Reactions to the New Anti-Semitism in Britain

Seismic Shock

Many Britons deny the resurgence of anti-Semitism because they think of it as prejudice toward Jews as people and believe that it died with Hitler. The argument that attitudes toward Israel may be anti-Semitic strikes them as absurd. But consider the characteristics of anti-Semitism. It applies to the Jews expectations applied to no other people; it libels, vilifies, demonizes, and dehumanizes them; it scapegoats them not merely for crimes that they have not committed, but for crimes of which they are the victims; it holds them responsible for all the ills of the world. These characteristics remain precisely the same in today”s hatred of the Jewish state. Israel is held to standards expected of no other nation; it is libeled and vilified; it is blamed both for crimes that it has not committed and for those of which it is the victim; and it is held responsible for all the world”s misfortunes” ”most recently, Islamic terrorism.

So the Israel boycotts that have broken out in Britain are intrinsically anti-Semitic. The boycotters do not seek to cut ties with any other country, however tyrannical or murderous. They blame no other country for populations that have been displaced through war or other upheavals. And they expect no other nation that has held off its mortal enemies to defer to those aggressors and accede to their demands.

Britons also tend to suspect that Jews use the charge of anti-Semitism to divert attention from Israel’s crimes. This is why, for so many in Britain, the suggestion that anti-Semitism is enjoying a renaissance seems not only false but sinister. Outraged to be accused of peddling bigotry, they begin to hate those who level that charge” ”who, they conclude, are part of a conspiracy against truth.

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