My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Monday, February 08, 2010

Testimony of Robert Wistrich to Canadian Investigation into Anti-Semitism...

Some Reflections on Contemporary Antisemitism

Robert S. Wistrich (Professor of Modern History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
We live in an age where stunningly false analogies, misleading amalgams, and the general corruption of language (especially in the name of political correctness) are rampant. Nowhere is this more apparent than in relation to Zionism. This is a fact which has greatly contributed to the negative symbolization of Israel and the Jewish people in the Diaspora during the past forty years. The unceasing attempts, especially on the Left, to equate Zionism with racism, colonialism, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, or Nazism itself, have thoroughly polluted the contemporary political vocabulary and the debate over Israel almost to a point of no return. For the perpetrators of this masquerade, such demonization has largely achieved its intended goal of presenting the Jews, Zionism, and Israel as an unholy trinity — the expression of political evil in its supreme form. Although the language used is ostensibly ―anti-racist‖ rather than overtly racist, political and not biological, the net effect is not dissimilar from that achieved by the Goebbels propaganda machine in Nazi Germany.

What has transpired is that the primary scapegoat has undergone a slight name-change, but it is a cosmetic change at best. The hatred is ostensibly directed at the present-day Jewish State, rather than at the mythical ―Jewish race‖ but this barely affects the core of the matter. In demonizing Israel, ―anti-Zionist‖ voices in the media, the universities, and public life invariably employ militant, aggressive, stigmatizing and dehumanizing discourse. Their vocabulary tends to be obsessive, repetitive, and vindictive in a way that is increasingly reminiscent of fascist intellectuals before the Holocaust. The vilification of ―the Zionists‖ today, like that of ―the Jews‖ (or ―the Jew‖ per se) in the 1930s, is intended to negate, to efface, or to symbolically wipe out the adversary in preparation for his physical elimination in the future. The rhetoric of radical anti-Zionism, even when it sails under the flag of ―anti-racism‖ is proving itself a ―worthy‖ heir of racist antisemitism. Like its prewar predecessors, it, too, claims to be ―liberating humanity‖ from a highly dangerous and universal yoke; this time round the ―tyrant‖ is Israel — the collective Super-Jew — rather than the spectre of Das Weltjudentum (World Jewry) as the Nazis preferred to call their global enemy.

But the semantic modification should fool nobody. The entire Jewish people is ultimately implicated in the negationist anti-Zionist methodology even though for the present there is a distinction which is usually drawn by liberals between ―good‖ and ―bad‖ Jews. The good guys, it seems, are the universalist, humanist, pro-Palestinian Jews who tirelessly undermine Israel’s moral or historical legitimacy. The bad guys are those tiresomely parochial, ―chauvinist,‖ tribalist, Zionist Jews who insist on the independence of their tiny though nonetheless sovereign nation-state and its irksome though undeniable right to self-defense. This dubious distinction between ―good‖ and ―bad‖ Jews is, however, largely tactical for those (and there are many of them - especially in the Muslim world) who genuinely believe in a Jewish or Zionist world conspiracy. For these true believers in the ―final solution of the Palestinian Question‖ (which they falsely accuse Israel of seeking to bring about) the disappearance of the Jewish State and the definitive elimination of Jewish influence is the real goal.

In my forthcoming book, A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (to be published by Random House in New York on 10th November this year) a central theme is the demonstration of how and why the ―Zionist peril‖ has come to replace the ―Jewish peril‖ in the lexicography and political demonology of the post-1945 world. This displacement of classical Judeophobia and its subsequent channeling into raw hatred of the Judenstaat is particularly obvious in Palestinian and Muslim rhetoric, a well as in the ideologies espoused by the radical Left, the neo-Nazis, and the far Right, which have also made some necessary adjustments in focusing on Israel’s sins. I do not in principle regard this radical anti-Zionism as being identical in all respects with pre-1945 antisemitism. Obviously, there are identifiable nuances, emphases, and focal points which come to the fore in different periods. Through the ages, adversaries of the Jews have always known how to adapt themselves to the Zeitgeist.

Anti-Judaism (negation of the Jewish religion) was the central paradigm for Jew-haters in the Christian world until the age of emancipation. Antisemitism in the nationalist and racist sense of the term (the loathing for ―Semites‖ or Jews as a race) rose to dominance in the post-emancipation era between 1870 and the end of the Second World War. Since 1948, it is anti-Zionism (the negation of Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish State) which has obtained the upper hand. This shift in terminology and focus (as I point out in my book) towards the negation of Jewish national identity is no less discriminatory than earlier forms of hostility directed at Jews as a religious or social group. It denies freedom to Jews to define themselves on their own terms, to enjoy the same rights as other oppressed peoples to self-determination, autonomy, and independence. Anti-Zionist ideology tries to turn back the clock to a time before the Holocaust and Israel’s creation, when Jews as a nation were essentially divided, dispersed, disorganized, partly ghettoized, stateless, and above all, powerless to determine their fate. We need to remember that Zionism aimed primarily at normalizing the status of Jews among the nations; anti-Zionism would have them return to the dependent position of having a permanently anomalous status at the mercy of other nations — subordinate to their shifting interests and whims.

Although anti-Zionism as the ―new‖ antisemitism has a different tactical and strategic agenda from its predecessors, it nonetheless contains within itself the legacies of Christian and Muslim anti-Judaism as well as that of racist antisemitism. Like the Hegelian triad — formed out of a thesis and its antithesis, the radical anti-Zionist synthesis does not abolish the earlier stages of anti-Judaism and racist antisemitism: it simply absorbs the earlier constituent elements into itself raising them to a new level of hostility by seeking to cancel out the very basis of Israel’s existence. At the same time, throughout all three major phases in the history of Judeophobia, there has also been much overlap. Jews have been objects of extreme suspicion and victims of a ―teaching of contempt‖ — whether the source was theological, socio-economic, political, or even metaphysical. In all three periods, there has been a kind of seamless interaction between the anti-Jewish motifs of religion, race, economics and politics alongside demands to isolate, exclude, boycott, sanction, disenfranchise, expel and ultimately mass murder Jews.

On the campuses of universities in the West today, this policy is advocated in the name of ―solidarity with Palestine‖ or human rights. A hundred years ago, the self-declared goal was to preserve the ―Christian‖ or ―national‖ character of individual states by restricting the entrance of Jews — the so-called numerus clausus. Admittedly, the labels and the rationalizations employed to exclude Jews have changed, but the same techniques of slander, demagogy, disinformation, stigmatization, and intimidation are still used by the boycotters. Then as now, the militant opponents of Jewish civil or national rights were full of righteous indignation — convinced that their cause was just. They thought that by excluding Jews they had found the key to solving all social, national, and international crises. The ―Jewish Question‖ literally obsessed them. Then, as now, the actions and beliefs of Jews were a priori criminalized and deliberately distorted as if they were the expression of a totally corrupt essence, an irremediable genetic taint, or a diabolical conspiracy to exploit and rule over non-Jews.

Anti-Zionism, like anti-Judaism and antisemitism, has today acquired the same toxic aura. It is chilling to observe how the objects of its wrath are treated in terms quite different from those applied to other groups. Jews are, for example, depicted in ways that de facto isolate and potentially can turn them once more into a pariah people. Worse still, the grotesque efforts to brand Israel as a satanic entity (practiced in the Iranian media and in much of the Arab world) are fully consonant with Nazi-style genocidal antisemitism which aimed at the total demonization of the Jews as a group.

Today, the word ―Zionist‖ has mutated into a term of pure opprobrium, an anathema and an insult in many different parts of the world. This almost exactly corresponds to the pattern of the 1930s, when ―sale juif,‖ ―youpin,‖ ―Jude,‖ ―zhid,‖ or ―Jewboy‖ were commonplace curses – used even in public discourse.

In recent years, the mask has begun to come off and the older, more primitive slanders are making a comeback. Nevertheless, the more educated and civilized adversaries of the Jews still prefer euphemistic language. Explicit racist demagogy and xenophobia are generally left to the populist far Right or skinhead neo-Nazis. Against them it is relatively easy to mobilize protests, especially when antisemitism is submerged into a broad struggle against racism and Islamophobia. But much liberal and leftist opinion reacts with intense suspicion and even hostility to any specific and focused campaign against antisemitism — often twisting such ventures into a ―Zionist plot‖ or a cynical maneuver to deflect what they define as justified ―criticism‖ of Israel. This has helped to paralyze anti-antisemitism.

There is also a growing trend on the Left and the far Right that has crystallized since the late 1960s which sees Zionism not only as intrinsically ―racist‖ but regards this characteristic as being anchored in Judaism itself. In point of fact, it would be more correct to say that the accusation of ―Jewish racism‖ has deep roots in the history of antisemitism — going back to the charges of pagan Antiquity against Jewish misanthropia, isolationism, segregationism, originating in Hebrew monotheism. Radical anti-Zionists like Roger Garaudy in his Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israëlienne (1996) typically went back to the Bible and the book of Joshua to indict Judaism as a religion of ―ethnic cleansing.‖ In the 1930s, notorious French antisemites like Céline, Drieu la Rochelle, and Georges Montandon regularly denounced the ―racist‖ Jews (Zionism playing only a secondary role in this indictment) as did some Nazi ideologists who claim that the Nuremberg race laws of 1935 were only a pale copy of the biblical legislation of Ezra and Nehemiah against intermarriage with Gentiles.

Indeed, it was a prominent theme of European antisemites like Houston S. Chamberlain since the late 19th century to assert that Jews had founded their religion on racial purity. Hitler himself would periodically evoke this Nazi signature tune — claiming that the laws of blood and race were taken from biblical sources. In asserting the doctrine of Germanic chosenness (the Herrrenvolk ideology) in place of that of Israel as the ―chosen people,‖ he emphasized, of course, that Aryans were the ―people of light‖ while Jews were the people of Satan. This Manichaeism is a hallmark of all forms of antisemitism. What is forgotten today is how frequently the Nazis, fascists, and leading nationalist antisemites have used the mendacious accusation of ―Jewish racism‖ to justify their own discriminatory policies of segregating and persecuting the Jews.

For the Islamic fundamentalists from Iran to the Hamas, the operational conclusions are clear. It is a question of physically eradicating Israel as the ―racist tumour‖ in the Middle East — a terminology typical of Nazism and of the neo-Nazis today. The anti-racist Left in the West, is usually a little more circumspect, preferring euphemisms like a ―bi-national‖ or a ―unitary‖ Palestinian State into which Israel would simply dissolve and fade away. It should be added, that for the Islamo-Marxist axis, the aim is not only to sap the very foundations of Israel or to unequivocally support the Palestinian cause, but also to undermine the United States, globalization, Western democracy, and the dominant liberal order. As a result the radical left has become the willing accomplice of Islamist fanatics addicted to destruction and revenge.

Jerusalem, 28 July 2009
Prof. Robert S. Wistrich, Director
The Vidal Sassoon International Center
for the Study of Antisemitism - SICSA


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you posted this, time for real dialogue on real issues. First I agree that Zionism is a catch all phrase for hatred from the left primarily but not exclusively. But why do we have that? Well part of the reason is that Zionists are just a bit too driven towards their goals and frankly not interested in what anybody else thinks. Some on the left think that this myopia is cured but what they call progressive conservatives... but that is a misnomer. A progressive conservative is really a liberal in another guise. Now why would any self respecting conservative want to become a liberal in order to please other liberals? On the other hand Zionists do need to open up the channels of communications. (real conservative)

1:06 AM  
Blogger Guest4096 said...

So true
People dont realize that Zionism is the right of the Jews for self determination.
To be anti-Zionist is to negate that right.
You can be a zionist and support a Palestinian State at the same time.
The problem is that Muslim states in the Middle East dont want a Homeland for the Jewish people and Pro Palestinian activists are helping them in the slow but steady destruction of the Jewish state.
Thank God for the United States of America that still cares for the truth

3:31 PM  
Blogger Lucy said...

It can be analysed from every academic angle anyone cares to look at but it isn't anti-zionist or anti-jew or anti anything.
The reason Israel is almost universally demonised, and not just by the left but by the majority regardless of political position, is because of its treatment of the Palestinians for the past 60 years.
That is the reason and anything else just muddies the water. That isn't anti-semetic or jew hating, it has nothing to do with religion or race, it is because the world sees a powerful country bullying a much smaller and weaker one.
It's the same reason Georgia got the sympathy during the recent conflict with Russia.
Israel's popularity around the globe will not grow until it sorts out its relationship with Palestine.

6:05 PM  
Blogger trencherbone said...

They are only obeying orders. Allah has ordered Muslims to exterminate the Jews as a compulsory religious duty.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Myackie said...

Lucy...are you on crack?

the ONLY reason why anyone gives a rat's ass about so-called palestoonians is because Israelis are JOOOS.

Really...that's the ONLY reason.

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Nemesis said...

Lucy, and it turned out Georgia instigated the war with Russia, just like the Palestinians and Israel.

Who really supports the Palestinians other than the far left/socialists?

Most people see the Islamic terrorists for what they are and support Israel. Suicide bombing doesn't get support when they blow up Jews unless you're a Jew hater, and it doesn't get support when they blow up London or New York unless you're a militant Muslim.

The entire left wing is on crack.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Guest4096 said...

Thats the whole point of the article:
You can rationalize your hate towards any specific group.
That was what Hitler did concerning the Jews.
The demonization of the Jews , homosexuals , gypsies was so great that it justified their annihilation.
Thats what the Iranian President is doing concerning "The Zionist entity"
To him the word Israel is not to be spoken because its not a legitimate nation among nations
He propogates the the annihilation of the so called "Zionist Entity"
You yourself justify the demonization of Israel - "because of its treatment of the Palestinians for the past 60 years"
That my friend is not only demonization but a simplistic statement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel is a vibrant democracy and its free press , local NGOs and its hight court for justice criticize the government on a daily basis.
The problem is that most of this critique is taken and twisted for a propaganda war that leads to hatred and eventually to war.

5:13 AM  
Blogger GayandRight said...

Please don't answer Lucy. She's a raving Israel basher who actually wrote in her blog that Israel is perpetrating a holocaust on the Palestinians.

Idiots don't need answers..they need medical help.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Myackie said...

you're right Fred...don't feed the trolls.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did Lucy really say that Israel was perpetrating a holocaust on the Palestinians? I read somewhere that the Palestinians have increased by 1300%!

If Israel left the West Bank tomorrow it would be taken over by forces who want to destroy Israel.

Of course Israel needs to sort out it's relationship with the Palestinians, but this is a two-way street. The Arabs need to acknowledge the Jewish Naqba, which saw the expulsion of 1 million Jews from Arab lands, and the lost of 3 times more land and wealth then the Palestinians in their Naqba.

This Left-wing thinking is just wrong when it views Israel as the neighbourhood bully and the Arabs as hopeless victims.

I hope this troll goes away.


12:27 PM  
Blogger Lucy said...

Myackie - Well i think one of us is on something. Do you seriously think that people base their feelings on how they react to a situation by basing it on the antagonists religion? I can just hear everyone saying i do feel bad about what China is doing to Tibet but they're Bhuddists so i'll ignore it.

Nemesis - I know Georgia instigated it, i said so on my blog at the time. You should get out more if you think it's only the left/Socialists that support Palestine and i have yet to hear anyone support suicide bombing although i have heard support for carpet bombing and even nuking Palestine from the right. Condone that do you?

Guest4096 - The point of the article was Fred copying and pasting someone else's article showing why anti-semitism exists and giving every other reason apart from the Palestinian issue. Far from demonising Israel, i am stating the obvious. You can all tie yourself up in knots over it and cry anti-semite everytime someone mentions Israel in a less than glowing light, but it is a simple fact and cited by so many people who berate Israel. The fact that they are Jewish is only a concern for those wishing to defend Israel's actions. It is not a factor to me and i dare say to the overwhelming majority what religion anyone is, if they are doing wrong, they should be censored. Blanket support regardless for Israel or Palestine is just ignorant.

Fred - I see the vocabulary expanding lessons are working.

Elizabeth of England - Nice to see you pop your head up once again. Rather than engage you decide to hope. Nice.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Elizabeth of England - Nice to see you pop your head up once again. Rather than engage you decide to hope. Nice."

I did engage, didn't you read my post!?


9:15 PM  
Blogger Guest4096 said...

You again missed the point.
History taught us that hate speeches , slander , blood libels can lead to disastrous consequences.
Its very legitimate to criticize and debate but it should be done without the dehumanization twist.

3:10 AM  
Blogger Lucy said...

Maybe our points are at cross purposes guest4096. My point is that this post gives lots of reasons for why Israel is disliked but does not mention the main cause, which is its treatment of the Palestinians. As i have pointed out tirelessly on this blog (but is helpfully ignored), if someone sees Israels actions and decides to blame the Jews in general then they are idiots in the same way as anyone who takes criticism of Israel as criticism of Jews. Both are reactionary ignorants who should be sidelined from any serious debate.

Your point, as far as i can see, is that the Palestinian issue is just one thing used as an excuse to demonise Jews and you make the analogy with Jews in the early 20th Century. I take religion out of the equation and debate Israel and Palestine, both of which are to blame but as i point out above, people see strong and powerful Israel beating small and helpless Palestine, not Jews beating Muslims which people here seem to struggle with.

I did see your post Elizabeth of England, i meant engage with me. I'm a nice person really, try me.

12:40 PM  
Blogger William Dunigan said...

Greetings to one and all: In that most precious name. That name which is above every name, the name: "Jesus" ____There's tremendous power in that name. I'd suppose we'll never fully realize all that can truly be accomplished, by us simply calling out that name in true faith.____There's an old, old, gospel song that goes like this: Faith in the Father, faith in the Son, faith in the Holy Spirit, great victories are won. Demons will tremble and sinners will awake, faith in Jehovah will anything shake.____For you who have never come into this realization, if you're reading this, just give him a welcome into your heart and life. You will both feel and see an awesome difference. You will have also purchased the ticket to heaven (by accepting, therefore making him welcome to come into your life. You will also sup from His cup that contains living water. (As did the woman at the well of Bethesda.) John 4:10____Much love, ____Your brother in Christ Jesus, who is both our Lord, and "" ...

3:30 PM  
Blogger mack said...

I’m just share my views from top to bottom as I see them.
I feel this is a good simply because its consistent with how the user is used to seeing the comment form and filling out information in general. Filling out the name and email wont take me much time, and if you really wanted to go ahead and type the comment first, you can do so, not really that big of a work around.

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1:13 PM  

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