloat as a people as we navigate the turbulent tide of anti-Semitism. She writes: "Dare I say it? I must. I implore Jews to stop fighting with each other. Even if we disagree, we must try to do so respectfully, soulfully....We are an eternal people engaged in an eternal struggle with evil."
Definitely words to heed.-- (11/26/2014)