Global anti-Semitism is a new phenomenon. It is the third major era of
anti-Semitism, after the long religious one grounded in Christianity and Islam,
and the modern, racist one that took full shape in the 19th century and
culminated in Nazi anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. After relative quiescence
during the post-Holocaust decades, when public anti-Semitism in the West was
taboo, anti-Semitism began to emerge in its new, global form in the 1990s. Now
it surrounds us.
Through the ages, anti-Semitism has been grounded in the
foundational anti-Semitic paradigm. This has five elements: Jews are
fundamentally different from non-Jews.
Jews are noxious. Jews are
willfully malevolent. Jews are powerful. Jews are therefore dangerous. Either
implicit or explicitly stated is a sixth element: that Jews must be kept in
check, at bay, or somehow eliminated.
In every era, specific anti-Semitic
elaborations and accusations build upon this foundational paradigm by adapting
themselves to the local cultural, social and political conditions of the times.
In today’s global age, anti-Semitism has again morphed into something
Anti-Semitism, like globalization, for the first time spans the
globe. There are many more anti-Semites than ever. More than 50 percent of the
five hundred million people in the EU are profoundly anti-Semitic. The United
States, where anti-Semitism is much lower, still has more than one hundred
million people who espouse anti-Semitic notions. In the Arab and Islamic worlds,
anti-Semitism is, in the countries surveyed, close to one hundred
Even in the rest of the world, where there are virtually no Jews
and have never been any, anti-Semitism is at alarmingly high levels: 5 country’s
own Jews, even though such beliefs – such as Jews are guilty or cursed for the
death of Jesus, have too much power in business, or care only about “their own
kind” – are still enormously widespread.
IN LINE with the times, and the
historically newfound actual military and political might of Jews in Israel, the
dominant anti-Semitic imagery of Jews has also changed.
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behind-the-scenes, stealthy manipulator of 17th-century Shylock, or the more
open manipulators of nations by Jewish bankers, epitomized by the Rothschilds of
the 19th century, have now in the 21st century morphed into the marauding killer
Rambos crushing Palestinian children under their boots or grinding them up in
This can be seen in the fantastical and demonizing belief
– subscribed to by more than 250 million Europeans – that Israel is conducting
“a war of extermination” against the Palestinian people; a generalized, updated
blood libel, recycling the canard that Jews are collectively guilty for the
death of Jesus.
In the past anti-Semitic streams, which though always
grounded in the foundational anti-Semitic paradigm, mainly existed as
independent variants on a common theme. Now anti-Semitism is a global amalgam.
Today, Christian anti-Semites, Muslim anti-Semites, leftist anti-Semites,
rightest anti-Semites and international human rights anti-Semites all
incorporate each other’s false charges against Jews and Israel into their own
Perhaps the most glaring instance of such crossover prejudice
is Palestinian and other Islamic-world anti-Semites’ routine characterization of
Palestinians, or Palestine itself, as the new Jesus being crucified by the Jews,
thereby invoking the most damaging prejudicial canard of all time and appealing
to the hundreds of millions of Christians for whom this charge is still such a
potent reason to be hostile towards Jews.
The flows of anti-Semitic
hatreds and accusations, while once emanating from the Christian and then Nazi
European center to the periphery, now crisscross the globe with no single locus.
Anti-Semitism really did once have a principal address: the Vatican. Today,
anti-Semitic charges can originate anywhere and flow in any
And once a powerful new anti-Semitic accusation is made in one
place it spreads in short order across the world. Modern European anti-Semitism,
having been exported to the Arab world, has been reimported into Europe with the
flow of Arab immigrants and the flow of words along the information
superhighways. This multi-centric nature of global anti-Semitism makes
combatting it that much more difficult.
Befitting its global nature,
anti-Semitism today is ensconced in international and transnational institutions
(beyond religious movements). It has captured the world’s most central global
institution, the United Nations, which has been conducting a concerted campaign
to demonize Israel. Witness its Human Rights Commission’s dishonest and
obsessive focus on Israel in contrast to its virtual silence about the
brutalities and mass murders of the many dictatorships around the
As our global age is political in that people now understand that
virtually all spheres of life are governed or profoundly influenced by politics.
So too today’s anti-Semitism, which before was mainly cultural or socially
oriented, has now adopted a political cast.
governments, through the UN and as a matter of domestic and foreign policy,
promote anti-Semitism, and indeed have forged something against Israel that
exists against no other country: an international eliminationist political
Finally, because nothing incites anti-Semites more than the
specter of Jews being powerful, and because the global world is a world
organized by the international state system, global anti-Semites relentlessly
focus their ire and efforts on deprecating, demonizing and delegitimizing
Israel. Many though certainly not all of them want to destroy the
Such is the logic of today’s globally oriented global
The author, a former Harvard professor, is the author of
The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism, which has
just been published. He is also the author of #1 international bestseller
Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. His work can
be followed at www.goldhagen.com, on Facebook at Daniel Goldhagen, and on
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