The light, dark side of anti-Semitism


The current campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is getting the lion’s share of the attention these days, deservedly so. But Senator Joe Lieberman, who was tapped as former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s running mate, recently recalled an interesting anecdote from the 2000 race when speaking to a B’nai B’rith conference Monday.

(I already wrote here about his controversial comments on Iran.)

He recalled a conversation Gore had with him when he asked him to become the first Orthodox Jew (or any kind of Jew, for that matter) on a major party ticket.

Gore told him that he had asked several people, Jewish and non-, what they thought about choosing a Jewish candidate for vice president. And what Gore reported to Lieberman was that “the fear of anti-Semitism among Jews was dramatically greater than the reality of anti-Semitism about Christians, so I felt confident that I could make the choice I wanted to make.”

Perhaps that’s so – but it didn’t keep Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for human rights, from talking about the scourge of anti-Semitism in his own address to the group that same day.

“The scourge of anti-Semitism persists. And in some respects, it may be worsening,” he told them.
Posner pointed to examples ranging from demonization of Israel in Iran, Venezuela and the Muslim press to repetitions of blood libels and Holocaust denial in Europe.
At the same time, like Lieberman, he offered a positive message as well: “We are seeing that many countries are now doing the right thing, challenging anti-Semitism and other forms of racial, religious, and ethnic hatred.”
- Hilary Leila Krieger