Prof. Alvin Rosenfeld, a leading scholar on modern anti-Semitism at Indiana
University, will preside over an international conference on Sunday at the
school to examine post-Holocaust anti- Semitism.
Rosenfeld told The
Jerusalem Post ahead of the opening that, “We’re living at a time of heightened
anti-Semitism, but today’s anti-Semitism is not well understood. Scholars have
given a great deal of attention to earlier forms of Christian religious
anti-Semitism and to Nazi-style racial anti-Semitism, culminating in the
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“But, with some exceptions, not many scholars have paid
serious attention to post-Holocaust anti-Semitism.
emphatically shifts attention to the latter,” he said.
A who’s who of the
academic world devoted to the study of Jew-hatred – and loathing of Israel –
will attend the three-day conference on April 3-5, entitled “Resurgent
Anti-Semitism: Global Perspectives,” at the Indiana Memorial Union.
2009, Rosenfeld launched the Institute for the Study of Contemporary
anti-Semitism at Indiana University Bloomington. A total of 35 scholars,
crisscrossing 13 countries, plan to deliver talks at this week’s
Elhanan Yakira, professor of philosophy at the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, and fellow colleague Robert Wistrich, director of
Hebrew University’s Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of
anti-Semitism – and the author of “A Lethal Obsession: Anti- Semitism from
Antiquity to the Global Jihad” – are slated to speak.
Asked about the
manifestation of post-Shoah anti-Semitism, Rosenfeld told the Post, “...what
we’re facing today doesn’t necessarily resemble the anti- Semitism of the past.
It doesn’t have its deepest roots in traditional Christian hostility to Judaism
and the Jews, or to more modern racial suspicion, denigration and hatred of
Jews. The passions that generated these earlier forms of anti-Jewish animus are
still alive, though, and have awakened newer forms of anti-Jewish hostility,
directed especially to the Jewish State and its supporters.”
that “Much of the hatred we are facing today, in other words, is largely
political and ideological in character. So lots of people don’t see it for what
it is, or pass it off as inconsequential or demote it as being merely ‘criticism
of Israel.”’ With Rosenfeld’s 2006 essay, “Progressive Jewish Thought and the
New Anti- Semitism,” he garnered intense international media attention, as well
as a lengthy New York Times article in 2007 devoted to his
Rosenfeld’s essay was a scathing criticism of mainly
Anglo-American Jews who invoke anti-Israel and anti-Semitic laced language to
dehumanize and delegitimize Israel. His essay broke new ground in the US –
largely because he shifted the focus to fringe groups of anti-Zionist Jews, and
the role they play in branding Israel as a pariah state on university campuses,
in the major media and in academic works.
He told the Post, “Anyone who
sets out to understand today’s anti-Semitism – if he is honest – needs to look
critically at the role that certain Jews, including Israeli Jews [and ex-Israeli
Jews], play in feeding a climate of growing hatred against Jews, Judaism and the
Jewish State. Needless to say, it’s a sensitive subject, but also an inescapable
“As you know, I’ve written about it, and so have a number of the
other conference participants – including some of the four Israeli scholars who
are conference speakers. As painful as it is to deal with, we will not forgo
attention to Jewish contributions to contemporary anti- Semitism. It won’t be
the conference’s main focus, nor should it be, but it will be included in more
than one paper.”
Rosenfeld noted that, “To the best of my knowledge, this
is only the second time in recent years that a major research conference on
contemporary anti-Semitism will have taken place on an American university
campus. (The first one was held at Yale several months ago.) “We will look at
resurgent anti-Semitism in global perspective, examining the phenomenon in many
European countries, as well as in Turkey, Iran and parts of the Muslim world.
Unusually, we will also raise troubling, but necessary, questions about forms of
anti-Jewish hostility that show up within Israel itself.”
University President Michael A. McRobbie said in a statement before the start of
the conference that, “Acts of anti-Semitic hatred – here or anywhere in the
world – must be a matter of deep concern to all people because criminal acts of
hatred against any group threaten the freedom of all people.
diverse and increasingly global society, we absolutely depend on tolerance and
respect for all people. We cannot afford to ignore the lessons drawn from the
serious and informed study of present-day anti-Semitism and its deep connections
with centuries-old traditions of suspicion and hatred.
Rosenfeld and the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti- Semitism are
performing an invaluable service through their international leadership in this
timely study,” McRobbie concluded.
According to Indiana University,
McRobbie will welcome participants at a pre-conference dinner, which will also
include a talk by Hannah Rosenthal, special envoy to monitor and combat
anti-Semitism with the US State Department.
Rosenfeld told the Post
plans are in place to publish the scholarly essays from the conference as a