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The rise of antisemitism in the 21st century

Source: fcpp

By Philip Carl Salzman


At one of Canada’s elite universities, McGill University in
Montreal, a series of disturbing antisemitic incidents have drawn wide
attention and unsettled Jewish students.


There have been repeated campaigns to “Boycott, Divest, and
Sanction” Israel, the homeland of the Jewish People.[i] The McGill Daily
student newspaper has an established policy of rejecting any article supporting
or defending Zionism, the national movement of the Jews, or presenting Israel
in any but a negative fashion.[ii] Most recently, in response to the failure of
the BDS movement to be validated at McGill, disappointed supporters voted down
three nominated members of the Student Society Board of Directors, one Jewish
and two not, on the grounds that their ties to Jewish organizations and
supportive attitudes toward Israel made them biased.[iii]


Some Canadian Jewish organizations have raised concern
about this, and, for its own part, the McGill Administration, which does not
support the BDS movement, and favours inclusiveness, has launched an


Antisemitism, or Jew-hatred, is not a new phenomenon. For
two thousand years there was an element of antisemitism in Christianity, with
Jews being blamed for rejecting the Messiah, and for the death of Jesus.
Anti-Jewish texts can be found among both Catholics and Protestants, most
notably among the latter, the work of Martin Luther.[iv] But traditional
Christian antisemitism gradually declined in Western Europe and most of North
America, although not in Eastern Europe or Quebec, with growing secularism in
the 19th and 20th centuries. After World War Two, and Holocaust, antisemitism
because unfashionable in Western Europe and North America, while secularism in
Quebec came later, during the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s. Nonetheless, in
both the U.S.[v] and Canada,[vi] hate crime against religion has traditionally
overwhelmingly targeted Jews.


In the 21st century, antisemitism has taken a new form,
hatred of the Jewish collectivity, of the Jewish people in their collective
representations, particularly hatred of Israel. This is not a matter of
criticism of government policies of Israel, as one might make of policies of
the U.S., Russia, or China. Rather, this hatred of Jews is reflected in the
demand and intention that Israel be destroyed. We hear this regularly from
Iran, from Palestinian Hamas, from Hezbollah, and, more stealth fully from
Palestinian Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, as well as from the supporters
of these organizations. Hatred of Jews is also manifested in identifying Jews
as the font of all evil in the world, which is common among Imams during mosque
sermons, as well as in the intention to cleanse the world of all Jews: “the
Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no
matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him
salvation, has said: ‘The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems
fight the Jews (killing the Jews)….’”[vii] Hatred is seen in the double
standard applied to Israel, in which it is uniquely condemned for crimes
against humanity, without ever considering other states such as Iran, China,
Russia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Syria, and the list of offenders against
human rights could go on and on. But for antisemites, only Israel in all the
world is to be condemned.


There are two main sources of contemporary antisemitism,
particularly of hatred of the Jewish People and of their homeland, Israel. One
source is the “progressive” left, which dominates higher education, especially
in the social “sciences,” humanities, and education. Remarkably, after marxism
failed in the world, having mainly produced despotism, poverty, and death, it
was wholeheartedly adopted in Western academic as the new Truth.[viii]
Marxism-Leninism became the framework through which Western academics viewed
the world. After celebrations of classical marxist class struggle which never
arrived, attention turned to Lenin’s imperialism theories, and become the
dominant model, under such labels as political economy, globalization,
political ecology, and, most popular, postcolonialism. This approach is applied
to the Jewish state, arguing that Israel was a Western colony, that it was an
imperialist settler state, oppressing and supplanting the “indigenous”
Palestinians, and, in the last weeks, that it is a white, supremacist state.
This is the account of Israel taught by many professors in Western colleges and
universities. In my own faculty, dozens of professors from Anthropology,
Political Science, Islamic Studies, History, and other departments published a
letter announcing that they took this view of Israel, and supported BDS. In the
BDS vote held last year by the American Anthropological Association, almost
half of those voting, voted in favour of a boycott of Israel. In contrast, no
boycotts were proposed by professor or academic organizations for China, North
Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Syria, or even the Islamic State.


Nothing in the marxist, postcolonial model actually fits
Israel. As is well known, Jews occupied the entire area of ancient Judea and
Israel, and were the only people there when the Romans invaded prior to the
birth of Christ. It was, after all, the Romans who renamed the country
“Palestine,” to erase the memory of the Jews who fought a resistance against
the Romans for two centuries. As for modern Israel, no Western country sent
Jews as a colony to their ancient homeland in Palestine; rather, Europeans,
especially the British, did everything they could to keep Jews from emigrating
for Palestine. As for being Western and white, half of all Israeli Jews are of
mizrahi or Sephardic origin, that is, of Middle Eastern origin.[ix] This does
not include the Israelis of East Asian, South Asian, and Ethiopian origins, who
add to the total of non-European Jews. Arabs came relatively late to Palestine,
in the 7th century, replacing the Roman Byzantines who replaced the Western
Romans. Today, Arabs make up around 20% of Israelis, most of whom are Israeli
citizens, and of whom around 80% are Muslims.[x] All citizens of Israel have
the same legal status. All can vote in the only democracy in the Middle East.
Arabs have positions in all professions and institutions, governmental and
civilian.[xi]  Accusations of apartheid
are risible.


The second source of contemporary antisemitism is the Arab
ethno-nationalist and Muslim supremacist right. Students for Justice in
Palestine[xii] and the Muslim Students Association[xiii] are vocal opponents of
the Jewish State, and are the organizers and supporters of the BDS movement,
often using Western rhetoric of democracy and human rights to advance their war
on Israel. Underlying Western rhetoric is a substratum of traditional Islamic antisemitism[xiv]
which fuels the anger against the Jews. One example is the Facebook post
supporting an anti-Israel event at the University of Ontario Institute of
Technology calling Jews “rodents.”[xv]


It is standard fare in mosques to hear Jews characterized
as “sons of pigs and apes.”[xvi]


Normal too is the call to murder Jews:


“Montreal police
are searching for a Palestinian-Jordanian Imam, a Muslim preacher, after
issuing an arrest warrant for the crime of willful promotion of hatred in a
sermon calling for the murder of Jews.


The Montreal Gazette reported that Sheikh Muhammad ibn Musa
Al Nasr is wanted after giving a sermon in the local Dar Al-Arqam Mosque late
last year in which he called Jews “the worst of mankind.”


Al Nasr also described Jews as “human demons” and said he
looked forward to Judgment Day, the end of days, when they would be destroyed.
He quoted a Hadith, verses which codify Muslim oral tradition, stating that at
the end of time, “the stone and the tree will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of
Allah, there is a Jew behind me – come and kill him!’”[xvii]


Speaking officially, the Students for Justice in Palestine
and the Muslim Students Association know to emphasize democracy, human rights,
and compromise, as in the two state solution. But on marches and
demonstrations, in their enthusiasm, they chant “Palestine from the River to
the Sea.” Their real goal, admitted explicitly by Palestinian Hamas, Hezbollah,
and Iran, and indicated in Arabic by the Palestinian authority, is the
destruction of Israel. There are multiple reasons for this: First, Jews in
Muslim states were regarded as the lowest of the low, were ritually humiliated
according to Islamic law, were required to pay a high tax to avoid being
killed, and exploited in the variety of economic and other ways.[xviii] The
idea that Jews could govern themselves independently, and even defend
themselves, is anathema to the beloved identity of Islamic supremacy.[xix]
Second, lands governed by Muslims–such as Palestine, first governed by Arabs,
and then Turks–according to Islamic law become waqf, Islamic endowments,
inalienable, owned by Muslims in perpetuity.[xx] To accept Israel, whether in
1948 or 1967  borders, would mean to
allow Jews to steal God’s land. Third, the repeated military defeat of Arab
armies by Israeli Jews was a shameful loss of honour for Arab Muslims. Honour
comes from victory; shame from defeat. To regain Arab and Muslim honour, Israel
must be conquered, the Jews must be defeated.[xxi] BDS is presented as the more
publicly acceptable goal of peace and justice, but the real intention behind it
is conquest of Israel and defeat of the Jews, either killed or demoted to
dependent dhimma status.


The marriage of the progressive and Marxist left with the
Arab ethno-nationalist and Muslim supremacist right in the war against Israel
is remarkable, drawn together by an enemy that they can characterize as the
essence of evil. In fact, having such an enemy is so attractive that feminists
have joined, as has Black Lives Matter, bonded by intersectionality[xxii], as
have various Protestant churches, such as the Quakers and Mennonites, and
various marginal academic associations, such as the National Women’s Studies
Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the
Association for Asian-American Studies, and the Association for American


It seems odd, to say the least, that the most intense and
vehement political campaign on Western university campuses once again targets
the Jews. Some had thought, some had hoped, that after the Holocaust, the Jews
were going to get a respite from being the universal scapegoat. But that did not
happen. Once Jews were no longer victims, they came to be condemned because
they were victors. No longer sympathized as failures, they became despised as
successes. And we in higher education could enjoy our self-righteousness in
condemning them. Always a useful people, the Jews, one way or another.


Philip Carl Salzman B.A. (Antioch), M.A., Ph.D.
(Chicago) is Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, appointed in 1968.
He founded the Commission on Nomadic Peoples of the International Union of Anthropological
and Ethnological Sciences, and its international journal, Nomadic Peoples, for
which he received the IUAES Gold Award. In recent years he has also served as
Senior Fellow at the University of St. Andrews, Open Society International
Scholar at the American University of Central Asia, Erasmus Mundus International
Fellow at the University of Catania, and Visiting Professor at the University
of Sydney. Extensive ethnographic field research in Baluchistan (Iran), Gujarat
and Rajasthan (India), and Sardinia (Italy) provided the foundation many
articles in academic journals, and for book publications such as The
Anthropology of Real Life: Events in Human Experience (1999), Black Tents of
Baluchistan (2000), winner of the Premio Pitr – Salomone Marino, Understanding
Culture: An Introduction of Anthropological Theory (2001), Pastoralists:
Equality, Hierarchy, and the State (2004), Culture and Conflict in the Middle
East (2008), Postcolonial Theory and the Arab-Israel Conflict (2008), and
Thinking Anthropologically 3rd Ed, (2010). His latest book publication is
Classic Comparative Anthropology: Studies from the Tradition (2012). In public
affairs, he was a member of Middle East Strategy at Harvard (2008-2010), a
member of the Board of Directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
(2004-2012), and is currently a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public
Policy, a member of the Academic Council of the Canadian Institute for Jewish
Studies, a Fellow of the Middle East Forum (2015-), and a member of the Board
of Directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (2016-). His articles
have been published by the Frontier Centre,  Middle East Forum, the Gatestone Institute,
the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, the Macdonald Laurier Institute,
and Areo Magazine.

[i] http://www.mcgillbds.com/

[ii] http://www.cjnews.com/news/canada/outrage-mcgill-daily-confirms-ban-zionist-opinion

[iii] http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/mcgill-student-council-again-in-turmoil-after-jewish-student-removed-from-board-over-bds-issue; http://www.cjnews.com/perspectives/opinions/bds-campaign-stop-jews-serving-mcgill-student-council

[iv] http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/martin-luther-paved-the-way-for-the-holocaust/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=939a000c98-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_10_29&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-939a000c98-55537425

[v] https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime

[vi] https://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/170613/t001b-eng.htm

[vii] Hamas charter, article 7, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp

[viii] http://www.meforum.org/5781/marxism-academia

[ix] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mizrahi_Jews_in_Israel

[x] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/latest-population-statistics-for-israel; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_citizens_of_Israel

[xi] http://www.nationalreview.com/article/364746/arabs-are-prominent-israels-government-deroy-murdock

[xii] https://nycsjp.wordpress.com/

[xiii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Students%27_Association

[xiv] The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History, by Andrew G. Bostom (Editor), Ibn Warraq (Foreword). Prometheus Books, 2008; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_antisemitism

[xv] https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/03/14/following-jews-are-rodents-facebook-post-celebrating-anti-israel-event-at-ontario-u-administrators-vow-to-investigate-take-action-against-perpetrators/

[xvi] “The Sons of Pigs and Apes”: Muslim Antisemitism and the Conspiracy of Silence by Neil J. Kressel. Potomac Books, 2012

[xvii] https://worldisraelnews.com/

[xviii] Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, Bat Ye’or. Associated University Presses, 2001; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhimmitude

[xix] https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/11/02/jewish-action-not-balfour-created-israel

[xx] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waqf

[xxi] http://www.meforum.org/5966/arabs-strive-for-honor-not-peace

[xxii] https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/8956/black-lives-matter-antisemitism

[xxiii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_boycott_of_Israel