The new antisemitism: Loving the dead, hating the living

Linda Sarsour and her comrades realized to their own surprise and astonishment, one does not have to restrict one’s love only to the dead Jews of the Holocaust: other dead Jews are as good.

January 20, 2019 11:26
3 minute read.
The new antisemitism: Loving the dead, hating the living

WOMEN’S MARCH organizers Carmen Perez, Tamika D. Mallory and Linda Sarsour take the stage during a protest called March for Racial Justice in New York City. (Reuters). (photo credit: REUTERS)


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When faced with cataclysmic or unprecedented events, even astute observers of history tend to throw away their knowledge and proclaim a new reality, the one devoid of the past. Take Francis Fukuyama and his bombastic essay of “The End of History.” Fukuyama, a talented student of the world, fell into historical amnesia forced by the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Antisemitism, one of the most ancient hatreds, had a similar Fukuyamesque moment. After the Second World War, when the atrocities of the Holocaust became public knowledge, many had assumed this millennia-old dislike of the Jews had become, if not extinct, but absolutely unacceptable in public discourse. Many assumed antisemitism as they knew it had became the persona non grata of the civilized world. Those naive individuals were technically correct. The antisemitism familiar to them would never become acceptable again. What they did not anticipate is antisemitism innovating itself, becoming part and parcel of the New Left’s ideology and assuming the old hatred with a modern facade. This ideological “remodeling” allowed for some Jews to be liked or even loved: the ones who are dead.

With the graves of the Holocaust victims still fresh, Joseph Stalin embarked on his own campaign to complete Hitler’s final solution. But unlike the Nazi approach with clear-stated goals and loud bravado, the Soviets preferred the path of concealment with the vocal support of the “useful idiots” abroad. The survivors were being accused of undermining the Soviet state and culture. A number of Jewish doctors were “discovered” to be part of the “Doctors’ Plot” scheming to poison the Soviet leadership – including Comrade Stalin himself. Everything was done in the name of the Holocaust victims and the fight against the omnipresent fascism and its imperialist friends. Those events rehabilitated antisemitism and infected the West with the new ideological virus causing otherwise high-minded humans to love the dead Jews – but hate the living ones. They infected the United Nations, the body created to prevent future genocides, to become an institution that has produced, in a little over a half a century of its existence, more antisemitic “edicts” than perhaps did the Church during the Middle Ages.   

That fig leaf allowed every intelligent antisemite to claim complete innocence. One may declare Israel to be an illegitimate state, Zionism to be a racist ideology, Judaism a parasitic religion, Jews themselves to both run capitalism and ferment revolutions and not be accused of antisemitism because of one’s respect for the Holocaust victims. One is hard-pressed to find a single antisemite not in love with dead Jews. Even most Holocaust deniers don’t deny the event itself, but try to be skeptical about the actual number of the dead.

This charade, in itself a fascinating circus act, would be enough of a spectacle if not for the most recent innovation by its practitioners. Linda Sarsour and her comrades realized to their own surprise and astonishment, one does not have to restrict one’s love only to the dead Jews of the Holocaust: other dead Jews are as good. On the contrary, the fresher the graves the bigger the impact. Now, thanks to the leaked conversation of the Women’s March organizers, even the most naive and stupid know their true feeling towards the living Jews, but their love for the dead ones and ones in grief is unparalleled. However, every massacre, every cemetery vandalism generates so much determination and generosity of soul one may think Linda and her friends are standing in front of the gates of the Warsaw ghetto.

This intellectual necrophilia is indeed a new addition to the arsenal of the antisemites. It is a huge achievement, given the long history of antisemitism at the time when we all thought the field is well explored and everything has been said and done. Last year Professor Steven J. Zipperstein published a monumental book, Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History. It tells a story of the horrendous atrocity, Jewish helplessness and the beginning of Jewish self-respect. Sadly, based on the American Jewish reaction to Linda Sarsour and her partai genossen (party comrades), the Jews still, as a hundred years ago, love to be the victims.

The writer lives and works in Silicon Valley, California and is a founding member of San Francisco Voice for Israel.

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