Scholars have struggled to understand the many faces of anti-Semitism, a phenomenon which has existed for almost two millennia, and which the great scholar Robert Wistrich labeled “the longest hatred.”
In the Middle Ages when Jews were forced into conversion, exile, and/or ghettos, Jew hatred took a religious form.
Even in the 1930s, when I was growing up in Brooklyn, there were children who ran after me, taunting me as a Christ killer.
Later, Jew hatred morphed into economics, with Jews hated either as greedy capitalists with power over the world, or its opposite, as revolutionary Communists.
By the 1930s, the Nazis labeled Jews as an inferior “race” who contaminated the earth by their existence, and therefore, deserved to be exterminated.
But now, and particularly on university campuses, it is the land of Israel that is the medium through which hatred, now of the Jewish collective, is expressed.
Hatred that is irrational and obsessive is other than mere scholarly criticism. When the existence of Israel and the actions of Israel and its citizens and supporters are labeled as inherently sinful, and when the sins can only be redeemed by dismantling, destroying the Jewish State, and thereby once again making Jews the wanderers of the earth, or worse eliciting genocide, that is more than mere criticism. When the Holocaust savagery and genocide, its imagery and language, is used against Jews — and no one else — to brand them as Nazis, this is not scholarly criticism of policies. When Israel is singled out and held to a double standard in matters of foreign affairs, that is not scholarly criticism.
Originally published in the LA Daily News