Dr. Charles Asher Small, director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy.
(photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
Jew-hatred is by its very nature a violent phenomenon, a leading anti-Semitism researcher told The Jerusalem Post during an interview on Tuesday.
While forms of discrimination such as sexism and racism are “repugnant,” both have a certain logic to them in that they express the desire to “control and dominate a certain group of people, [while] the one thing that distinguishes anti-Semitism from other forms of discrimination is that it’s inherently genocidal,” Dr. Charles Ascher Small, director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy, said, speaking with the Post during a trip to Israel.
It is difficult to explain the persistence of anti-Semitism over the millennia and across diverse nations and societies, but some common denominators emerge, Small continued.
“It’s inherently genocidal, because when the dominant way of perceiving reality was through the lens of religion, the Jews were the wrong religion and they were blinded by evil for not accepting the Christian notion of the messiah, so in order for the individual Jew to redeemed he or she had to accept the Christian version of the messiah.
But, moreover, for the world to be redeemed, the Jew had to change,” he said.
When people began to view reality through the lens of race, he continued, “Jews were the wrong race and they were poisoning and making impure the purity of the white Aryan race and for the race to be saved they had to get rid of the Jew.”
In contemporary times, Israel, as the Jewish nation-state, has become a stand-in for the Jew in this regard.
“Now people in governments in the Western world, in the United States and Europe, say that for the world to be saved the stubborn Jew has to change. Not only to they have to change to protect their own society, but if only the stubborn Israelis would change jihadism and radical Islam will dissipate.
The world will be saved.
And this is a very dangerous aspect of anti-Semitism that is irrational,” Small asserted.
“World redemption will come when the Jew changes,” he said, summing up the consistent element linking these three forms of anti-Semitism.
The researcher recalled a recent visit to France, whose Jewish community has been plagued by attacks emanating from the country’s growing Muslim minority and how things have changed since he lived there during the 1990s.
“Even I who research and engage in the issues of anti-Semitism internationally was shocked by what is happening in France,” he said.
In Europe today the intellectual elites and the media have been silent on the issue of growing threat of radical political Islam, he stated, calling such discussions taboo.
“Once you start engaging in that you are dismissed as being right-wing or neoconservative or Zionist and the like.”
Today in France and England you see “Islamists who are using the rhetoric of anti-Semitism to promote their reactionary agenda so they focus on the Jew and the Zionist and they dehumanize and delegitimize Israel, the Zionist and the Jew [who] are making inroads into their societies.”
Meanwhile, a backlash against this trend has fed the growing success of right-wing nationalist movements, he said.
“The silence of the intellectuals and the media of record in defending liberal values has created this vacuum in which the Right or the nascent nationalist movement has begun to express itself with an anti-immigrant sentiment,” he said. “There is anti-Semitism involved, but I would say that the focus is anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim.”
This is “a reawakening of the majority that feels like it’s been marginalized economically, politically and even culturally,” he said, adding that he believes that he believes that far-right leader Marine Le Pen will ride such sentiment to become president of France.
“You now have the bubbling of racist nationalist sentiment which expresses a deep frustration and malaise about this crisis that Europe is finding itself [in],” said Small.