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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Evolution of Anti-Semitism

(Hat Tip: Little Green Footballs)

I am reprinting an excellent article written by noted author, professor, and historian, Bernard Lewis. He wrote about the evolution of anti-semitism. It's an excellent article, and I urge y'all to read the whole thing. It's extremely enlightening.

The New Anti-Semitism
Bernard Lewis

The American Scholar - Volume 75 No. 1 Winter 2006 pp. 25-36

There is a well-worn platitude that we have all heard many times before: it is perfectly legitimate to criticize the actions and policies of the state of Israel or the doctrines of Zionism without necessarily being motivated by anti-Semitism. The fact that this has been repeated ad nauseam does not detract from its truth. Not only do I accept it, but I would even take it a step further with another formulation that may perhaps evoke surprise if not shock: it is perfectly possible to hate and even to persecute Jews without necessarily being anti-Semitic.

Unfortunately, hatred and persecution are a normal part of the human experience. Taking a dislike, mild or intense, to people who are different in one way or another, by ethnicity, race, color, creed, eating habits—no matter what—is part of the normal human condition. We find it throughout recorded history, and we find it all over the world. It can sometimes be extraordinarily vicious and sometimes even amusing.

Not long after World War II, the Danes were seething with resentment against two of their neighbors: the Germans, for having occupied them, and the Swedes, for having stood by with unhelpful neutrality. A Danish saying current at the time was: What is a Swede? A German in human form. Another double-barreled insult, this one from the British army in the late 1930s, when it was concerned about two different groups of terrorists: What is an Arab? A toasted Irishman. I quote these not in any sense with approval or commendation, but as examples of the kind of really nasty prejudice that is widespread in our world.Anti-Semitism is something quite different. It is marked by two special features. One of them is that Jews are judged by a standard different from that applied to others. We see plenty of examples of this at the present time. But there too one has to be careful. There can be different standards of judgment on other issues too, sometimes even involving Jews, without anti-Semitism or without necessarily being motivated by anti-Semitism.

For instance, in mid-September 1975 in Spain, five terrorists convicted of murdering policemen were sentenced to death. European liberal opinion was outraged that in this modern age a West European country should sentence people to death. Unheard of! There was an outcry of indignation, and strong pressures were brought to bear on the Spanish government. But in the Soviet Union and its satellite states during the same period, vastly greater numbers were being sentenced to death and executed; and, in Africa, Idi Amin was slaughtering hundreds of thousands, a large part of the population of Uganda. Hardly a murmur of protest in the Western world.

The lesson is very clear. Right-wing governments (General Francisco Franco was still in charge) are not allowed to sentence offenders to death; left-wing governments are. A further implication: slaughter of or by white people is bad; slaughter of or by people of color is normal. Similar discrepancies may be found in responses to a number of other issues, as for example the treatment of women and of ethnic or other minorities.
Read the rest of the article


At 4:37 PM, Blogger Datingmaster, Jerusalem said...

he really is an intelligent man-he is in his late eighties and he was just in Israel to give soem lectures

At 4:39 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Yeah, I know. I really like his work. Brillian man.

At 5:24 PM, Blogger ImJustAsking said...

Hello Olah. I read your post on DM's blog. I just wanted to say that I was very impressed with your writing and well thought out approach to his problem. I look forward to reading your blog as well in the future. Might I add that you seem advanced for your age. It is so good to see a young woman such as yourself with her head screwed on straight. Looking forward to hearing more from you!

At 9:22 PM, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

"The lesson is very clear. Right-wing governments (General Francisco Franco was still in charge) are not allowed to sentence offenders to death; left-wing governments are."

Yeah - but what else is new? Sorry for being cynical, but this is the way it goes...

At 1:43 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

justasking, thanks for the kind words, and I look forward to seeing more of you aroung my neck of the blogosphere.

goon, I totally agree with you, but it still must be pointed out, because it's not that obvious to other people. People need to be banged over the head countless times for their stupidity. If it was so obvious to every-one, we wouldn't have the problems we have now, would we?


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