The tenets of the new anti-Semitism include a vehement opposition to the existence of the State of Israel, the revision or outright denial of the Holocaust, and a monopoly on victimization. French philosopher and writer Bernard-Henry Levy elaborated upon these three criteria when he recently came to San Francisco’s Jewish Community Center to flesh out what is the state of European anti-Semitism.
Levy began with a concise summary of the nature of European anti-Semitism, explaining how the concept evolved over time, changing its narrative. It started with the Jews being blamed by the Catholic church for the murder of Jesus Christ. Christians discriminated against Jews until the enlightenment period when philosophers and other thinkers began criticizing Jews for the invention of Monotheism, asking why did Jews invent the idea of a Jesus Christ to begin with? By the late 19th century, socialism and organized labor developed into a more powerful force giving rise to anti-capitalist fervor, which in turn led to Jewish persecution given that many of the European banks were founded or dominated by Jews, such as the Rothschild and Montegue families. Anti-Semitism continued to morph into the 1920’s and 30’s when notions of the Aryan race and the concept of eugenics became popularized by such authors as Henry H. Goddard and Edward A. Wiggam, and a young Adolf Hitler.
Three factors fuel today’s anti-Semitism:
1) Arab hatred of Israel
2) Various Arab and Iranian propagandists who have begun a campaign to delegitimize the Holocaust, either outright denying it ever happened or playing down the facts behind the actual genocide. While a sizable Muslim population (about five million) populates France, according to Levy it’s only a small percentage of those Muslims who actually advocate violence and a contempt for Israel.
3) European anti-Semitism also identifies Jews as somehow perpetuating a monopoly on their own victimization. It is as if by virtue of the Holocaust itself that Jews insist that they be treated differently because their persecution is somehow more significant than the persecution of other Peoples. Levy drew comparisons to the persecution of African-Americans in the United States who still blame the history of slavery for making their particular situation unique in today’s American cultural and economic landscape.
Levy is an optimist and believes that the Jews of today can overcome the new anti-Semitism as long as they continue to speak out against their discrimination and that of others. Jews must forcefully condemn those who preach falsities and must never behave sheepishly as did their European forebears back in the 1930s. Levy described Israel as the only country that became a democracy “overnight” and since its creation back in 1948 has continued to work as a democracy even when its existence continues to be threatened and challenged daily.
For Levy, those journalists who continue to expose the genocide that occurs in other parts of the world like in Darfur and in Syria prove they carry the meaning and significance of the Holocaust in their hearts. It is the only way to prevent another Holocaust from happening.